Souvenir (song)

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For other songs, see Souvenir (disambiguation).
"Souvenir" 7" sleeve
Single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
from the album Architecture & Morality
B-side "Motion & Heart" (Amazon Version)
"Sacred Heart"
Released 4 August 1981 (1981-08-04)
Format 7", 10"
Recorded 1981
Length 3:39 (7"), 4:16 (10")
Label Dindisc
Writer(s) Paul Humphreys,
Martin Cooper
Producer(s) Mike Howlett
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark singles chronology
"Enola Gay"
"Joan of Arc"
"Souvenir" 10" sleeve

"Souvenir" is a song written by Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and released as the first single from their 1981 album Architecture & Morality. Sung by Humphreys, the track has minimal lyrical content and is characterised by slowed-down choir sounds offset by pulsing major key piano chords. Its "gentle, sparkling" synthesizer hook[1] substitutes for a vocal chorus, as with other OMD compositions.[2]

"Souvenir" became a major international hit for the band. Peaking at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart,[3] it remains the group's highest-charting single in their home country, along with 1991's "Sailing on the Seven Seas". The song also reached the Top 10 in several European territories, including topping the charts in France, Spain and Portugal.[4]

Having gained little mainstream airplay in recent years, "Souvenir" has been hailed as a forgotten classic within popular music. The makers of the New Musical Express and Uncut, in the 2011 publication 501 Lost Songs, lauded the track as a "classic piece of early '80s melancholy."[5] Dave Thompson in AllMusic wrote: "OMD at their most luminescent, 'Souvenir' was a permanent memento of the group's early power."[6] Critic Ned Raggett praised Humphreys' vocal, as well as the mid-song instrumental break.[1]

Erasure vocalist Andy Bell has said that he is always moved to tears upon hearing "Souvenir".[7]


A tape consisting of slowed-down loops of a choir tuning up lent by ex-OMD member Dave Hughes had been the initial inspiration for the song.[8] Although displeased with the original version, they decided it had some merit after all, after having re-recorded it previously.

Keyboard player Paul Humphreys co-wrote the song and provided lead vocals. Frontman and co-founder Andy McCluskey was not a fan of the track. He has said: "I think you can always make a better case for a song you've written on your own...But everyone seems to think I hated 'Souvenir' just because it was Paul's song – not so. I genuinely thought it was a bit soppy, and since I hadn't written it, I found it hard to relate to."[9]

An extended version of the song (with an additional verse) was released as a 10" single[10] and included as a bonus on the digitally remastered copies of Architecture & Morality.

The title of the track was used for a documentary DVD about the reformed OMD, released in 2007 by Aspect Television.[11] It was originally titled "The Choir Song" and the working title remained up until the final week for Peter Saville's artwork delivery.[5]

Some copies of The Human League's single "Love Action (I Believe in Love)" were mispressed with "Souvenir" as the A-side.[4]

The B-sides[edit]

There are two songs on the B-sides of the 7" and the 10" singles, Motion & Heart (Amazon Version) and Sacred Heart. The original version of Motion & Heart can be found on the Organisation album. The Amazon Version was recorded at Amazon Studios in Kirkby as a possible single after Enola Gay, but that plan was dropped.[8] Both songs are produced by OMD and can be found on the remastered re-issues of Architecture & Morality. Sacred Heart is also included on Navigation: The OMD B-Sides.

Music video[edit]

The Palladian Bridge at Stowe House

The song's promo video was filmed on the grounds of Stowe House, which is used as Stowe School, in Buckinghamshire, England. It was an early MTV favorite and is among OMD's more well-known videos.

Andy McCluskey spends the entire video driving around in a classic red, convertible Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, while Paul Humphreys is standing on the Palladian Bridge while singing and leaning against the pillars of the bridge. The promo video is included on the video version of The Best of OMD, the bonus DVD of the 2007 reissue of Architecture & Morality and the DVD included in the 2008 Compilation album Messages: Greatest Hits.

Sleeve design[edit]

The sleeve was designed by Peter Saville and Brett Wickens. The 7" sleeve has a die-cut hole in the middle, revealing the label. On the label is a picture of a Düsseldorf street scene. For the 10" this picture is printed on the sleeve. It was the first single released with OMD as the band name. The European releases have different artwork, some almost identical to the UK releases. A Canadian release of the 10" has green transparent vinyl.

Remix versions[edit]

In May 1991 DMC released a 12" vinyl single with the Postcards from the Edge Mix by Brothers in Rhythm.

In 1998 four remixes of the song were made by Moby for the intended second disc of The OMD Singles. The second disc was dropped, but the remixes appeared on various The OMD Remixes EPs. In 2003 the double disc version was released in France only, which included all four remixes of Souvenir. The remixes are:

  • Moby remix – 4:41
  • Hard House version – 5:47
  • 7 AM version – 6:47
  • Me & Us remix – 11:32

Cover versions[edit]

Nino de Angelo recorded a German version of the song in 1982, titled Und ein Engel fliegt in die Nacht. The Genie Queen used the main melody of Souvenir in their 1995 song What a Girl Goes Through. Paul Humphreys' new band Onetwo plays the song regularly at gigs in the style of the Moby remix. Polish singer Ania recorded the song as a bonus to her debut album Samotność po zmierzchu in 2004. American singer-songwriter State Shirt recorded a cover version of the song in 2010. The US lo-fi indie pop outfit Brittle Stars also covered the song - recording a wistfully atmospheric version for their 2001 compilation "Garage Sale" released on Shelflife Records.

Track listings[edit]


Chart (1981) Peak
(sales thresholds)
Australia (Kent Music Report)[12] 57
Belgian Singles Chart[13] 16 (5 weeks)
Dutch Singles Chart[13] 38 (2 weeks)
German Media Control Singles Chart[13] 39 (17 weeks)
Irish Singles Chart[14] 9
Portuguese Singles Chart[15] 1
Spanish Singles Chart[16] 1
UK Singles Chart[17] 3 BPI: Silver[18]


  1. ^ a b Raggett, Ned. Architecture & Morality review at AllMusic
  2. ^ "Interview: Andy McCluskey, OMD". PRS for Music Online Magazine. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013. Many of our songs use the synth melody as the chorus. There are verses but generally the melody is the chorus. 
  3. ^ Official UK Chart for 19 September 1981.
  4. ^ a b OMD – Souvenir at Discogs.
  5. ^ a b "252-281: The '80s". 501 Lost Songs (NME/Uncut): 53. 2011. [T]his was originally known as 'The Choir Song', as the intro consisted of slowed-down loops of a choir tuning up. This classic piece of early '80s melancholy got its eventual title as Peter Saville was about to deliver the artwork for what would become the band's massive-selling Architecture & Morality album. 
  6. ^ "Souvenir" review at AllMusic
  7. ^ Walsh, Ben (6 May 2013). "Music review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Roundhouse, London". The Independent. Retrieved 30 January 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Official OMD Website discography entry for Souvenir 7". Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  9. ^ Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike. Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1987. ISBN 0-283-99234-4. p. 91.
  10. ^ "Official OMD Website discography entry for Souvenir 10". Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  11. ^ Aspect Television
  12. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 224. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 
  13. ^ a b c "OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark) - Souvenir". Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  14. ^ " search results for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Retrieved 2008-03-23. 
  15. ^ Billboard search results for Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Retrieved 2010-03-24. 
  16. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-09-15. 
  17. ^ "". Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  18. ^ "British certificates: searchable database". Retrieved 30 June 2010. 

Video clips[edit]