More Than Words

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"More Than Words"
More than words.jpg
Single by Extreme
from the album Pornograffitti
ReleasedMarch 23, 1991 (1991-03-23)
Producer(s)Michael Wagener
Extreme singles chronology
"Get the Funk Out"
"More Than Words"
"Hole Hearted"
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.


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 the band pursued "acoustic balladry" on the song.[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] Kirsten Frickle from El Paisano described it as an "all-acoustic ballad that is so beautiful it will make your hair stand on end".[11] Music & Media called the song "a calming piece of music, aptly produced by Michael Wagener. It shows the band from a totally different angle. And it must be said, they handle this ballad extremely well."[12] Carrie Borzillo from Record-Journal labeled it as a "Everly Brothers-style" song.[13] Marc Andrews from Smash Hits said it is "eye-moistening".[14] Tom Nordlie from Spin noted that "More Than Words" "is a love ballad that sounds like the Everly Brothers or early Beatles. 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."[15]

Music video[edit]

Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone in the black-and-white music video of "More Than Words".

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

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.



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[37] Platinum 70,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[50] Platinum 100,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[51] Gold 75,000^
Sweden (GLF)[52] Gold 25,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[53] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[54] Gold 500,000^

^shipments 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
Released1999; 2002 (single)
Format3" CD single (CD3)
GenrePop rock, soft rock
LabelSony BMG/ Lideres
Songwriter(s)Nuno Bettencourt
Gary Cherone
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 #3 on the Venezuelan singles chart. The single featured exclusive remixes of three of the group's biggest hits.[55]

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)


Chart (2002) Peak
Venezuelan Singles Chart 3

Notable covers[edit]


Uses in popular culture[edit]

  • On the October 25, 2016, episode of reality television singing competition show The Voice, Team Alicia (Keys) members Gabriel Violett and sisters Whitney & Shannon performed an arrangement of the song in a Battle round. Coaches Adam Levine and Miley Cyrus both preferred the harmonies featured in Whitney & Shannon's performance, while coach Blake Shelton preferred Violett's solos. Keys chose to agree with Levine and Cyrus and named Whitney & Shannon the winners of the Battle, advancing them to the Knockout rounds. Meanwhile, Violett was eliminated when Levine, Cyrus, and Shelton all opted not to steal him onto any of their teams.
  • Prior to the start of the seventeenth season of The Voice, coaches Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani, John Legend, and Blake Shelton all performed the song in a private, "intimate" performance, accompanied by host Carson Daly on guitar. The performance was released on the show's YouTube channel about two weeks prior to the season's premiere.
  • Mentioned on page 77 of book by Chris Perez titled, To Selena, With Love. excerpt as follows, "...Selena put her head on my shoulder and started softly singing one of my favorite songs, More Than Words by a phenomenal band called Extreme that I'd introduced to her not long before. Those lyrics seemed to describe our feelings for one another perfectly."


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  55. ^ a b "Westlife - More than Words (Single)". Retrieved July 12, 2014.[permanent dead link]
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External links[edit]