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Porcelain (song)

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"Porcelain"
Porcelain (Moby) - Cover.jpg
Single by Moby
from the album Play
B-side
  • "Flying Over the Dateline"
  • "Summer"
Released June 12, 2000
Format
Recorded 1998 at Moby's home studio (Manhattan, New York)
Genre
Length
  • 4:01 (album version)
  • 3:32 (single version)
Label
Songwriter(s) Moby
Producer(s) Moby
Moby singles chronology
"Natural Blues"
(2000)
"Porcelain"
(2000)
"South Side"
(2000)

"Porcelain" is a song by American electronica musician Moby. It was released as the sixth single from his fifth studio album Play on June 12, 2000. Its melancholic lyrics describe the break-up of a relationship and were written by Moby – who also performs lead vocals on the track – based on his own reflections on past romantic affections. The song incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms into its instrumentation. While Moby initially expressed disdain over the song and its production, he was eventually talked into including it on Play.

The song was well received by music critics, who praised its arrangement and named it a standout track on Play. It became one of the most successful singles from the album upon release, becoming a top five hit in the United Kingdom and managing to chart highly in several other countries. Moby later licensed "Porcelain", along with the remainder of Play, for use in several forms of media. Two different music videos were produced for the song, directed by Jonas Åkerlund and Nick Brandt. The song has received remixes by Rob Dougan, Futureshock, Torsten Stenzel and Force Mass Motion, among others.

Background and composition[edit]

"Porcelain" was written and produced by Moby for his fifth studio album Play (1999) and recorded in his Little Italy, Manhattan apartment.[1] He found the inspiration to compose the song from his own personal experiences; speaking to Billboard, he explained: "I was involved with this really, really wonderful woman, and I loved her very much. But I knew deep in my heart of hearts that we had no business being romantically involved. So, it's sort of about being in love with someone but knowing you shouldn't be with them."[2] Moby initially disliked the track, criticizing his production as "mushy" and his vocals as "really weak".[3] He had dismissed "Porcelain" as "average" and later recalled that he "couldn't imagine anyone else wanting to listen to it".[3] Nonetheless, he was eventually talked into including it on Play by his manager.[3]

Featuring vocals performed by Moby,[4] "Porcelain" is a mid-tempo, downtempo[5] and electronica[1] song. The song samples the song "Fight For Survival" from the 1960 film Exodus. The song's introspective, wistful lyrics describe "loving someone, but having to break up with them anyway."[6] Composed in the key of E-flat major and running at a tempo of 96 beats per minute, "Porcelain" follows a constant four-chord progression (Gm−B♭−Fm−A♭) in the B♭ mixolydian mode, with the exception of a bridge midway through the song.[7] Its instrumentation incorporates reversed string samples and piano rhythms.[8] "Porcelain" also makes use of a drum machine and includes several layered elements, including vocal samples, synthesizer chords and a cello line.[1] Pilar Basso performs additional vocals on the song.[9]

Critical reception[edit]

"Porcelain" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Alexandra Marshall of MTV called the song a "lush little snippet which sounds like a basement tape from a Magnetic Fields EP."[10] A writer for the Birmingham Evening Mail wrote that its "sweeping melody and atmospheric vocals" create a "distinctive soundscape".[11] While commenting that Play "need[s] of a bit of pruning", David Browne of Entertainment Weekly cited "Porcelain" as an exception and praised it as "gorgeous".[4] Jim DeRogatis of the Chicago Sun-Times characterized the Play songs "Honey" and "Porcelain" as "emotional and gripping" and wrote that if "[they] didn't move you (in every sense of the word), then you probably had no pulse."[12] Playlouder named "Porcelain" the twenty-sixth best single of 2000, calling it the album's "most crushingly heavenly track" and praising its combination of piano melodies with Moby's "hauntingly haunted" vocals.[13] The song ranked at number fifty-six on The Village Voice's 2000 year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll for singles.[14] In 2003, Q placed "Porcelain" at number 253 on their list of the 1,001 Best Songs Ever.[15]

Commercial performance[edit]

The song was released as the sixth single from Play on June 12, 2000.[16] Like all other songs from its parent album, it was licensed for use in several commercials, television programs and films.[17] English film director Danny Boyle featured "Porcelain" in his 2000 film The Beach, with Moby crediting its inclusion in the film for raising awareness of the record.[3] Other notable uses include commercials for the Volkswagen Polo, Bosch and France Télécom.[18] "Porcelain" became one of the most successful singles from Play upon release – Moby has since referred to it as the "most signature song" on the album.[3] It debuted at number five on the UK Singles Chart and spent a total of six weeks on the chart.[19] The single became a top thirty hit in Ireland and Poland, where it peaked at numbers 26 and 14 respectively.[20][21] "Porcelain" also managed to chart in several other European countries, including France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.[22][23][24][25][26] In North America, it peaked at number 50 on the Canadian RPM singles chart and charted on the United States Billboard Adult Alternative Songs, Adult Pop Songs, Alternative Songs, Dance Club Songs and Dance/Electronic Singles Sales charts.[27][28][29][30][31] Liana Jonas of AllMusic wrote that the song's commercial success "helped bring electronica music into the limelight", calling it a "groundbreaking recording".[1]

In 2018 the string samples of the song were used as background loop on "A$AP Forever" by ASAP Rocky.

Music videos[edit]

Two separate music videos were produced for "Porcelain". The first version, directed by Jonas Åkerlund,[32] is primarily a simple close-up of a human eye; various images are reflected onto the eye throughout the course of the video, including Moby performing the song, people smiling and a piano being played.[33]

The second video, directed by Nick Brandt, features Moby sitting in the back seat of a moving car without a driver as it drives through a city and on a highway, passing various individuals in the process. The car left turns into a field and drives through a forest, past cattle, and finally down a hillside going into the distance.[34] The Åkerlund-directed version only aired in European markets and was not released in the United States until its inclusion on the video album Play: The DVD.[35]

Track listing[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2000) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[42] 56
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[43] 4
Belgium (Ultratip Wallonia)[44] 2
Belgium Dance (Ultratop)[45] 22
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[46] 50
Canada Adult Contemporary (RPM)[47] 46
France (SNEP)[22] 99
Germany (Official German Charts)[23] 63
Ireland (IRMA)[20] 26
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[24] 30
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[25] 68
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[48] 17
Poland (ZPAV)[21] 14
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[49] 6
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[26] 79
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[19] 5
UK Indie (Official Charts Company)[50] 2
US Adult Alternative Songs (Billboard)[27] 11
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[28] 24
US Alternative Songs (Billboard)[29] 18
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[30] 14
US Dance/Electronic Singles Sales (Billboard)[31] 38

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United Kingdom[51][52] June 12, 2000 CD single Mute Records
July 3, 2000 12-inch single
United States[53] August 22, 2000 V2 Records
France[54] August 29, 2000 CD single Mute Records
Germany[37] September 8, 2000
France[55] April 30, 2001 CD single (enhanced)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Jonas, Liana. "Porcelain – Moby". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  2. ^ Pesselnick, Jill (July 22, 2000). "The Modern Age". Billboard. New York. 112 (30). Retrieved June 28, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Weingarten, Christopher R. (July 2, 2009). "'Play' 10 Years Later: Moby's Track by Track Guide to 1999's Global Smash". Rolling Stone. New York. Archived from the original on May 10, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Browne, David (June 11, 1999). "Play". Entertainment Weekly. New York. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  5. ^ Gensler, Andy (December 15, 2014). "Moby on 'Hotel: Ambient,' L.A. Shows, Selling His "Castle in the Hills"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Moby The Very Best Of Interview". Shakenstir. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Hall, Richard. "Moby – Porcelain Sheet Music". Kobalt Music Publishing America. MN0039682. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. 
  8. ^ Bush, John. "Moby – Play". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved May 12, 2013. 
  9. ^ Play (liner notes). Moby. V2 Records. 1999. 63881-27049-2. 
  10. ^ Marshall, Alexandra (February 23, 2001). "Play". MTV. Archived from the original on February 3, 2002. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Music Power: Singles: Pick Of The Week". Birmingham Evening Mail. June 13, 2000. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ DeRogatis, Jim (December 26, 1999). "Best music off the beaten path; It was a bad year for pop-rock music". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 18, 2013. (Subscription required (help)). 
  13. ^ "Top 50 Singles". Playlouder. Archived from the original on April 20, 2001. Retrieved May 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ "The 2000 Pazz & Jop Critics Poll". The Village Voice. New York. February 22, 2000. Archived from the original on August 23, 2004. Retrieved May 18, 2013. 
  15. ^ "1,001 Best Songs Ever". Q. London. November 2003. 
  16. ^ "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad? Elton John Sings". NME. London. April 7, 2000. Archived from the original on May 19, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  17. ^ Grundy, Gareth (June 15, 2011). "Moby licenses every track on Play. Ker-ching!". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  18. ^ Simpson, Dave (May 5, 2000). "Plug and play". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved May 15, 2013. 
  19. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Chart Track: Week 25, 2000". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Notowanie nr 967 z dnia 11.08.2000". Polish Society of the Phonographic Industry. Retrieved May 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Lescharts.com – Moby – Porcelain" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  23. ^ a b "Offiziellecharts.de – Moby – Porcelain". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 26, 2000" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  25. ^ a b "Dutchcharts.nl – Moby – Porcelain" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  26. ^ a b "Swisscharts.com – Moby – Porcelain". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  27. ^ a b "Moby Chart History (Adult Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  28. ^ a b "Moby Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  29. ^ a b "Moby Chart History (Alternative Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  30. ^ a b "Moby Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  31. ^ a b "Moby – Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on May 14, 2013. Retrieved March 17, 2013. 
  32. ^ Play: The DVD (back cover). Moby. Mute Records. 2001. 7243 4 92573 9 9. 
  33. ^ EMIMusic (March 5, 2009). "Moby – Porcelain". YouTube. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  34. ^ Rahman, Rema (November 21, 2008). "Songs I Forgot I Loved: Moby's Porcelain". Cinema Blend. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  35. ^ D'Angelo, Joe (June 13, 2001). "Moby Gives Fans The Order: Play The DVD". MTV News. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  36. ^ "Porcelain (CD – Mute #252) – Moby". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  37. ^ a b "Porcelain". Germany: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  38. ^ "Porcelain (Remix) (CD2)". United Kingdom: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  39. ^ Porcelain (track listing). Moby. Mute Records. 2000. CMUTE252. 
  40. ^ Porcelain (track listing). Moby. V2 Records. 2000. 63881-27650-1. 
  41. ^ "Porcelain (The Remixes) – Single by Moby". United States: iTunes Store. Retrieved February 24, 2018. 
  42. ^ "The ARIA Report: Issue 566 (Week Commencing 1 January 2001)" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. p. 4. Archived from the original on 21 February 2002. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  43. ^ "Ultratop.be – Moby – Porcelain" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  44. ^ "Ultratop.be – Moby – Porcelain" (in French). Ultratip. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  45. ^ "Ultratop Dance – 08/07/2000" (in Dutch). Ultratop Dance. Retrieved February 25, 2018. 
  46. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 7099." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  47. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 7217." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  48. ^ "Charts.nz – Moby – Porcelain". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  49. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  50. ^ "Official Independent Singles Chart Top 50". Official Charts Company. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  51. ^ "Porcelain". United Kingdom: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  52. ^ "Porcelain [12" Vinyl]". United Kingdom: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  53. ^ "Porcelain Pt.1". United States: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  54. ^ "Porcelain 1". France: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  55. ^ "Porcelain". France: Amazon. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 

External links[edit]