The Great Defector

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"The Great Defector"
Bell X1 - The Great Defector.jpg
Single by Bell X1
from the album Blue Lights on the Runway
Released 30 January 2009 (2009-01-30)
Recorded November 2008 (2008-11)
Genre Indie rock
Length 3:51
Label BellyUp
Writer(s) David Geraghty, Paul Noonan, Dominic Phillips
Producer(s) Roger Bechirian
Bell X1 singles chronology
"Rocky Took a Lover"
"The Great Defector"
"The Ribs of a Broken Umbrella"
Blue Lights on the Runway track listing
"How Your Heart Is Wired"
"The Great Defector"
"Blow Ins"

"The Great Defector" is the lead single from Bell X1's fourth studio album Blue Lights on the Runway.

The single was released in Ireland on 30 January 2009 and internationally on 3 February 2009.[1] It was selected as Tony's Daily Download by Today FM presenter Tony Fenton on 16 January 2009 before its release.[2] Upon its release it reached number three in the Irish Singles Chart. It reached number one in the airplay charts and the band went on to feature on the cover of Hot Press the following month.[3]

It was Bell X1's most successful single at the time of its release.[4]

Composition and recording[edit]

Vocalist Paul Noonan has compared the song's style to that of Talking Heads.[5] The song was recorded in November 2008 in Ballycumber House, "a big, draughty, stately home... ...under the beady gaze of musty portraits of the Lords and Ladies of the estate from the 15th century".[6] Jim Farber of the New York Daily News has praised Noonan's "flair for dialogue and his keen way with a metaphor", claiming "his cruel writing will make you swoon".[7] "The Great Defector" was given its debut live performance on 11 July 2008 during Oxegen 2008 .[8]


The song has been widely praised in the Irish media; amongst its fans are Today FM presenter Tony Fenton[2] and RTÉ's radio presenter and television chat show host Ryan Tubridy, who has described it as his "favourite hit of the year".[9] A US disc jockey said it reminded him of "late period Talking Heads".[10] Irish Independent journalist Eamon Sweeney described it as "an extremely Talking Headish song, but also happens to the best thing on the airwaves at the moment".[11] The song was credited with a renewed surge in demand for tickets to the band's live shows.[12]

Television performances[edit]

Following its release, Bell X1 performed "The Great Defector" on Tubridy Tonight on 21 February 2009.[9][13] They performed the song on the Late Show with David Letterman on 17 March 2009.[10]

Chart performance[edit]

The song debuted on the Irish Singles Chart at number forty-nine. In its second week on the chart it rose forty-six places to break into the top five at number three, giving Bell X1 their first top ten hit and making it their most successful single by peak position to date.

Chart (2009) Peak
Irish Singles Chart 3


  1. ^ "The Great Defector". Accessed 24 January 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Daily Download - Friday 16th January 2009". Today FM. 2009-01-16. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  3. ^ "Guess What!". Hot Press. 2009-03-11. Retrieved 2009-03-11. 
  4. ^ "Bell X1 touch down". The Corkman. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  5. ^ "BellX1: Tour announced plus album track by track". Hot Press. 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Bell X1 Set Release". Accessed 23 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Bell X1 - Blue Lights On The Runway". Music Remedy. Accessed 23 January 2009.
  8. ^ "Bell X1 cover Flaming Lips at Oxegen Festival". NME. 2008-07-12. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  9. ^ a b "Tubridy Tonight – Saturday, 21 February 2009". RTÉ. Retrieved 2009-01-09. 
  10. ^ a b Ed Power (2009-03-20). "Bell X1: American dreamers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-01. 
  11. ^ Eamon Sweeney (2009-04-03). "Bell of the ball". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  12. ^ Jim Carroll (2009-04-17). "Has live music become a luxury?". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2010-01-02. Yet there are some shows which buck the trend. Irish comedy continues to be immune to the slump, particularly when it involves shows in Dublin’s Vicar Street. There is also a huge demand for tickets to see Bell X1 at the moment on the back of their radio hit The Great Defector. 
  13. ^ "Tubridy's Saturday line-up revealed". RTÉ. 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2009-02-20. 

External links[edit]