Sail (song)

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"Sail"
Awolnation-Sail-cover smaller-300x300.jpg
Single by Awolnation
from the album Megalithic Symphony
ReleasedNovember 8, 2010 (2010-11-08)
Format
Recorded2010
Studio
  • Red Bull Recording Studio
  • (Los Angeles, CA)
Genre
Length
  • 4:19 (album version)
  • 3:42 (radio edit)
LabelRed Bull
Songwriter(s)Aaron Bruno
Producer(s)Aaron Bruno
Awolnation singles chronology
"Burn It Down"
(2010)
"Sail"
(2010)
"Not Your Fault"
(2011)

"Sail" is a song by American rock band Awolnation. It was released as a single on November 8, 2010. The song was first featured on the band's debut extended play, Back from Earth (2010), and was later featured on their debut album, Megalithic Symphony (2011). The song was written and produced in Venice, California by group member Aaron Bruno, with Kenny Carkeet performing the audio engineering.

"Sail" is the band's most commercially successful song to date. It debuted at number 89 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart in September 2011, spending 20 weeks on the chart before dropping out. The single re-entered the Hot 100 a year later, becoming a massive sleeper hit and reaching a new peak of number 17. "Sail" is the first song to climb to its peak after a year on the Hot 100.[1] It has spent the second longest time inside the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 79 weeks, only surpassed by Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive".

Background and composition[edit]

"Sail" is an electronic rock[2][3] and alternative rock[4] song. It has also been noted as featuring "industrial-tinged electropop".[5] While band frontman Aaron Bruno has never come out and spoken directly concerning what "Sail" is about, in a 2016 interview, he recalls contemplating that perhaps people needed a different, darker sort of song than some of the more happier ones that were on the radio stating, "Alcohol and Drug Dependency has caused my family and I so much pain. I knew that I wanted to write about ADD so that others who are struggling would know they weren't alone. I remember playing the song for a producer friend of mine, and he told me everything was great, but I needed a chorus." Bruno then tried to write a chorus, but failed to achieve what he thought the song needed. He ended up leaving out the chorus.[6]

Music video[edit]

The video for "Sail" opens with lead singer Aaron Bruno running to a house. He enters the house relieved to have escaped from the threat outside. He shuts the blinds. Bruno then finds a tape recorder, and starts singing into it. He enters a bathroom and looks into a mirror, still singing. A green strip of light enters the house and moves across it, scanning a spacesuit helmet and a military flight-suit. As the light climbs up the stairs towards him, Bruno hides inside a full bathtub. The beam scans him in the bath. Bruno is then depicted being pulled across the floor by an unknown force; he attempts to cling to a door-frame, but loses his grip. The scene is interspersed with shots of Bruno closing a door and playing the song's piano section. As the song's final chorus section begins, the house shakes. Lights and lamps turn on and off as gusts of wind blow. Bruno is pulled by the mysterious force outside the house, and he is subsequently levitated up into the sky as a set of floodlights flash on him. He drops the tape recorder.

A video recorded by YouTuber Nanalew two years prior to Awolnation's own video had nearly 250 million views, in comparison to the group's own video which has just over 77 million. On January 28, 2015, Nanalew's video was blocked from YouTube due to copyright issues, but returned several days later. A few months later, Nanalew took the video down again herself. She states:

For the last few years, Red Bull Records has been claiming all the earnings for the video. They'd agreed to working with me on a mutually beneficial partnership (including possible compensation for my video), but nothing has come through.

She then called for her fans to tweet to the record label if they wanted to see the video back up again.[7] As of June 2018, the Nanalew video has over 290 million views.

Covers, remixes and media appearances[edit]

Online[edit]

  • "Sail" was used as the soundtrack for a YouTube video of proximity wingsuit flying "Grinding the Crack" by extreme athlete Jeb Corliss, uploaded in August 2011, which went viral, receiving in excess of 30 million views.[8]

Movies[edit]

TV[edit]

  • A BMW commercial that aired during the 2012 Summer Olympics incorporated "Sail".[8]
  • In 2013, the song was used by TV channel History in a trailer for the show Vikings and in the trailer for The Counselor (2013).[8]
  • "Sail" was featured in "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot", the ninth episode of the third season of The Good Wife.[10]
  • A So You Think You Can Dance contestant danced to it in May 2012.[11]
  • "Sail" was featured in "The Walking Dead", the twenty-second episode of season four of The Vampire Diaries.[12]
  • "Sail" was played during the final scene of "Dog Soldier", the fifth episode (season one) of A&E's crime drama Longmire.
  • "Sail" was the soundtrack to the season highlights video of the Orange Emus rugby club's premiership win in 2016.
  • A brief excerpt of "Sail" was used in the BBC comedy and drama program, Fleabag, episode two, in 2016.
  • "Sail" was used in the eighteen episode of the fourth season of Pretty Little Liars, in 2014.
  • "Sail" is played by the marching band of East Mississippi Community College in the Netflix documentary series Last Chance U.

Music[edit]

Video games[edit]

Remixes[edit]

Sport[edit]

  • "Sail" has been used as the walk-out music for Sale Sharks in their home rugby matches.

Formats and track listings[edit]

  • Digital download (United States)[14]
  1. "Sail" – 4:19
  2. "Sail" (Innerpartysystem Remix) – 5:26
  3. "Sail" (Dan the Automator Remix) – 4:34
  4. "Sail" (Unlimited Gravity Remix) – 5:49

Charts and certifications[edit]

Commercial performance[edit]

In July 2010, Austin DJ Toby Ryan premiered the song on KROX-FM and the response from the listeners was positive.[15]

"Sail" debuted at number 89 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 singles chart on the week of September 3, 2011.[16] The single spent 20 weeks on the chart before dropping out following the issue date of January 14, 2012.[17] It eventually re-entered in mid-2013;[18] its use in various television shows and advertisements exposed the song to a wider audience.[19] Following its appearance in a History Channel trailer promoting Vikings, weekly downloads "more than tripled".[8] The song has since spent more than a year on the chart and peaked at number 17 on the Hot 100 in its fifty-sixth week on the chart, two years after its initial debut.[20] "Sail" was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America in June 2013,[21] and as of May 2017, it has sold over 6.1 million copies in the US.[22]

"Sail" also peaked at number five on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in 2011. The song was featured in the introduction of the 2012 film Disconnect. Due to its extremely unusual longevity, it has become the only song in the history of the Hot 100 to spend a year on the chart without entering the top 20 first.

In Australia and New Zealand, the song peaked in September 2013, reaching number 27 on the Australian Music Chart,[23] and number 33 on the New Zealand Music Chart.[24] In the United Kingdom, the song peaked at number 17 on the UK Singles Chart in January 2014.[25]

On April 22, 2016, it was announced by the band that "Sail" had sold 10 million copies worldwide.

In an interview in late 2016, Aaron mentions that he has gotten used to fact that "Sail" was able to sell so many copies, but for a while he felt like he didn't deserve it. "Finally at a certain point you realize 'well I did write the song', and I've become used to it to a certain degree, but more than anything I feel like sort of a messenger of some greater methods that was meant to be heard by people in general."[6]

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label
United States[14][73][74] January 4, 2011 Alternative radio Red Bull
June 6, 2011 Active rock radio
June 13, 2011 Digital download
Germany[75] September 23, 2011
United Kingdom[76] September 25, 2011
France[77] September 26, 2011
Spain[78] September 27, 2011
United States[79][80] October 29, 2012 Hot AC radio
Contemporary hit radio

References[edit]

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External links[edit]