From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Semisonic playing onstage
Semisonic performing in 2023
Background information
OriginMinneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Years active1995–2001, 2006, 2017–present
LabelsMCA, Pleasuresonic

Semisonic is an American rock band formed in Minneapolis in 1995, consisting of Dan Wilson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), John Munson (bass, keyboards, backing vocals, guitar), and Jacob Slichter (drums, percussion, keyboards, backing vocals). They are best known in the U.S. for their 1998 top-20 single "Closing Time". They also had international success with the singles "Singing in My Sleep", "Secret Smile" and "Chemistry".


Formation and debut album[edit]

After the breakup of Trip Shakespeare, Wilson and Munson joined up with drummer Slichter to form the band Pleasure in 1993.[1] By 1995, they had changed their name to Semisonic. An EP, Pleasure, was released that year on Boston indie label CherryDisc, and the studio full-length Great Divide in 1996 on MCA.

Breakthrough and international success[edit]

Semisonic's breakthrough came two years later in 1998 when their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, reached the Top 50 chart on the strength of the hit single "Closing Time", their biggest hit in the United States. During a 2008 performance at Harvard's Sanders Theatre, Wilson said that it was originally written about the birth of his first child.

Their international career also blossomed when another song from the album, "Secret Smile", quickly became a UK radio favorite in the summer of 1999, eventually peaking at No. 12 on the UK Singles Chart.[2]

Third album and hiatus[edit]

In early 2001, the band released its third album, All About Chemistry, The single "Chemistry" was a mainstay overseas; however the album did not fare as well in the United States. Another song, "Over My Head", was used in the 2001 teen flick Summer Catch, and Semisonic rode the wave touring various cities in and around the UK.

The band onstage
Semisonic performing in a 2006 basement concert. L-R: Munson, Wilson, and Slichter

Wilson had spoken about doing more Semisonic music in the future but said, "The busy day-to-day life keeps pushing it further into the future." All About Chemistry would be their last studio release until reconvening for the You're Not Alone EP which they put out in 2020.


Munson playing bass and Wilson on guitar
Munson and Wilson onstage with Semisonic in 2017

To commemorate the twentieth anniversary of their first album, Great Divide, the band reunited for a series of three shows in June 2017 – June 14 at a small club in St. Paul, and June 16–17 at First Avenue in Minneapolis. The band played Great Divide in its entirety.

In December 2017, the band played three more shows in the Twin Cities to commemorate the approaching 20th anniversary of their second album, Feeling Strangely Fine, performing the album in its entirety. In 2018, Feeling Strangely Fine was given a rerelease for the album's twentieth anniversary, including its first vinyl pressing. The anniversary edition included four songs not on the original album: "Long Way from Home", "I'm a Liar", "Beautiful Regret", and "Makin' a Plan".

In July 2019, Semisonic performed at Summerfest in Milwaukee and then at the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. During their 2017–2019 shows, the band performed some new, previously unreleased songs, including "Basement Tapes", "All It Would Take", and "You're Not Alone"

First Avenue[edit]

Semisonic's star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue

The band has been honored with a star on the outside mural of the Minneapolis nightclub First Avenue,[3] recognizing performers that have played sold-out shows or have otherwise demonstrated a major contribution to the culture at the iconic venue.[4] Receiving a star "might be the most prestigious public honor an artist can receive in Minneapolis", according to journalist Steve Marsh.[5] Wilson and Munson's previous group, Trip Shakespeare, also has a star making them among the few musicians with multiple stars on the mural.


The band reunited for a series of two shows on June 14, 2017, in St. Paul and June 16, 2017, in Minneapolis for the first time in nearly five years. The St. Paul show at a smaller venue served as a live rehearsal for the Minneapolis show at famed Minneapolis club First Avenue. The band followed similar setlists for the shows, playing the album Great Divide in its entirety with a few additional songs, including a live debut of the Wilson-penned "Basement Tapes". Semisonic played together again in December 2017 with a similar combination of St. Paul and Minneapolis shows, but added a second show at First Avenue. The set list for these shows was the Feeling Strangely Fine track list with some supplemental songs including live debuts of two songs.

In 2018, Feeling Strangely Fine was given a rerelease for the album's twentieth anniversary, including its first vinyl pressing.

On June 26, 2020, Semisonic released the single "You're Not Alone", their first new material in 19 years,[6] and later released the full You're Not Alone EP on September 18, 2020.

On January 27 and 28, 2023, the band played two shows at First Avenue to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the shows’ sponsor, Twin Cities public radio station The Current.[7]

Semisonic supported Barenaked Ladies from June 2, 2023 through June 26, 2023 on the Last Summer on Earth 2023 tour.[8]

In the summer of 2023, the band also began releasing singles from its upcoming album, Little Bit of Sun. On June 5, Semisonic released the singles “Little Bit of Sun” and “Grow Your Own.” [9] On August 1, another single, “The Rope,”[10] was released, along with a video[11] for the song made by Phil Harder.  On September 12, the band released “Out of the Dirt,”[12] co-written by Lori McKenna and featuring Jason Isbell on guitar.

The full album of twelve songs, Little Bit of Sun, was released on November 3, 2023.[13]


Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with selected details, chart positions and certifications
Year Album details Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales threshold)
Great Divide
  • Release date: April 9, 1996
  • Label: MCA
Feeling Strangely Fine
  • Release date: March 24, 1998
  • Label: MCA
43 66 55 53 17 16
All About Chemistry
  • Release date: March 13, 2001
  • Label: MCA
103 28 13
Little Bit of Sun
  • Release date: November 3, 2023
  • Label: Pleasuresonic
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums[edit]

  • One Night at First Avenue (2003)



Title Year Peak chart positions Certifications Album




"Down in Flames" 1996 43[29] Great Divide
"If I Run" 38[30] 25[31]
"F.N.T." 35[32] 30
"Closing Time" 1998 11 1 13 4 40 33 48 84 50 25 Feeling Strangely Fine
"Singing in My Sleep" 11 31 70 39
"Secret Smile" 1999 21 17 30 26 12
"Chemistry" 2001 39 6 39 84 21 35 All About Chemistry
"Get a Grip" 109
"You're Not Alone" 2020 14 You're Not Alone EP
"Little Bit of Sun"/"Grow Your Own" 2023 Little Bit of Sun
"The Rope"
"Out of the Dirt"
"—" denotes releases that did not chart, or were not released in this territory.

Soundtracks and compilations[edit]

Other projects by members[edit]

Wilson took time out to do some solo projects and play tour dates around the Midwest in December. Munson joined Wilson's brother and former Trip Shakespeare frontman Matt Wilson to form a side project, The Flops, in 2001, though they were expected to make a final performance in early 2005. In 2009, John Munson and Matt Wilson reunited to form a new band The Twilight Hours. They have released two albums, Stereo Night (2009) and Black Beauty (2016), and have been touring.

In 2004, Slichter's book So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star was published, detailing some of the experiences the group had while touring and attempting to get airplay on radio stations across the US.[33]

In late spring of 2005, John Munson began playing in a new jazz trio, The New Standards, featuring Chan Poling of The Suburbs and Steve Roehm. This band plays new jazz renditions of "classic" songs.

In October 2007, Rick Rubin's label American Recordings released Wilson's solo album, Free Life, featuring collaborations with numerous artists including Munson and Slichter. The song "Cry" was the album's single.


  1. ^ "Monday Night Live – Pleasure – 1993". Retrieved May 5, 2023.
  2. ^ a b "SEMISONIC | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Stars". First Avenue & 7th Street Entry. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  4. ^ Bream, Jon (May 3, 2019). "10 things you'll learn about First Avenue in new Minnesota History Center show". Star Tribune. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  5. ^ Marsh, Steve (May 13, 2019). "First Avenue's Star Wall". Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota. Retrieved May 10, 2020.
  6. ^ Rettig, James (June 26, 2020). "Semisonic – "You're Not Alone"". Stereogum. Retrieved June 26, 2020.
  7. ^ "". January 21, 2023. Archived from the original on June 16, 2023. Retrieved June 18, 2023.
  8. ^ "Barenaked Ladies: Last Summer on Earth 2023". Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  9. ^ "Semisonic Share New Songs "Little Bit Of Sun" & "Grow Your Own": Listen". Stereogum. June 5, 2023. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  10. ^ Blistein, Jon (August 1, 2023). "Re-Opening Time: Semisonic Plot First Album in Over 20 Years, 'Little Bit of Sun'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  11. ^ Semisonic – The Rope, retrieved November 22, 2023
  12. ^ "Semisonic & Jason Isbell Share New Song "Out Of The Dirt": Listen". Stereogum. September 12, 2023. Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  13. ^ Valish, Frank. "Little Bit of Sun". Retrieved November 22, 2023.
  14. ^ "Semisonic Chart History: Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  15. ^ a b Peaks in Australia:
    • "Closing Time": "Discography Semisonic". Retrieved July 26, 2021.
    • "Feeling Strangely Fine" and "Singing in My Sleep": Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 248.
  16. ^ "Results – RPM – Library and Archives Canada". RPM. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  17. ^ a b Peak chart positions in Ireland:
  18. ^ a b "Discography Semisonic". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 19, 2016.
  19. ^ "RIAA – Gold & Platinum Semisonic certified albums". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  20. ^ "Semisonic – MC certifications". Canadian Recording Industry Association. September 29, 1998. Retrieved May 26, 2022.
  21. ^ a b c "British certifications – Semisonic". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved September 3, 2022. Type Semisonic in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  22. ^ Billboard (June 27, 1998). "Radio Songs Chart History – Semisonic". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  23. ^ Billboard (June 27, 1998). "Modern Rock Chart History – Semisonic". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  24. ^ Billboard. "Mainstream Rock Chart History – Semisonic". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  25. ^ Billboard. "Adult Alternative Airplay Chart History – Semisonic". Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  26. ^ Peaks in Canada:
  27. ^ "Dutch chart peaks". Retrieved May 25, 2022.
  28. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: DJ S – The System Of Life". Zobbel. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
  29. ^ "Radio & Records" (PDF). May 17, 1996. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  30. ^ "Radio & Records" (PDF). August 16, 1996. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  31. ^ "Radio & Records" (PDF). September 20, 1996. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  32. ^ "Radio & Records" (PDF). January 10, 1997. Retrieved June 8, 2022.
  33. ^ "Drummer's Book Takes Shine off Rock-Star Life". NPR. Retrieved August 25, 2015.

External links[edit]