Spaceman (Babylon Zoo song)

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"Spaceman"
Babylon-Zoo-Spaceman.jpg
Single by Babylon Zoo
from the album The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes
B-side
  • "Blue Nude"
  • "Metal Vision"
  • "5th Dimension Remix"
  • "E Before I Remix"
Released15 January 1996
FormatCD, Cassette, 12"
Recorded1995
GenreSpace rock, alternative rock, Grunge
Length5:41 (album version)
LabelEMI
Songwriter(s)Jas Mann
Producer(s)Jas Mann
Steve Power
Arthur Baker
Babylon Zoo singles chronology
"Spaceman"
(1996)
"Animal Army"
(1996)

"Spaceman" is a song by the British rock band Babylon Zoo, released in January 1996 as the lead single from their debut album, The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes (1996). Featuring heavily distorted guitars and metallic, robotic sounding vocals, it entered the UK Singles Chart at number one on 21 January 1996, after being featured in a popular Levi's jeans television advertisement in December 1995.

"Spaceman" was the seventh song to reach number one in the UK after being featured in an advert for Levi's.[1]

Song history[edit]

Promotional copies of "Spaceman" had been distributed, and the Arthur Baker remix was chosen to tie in with the release on 1 December 1995, of a new United Kingdom Levi's advertisement titled "Planet", which was directed by Vaughan Arnell and Anthea Benton.[2] The advertisement concentrated on Baker's speeded-up vocal section at the beginning and end of the song, featuring an alien neighbourhood inspired on the 50's years with an alien parents waiting the comeback of their teen daughter. Russian model Kristina Semenovskaya played the daughter, wearing Levi's jeans.[3][4]

The initial intro to "Spaceman" on the promotional copies, before it was used for the advert, featured Mann's whispering vocals of "I killed your mother, I killed your sister, I killed you all."[3] These lyrics were later taken out of the song and replaced with the more radio friendly Arthur Baker introduction. The "I killed you all" lyric remains buried in the mix. There was a lower budget video made for this version.[citation needed]

In 2006, "Spaceman" featured on trailers for Ant and Dec's film Alien Autopsy, the BBC's children's channel, CBeebies for the animated preschool series Lunar Jim, and Network Ten's advertisement for Battlestar Galactica. "Spaceman" is also used in Eesti otsib superstaari (Pop Idol Estonia). "Spaceman" is also featured in E4's My Mad Fat Diary, in the episode "Ladies and Gentlemen", during the scene where Rae and Finn begin their drive to Knebworth.[citation needed]

Music video[edit]

Following the release of the single, a music video was produced. It features a black-and-white prologue with Jas Mann as a night driver who has a close encounter with aliens appearing from fog on the road; meanwhile the vocals are speed up. When the vocals decelerate and return to normal pitch, the video alternates between the band playing in an underground place full of young people dancing, and the band playing alone in a blue-colored desert landscape, with Mann singing to camera. Finally the vocals speed up again, during a black-and-white epilogue where aliens go missing in the fog but one of them turns in front of the camera pointing to the night sky, showing that he's the night driver, turned into another alien.[5]

Critical reception[edit]

Writing in Select, Ian Harrison described the song as a "bin-lid dancey metal effort with a weakness for vintage Bowie-isms (done like Bauhaus with synths) and a suspected humour deficiency".[6] Conversely, Chuck Eddy at Entertainment Weekly described the song's "futuristic kitsch" as "both funny and seductive."[7]

Retrospectively, Vice managing editor Daisy Jones found the song's verses to be lacklustre but the chorus reminiscent of "the sudden sickly swell of euphoria 20 minutes after popping a surprisingly pure pill".[8] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called the track a "bizarre, tuneless collage of hip-hop rhythms, techno keyboards and alternative guitars", that despite sounding distinctive, lacks "any tangible hook to make it memorable".[9] Writer Tim Moore and a Scotsman journalist likened the song to a dirge, and unfavourably compared it to the Arthur Baker remix;[10][11] Moore attributed the single's success to the Baker remix and its Levi's advert exposure.[10]

Steven Wells of NME recalled: "Millions of pop kids rushed down Woolies and bought the single – only to get it home to discover to their horror that it was 'good' (like in the advert) for about ten seconds, and then became rubbish. Very rubbish."[12] Colleague Sarah Anderson wrote: "There can be few more crushing letdowns in pop than the full single mix of 'Spaceman'."[13]

MTV UK ranked "Spaceman" as the #24 single of the 1990s.[14] "Spaceman" was voted number 31 in a 2006 Channel 4 poll of the 50 best songs by one-hit wonders.[15]

Commercial performance[edit]

The single charted at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart,[16] selling 420,000 copies in its first week.[17][18] It became the fastest selling single in the United Kingdom in over thirty years, since The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love".[19] "Spaceman" became a number one chart hit in 23 countries, including the United Kingdom.[20] As of November 2012, "Spaceman" was the 74th best selling single in the history of the United Kingdom, selling 1.14 million copies.[21]

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

CD Promo Single 1995 WEA (YZ925CDDJ)

  1. "Spaceman" (radio version) — 3:50
  2. "Spaceman" (Arthur meets the spaceman) — 5:56

CD Promo 1995 EMI (CDEMDJ 416)

  1. "Spaceman" (zupervarian mix) - 3:50

7" Single

  1. "Spaceman" (zupervarian mix) - 3:50
  2. "Spaceman" (the 5th dimension) — 5:09

CD Single 1996 EMI (CDEM 416)

  1. "Spaceman" (zupervarian mix) — 3:50
  2. "Metal Vision" — 3:48
  3. "Blue Nude" — 2:09
  4. "Spaceman" (the 5th dimension) — 5:09

CD Single ('The Only Original Remixes') 1996 EMI (7243 8 82721 2 4)

  1. "Spaceman" (zupervarian mix) — 3:50
  2. "Spaceman" (the 5th dimension) — 5:09
  3. "Spaceman" (Arthur meets the spaceman) — 5:56
  4. "Spaceman" (E before I) — 6:37

Charts and certifications[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "I was a sex symbol the moment I popped out of the womb". Daily Record. The Free Library. 23 January 1996. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  2. ^ "Rock of Ages". Liverpool Echo Archived at The Free Library. 23 January 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b Sloan, Nicola (6 January 2013). "Babylon Zoo". morethanthemusic.co.uk. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
  4. ^ Spaceman Levi's Commercial on Youtube
  5. ^ Babylon Zoo - Spaceman video on Youtube
  6. ^ Harrison, Ian (February 1996). "New Albums". Select. p. 89. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  7. ^ Eddy, Chuck (12 April 1996). "Music Review - Spaceman (1996)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  8. ^ Jones, Daisy (9 May 2017). "A Complete Ranking of 15 One-Hit Wonder Albums from Worst to Best". Vice. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  9. ^ The Boy with the X-Ray Eyes review. AllMusic.
  10. ^ a b Moore, Tim (2012). You are Awful (but I Like You): Travels Through Unloved Britain. Vintage. p. 157–158. ISBN 0-224-09011-9.
  11. ^ "What's happened to Babylon Zoo?". The Scotsman. The Scotsman Publications. 15 February 2008. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  12. ^ Wells, Steven (23 January 1999). "This week's singles". NME. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  13. ^ Anderson, Sarah (21 May 2012). "50 best-selling tracks of the '90s". NME. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  14. ^ The Official Top 100 Singles of The 90's
  15. ^ "50 Greatest One Hit Wonders". 100 Greatest. 7 May 2006. Channel 4. Channel Four Television Corporation.
  16. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "For The Record". The Mirror Archived at The Free Library. 20 March 2002. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  18. ^ "Entertainment - Will Blur spear Britney?". BBC. 22 February 1999. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  19. ^ Krewen, Nick (23 May 1996). "The keeper of Babylon Zoo". Toronto Star.
  20. ^ "Babylon Zoo". The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. 21 August 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  21. ^ "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". The Guardian. 4 November 2012. Retrieved 1 July 2013.
  22. ^ "My week: Katie Melua". The Daily Telegraph. 4 February 2006
  23. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  24. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  25. ^ "Ultratop.be – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  26. ^ "Ultratop.be – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman" (in French). Ultratop 50.
  27. ^ "Hits of the World: Denmark (IFPI/Nielsen Marketing Research)". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media. 108 (13): 55. 30 March 1996. ISSN 0006-2510.
  28. ^ "Babylon Zoo: Spaceman" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland.
  29. ^ "Lescharts.com – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman" (in French). Les classement single.
  30. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". GfK Entertainment Charts.
  31. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (NR. 159 Vikuna 2.3. - 8.3. '96)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  32. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Spaceman". Irish Singles Chart.
  33. ^ "Hit Parade Italia - Indice per Interprete: B". Hitparadeitalia.it. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  34. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 7, 1996" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40
  35. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  36. ^ "Charts.nz – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". Top 40 Singles.
  37. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". VG-lista.
  38. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  39. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  40. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". Singles Top 100.
  41. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Babylon Zoo – Spaceman". Swiss Singles Chart.
  42. ^ "1996 Australian Singles Chart". aria. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  43. ^ "1996 Austrian Singles Chart" (in German). Austriancharts. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  44. ^ "1996 Belgian (Flanders) Singles Chart" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  45. ^ "1996 Belgian (Wallonia) Singles Chart" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  46. ^ "1996 French Singles Chart" (in French). Disqueenfrance. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  47. ^ "Top 100 Single-Jahrescharts" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  48. ^ "Single top 100 over 1996" (PDF) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  49. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 1996" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  50. ^ "End of Year Charts 1996". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  51. ^ "1996 Swiss Singles Chart" (in German). Swisscharts. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  52. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1996". Music Week. 18 January 1997. p. 25.
  53. ^ "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1996". The Australian Record Industry Association Ltd. Archived from the original on 2 November 2015. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  54. ^ Austrian certifications ifpi.at Archived 11 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 5 January 2009)
  55. ^ French certifications Disqueenfrance.com Archived 14 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 5 January 2009)
  56. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Spaceman')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  57. ^ Swedish certifications Ifpi.se Archived 11 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 5 January 2009)
  58. ^ UK certifications Bpi.co.uk Archived 13 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine (Retrieved 5 January 2009)
  59. ^ Ami Sedghi (4 November 2012). "UK's million-selling singles: the full list". Guardian. Retrieved 4 November 2012.

External links[edit]