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Souvenir (song)

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"Souvenir" 7" sleeve
Single by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
from the album Architecture & Morality
  • "Motion & Heart" (Amazon Version)
  • "Sacred Heart"
Released21 August 1981[1]
  • 3:39
  • 4:16 (10" extended souvenir)
Songwriter(s)Paul Humphreys,
Martin Cooper
Producer(s)Mike Howlett
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark singles chronology
"Enola Gay"
"Joan of Arc"
Alternative cover
"Souvenir" 10" sleeve
Official video
"Souvenir" on YouTube

"Souvenir" is a song written by Paul Humphreys and Martin Cooper of English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), and released as the first single from the group's 1981 album Architecture & Morality. Sung by Humphreys, the track is characterised by its use of slowed-down choral loops, and showcases OMD's early approach of utilising a synthesizer hook in place of a vocal chorus. The song has garnered praise from critics and fellow artists.

"Souvenir" became an international hit for the band. Peaking at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart, 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 countries, including topping the charts in Spain and Portugal.



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.[2] The composition was difficult, and the group was initially tempted to abandon the track. It was originally titled "The Choir Song" and the working title remained up until the final week for Peter Saville's artwork delivery.[3]

Keyboard player Paul Humphreys provided lead vocals and had co-written the song with Martin Cooper who had played live with OMD and was becoming part of the group. A synthesizer hook substitutes for a vocal chorus, as with other OMD compositions.[4] Frontman and co-founder Andy McCluskey was not a fan of the track. He said in 1987, "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."[5]

An extended version of Souvenir (with an additional verse) was released as a 10" single[6] and was later included as a bonus on the digitally remastered copies of Architecture & Morality. It was the second time the group had used this unusual release format, the first being the 10" single for "Messages" in May 1980.

Unlike successive hit singles "Joan of Arc" and "Maid of Orleans" from the Architecture & Morality album, "Souvenir" has never been reissued as a standalone CD single release.

The title of the track was used for a documentary DVD about the reformed OMD, released in 2007 by Aspect Television.[7]



Cashbox named "Souvenir", and "Did It in a Minute" by Hall & Oates, as their top "singles picks" for the week of 20 March 1982. The magazine called "Souvenir" an "insidiously catchy and melodic synthesizer glissando", and OMD's "strongest U.S. bid yet".[8] Sunie Fletcher of Record Mirror described the track as a "pleasant slowie" that is "very reminiscent of French movie music",[9] while the Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall said it "underscores the band's talent at writing subtle, intelligent pop songs".[10] Pete Silverton of Smash Hits was less enthused, portraying the track as "ethereal but rather hollow".[11] The magazine later expressed an alternate view, observing a "strong" single that features 1981's "intro of the year".[12]

"Souvenir" entered the UK Singles Chart on 29 August 1981 at no. 41, reaching no. 23 the following week. It was featured for the first time on Top of the Pops that week, helping the single to enter the Top 10 the next week, and then reach its peak of no. 3 on 15 September.[13] "Souvenir" was the 28th best-selling single in the UK in 1981.[14]

Retrospectively, Ned Raggett of AllMusic praised Humphreys' "warm and beautiful lead role" and described the mid-song instrumental break as "especially inspired".[15] Classic Pop's Mark Lindores called it a "shimmering synth-pop masterpiece",[16] while Trouser Press hailed the track as "magnificent" and "one of the most majestic singles of the post-punk era".[17] Paste identified "Souvenir" as "one of the best synth-pop songs ever written".[18]



In Record Mirror, critics Alf Martin and Daniela Soave each listed "Souvenir" as one of the 10 best singles of 1981;[19] Smash Hits readers placed it fourth.[12] Classic Pop later ranked the single as the 34th-greatest of the 1980s.[20] Having gained limited mainstream airplay since its initial chart success, "Souvenir" was mentioned in the IPC Media special 501 Lost Songs as a "classic piece of early '80s melancholy".[3] It has nevertheless been featured on numerous 1980s compilation albums, as well as in the BBC drama Ashes to Ashes.[21]

Multiple artists have endorsed the song. In a 1981 interview with BBC Radio 1, Godley & Creme named OMD's "Souvenir" and "Enola Gay" as two of their favourite singles of recent memory.[22] Also that year, future Pet Shop Boys founders Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe established a common ground in their love of the track. Tennant wrote in 2018, "'Souvenir' is such a beautiful and wistful song with that sparse early Eighties electronic sound. I still play it."[23] Thompson Twins frontman Tom Bailey recalled dancing to the track each night while touring with OMD in the mid-1980s, declaring, "What a melody. It's a fantastic piece of work."[24] Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy professed to "absolutely adore" the single, which he purchased as a child. He added, "[It's] probably the single record that I have played most in my life. I just kept it on repeat."[25] The Charlatans frontman Tim Burgess, who also bought the single, described it as "so atmospheric" and an "absolute classic".[26]

In 2011, Princess Chelsea named "Souvenir" her favourite song.[27] Jonn Penney of Ned's Atomic Dustbin selected it as the one track he would like to be played at his funeral, adding, "I'd want people to have that euphoric feeling that you sometimes get, when you remember something special that happened to you. This song somehow captures that for me."[28] Erasure vocalist Andy Bell said that he is always moved to tears upon hearing the track,[29] while Arcade Fire orchestrator Owen Pallett, who has arranged string versions of OMD songs, said, "I was working so hard to make the strings sound like a four-pole filter sweep, which is what is the intro of 'Souvenir' is made from. That inspired me to... apply it to my own songs."[30]



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.[2] 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.

"Sacred Heart" was sampled by German musician Console for his instrumental piece "Crabcraft", which appeared on the album Rocket in the Pocket (1998).[31] Icelandic singer Björk later added a vocal to the track, retitling it "Heirloom", and including it on the album Vespertine (2001).[32]

Music video

The Palladian Bridge at Stowe House

The song's promo video was filmed by Peter Saville in the grounds of Stowe House (the home of Stowe School, in Buckinghamshire, England) and Blenheim Palace Park, in Oxfordshire. It was an early MTV favourite and is among OMD's more well-known videos.[33]

Andy McCluskey is seen driving around in a classic red, convertible Volkswagen Karmann Ghia[34] (property of Peter Saville), while Paul Humphreys stands on, and leans against the pillars of, the Palladian Bridge while singing. 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.[35]

Live performances


The song was performed at live shows on a regular basis following the Architecture & Morality tour in 1981, except for when Paul Humphreys was no longer with the band during the 1990s.[36] A live performance from 1981 was filmed for the Live at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane concert in December 1981, initially released on VHS (1982) and laserdisc (1984) and later on DVD.

The song was also performed with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in June 2009 as documented by the Electricity DVD release.[37]

On 26 July 2015 Paul Humphreys was unable to perform at the 80s Rewind Festival in Scotland and so the vocal was sung for the first time by Andy McCluskey. On seeing a clip of the performance from his hospital bed Humphreys said he felt he had "entered some kind of alternative universe".[38]

Sleeve design


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.

Alternate versions


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.

Joyce Manor,[39] Mike "μ-Ziq" Paradinas,[40] Moth Wranglers,[41] and Mark Morriss of the Bluetones,[42] are among those to have covered the song.

Track listings





Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[54] Silver 250,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Music Week" (PDF). p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Official OMD Website discography entry for "Souvenir" 7". Archived from the original on 3 March 2008. Retrieved 3 March 2008.
  3. ^ a b "252-281: The '80s". 501 Lost Songs. IPC Media: 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.
  4. ^ "Interview: Andy McCluskey, OMD". PRS for Music Online Magazine. 19 March 2013. Archived from the original on 21 September 2020. 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.
  5. ^ Waller, Johnny; Humphreys, Mike. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark: Messages. Sidgwick & Jackson. 1987. ISBN 0-283-99234-4. p. 91.
  6. ^ "Official OMD Website discography entry for "Souvenir" 10". Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Aspect Television". 8 July 2007. Archived from the original on 8 July 2007.
  8. ^ "Singles". Cashbox. 20 March 1982. pp. 3, 9.
  9. ^ Fletcher, Sunie (22 August 1981). "Singles". Record Mirror. p. 16.
  10. ^ Hall, Neal (31 December 1981). "Pop/rock records". Vancouver Sun. p. 91 (L35).
  11. ^ Silverton, Pete (3–16 September 1981). "Reviews: Singles". Smash Hits. Vol. 3, no. 18. p. 24.
  12. ^ a b "Smash Hits 1981 Poll Winners". Smash Hits. Vol. 3, no. 26. 24 December 1981 – 6 January 1982. pp. 15, 17.
  13. ^ "Official Charts - Singles - Souvenir". OfficialCharts.com. Archived from the original on 20 April 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  14. ^ "The Official Top 50 best-selling songs of 1981". Official Charts. 5 March 2021. Archived from the original on 6 October 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  15. ^ Raggett, Ned. Architecture & Morality review Archived 5 May 2021 at the Wayback Machine at AllMusic
  16. ^ Lindores, Mark (1 August 2019). "Classic Album: Architecture & Morality". Classic Pop. Archived from the original on 30 April 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  17. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". Trouser Press. Archived from the original on 13 August 2020. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  18. ^ Mitchell, Matt (21 July 2023). "The 50 Greatest Synth-Pop Albums of All Time". Paste. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  19. ^ "The RM Selection 1981". Record Mirror. 26 December 1981. pp. 20–21. No. 2 (Soave), No. 10 (Martin).
  20. ^ "Top 100 Singles of the 80s: 35-31". Classic Pop. March 2014. Archived from the original on 26 November 2020. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  21. ^ "Ashes to Ashes - Music - Series One - Episode 2". BBC. Archived from the original on 20 April 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  22. ^ West, Mike (1982). Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. Omnibus Press. p. 43. ISBN 0-7119-0149-X.
  23. ^ Houghton, Richard (2019). OMD: Pretending to See the Future (expanded paperback ed.). This Day in Music Books. p. 136. ISBN 978-1-9161156-2-0.
  24. ^ Baillie, Russell (13 July 2024). "A Multitude of Synths: Thompson Twins, OMD Talk 80s Nostalgia & NZ Tour". New Zealand Listener. Archived from the original on 23 July 2024. Retrieved 23 July 2024.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  25. ^ Tuffrey, Laurie (4 July 2013). "Batting Order: Neil Hannon's Favourite Albums". The Quietus. p. 9. Archived from the original on 15 May 2024. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  26. ^ Burgess, Tim (14 April 2020). "Architecture and Morality replay". Tim's Twitter Listening Party. Event occurs at 9:08 PM. Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. Retrieved 1 April 2021. Absolute classic. Gorgeous. I had it on a 7" (as well as the 'other' massive song from this record). So atmospheric.
  27. ^ Keeley, Matt (15 November 2011). "Interview: Chelsea Nikkel, aka Princess Chelsea". Kittysneezes. Archived from the original on 25 February 2021. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Track Record: Jonn Penney of Ned's Atomic Dustbin". Music Republic Magazine. 29 June 2020. Archived from the original on 18 September 2020. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  29. ^ Walsh, Ben (6 May 2013). "Music review: Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Roundhouse, London". The Independent. Archived from the original on 3 February 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2016.
  30. ^ Turner, Luke (24 March 2010). "Orchestral Manoeuvres & Homoerotica: Owen Pallett Opens His Heartland". The Quietus. Archived from the original on 15 May 2024. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  31. ^ Rocket in the Pocket (Media notes). Payola Records. 1998. Payola A4.
  32. ^ Pytlik, Mark (2003). Björk: Wow and Flutter. ECW Press. pp. 160–161, 179. ISBN 978-1-55022-556-3.
  33. ^ "Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Souvenir - YouTube". www.youtube.com. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 6 January 2021.
  34. ^ "Softwave Souvenir". 14 August 2020. Archived from the original on 21 September 2021. Retrieved 29 October 2021.
  35. ^ "Messages: Greatest Hits, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark". Record Collector. Diamond Publishing Ltd. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 13 October 2008.
  36. ^ "Souvenir by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark". setlist.fm. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  37. ^ "Souvenir song". musicbrainz.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  38. ^ "OMD Official page - Message from Paul 27 July 2015". facebook.com. Archived from the original on 29 October 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  39. ^ Croft, Virginia (8 June 2022). "Joyce Manor : 40 Oz. to Fresno | Album review". Treble. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  40. ^ "µ-Ziq digs up cover of OMD's 'Souvenir' he recorded as a 13-year-old in 1985". Slicing Up Eyeballs. 2 March 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2016.
  41. ^ Edwards, Michael (1 February 2002). "Moth Wranglers: Never Mind the Context". Exclaim!. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  42. ^ Lay, Sarah (16 August 2015). "Mark Morriss (The Bluetones) – interview". Louder Than War. Archived from the original on 20 January 2021. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  43. ^ 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.
  44. ^ "OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  45. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Souvenir". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  46. ^ "Classifiche". Musica e dischi (in Italian). Set "Tipo" on "Singoli". Then, in the "Artista" field, search "Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark".
  47. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  48. ^ "OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  49. ^ "Hits of the World". Billboard. Vol. 94, no. 16. 24 April 1982. p. 63. ISSN 0006-2510. Archived from the original on 29 October 2021. Retrieved 10 November 2016 – via Google Books.
  50. ^ Salaverrie, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (in Spanish) (1st ed.). Madrid: Fundación Autor/SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  51. ^ "OMD: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  52. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – OMD (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark) – Souvenir" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  53. ^ Scaping, Peter, ed. (1982). "The Top 200 Singles: January–December 1981". BPI Year Book 1982 (5th ed.). London: The British Phonographic Industry Ltd. pp. 46–49. ISBN 0-906154-03-0.
  54. ^ "British single certifications – OMD – Souvenir". British Phonographic Industry. 1 September 1981. Retrieved 24 December 2020.