Take Me to Church

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"Take Me to Church"
Hozier Take Me to Church.jpg
Single by Hozier
from the album Take Me to Church EP and Hozier
Released 13 September 2013 (2013-09-13)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2013
Genre
Length 4:02[1]
Label
Songwriter(s) Andrew Hozier-Byrne
Producer(s) Rob Kirwan
Hozier singles chronology
"Take Me to Church"
(2013)
"From Eden"
(2014)
"Take Me to Church"
(2014)
"From Eden"
(2014)
Hozier chronology
Take Me to Church
(2014) 'Take Me to Church'2014
From Eden
(2014) 'From Eden'2014

"Take Me to Church" is a song by Irish musician Hozier from his debut extended play (EP) Take Me to Church (2013) –– originally released as a free download in September 2013, featuring original recordings & mixes of songs "Take Me To Church," "Like Real People Do," "Angel Of Small Death And The Codeine Scene," and "Cherry Wine" –– as well as his later self-titled debut album (2014). The song was released as his debut single 13 September 2013. Hozier, a struggling musician at the time of its writing, wrote and recorded the song in the attic of his parents' home in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland. A mid-tempo soul song, its lyrics detail Hozier's frustration with the Catholic Church and its stance on homosexuality. The song first caught the attention of independent label Rubyworks, where producer Rob Kirwan overdubbed the original demo with live instruments. Only two musicians feature on the track: Andrew Hozier-Byrne (Hozier) and drummer Fiachra Kinder.[citation needed]

The song's music video has contributed to its widespread popularity. The clip, directed by Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson of small production company Feel Good Lost, follows the relationship between two men and the subsequent violent homophobic backlash. Upon its YouTube release in September 2013, the video quickly began to go viral, leading to Hozier's subsequent license with Columbia Records US and Island Records UK.

In 2014, the song achieved widespread global popularity, topping the charts in 12 countries and reaching the top 10 in 21 other territories. Aided by music platforms Shazam and Spotify to become a rock radio hit in the US, the song spent 23 consecutive weeks at the top of the Hot Rock Songs chart, tied with Imagine Dragons' "Radioactive" as the longest-running #1 in its chart-history (at the time), later crossing over to the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at #2 in December 2014. The song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Song of the Year at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards. The song has been certified five times platinum in the US.

On 16 April 2016, Hozier released the original Take Me To Church EP on special edition 12-inch vinyl picture disc for Record Store Day UK; this was the first time the EP was available as a physical release.

Background[edit]

In 2013, Hozier was a struggling musician, often seen in Dublin-area open mic nights. During this period, he penned "Take Me to Church" at his parents' home in Bray, County Wicklow, Ireland, and recorded a rough demo in their attic with a programmed backing track.[2] He wrote the song after a bad breakup.[3] "The vocals were recorded in my attic at 2 o'clock in the morning. So it's a real homemade job", he later remarked.[4]

It caught the attention of independent label Rubyworks, who paired him with producer Rob Kirwan. The song was overdubbed with live instrumentation, but the original demo vocals remained, as Kirwan found them "powerful" enough to remain.[2]

Lyrical interpretation[edit]

Lyrically, "Take Me to Church" is a metaphor, with the protagonist comparing his lover to religion. The song grew out of Hozier's frustration with the Catholic Church's teachings which, although he himself was raised in the Protestant Quaker faith, dominated the social and political outlook of the Irish state.[5] "Growing up, I always saw the hypocrisy of the Catholic church", Hozier said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "The history speaks for itself and I grew incredibly frustrated and angry. I essentially just put that into my words."[2]

In an interview with The Irish Times, Hozier stated,

I found the experience of falling in love or being in love was a death, a death of everything. You kind of watch yourself die in a wonderful way, and you experience for the briefest moment–if you see yourself for a moment through their eyes–everything you believed about yourself gone. In a death-and-rebirth sense.[6]

In an interview with New York magazine, he elaborated:

Sexuality, and sexual orientation – regardless of orientation – is just natural. An act of sex is one of the most human things. But an organization like the church, say, through its doctrine, would undermine humanity by successfully teaching shame about sexual orientation – that it is sinful, or that it offends God. The song is about asserting yourself and reclaiming your humanity through an act of love.[7]

The song draws inspiration from atheist author Christopher Hitchens and paraphrases the poet Fulke Greville's verse "Created sick, commanded to be sound."[8][9][10]

Commercial performance[edit]

I never wrote music for the mainstream. I think I was incredibly fortunate that the song crossed over and people connected with it. Spotify played a big role. It's a discovery platform and it's been invaluable to me over the past year.

Hozier in 2015[2]

The song rose in prominence alongside its viral music video, attracting A&R representatives from major labels in a bidding war to sign Hozier. He was signed by Justin Eshak of Columbia Records, who later opined that the song became a hit due to a shift on pop radio, spearheaded by Sam Smith: "The music is connecting because when it gets on the air it's such a sharp juxtaposition to the existing material on top 40 radio."[2] The song first experienced chart success in his native Ireland, climbing the charts in October 2013 and eventually reached number 2 on Irish Singles Chart.[3]

In May 2014, Hozier performed the song on the Late Show with David Letterman.[11] It was sent to US modern rock radio on 24 June 2014 by Columbia Records.[12] It eventually reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks in December 2014 and January 2015, behind Taylor Swift's "Blank Space", while becoming his first top-five single there.[13] As of July 2015, the song has sold 4,270,000 copies in the US.[14] The track has since reached top 5 in many other countries including peaking at number 2 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

The song initially attracted US attention in Nashville via an adult album alternative radio station. From there, it became the top song for the area on music identification application Shazam, which led to its appearance on a local top 40 station. "Take Me to Church" achieved widespread popularity in the United States between the summer and fall of 2014.[2]

Despite the song's popularity on YouTube, the song achieved more listens on Spotify,[15] becoming the service's most-streamed song of 2014, achieving 87 million listens.[16]

Music video[edit]

The concept for the "Take Me to Church" music video was the result of a collaboration between Hozier, Brendan Canty and his writing partner Emmet O'Brien.[17] It was directed by Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson of Feel Good Lost[18] and was released on 25 September 2013. The video, shot in grayscale on location at Inniscarra Dam in Cork, Ireland, follows a same-sex relationship and the violently homophobic backlash that ensues when the community learns of one of the men's sexuality. The song went viral following its release. "I remember someone texting me to say it was getting 10,000 views an hour", he recalled.[2] The song achieved 230,000 YouTube views within two weeks.[4]

Hozier stated, "The song was always about humanity at its most natural, and how that is undermined ceaselessly by religious organizations and those who would have us believe they act in its interests. What has been seen growing in Russia is no less than nightmarish. I proposed bringing these themes into the story and Brendan liked the idea."[19][20]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download – single[21]
No. Title Length
1. "Take Me to Church" 4:01
Digital download – EP[22]
No. Title Length
1. "Take Me to Church" 4:01
2. "Like Real People Do" 3:17
3. "Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene" 3:38
4. "Cherry Wine" (Live) 3:59
German CD single[23]
No. Title Length
1. "Take Me to Church" 4:01
2. "Run" 3:17

Cover versions and use in media[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[106] 6× Platinum 420,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[107] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[108] 3× Platinum 90,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[109] 8× Platinum 640,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[110] 2× Platinum 120,000^
France (SNEP)[111] Diamond 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[112] 2× Platinum 600,000^
Italy (FIMI)[113] 6× Platinum 300,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[114] 3× Platinum 45,000*
Norway (IFPI Norway)[115] 7× Platinum 70,000*
South Korea (Gaon Chart) 269,845[116]
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[117] Platinum 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[118] 3× Platinum 120,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[119] Platinum 30,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[120] 3× Platinum 1,800,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[121] 6× Platinumdagger 5,000,000[14]
Streaming
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[122] Platinum 2,600,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

dagger Since May 2013, RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[123]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Ireland[22] 13 September 2013 Digital download (EP) Rubyworks
United States[124] 16 September 2013
24 February 2014 Adult album alternative radio Columbia
Ireland[21] 20 March 2014 Digital download Rubyworks
United States[12][125][126] 24 June 2014 Modern rock radio Columbia
8 September 2014 Hot adult contemporary radio
16 September 2014 Contemporary hit radio
Italy[127] 14 November 2014 Island

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External links[edit]