Photograph (Def Leppard song)

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Single by Def Leppard
from the album Pyromania
ReleasedJanuary 1983 (UK)[1]
  • 4:12
  • 3:55 (single edit)
Producer(s)Robert John "Mutt" Lange
Def Leppard singles chronology
"Bringin' On the Heartbreak"
"Rock of Ages"
UK Cover
Music video
"Photograph" on YouTube

"Photograph" is a song by the English rock band Def Leppard and produced by Robert John "Mutt" Lange. It is the lead single from the band's third studio album, Pyromania (1983). Their lead vocalist Joe Elliott has described the song as generally about "something you can't ever get your hands on".[2] When released as a single it reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart, where it stayed for six weeks, and No. 12 on the Pop Singles chart.[3]

In 2008, they performed the song with Taylor Swift on CMT Crossroads. The performance was nominated for both Wide Open Country Video of the Year and CMT Performance of the Year at the 2009 CMT Music Awards.

In 2013, the song was featured in the Grand Theft Auto V video game, on the Los Santos Rock Radio station.[4] It was also featured in the DLC release of Rock Band 3, in 2011.

Musical style[edit]

The song has been described as pop metal,[5][6][7][8] glam metal,[9] hard rock[10] and power pop.[11]


Cash Box called it "a well-crafted if typical hard-pop outing," praising the "incendiary metal guitar licks and deafening drumbeats."[12]

Music video[edit]

There are two slightly different versions of the music video. The uncensored version shows a knife scene at the beginning, and on the censored version of the video, it is almost the same except the knife scene is replaced with a stationary black cat among other minor bits removed.[citation needed] There are several appearances of a lookalike impersonating Marilyn Monroe in the video. Mutt Lange would later go on to say that the song wasn't about anyone in particular but more about expressing "young lust in an anthemic song."[13]

The music video was directed by David Mallet[14] and was shot on 2 December 1982 (bassist Rick Savage's 22nd birthday), in Battersea, London, England. It featured the video debut of their co-lead guitarist Phil Collen. The video aired in heavy rotation on MTV.

Live performances[edit]

"Photograph" has been performed at every Def Leppard concert tour since its release. The song is traditionally the final song of the concert, often used during the encore (as well as fellow Pyromania track "Rock of Ages").[citation needed] During these performances, Elliott attempts to rile the crowd into singing along by saying "Come on, sing it" before the first chorus.[citation needed] "Photograph", however, is harsh on the singer's vocals (especially as time wears on) due to the song's high notes.[citation needed]


"Photograph" is widely considered one of Def Leppard's best songs and one of the best rock songs of all time. In 2009 it was named the 13th-greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[15] It was also listed as the 17th-greatest song of the past 25 years by VH1.[16] In 2015, Loudwire ranked the song number one on their list of the 10 greatest Def Leppard songs,[17] and in 2017, Billboard placed it number two on their list of the 15 best Def Leppard songs.[18]



Original version

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[19] 32
UK Singles (OCC)[20] 66
US Billboard Hot 100[21] 12
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[22] 1

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1983) Peak
US Hot 100 (Billboard)[23] 90
Santana featuring Chris Daughtry
Chart (2011–12) Peak position
US Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard)[24] 30
Chart (2019) Peak
US Hot Rock & Alternative Songs (Billboard)[25] 23

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (1995). The Great Rock Discography. p. 212. ISBN 9780862415419.
  2. ^ "Joe Elliott: We Didn't Start the Fire". Archived from the original on 17 October 2013. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 8th Edition (Billboard Publications), page 170.
  4. ^ Martin, Matt (18 November 2014). "Here's all 162 new songs in the refreshed GTA 5 soundtrack". VG247. Archived from the original on 10 December 2020. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Photograph" at AllMusic
  6. ^ Masley, Ed (8 July 2014). "Best '80s pop-metal songs, from Def Leppard to Poison". The Arizona Republic. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Def Leppard's "Photograph" is an '80s answer to those '60s coming-of-age songs". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 30 May 2021. A picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but sometimes all you need is four minutes and charge of pure, pop-metal perfection to really get the job done.
  8. ^ "36 Essential '80s Pop Metal Tracks". Stereogum. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  9. ^ "Readers' Poll: The Best Hair Metal Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 20 June 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2021.
  10. ^ Stosuy, Brandon (5 January 2009). "VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs". Stereogum. VH1. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  11. ^ "50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone. 13 October 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2019. pretty power-popper 'Photograph,'
  12. ^ "Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. 26 March 1983. p. 8. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
  13. ^ SB (21 May 2020). "THE STORY BEHIND THE SONG: «Photograph» by Def Leppard". Rocking In the Norselands. Retrieved 27 June 2023.
  14. ^ "Def Video 2 Pyromania/HND 84". Archived from the original on 20 July 2007. Retrieved 8 June 2021.
  15. ^ " music". Archived from the original on 12 February 2009. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  16. ^ "VH1's 100 Greatest Songs". 11 February 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2012.
  17. ^ Cornell, Jeff (4 August 2015). "10 Best Def Leppard Songs". Loudwire. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  18. ^ Titus, Christa (27 October 2017). "Def Leppard's 15 Best Songs: Critic's Picks". Billboard. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  19. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 6269." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Def Leppard Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  22. ^ "Def Leppard Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  23. ^ "Talent Almanac 1984" (PDF). Billboard. Vol. 95, no. 52. Billboard Publications, Inc. 24 December 1983. p. TA-18. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 25 February 2017.
  24. ^ "Santana – Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  25. ^ "Def Leppard Chart History (Hot Rock & Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 7 May 2019.