Teardrop (song)

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Massive Attack - Teardrop.jpg
Single by Massive Attack
from the album Mezzanine
B-side"Euro Zero Zero"
Released27 April 1998 (1998-04-27)[1]
  • Massive Attack
  • Christchurch (Bristol, UK)
GenreTrip hop
Massive Attack singles chronology
Music video
"Teardrop" on YouTube

"Teardrop" is a song by English trip hop group Massive Attack. Vocals are performed by Elizabeth Fraser, former lead singer of Cocteau Twins, who also wrote the lyrics. A harpsichord-driven track, "Teardrop" was originally set to feature vocals from Madonna, whom Massive Attack turned down in favour of Fraser. It was released as the second single from the group's third studio album, Mezzanine, on 27 April 1998.

In the United Kingdom, "Teardrop" peaked at number 10, becoming the group's highest-charting single and only top-ten hit in their native country. It reached number one in Iceland and became a top-twenty hit in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, as well as in Denmark in 2012. The music video, directed by Walter Stern, features a foetus singing in the womb, and the song has been featured in various television programmes, including as the opening theme for the US TV show House.


"Teardrop" was first developed from a simple harpsichord riff picked out in the studio in April 1997. Andrew Vowles sent the demo to Madonna, as he wanted her to record the vocals for the song (the band had previously worked with her on their 1995 reworking of the song "I Want You"). The two other band members Robert Del Naja and Grantley Marshall wanted Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins to record the vocals, feeling her ethereal style suited the mournful melody and feel of the piece. Madonna was very keen to record the vocals, and was disappointed when the two-to-one vote went in Fraser's favour.[2]

Fraser wrote the song's lyrics, inspired by the works of French philosopher Gaston Bachelard.[3] While recording the song in 1997, she found out that her once-close friend, Jeff Buckley, had disappeared and been found drowned. "That was so weird ... I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him – that's how it feels to me anyway".[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard wrote, "If there were ever a time for this clique of progressive groovemeisters to solidly connect with the stateside mainstream, it's now. The world has finally caught up with its experimental methods of blending dance rhythms with alterna-pop melodies. On this preview of the album "Mezzanine", the band injects a bit of modern rock flavor into the mix-thus, widening the potential for airplay. Added programming incentive is provided by Brendan Lynch and Primal Scream, who add an aggressive bite to a track that bubbles with light electronic instrumentation."[5]

Chart performance[edit]

The single peaked at number 16 in Australia.[6] It placed number 22 in the Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time in 2009.[7] It reached the top 10 in the UK and is the only Massive Attack track to do so.[8] It was certified Platinum by the British Phonographic Industry on 10 May 2019.[9]

Music video[edit]

The song's music video featured a latex foetus in the womb, singing the song. It was directed by Walter Stern.[10]

Track listing[edit]

1."Teardrop" (album version)5:31
2."Euro Zero Zero"5:24
3."Teardrop" (Scream Team Remix)6:45
4."Teardrop" (Mad Professor Mazaruni Instrumental Mix)6:24

The 12" release contains the same songs but in a different order. The cassette release contains an edited version of the original song, as well as the Scream Team remix and the B-side "Euro Zero Zero", but is missing the remix by Mad Professor.

Charts and certifications[edit]

Notable cover versions[edit]

Newton Faulkner[edit]

Single by Newton Faulkner
from the album Hand Built by Robots
  • 30 July 2007 (UK)
  • 18 April 2008 (Germany)
  • 29 April 2008 (US)
RecordedAutumn 2005–Spring 2007
LabelUgly Truth
Producer(s)Mike Spencer
Newton Faulkner singles chronology
"Dream Catch Me"
"All I Got"

Newton Faulkner covered the song on his album Hand Built by Robots, which was produced by Mike Spencer. On downloads alone, Faulkner's version reached number 60 on the UK Singles Chart in August 2007.[25] It was released as an official single on 10 December 2007, and reached number 57 on the chart the following week.[25] The version of the album available from the Australian iTunes Music Store also incorporates an acoustic version.[26]

Faulkner's solo acoustic versions are remarkable for simultaneously singing the song, playing melody on the guitar and adding percussive effects for rhythm and bass on the body of the guitar. A remarkable extemporaneous version was (apparently) recorded in an elevator.[27]

O'Hooley & Tidow[edit]

O'Hooley & Tidow covered the song on their album The Fragile. The Guardian described their version of "Teardrop" as "an exquisite reworking"[28] and it was voted by Guardian music critic Jude Rogers as one of the best tracks of 2012.[29]

José González[edit]

José González covered "Teardrop" for his second album In Our Nature. The single was released across Europe on 12 November 2007. The single features the non-album instrumental B-side "Four Forks Ache." This version was also featured in the medical drama House M.D. in the episode "Wilson's Heart" as well as in the eighth episode of The Last Dance, ESPN's 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s.

Civil Twilight[edit]

Civil Twilight released a cover version on 13 April 2010, included in the record "Live from SoHo", available only in iTunes. The band signed with Wind-Up Records, and released the studio version of the song as a single on 10 August 2010.

The Collective[edit]

Single by the Collective
from the album We Are the Collective
Released18 November 2011
Children in Need singles chronology
"Love You More"
"Something New"

The song was covered by English singer Gary Barlow's assembled group named "the Collective" and released as the official single for Children in Need 2011. Produced by Labrinth, the performers[31] consist of Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite, Mz. Bratt, Tulisa, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder and Wretch 32.

The song was released in the United Kingdom on 13 November 2011 on the Polydor label.[32][33][34][35][36][37] and entered the charts at number 24.[38]


Chart (2011) Peak
Scotland (OCC)[39] 30
UK Singles (OCC)[40] 24
UK R&B (OCC)[41] 7

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
United Kingdom 13 November 2011[42] Digital download Polydor

Simple Minds[edit]

Simple Minds recorded a version for their 2009 covers album Searching For The Lost Boys.

The Naked and Famous[edit]

The Naked and Famous recorded a version for their 2018 stripped album A Still Heart. When asked why they decided to record a cover, Thom Powers explained, "It is one of those songs that is an amazing piece of music. It comes from the era that our name comes from. Our name comes from a line in a Tricky song."[43]


Norwegian electro-pop artist AURORA has performed this song several times, most notably at the Verftet festival on 29 March 2020.[44]

Hayley Williams[edit]

American singer Hayley Williams, vocalist of Paramore, uploaded a cover on YouTube and Spotify on 15 January 2021.[45][46]


  1. ^ "Massive Attack Hit No. 1". Rolling Stone. 4 May 1998. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  2. ^ "Massive Attack and Teardrop", Q Magazine, April 1999.
  3. ^ Laura Snapes (30 October 2018). "Massive Attack to embark on Mezzanine tour with Cocteau Twins' Liz Fraser". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Dave Simpson (29 November 2009). "Elizabeth Fraser: the Cocteau Twins and me". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Flick, Larry (2 May 1998). "Reviews & Previews: Singles - New & Noteworthy" (PDF). Billboard. p. 22. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Australian-charts.com – Massive Attack – Tear Drop". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Triple J Hottest 100 of All Time". Australian Broadcasting Company. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  9. ^ a b "British single certifications – Massive Attack – Teardrop". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  10. ^ Ford, Piers. (1 May 2004) Piers Ford, ''Prince of Darkness'', 1 May 2004 Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Boardsmag.com. Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  11. ^ "Ultratop.be – Massive Attack – Tear Drop" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  12. ^ "Danishcharts.com – Massive Attack – Tear Drop". Tracklisten. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  13. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 15 no. 20. 16 May 1998. p. 10. Retrieved 7 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Lescharts.com – Massive Attack – Tear Drop" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Massive Attack – Tear Drop" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (11.6. – 18.6. 1998)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 12 June 1998. p. 22. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  17. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Teardrop". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  18. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Massive Attack – Tear Drop" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  19. ^ "Charts.nz – Massive Attack – Tear Drop". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  20. ^ "Notowanie nr856" (in Polish). LP3. 26 June 1998. Retrieved 16 February 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  21. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Massive Attack – Tear Drop". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  23. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 100 – Vinsælustu Lögin '98". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 2 January 1999. p. 34. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  24. ^ "Italian single certifications – Massive Attack – Teardrop" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 5 January 2021. Select "2014" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Teardrop" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  25. ^ a b "Newton Faulkner". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 12 September 2019.
  26. ^ Newton Faulkner – Teardrop (Acoustic Version), Australian iTunes Music Store. Phobos.apple.com (17 December 2007). Retrieved on 19 December 2011.
  27. ^ "Newton Faulkner teardrops live (Massive Attack cover)". YouTube. 5 March 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2020.[ ]
  28. ^ Denselow, Robin (2 February 2012). "O'Hooley & Tidow: The Fragile – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  29. ^ Jude Rogers; et al. (17 December 2012). "The best albums of 2012: our critics' individual choices". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 January 2013.
  30. ^ http://www.italiancharts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=The+Collective&titel=Teardrop&cat=s Hung Medien Archive
  31. ^ Gary Barlow names Children in Need band 'The Collective' DigitalSpy, Retrieved 4 October 2011.
  32. ^ Digital Spy 7 October 2011. Digitalspy.co.uk (7 October 2011). Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  33. ^ The Collective: 'Teardrop' – Single review – Music Singles Review. Digital Spy (14 November 2011). Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  34. ^ Ryan, Damien. (17 November 2011) Track review: The Collective – Teardrop (Official Children In Need Single) | So So Gay magazine Archived 20 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Sosogay.org. Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  35. ^ Haider, Arwa. (25 November 2011) The Collective's Teardrop and Lighthouse by Westlife: Single reviews. Metro.co.uk. Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  36. ^ THE GIZZLE REVIEW: The Collective – Teardrop. Thegizzlereview.blogspot.com (25 October 2011). Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  37. ^ Single Review: The Collective – 'Teardrop' Archived 19 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine. Unreality Shout. Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  38. ^ Gary Barlow's The Collective Are Biggest Children In Need Flops In 16 Years – Celebrity Gossip, News & Photos, Movie Reviews, Competitions Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Entertainmentwise (21 November 2011). Retrieved on 9 December 2011.
  39. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  40. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  41. ^ "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company.
  42. ^ Teardrop (feat. Labrinth, Tulisa Contostavlos, Chipmunk, Dot Rotten, Ed Sheeran, Ms. Dynamite, Mz Bratt, Rizzle Kicks, Tinchy Stryder & Wretch 32) – EP by The Collective iTunes
  43. ^ Nunn, Jerry (4 November 2018). "Electronic band The Naked and Famous talk backstage about their music". GoPride.com. Chicago. Retrieved 14 May 2018.
  44. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_IoUzum2s8
  45. ^ Ruiz, Matthew Ismael. "Watch Hayley Williams Cover Massive Attack's "Teardrop"". Pitchfork. Retrieved 21 May 2021.
  46. ^ Kennzie, Jada (16 January 2021). "Hayley Williams Just Released a Beautiful Cover of Massive Attack's 'Teardrop'". Glitter Magazine. Retrieved 21 May 2021.