Neon Ballroom

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Neon Ballroom
Silverchair - Neon Ballroom.jpg
Studio album by
Released8 March 1999
Recorded9 May – 7 October 1998
StudioFestival Studio, Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia
ProducerNick Launay
Silverchair chronology
Freak Show
Neon Ballroom
The Best Of: Volume 1
Singles from Neon Ballroom
  1. "Anthem for the Year 2000"
    Released: February 1999
  2. "Ana's Song (Open Fire)"
    Released: May 1999
  3. "Miss You Love"
    Released: September 1999
  4. "Paint Pastel Princess"
    Released: December 1999

Neon Ballroom is the third studio album by Australian alternative rock band Silverchair, released in 1999 by record labels Murmur and Epic. The album has been described as "heavy rock with orchestral flourishes and synthetic touches with powerfully emotional lyrics" that reflects the personal demons of frontman Daniel Johns, due to the band's rapid international success.[1]

Background, writing and recording[edit]

From May 1998, Silverchair worked on their third studio album, Neon Ballroom, with Nick Launay (The Birthday Party, Models, Midnight Oil) producing again.[2][3] The band had originally intended to take a 12-month-break after the release of 1997's Freak Show, but in the end they decided to devote their time to making new music.[4]

In 1999, Johns announced that he had developed the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, due to anxiety.[5] Johns noted that the lyrics to "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" dealt with his disorder ("And Ana wrecks your life/like an anorexia life"), where he would "eat what he needed [...] to stay awake."[6] He revealed that his eating problems developed from the time of Freak Show and when Neon Ballroom was written he "hated music, really everything about it", but felt that he "couldn't stop doing it; I felt like a slave to it."[7] Johns sought therapy and medication but felt "It's easier for me to express it through music and lyrics".[5]


Neon Ballroom was an overhaul of the band's musical style found on its first two albums, Frogstomp and Freak Show. "Anthem for the Year 2000", for example, retained much of the band's youthful rock energy but featured a new rock song structure and various electronic effects. Eight years after the album's release, Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns said: "To me, I honestly feel like our first record was Neon Ballroom. I've never felt any different. I don't feel like our first two albums were Silverchair: that's our teenage high school band. I don't like them at all. I listen to them and go, 'That's cute', especially the first one, because Frogstomp we were 14. But the second one we're like 16, I'm like 'You're getting older. You're running out of chances'".[8]

"Spawn Again" dates back to 1996, originally considered for the band's Freak Show album. It was recorded under the original title "Spawn" when demoing tracks for Neon Ballroom and included, in remixed form by hip-hop group Vitro, on the 1997 soundtrack to the film Spawn, adding various electronic elements to the track. A "Pre-Vitro" mix of the same recording was also released on the Neon Ballroom Limited Edition bonus disc, Volume 1 in 2000, and the Rarities 1994–1999 compilation in 2002.

The Neon Ballroom album version is a complete re-recording of the song, re-titled "Spawn Again", featuring additional lyrics, specifically an entire verse pertaining to animal liberation. The album recording of "Anthem for the Year 2000" is a different mix on the Australian release than the one found on other releases (including singles). "Satin Sheets" was originally called "Punk Song #3" (and was a contender for Freak Show) and "Paint Pastel Princess" was "All the Same to Me".[citation needed]

Johns wrote all the songs on the album except for "Spawn Again" (Johns/Gillies).


Neon Ballroom was released on 8 March 1999 on Sony Records imprint Murmur. The album debuted at number 1 on the ARIA Albums Chart,[9] and was certified 4× platinum by ARIA. It was also certified Gold in the United States. Neon Ballroom outsold Freak Show in North America and throughout the world. To date it has sold a total of 2 million albums worldwide.[citation needed] The album charted in Canada, where it peaked at No. 5.[10] It reached the top 40 on the United Kingdom Albums Chart.[11]

The album has also been issued in gatefold cover vinyl, limited edition cassette and 180 gram vinyl in 2010, as well as in a double pack with Freak Show. On initial release in the UK, Neon Ballroom was issued as a limited edition with a bonus enhanced CD (see track listing).

Neon Ballroom provided three Australian top 20 singles: "Anthem for the Year 2000", "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" and "Miss You Love"; a fourth single, "Paint Pastel Princess", did not reach the top 50.[9] "Ana's Song (Open Fire)" peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.[12] A vinyl version of the album was limited to 5,000 copies worldwide.[citation needed] In Europe and South America it became the group's most successful album to date. Rolling Stone's Neva Chonin attributed their chart success to the album's more "mature" sound.[13]

After the release of Neon Ballroom, Silverchair's three-album contract with Sony Music had ended. The group eventually signed with Atlantic Records for North and South America, and formed their own label, Eleven: A Music Company (distributed by EMI), with their manager, John Watson for Australia and Asia.[14][15]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic3/5 stars[16]
Electric Music Online91%[17]
Entertainment WeeklyB[18]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[19]

Australian rock music historian, Ian McFarlane said, "As well as being the band's best album to date, it was universally acknowledged as one of the best albums of the year."[2]

In October 2010, the album was listed at number 25 in the book 100 Best Australian Albums.[5]


Silverchair added an auxiliary keyboardist, Sam Holloway (ex-Cordrazine), for the Neon Ballroom Tour.[2] The US leg had the group playing with The Offspring and Red Hot Chili Peppers, while Silverchair's tour of UK and the rest of Europe had The Living End as the support act.[2] The group appeared at festivals in Reading and Edgefest, amongst others.[20]

Following the tour, the band announced that they would be taking a 12-month-break.[21] Their only live performance in 2000 was at the Falls Festival on New Year's Eve.[4][22] On 21 January 2001, the band played to 250,000 people at Rock in Rio, a show they described as the highlight of their career.[21]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Daniel Johns, except "Spawn Again", written by Johns and Ben Gillies.

1."Emotion Sickness"6:02
2."Anthem for the Year 2000"4:08
3."Ana's Song (Open Fire)"3:42
4."Spawn Again"3:31
5."Miss You Love"4:01
6."Dearest Helpless"3:35
7."Do You Feel the Same"4:18
8."Black Tangled Heart"4:34
9."Point of View"3:35
10."Satin Sheets"2:24
11."Paint Pastel Princess"4:33
12."Steam Will Rise"5:18
Total length:49:41

Release history[edit]

  • 8 March 1999 – Australia
  • 16 March 1999 – North America


Chart (1999) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[23] 1
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[24] 13
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[25] 5
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[26] 65
French Albums (SNEP)[27] 23
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[28] 13
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[29] 8
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[30] 26
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[31] 40
UK Albums (OCC)[32] 29
US Billboard 200[33] 50

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1999) Position
German Albums Chart[34] 78



Additional personnel



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  3. ^ Spencer, et al.
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  17. ^ "Neon Ballroom Review". Retrieved 28 January 2019.
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