Milk (song)

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Single by Garbage
from the album Garbage
B-side "Alien Sex Fiend"
Released October 7, 1996 (1996-10-07)
Recorded April 1994 – May 1995;
Smart Studios
(Madison, Wisconsin)
Genre Trip hop
Length 3:56
Label Mushroom
Songwriter(s) Garbage
Producer(s) Garbage
Garbage singles chronology
"Stupid Girl"
"#1 Crush"
Alternative cover
Australian cover
Australian cover

"Milk" is a song by alternative rock band Garbage from their self-titled debut studio album (1995). It was released on October 7, 1996 as the album's fifth and final single. In North America, the single coincided with Garbage's trek around the continent performing as a support act for the Smashing Pumpkins arena tour.[1]

A reworked version of "Milk" was released in the United Kingdom, featuring backing vocals by English trip hop musician Tricky. After an acclaimed performance of "Milk" by the band at the 1996 MTV Europe Music Awards, as well as winning the Best Breakthrough Act on the night, the song debuted at number 10 on the UK Singles Chart. The reworked version, without Tricky's vocals, was also released as a single across Europe and in Australia and New Zealand.[2]

In 2007, "Milk" was remastered and included on Garbage's greatest hits album Absolute Garbage.[3]


"Milk" was written and recorded by the band at their own recording studio during the 1994–95 sessions for Garbage. Shirley Manson was inspired by a line in Michael Ondaatje's The Collected Works of Billy the Kid ("her throat is a kitchen") and alluded to it in her lyrics for the song.[4] At its base, Manson believed the song was "a seduction, almost like a siren song".[5]

The most electronic-based song on the album, "Milk" is also one of singer Shirley Manson's favourite tracks from it. She told Melody Maker, "It's a dichotomy, a paradox. The thing I really like about 'Milk' is the fact that it's been dismissed by people as the ballad at the end of the album. To me 'Milk' is the darkest, most hopeless of the songs. People say 'Oh, it's lovey-dovey, so therefore it's a love song'. But it's a very bleak song, it's about loss and the fear of loss; about things you can't have and things you will forever wait for."[6]

Remix collaboration[edit]

After Garbage's fifth single "Stupid Girl" had been released internationally, the band's record label were considering what the follow-up single would be; at one point "Supervixen", "Fix Me Now", and "Milk" were all considered. The band performed a headline concert at New York City's Roseland Ballroom in mid-April 1996 and were joined at the aftershow by English trip hop musician Tricky. The two groups hung out for the night, and decided to collaborate on a duet version of "Milk" featuring both Manson and Tricky on vocals.[7] In early May, the two acts spent a session in Chicago's CRC Studios working on the new version.[8] The session was setback with numerous glitches including a malfunctioning tape machine and a mixing console caught fire.[8] Manson found the experience of working with a male vocalist "enchanting and illuminating".[9]

Internet rumors abounded that the session had been a disaster, with the band's audio engineer claiming the results were not as expected, and that Tricky himself had been difficult to work with.[8] The band's manager disputed the reported events, placing blame on problems at the recording studio. The band eventually put out a press statement to deny the rumours stating that the session had in fact gone well, the rework of "Milk" was still a work in progress and that further production by both Tricky and Garbage was required.[8] Tricky finished his duet version of "Milk" in New York's Platinum Island Studios; Garbage completed their own guitar-led version of "Milk" in Madison during a break in their world tour.[10] Garbage's rework was finished in two versions; the first was titled the Siren mix and featured only Manson's vocal; the second also incorporated Tricky's vocal and was titled the Wicked mix.[11] Tricky took exception to Garbage releasing their own version as a single instead of his, and complained about the situation to the press.


"Milk" was first released as a single in Australia and New Zealand by Mushroom Records imprint label White. The single was released on October 7, 1996 on CD and cassette single and featured the Siren mix as the A-side, and was backed up with the Wicked mix, Tricky's remix and the original album version.[12] The single coincided with the band's first live dates in both countries, which saw the release of a tour edition of the album reach number four on the ARIA chart and number one on the RIANZ chart.[13][14] Garbage made their first televised performance on Australian television on Hey Hey It's Saturday performing the single. A second "Milk" CD single was subsequently issued to stores containing the B-side "Alien Sex Fiend", the band's own house mix of "Dog New Tricks", and remixes of "Milk", "Stupid Girl" and "Queer" by Rabbit In the Moon, Todd Terry and Danny Saber respectively.[15] "Milk" debuted at number 48 on the Australian Singles Chart in early November 1996; the single then re-entered the chart in December and peaked at number 44.[16] In New Zealand, "Milk" spent a single week at number 50.[17]

The Wicked remix of "Milk" featuring Tricky impacted UK radio stations in mid-October 1996 and was A-listed by both BBC Radio 1 and Virgin Radio.[18] "Milk" subsequently reached number 19 on the airplay chart.[18] Mushroom pre-empted the UK release of "Milk" by issuing three limited "taster" 12" singles through HMV stores in late October; the actual commercial release was on November 11. Two CD singles and a limited-edition 7" vinyl were distributed to stores, each featuring the Wicked mix, and with remixes of "Milk" by Massive Attack, Goldie, Tricky and Rabbit in The Moon, and remixes of "Stupid Girl" by Danny Saber and Todd Terry spread across the formats.[2] During the week of release, Garbage won the Best Breakthrough Act award and performed "Milk" live at the MTV Europe Music Awards in London. "Milk" debuted on the UK Singles Chart at number 10, becoming the band's second top-10 entry on the chart.[19] To mark the high position, Garbage performed a live videolink performance of the song from Atlanta for broadcast on Top of The Pops. "Milk" spent eight weeks on the UK charts, and has sold over 135,000 copies.[20]

In North America, Almo Sounds released the album version of "Milk" to Triple A radio stations and commercially on maxi-CD and maxi-cassette on November 12;[21] both formats contained the Siren and Wicked mixes as well as a version by Rabbit In the Moon.[22] Almo sent additional Rabbit in the Moon mixes to nightclubs from November 18.[23] Modest airplay and single sales of "Milk" led to the song registering at number 18 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, which ranks the most popular songs in the United States that failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100.[24] At the same time "Milk" was released in North America, a remix of the band's early B-side "#1 Crush" had gained considerable airplay at alternative radio stations.[25] "#1 Crush" eventually topped the alternative charts in the United States and Canada;[26][27] and the top 40 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart in early January 1997.[28] The same week, "Milk" re-entered the Bubbling Under chart at number 15 and peaked a week later at number six.[29] "Milk" spent another six weeks declining before dropping off the chart at the end of February.[30]

In May 1997, Mushroom Records released a set of four commercial 12" vinyl remix sets to record stores in the United Kingdom. All were packaged in black card sleeves and included mixes of "Queer", "Stupid Girl", and two of "Milk". The first "Milk" vinyl contained three remixes by Massive Attack remixes and the second contained two of Goldie's remixes..

Track listings[edit]

Alternate versions[edit]

Track title Length Remixer/Producer
"Milk (Full Siren mix)" 4:17 Garbage
"Milk (Siren mix)" 4:02
"Milk (Wicked mix)" (featuring Tricky) 4:02
"Milk (Completely Trashed mix)" 6:31 Goldie
"Milk (VIP Rufige Trash Your Shit mix)" 7:38
"Milk (Classic remix)" 4:47 Massive Attack
"Milk (D mix)" 4:50
"Milk (Trance mix)" 7:47
"Milk (Butchered Vegas mix)" 5:49 Rabbit in the Moon
"Milk (Got It mix)" 9:33
"Milk (Udder remix)" 4:49
"Milk (Utter edit)" 4:23
"Milk (Tricky remix)" 4:19 Tricky

A month before the commercial release of "Milk" in the United Kingdom, Mushroom released a three-part 12" set as a "taster release". These vinyls were limited to 500 copies each and came in a die-cut embossed card sleeve (one leather look, one gravel, one rippled), each with a different Dayglo colour inner sleeve.[2] Of Massive Attack release, the "D Mix" featured a 22-piece live orchestra. The 14,000 copy limited edition 7" vinyl format came housed in a white ripple-effect card sleeve, with a videogram image mounted on front, and a nine-panel white and blood red poster within.[2]

David Christophere, who produced under the name of Rabbit in the Moon, was solicited to remix Garbage by Butch Vig himself, through DJ Jason Bentley, after hearing Christophere's work on Sarah McLachlan's "Fear". He remixed Milk, which was his preferred choice, after completing versions of both "Queer" and "Stupid Girl". Christophere produced two versions of "Milk"; one downtempo ("Butchered Vegas mix"), and one in a club style ("Got It mix"), utilizing Mansons breathing vocal track over a house beat inspired by Deep Dish. Christophere sampled sounds from various sources, such as Pink Floyd, Kraftwerk, Madonna, Plastikman, Portishead and musical cues from Monty Python and Halloween in his mixes.

Credits and personnel[edit]

  • Music: Garbage
  • Lyrics: Garbage
  • Produced: Garbage
  • Performed & mixed: Garbage
  • 2nd engineer: Mike Zirkel
  • Vocals : Shirley Manson
  • Keyboards : Duke Erikson
  • Samples & loops: Steve Marker
  • Drums : Butch Vig
  • Bass: Mike Kashou
  • Recorded at Smart Studios, Madison, Wisconsin.


Chart (1996–97) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[16] 44
Germany (Official German Charts)[31] 84
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[17] 50
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[32] 8
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[19] 10
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[33] 6

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Australia October 7, 1996 White
United States October 22, 1996 Airplay: CHR Almo Sounds
United Kingdom October 23, 1996 12" single (Rabbit in the Moon mixes) Mushroom
October 28, 1996 12" single (Goldie mixes)
November 4, 1996 12" single (Massive Attack mixes)
November 11, 1996
Europe 2-CD maxi single set BMG
United States November 12, 1996 cassette single Almo Sounds
November 19, 1996 CD single
United Kingdom May 5, 1997 2-12" single set (as Milk Remixes) Mushroom


  1. ^ Abbot, Ian. "Garbage - August 1996 News". Archived from the original on 1999-10-04. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d Davis, Andy (1997). Three Men and A Babe; Welcome to Spooner Town; Goodbye Angelfish (#209 ed.). London: Record Collector. 
  3. ^ "New Best Of Album". Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. Retrieved 2008-02-05. 
  4. ^ My Life in Books: Musician Shirley Manson on the literature that has shaped her life. Elle. Archived from the original on 2012-03-27. Retrieved 2011-07-01. 
  5. ^ "Garbage O-Zone interview (November 1996)". BBC. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  6. ^ Melody Maker. November 1996.
  7. ^ Abbot, Ian (24 April 1996). "Garbage News - April 1996 - Garbage and Tricky to collaborate". Archived from the original on 1999-10-03. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  8. ^ a b c d Abbott, Ian. "Garbage News - May 1996 News". Archived from the original on 1999-10-03. Retrieved 2011-07-11. 
  9. ^ "Modern Life is Rubbish". The Face. Archived from the original on 2006-10-13. Retrieved 2006-10-10. 
  10. ^ Milk (press release page 2). Mushroom Records. 1996. 
  11. ^ Milk (Press release page 1). Mushroom. 1996. 
  12. ^ Rob, Watson. "Milk OZ CD1". Archived from the original on 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  13. ^ "Garbage - Garbage (Album)". Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  14. ^ "Garbage - Garbage (album)". Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  15. ^ Watson, Rob. "Milk OZ CD2". Garbage-Discography. Archived from the original on 2005-05-08. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 
  16. ^ a b " – Garbage – Milk". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  17. ^ a b " – Garbage – Milk". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Garbage Album Campaign History. Mushroom Records (NCM Group). 2001. Retrieved 2008-02-03. 
  19. ^ a b "Garbage: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  20. ^ Music Week, March 29, 1998 issue
  21. ^ "Milk / Garbage". United States Copyright Office. 1996-11-12. Retrieved 2011-07-27. SR0000227767; Milk / Garbage; AMSDS 89007; 4 versions; ℗ Almo Sounds, Inc. 
  22. ^ Watson, Rob. "Milk (USA CD1)". Garbage-Discography. Archived from the original on 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2011-07-16. 
  23. ^ "Milk ; Queer / Garbage". United States Copyright Office. 1996-11-18. Retrieved 2007-07-27. SR0000231063; Milk; Queer / Garbage; 33 1/3 rpm; 12 in; ℗ Almo Sounds, Inc. 
  24. ^ Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Billboard, issue dated December 7th 1996, reproduced on Google Books. 1996-12-07. 
  25. ^ Mayfield, Geoff (1996). Between the Bullets. Billboard. 
  26. ^ Hot Modern Rock Tracks. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1997, reproduced on Google Books. 1997-01-11. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  27. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 64, No. 20, January 20, 1997". RPM. Archived from the original on 15 August 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011. 
  28. ^ Billboard Hot 100 Airplay. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1997, reproduced on Google Books. 1997-01-11. Retrieved 2011-02-08. 
  29. ^ Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. Billboard, issue dated January 11th, 1996, reproduced on Google Books. 
  30. ^ Bubbling Under Hot 100. Billboard. 1997-02-22. 
  31. ^ " – Garbage – Milk". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  32. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 2, 2015.
  33. ^ "Garbage Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved January 12, 2017.

External links[edit]