The Boy in the Bubble

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"The Boy in the Bubble"
The Boy in the Bubble.jpg
Single by Paul Simon
from the album Graceland
Released February 1987 (1987-02)
Length 4:00
Writer(s) Forere Motloheloa, Paul Simon
Producer(s) Paul Simon
Paul Simon singles chronology
"The Boy in the Bubble"
"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes"

"The Boy in the Bubble" is a song by the American singer-songwriter Paul Simon. It was the third single from his seventh studio album, Graceland (1986), released on Warner Bros. Records. Written by Simon and Forere Motloheloa (an accordionist from Lesotho), its lyrics explore starvation and terrorism, juxtaposed with wit and optimism.

The single—released in September 1987—performed well on charts worldwide. In the United States, it was mainly successful on the Album Rock Tracks chart, where it peaked at number 15. Outside the US, "The Boy in the Bubble" was a top 20 hit in the Netherlands, and top 30 in the United Kingdom and Belgium.


"The Boy in the Bubble" discusses starvation and terrorism, but mixes this with wit and optimism. Simon concurred with this assessment: "Hope and dread — that's right. That's the way I see the world, a balance between the two, but coming down on the side of hope."[1] The song retains the only lyric Simon managed to compose on his South African trip: "The way the camera follows him in slo-mo, the way he smiled at us all." The imagery was inspired by film clips of the John F. Kennedy assassination, as well as Ronald Reagan's attempted assassination.[1] "The Boy in the Bubble", like "Graceland", took three-to-four months to create.[1]


Chart performance[edit]

"The Boy in the Bubble" performed on singles charts in several territories worldwide. In the United States, the song reached a peak of number 86 on the Billboard Hot 100 on March 21, 1987; it spent four weeks on the chart as a whole.[2] It performed better on the magazine's Album Rock Tracks chart, where it placed at number 15 on March 28, 1987, where it spent nine weeks total.[3]

In the United Kingdom, the song premiered on the UK Singles Chart on November 30, 1986 at number 81,[4] and rose over the following weeks to a peak of number 26 on January 11, 1987.[5] On the Dutch Nationale Top 100, it reached a peak of number 16.[6] On Belgium's Ultratop 50, it hit number 28,[7] and in New Zealand, it peaked at number 43.[8]


Chart (1987) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[9] 46
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[7] 28
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[6] 16
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[8] 33
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[5] 26
US Billboard Hot 100[2] 86
US Album Rock Tracks (Billboard)[3] 15



  1. ^ a b c David Fricke (October 23, 1986). "African Odyssey". Rolling Stone. New York City: Wenner Media LLC (485): 77–80. ISSN 0035-791X. 
  2. ^ a b "Paul Simon – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Paul Simon. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Paul Simon - Chart history". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 13, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Archive Chart: 1986-11-30"". UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 13, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 1987-01-11" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  6. ^ a b " – Paul Simon – The Boy in the Bubble" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  7. ^ a b " – Paul Simon – The Boy in the Bubble" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  8. ^ a b " – Paul Simon – The Boy in the Bubble". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  9. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. 


External links[edit]