Mutations (Beck album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedNovember 3, 1998
RecordedMarch–April 1998
StudioOcean Way Recording, Hollywood
Beck chronology
Midnite Vultures
Singles from Mutations
  1. "Tropicalia"
    Released: December 7, 1998
  2. "Cold Brains"
    Released: March 1, 1999
  3. "Nobody's Fault but My Own"
    Released: April 21, 1999 (Japan)

Mutations is the sixth studio album by American recording artist Beck, released on November 3, 1998 by DGC Records. Though less commercially successful than the preceding Odelay, it won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.[1]

Background and recording[edit]

Mutations was produced by Nigel Godrich, who was well-known at that point for his previous work with Radiohead. The album contains a number of Moog keyboards, acoustic guitars, and string arrangements.[2] The production style was very different from that of his previous album Odelay, which was heavily influenced by hip hop music and contained many samples. The lyrical content of Mutations is also much more somber and serious than that on Odelay, apparent in the songs "Nobody's Fault but My Own" and "Dead Melodies".

The title Mutations may be a nod to an influential Brazilian band of the late 60s, Os Mutantes. The song "Tropicalia" pastiches the works of Brazilian tropicalia artists of the era.

Artwork and packaging[edit]

The record's front cover, a picture of Beck tangled in plastic wrap, was taken by music photographer Autumn de Wilde. Art direction was by abstract artist Robert M. Fisher. The interior artwork features sculptures and drawings by artist Tim Hawkinson.


Before beginning the recording sessions, Beck gained permission from the major label he was under contract with, Geffen, to release Mutations on the small indie label Bong Load Records. However, when Geffen executives heard the album, they reneged on their agreement and released the record. This led to a lawsuit filed by Beck against Geffen.[3]

Singles were released for the songs "Tropicalia", "Cold Brains" (Australia and New Zealand only), and "Nobody's Fault but My Own" (Japan only). No promotional music videos were made for any of the singles. Beck appeared on Saturday Night Live in promotion of Mutations, performing "Tropicalia" and "Nobody's Fault but My Own".

Mutations peaked at number 13 in the US, going gold, and achieved 24 in the UK and 23 in Australia. As of July 2008, Mutations has sold 586,000 copies in the United States.[4] As of 1999 it has sold over one million copies worldwide.[5]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB[7]
The Guardian4/5 stars[8]
Los Angeles Times4/4 stars[9]
Q4/5 stars[12]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[13]
The Village VoiceA−[15]

The album received critical acclaim. It gained four stars from Rolling Stone and a 9.0 from Pitchfork. Thomas Ward of AllMusic deemed the record "one of the finest albums of the 1990s".[16]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Beck Hansen.

1."Cold Brains"3:41
2."Nobody's Fault but My Own"5:02
3."Lazy Flies"3:44
4."Canceled Check"3:14
5."We Live Again"3:05
7."Dead Melodies"2:36
8."Bottle of Blues"4:56
9."O Maria"3:59
10."Sing It Again"4:19
11."Static" (ends at 4:20, with hidden track "Diamond Bollocks" starting at 5:18)11:20

Bonus tracks[edit]

There are a variety of bonus tracks on non-US pressings of the album.

  • "Electric Music and the Summer People" (Japanese release track 12).
  • "Diamond Bollocks" is track 13 on the Japanese release, whereas it is an unlisted hidden track on the US release.
  • "Runners Dial Zero": (UK, German releases track 13 and Japanese release track 14).
  • "Halo of Gold" (German limited edition track 14).
  • "Black Balloon" (German limited edition track 15).



Charts (1998–99) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[17] 24
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[18] 6
Finnish Albums (Suomen virallinen lista)[19] 40
French Albums (SNEP)[20] 36
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[21] 49
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[22] 24
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[23] 18
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[24] 29
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[25] 46
UK Albums (OCC)[26] 24
US Billboard 200[27] 13


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[28] Platinum 100,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[29] Gold 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[30] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[31] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Alternative Music Performance". Rock On The Net. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
  2. ^ AllMusic credits entry for Mutations
  3. ^ Kaufmann, Gil (October 5, 1999). "Beck Settles Lawsuits Before New Album Release". MTV.
  4. ^ "Ask Billboard". Billboard. 2008-07-18. Archived from the original on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2008-07-18.
  5. ^ "Beck Countersues Geffen". Billboard. 22 May 1999. Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  6. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Mutations – Beck". AllMusic. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  7. ^ Browne, David (October 30, 1998). "Mutations". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (November 6, 1998). "Beck: Mutations (Geffen)". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Nichols, Natalie (November 1, 1998). "Some Intriguing 'Mutations'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  10. ^ Segal, Victoria (October 29, 1998). "Beck – Mutations". NME. Archived from the original on August 17, 2000. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  11. ^ Lieberman, Neil (November 1998). "Beck: Mutations". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on August 30, 2005. Retrieved June 1, 2012.
  12. ^ Gittins, Ian (December 1998). "Beck: Mutations". Q (147): 115. Archived from the original on September 12, 1999. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Brackett, Nathan (November 26, 1998). "Mutations". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
  14. ^ Wolk, Douglas (December 1998). "Beck: Mutations". Spin. 14 (12): 170–72. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  15. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 15, 1998). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved February 20, 2016.
  16. ^ AllMusic review for the track "Cold Brains"
  17. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  18. ^ "Beck Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  19. ^ "Beck: Mutations" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  20. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  21. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  22. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  23. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  24. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  25. ^ " – Beck – Mutations". Hung Medien. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  26. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  27. ^ "Beck Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
  28. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Beck – Mutations". Music Canada.
  29. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Beck – Mutations" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan.
  30. ^ "British album certifications – Beck – Mutations". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Mutations in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  31. ^ "American album certifications – Beck – Mutations". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]