More Than Words

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"More Than Words"
More than words.jpg
Single by Extreme
from the album Pornograffitti
B-side
  • "Nice Place to Visit"
  • "Kid Ego"
ReleasedMarch 23, 1991 (1991-03-23)
Recorded1989
Genre
Length
LabelA&M
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Michael Wagener
Extreme singles chronology
"Get the Funk Out"
(1991)
"More Than Words"
(1991)
"Hole Hearted"
(1991)
Music video
"More Than Words" on YouTube

"More Than Words" is a song by rock band Extreme. It is the fifth track and third single from their 1990 album Pornograffitti. It is a ballad built around acoustic guitar work by Nuno Bettencourt and the vocals of Gary Cherone (with harmony vocals from Bettencourt). The song is a detour from the funk metal style that permeates the band's records. As such, it has often been described as "a blessing and a curse" due to its overwhelming success and recognition worldwide, but the band ultimately embraced it and plays it at every show.

Content[edit]

The song is a ballad in which the singer wants his lover to do more to prove her love other than saying the phrase "I love you." Bettencourt described it as a warning that the phrase was becoming meaningless: "People use it so easily and so lightly that they think you can say that and fix everything, or you can say that and everything's OK. Sometimes you have to do more and you have to show it—there's other ways to say 'I love you.'"[3]

"It became a monster. It took a life of its own and we couldn't kill it. ... I think it'll pass the test of time."

Gary Cherone talking about the song.[4]

"That song gave us the freedom to make the record we really wanted to make when we started recording our third disc," Cherone told KNAC. "It got us doing huge tours all over the states and around the world... As the nineties went on, however, we really started to resent the song. We were tagged 'the More Than Words guys'. We didn't like the perception the song created about the band. I remember being on tour with Aerosmith in Poland... it was on that tour we decided we would not play the song. We just didn't do it. A couple nights into the tour, Steven Tyler writes in big letters on our dressing room door, 'Play the fucking song!' His attitude was almost father-like. He was like, 'Look, this is your first time in Poland. When do you think you will be back? They want to hear it, so play it!'"[5]

Critical reception[edit]

AllMusic editor William Ruhlmann noted that on the song, the band pursued "acoustic balladry".[6] Kira L. Billik from Associated Press described it as a "sweet, pure acoustic ballad" "whose message is that the words "I love you" are becoming meaningless."[7] It was also labeled as a "nontraditional love song".[8] Larry Flick from Billboard wrote that this "tender, sparsely produced rock/love ballad proves that sometimes less really is more. The spotlight here is on the band's striking vocal harmonies, as well as its shimmering acoustic guitar work."[9] The Daily Vault's Sean McCarthy said that it is a "beautiful, minimal acoustic number [that] made the band huge" and added that "for the band, "More Than Words" is the song that will still get airplay."[10] Diane Cardwell from Entertainment Weekly called it "a simple, almost folkie ballad using just two voices and a single acoustic guitar."[11] Kirsten Frickle from El Paisano described it as an "all-acoustic ballad that is so beautiful it will make your hair stand on end".[12] Music & Media labeled the song as "folky"[13] and "a calming piece of music, aptly produced by Michael Wagener." They added, "It shows the band from a totally different angle. And it must be said, they handle this ballad extremely well."[14] Alan Jones from Music Week stated that it is "a subdued, lilting acoustic workout that suggests nothing more than Simon & Garfunkel in its more angelic passages."[15] Carrie Borzillo from Record-Journal called it an "Everly Brothers-style" song.[16] Sandwell Evening Mail wrote, "If ever a song could be unrepresentative of a band's output, Extreme's worldwide smash hit ballad More Than Words is it."[17] Marc Andrews from Smash Hits said it is "eye-moistening".[18] Tom Nordlie from Spin noted it as "a love ballad that sounds like the Everly Brothers or early Beatles." He added, "Singer Gary Cherone harmonizes with himself as guitar-friend Nuno Bettencourt strums clean, jazzy chord accompaniment, and that's it. No sudden escalation to bombast in the middle, no reneging on the song's original promise."[19]

Chad Bowar writing for LiveAbout placed the song on his list of the "Best 20 Hair Metal Ballads of the '80s and '90s".[20]

Chart performance[edit]

On March 23, 1991, "More Than Words" entered the US Billboard Hot 100 at number 81 and soon after reached number one. It also reached number two in the United Kingdom, where the group had success before its American breakthrough. Though they had made a few European charts before, this brought the band to their first mainstream success in the United States.

Extreme followed "More Than Words" with another acoustic ballad, "Hole Hearted", which peaked at number four in the United States and number three in Canada.

Music video[edit]

The song's music video was filmed in black and white and was produced and directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. It starts with Pat Badger turning off his amplifier and putting down his bass, and Paul Geary putting down his drumsticks. Nuno and Gary are then seen performing the song, while the other band members are shown in front of them.

Track listings[edit]

CD maxi

  1. "More Than Words" — 5:33
  2. "Kid Ego" — 4:04
  3. "Nice Place to Visit" — 3:16

7-inch single

  1. "More Than Words (Remix)" — 3:43
  2. "Nice Place to Visit" — 3:16

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[42] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[55] Platinum 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[56] Gold 75,000^
Sweden (GLF)[57] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[59] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

Westlife version[edit]

"More Than Words"
Promotional single by Westlife
from the album Grandes Exitos and Westlife
Released
  • 1999
  • 2002 (single)
Genre
Length3:53
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Steve Mac

Irish boyband Westlife covered the song for their 1999 debut-album Westlife and released as promotional single in their Venezuelan only compilation album Grandes Exitos (2002), peaking at number three on the Venezuelan singles chart. The single featured exclusive remixes of three of the group's biggest hits.[60]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "More Than Words"
  2. "I Lay My Love on You" (Single Remix)
  3. "World of Our Own" (Single Remix)
  4. "Uptown Girl" (Radio Edit)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum. SpinMedia. May 31, 2007. Retrieved July 31, 2016.
  2. ^ "Best Acoustic Rock Song of All Time Poll: "More Than Words" Vs. "Layla (Unplugged)"". Guitar World. NewBay Media. July 18, 2015. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Billik, Kira L. (June 20, 1991). "Extreme: Boston Group Riding the Funk-O-Metal Machine". Albany Herald. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
  4. ^ "The tree sides of Extreme's own story". The Daily News. October 10, 1992. p. 15. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  5. ^ Carr, David; KNAC.com; 16 July 2009
  6. ^ "Extreme - 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection: Best of Extreme". AllMusic. Retrieved March 23, 2020.
  7. ^ "'Funk-o-metal' band hits it big with acoustic ballad". Rome News-Tribune. July 12, 1991. p. 11. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  8. ^ "The tree sides of Extreme's own story". The Daily News. October 10, 1992. p. 15. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  9. ^ "Billboard: Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. March 23, 1991. p. 75. Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  10. ^ "Extreme - Extreme II: Pornograffitti". The Daily Vault. August 8, 1997. Retrieved February 25, 2020.
  11. ^ Cardwell, Diane (August 2, 1991). "Extreme: More than metal". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  12. ^ Frickle, Kirsten (November 9, 1990). "'Pornograffiti' takes rock music to all extremes". El Paisano. p. 10. Retrieved April 24, 2020.
  13. ^ "Previews: Albums - Album Of The Week" (PDF). Music & Media. November 3, 1990. p. 19. Retrieved November 3, 2020.
  14. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. April 27, 1991. p. 11. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  15. ^ "Mainstream: Singles - Pick of the Week" (PDF). Music Week. July 20, 1991. p. 10. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
  16. ^ "'More Than Words' small part of what Extreme is all about". Record-Journal. June 28, 1991. Retrieved March 13, 2020.
  17. ^ Sandwell Evening Mail. November 18, 1991. p. 22. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  18. ^ "Reviews: LPs". Smash Hits. No. 330. July 24, 1991. p. 46. Retrieved March 8, 2020.
  19. ^ Nordlie, Tom (November 1990). "SPINS". Spin. p. 79. Retrieved February 27, 2020.
  20. ^ Bowar, Chad. "Best 20 Hair Metal Ballads of the '80s and '90s". LiveAbout. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Extreme – More Than Words". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Extreme – More Than Words" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  23. ^ "Ultratop.be – Extreme – More Than Words" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  24. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1540." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  25. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 1553." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  26. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 8 no. 34. August 24, 1991. p. 24. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  27. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin – levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  28. ^ "Lescharts.com – Extreme – More Than Words" (in French). Les classement single.
  29. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Extreme – More Than Words" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  30. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – More Than Words". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  31. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Extreme" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  32. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Extreme – More Than Words" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  33. ^ "Charts.nz – Extreme – More Than Words". Top 40 Singles.
  34. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Extreme – More Than Words". VG-lista.
  35. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 8 no. 48. November 30, 1991. p. 22. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  36. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Extreme – More Than Words". Singles Top 100.
  37. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Extreme – More Than Words". Swiss Singles Chart.
  38. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  39. ^ "Extreme Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  40. ^ "Extreme Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard.
  41. ^ "Extreme Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  42. ^ a b "1991 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  43. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1991" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  44. ^ "RPM 100 Hit Tracks of 1991". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved November 23, 2017.
  45. ^ "RPM 100 Adult Contemporary Tracks of 1991". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  46. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 1991" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 8 no. 51–52. December 21, 1991. p. 21. Retrieved January 17, 2020 – via World Radio History.
  47. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1991" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  48. ^ "Single top 100 over 1991" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved April 13, 2010.
  49. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1991" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  50. ^ "End of Year Charts 1991". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  51. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 1991" (in German). Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  52. ^ "1991 Top 100 Singles". Music Week. London, England: Spotlight Publications. January 11, 1992. p. 20.
  53. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1991". Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  54. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  55. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Extreme – More Than Words". Music Canada. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  56. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Extreme – More Than Words" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved April 28, 2020. Enter More Than Words in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  57. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat − År 1987−1998" (PDF) (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 17, 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2020.
  58. ^ "British single certifications – Extreme – More Than Words". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved July 17, 2020.
  59. ^ "American single certifications – Extreme II – More Than Words". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 28, 2020. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  60. ^ a b "Westlife - More than Words (Single)". Retrieved July 12, 2014.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]