The Planets Bend Between Us

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"The Planets Bend Between Us"
Single by Snow Patrol
from the album A Hundred Million Suns
B-side "Reading Heaney to Me"
Released 24 May 2009
(See release history)
Format Digital download
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4:18 (album version)
4:01 (single version)
Label Fiction/Interscope
Writer(s) Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Paul Wilson , Jonny Quinn and Tom Simpson
Producer(s) Jacknife Lee
Snow Patrol singles chronology
"If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It"
"The Planets Bend Between Us"
"Just Say Yes"

"The Planets Bend Between Us" (or "The Planets Bend Between Us (For You)") is a song from alternative rock band Snow Patrol's fifth album A Hundred Million Suns. It was released as the follow-up single to "If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It" on 24 May 2009. It was the fourth single taken from the album. The lyrics were written by Gary Lightbody and the music was composed by Snow Patrol. The song is about Lightbody's beach house in Belfast. The single featured a re-working of the album version and was released as a digital download only. It was later included on the band's 2009 compilation album Up to Now.

The song was received quite positively by music critics upon the album release, with one critic comparing it to "Chasing Cars". However, commercial reaction to the single was generally negative. The single was a commercial failure, failing to chart in every country barring the Tipparade Chart in the Netherlands.


"The line in the song 'a hundred million suns' just cried out to be the album title. It captures the vastness of the universe and us as tiny dots within it. And it expresses the big sound of the record and it puts it all into perspective."

Gary Lightbody[1]

At the time of the release of the album, posted a section featuring lead singer and lyricist Gary Lightbody discussing the new songs,[1] which was initially a Lightbody interview to RTÉ.[2] About 'Planets', he said that the song was about his beach house in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In his words, "there's something about being on a beach in winter time, no-one else is there, it's blowing a gale, raining sideways, and there's something redemptive about yelling into the wind." The song is also notable for having lyrics that named the album.[1]

In a later interview, Lightbody revealed that the song was recorded to be a future single and that the band had "restrained" it for the album. During the band's short tour of Australia in March–April 2009, where they played the second stage of the V Festival,[3] Lightbody, in an interview to Herald Sun[4] stated that the band had re-recorded the song for its single release changing everything, apart from the lyrics and tune. He also said that it was "a big song now".[4]

Promotion and release[edit]

The song received its first play on radio on Jo Whiley's Radio 1 show on 27 April at 12:10pm.[5] The song made it the BBC Radio 2's C list,[6] and subsequently got played five times a week, and BBC Radio 1's A list, and subsequently got played twenty times a week.[7] It also made it to BBC 6 Music's B list, and subsequently got played ten times a week.[8] Additionally, the song was added to Xfm's main playlist.[9] The song also made an uncredited appearance on the Grey's Anatomy episode "An Honest Mistake", which aired on 19 February 2009.[10] The show has previously featured Snow Patrol songs like "Open Your Eyes", "Chasing Cars" and "Make this Go on Forever".[11]

'Planets' was the fourth single taken from the album.[12] To promote it, the band played a short set at the Maida Vale Studios on 11 May. The performance was aired live on Ken Bruce's radio show on BBC Radio 2 and was recorded on video, which were posted on the BBC website shortly afterwards.[13] On 13 May, Gary Lightbody and lead guitarist Nathan Connolly joined George Lamb on his radio show on BBC 6 Music and played a short acoustic set which additionally featured "Take Back the City", the first single from A Hundred Million Suns.[14]

The single featured a re-worked version of the song that appeared on the album and was not released in any physical format. There were two versions of digital download, the first having the re-worked version of "The Planets Bend Between Us", which was available from stores like Amazon and HMV.[15] The other version was a bundle exclusively for iTunes, which additionally contained the previously unreleased b-side 'Reading Heaney to Me'. The digital download was released on 24 May[15] and the UK[16] and Ireland[17] iTunes bundles were released on the same day.

Music video[edit]

Gary Lightbody in a scene from the music video.

The music video for the song was shot in Cape Town in April 2009, where the band was playing at the Coke Zero Festival.[18] It was directed by Daniel Brereton,[19] who had previously directed the video for the band's previous single "If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It".[20] The video uses the re-worked version of the song and it premiered on and Snow Patrol's MySpace on 2 May.[12] The video was also placed on the "active rotation" list of MTV Netherlands from the week starting 18 May and named one of the "Must C" videos.[21]

The video features vocalist Gary Lightbody making his way around the city singing the song. Simultaneously, a pair of hands are constantly drawing with a pen, making cut-outs of Lightbody and changing the background behind him, appearing to move him in different places. Lightbody joked about the video: "It's the first video where I haven't been waist deep in water or semi drowned or in the British countryside".[22]

The video was shot in Cape Town, South Africa.

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital Download:[23]
  1. "The Planets Bend Between Us" (Single Version) – 4:01
  • iTunes Bundle:[24]
  1. "The Planets Bend Between Us" (Single Version) – 4:01
  2. "Reading Heaney to Me" – 3:08


Although critical reception of the song upon the release of the album was generally positive, it was not considered a strong single. At the time of album release, Spin's Josh Modell received the song well, saying that it defeated "cheesiness with unabashed sincerity".[25] Rolling Stone called it dreamy,[26] whereas Contactmusic called it bland and forgettable.[27] PopMatters' Ross Langager praised the song's chorus, calling it "beautiful, with its pitch-perfect image of separation by an ocean". He also wrote that the song was the ""Chasing Cars" moment of the album, if there was one".[28]

The single's release saw it being generally panned. CityLife's Sarah Walters reviewed the single negatively and gave it 2 stars out of 5. She wrote that the re-working did not add much and did the song more bad than good. She also said that Snow Patrol did not need to change their "winning formula".[29] The Daily Record's Rick Fulton too gave the single 2 stars out of 5. He felt that the band had leaned towards writing ballads after the success of "Chasing Cars." In his words: "Ever since the success of 'Chasing Cars', the band have jettisoned their punky dance leanings for lily-livered ballads that wring their puny hands with grave yearning. Find your fire before you melt into nothing."[30] Clash's Mike Diver reviewed the single negatively as well, calling it "a bit too safe, really – I would have liked to hear some more development in their sound." He felt the song was a nice album track, but didn't have the potential to be a single. He finished his review stating he'd "like to hear something bolder, with more depth", and he felt "that’s what they need now to boost their credibility."[31] The Sunday Mail's Avril Cadden, however reviewed the single positively, awarding it 3 stars out of 5. He called the song "a slow burner, a gentle track with Gary Lightbody's vocals almost whisper like." He wrote though the track didn't stand out, "it glides along effortlessly and lovestruck couples might like it."[32]

The single peaked at #8 on the Dutch Tipparade, a chart which features the Top 30 singles of the week which have a chance to appear in the Dutch Top 40. It dropped out in week 29 after spending seven weeks on the chart.[33] The single also made it to #42 on the UK Airplay Chart.[34]

The song was used in the TV show Numb3rs in episode 16, season 6.


Chart (2009) Peak
Dutch Tipparade 8
UK Airplay Chart[34] 42


Snow Patrol
Other personnel

Release history[edit]

Country/Region Date Format
Worldwide[15] 24 May 2009 Digital download
United Kingdom[16] iTunes


  1. ^ a b c "Gary Lightbody on A Hundred Million Stars - Track By Track". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 26 June 2009.  Note: Need to be a MySP member to access link.
  2. ^ "Gary Lightbody on the new Snow Patrol album.....". RTÉ Entertainment. Retrieved 2 July 2009. 
  3. ^ "Snow Patrol down under!". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Cameron (2 April 2009). "Duffy, Killers, Snow Patrol all part of V Festival". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  5. ^ "First play of new Patrol single this morning!". MySpace. Retrieved 22 May 2009.  Note: Snow Patrol's official MySpace.
  6. ^ "BBC Radio 2 playlist". BBC. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 1 playlist". BBC. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  8. ^ "BBC 6 Music playlist". BBC. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  9. ^ "Xfm playlist - Find every track we play". Xfm. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  10. ^ "Soundtracks for Grey's Anatomy - An Honest Mistake (2009)". IMBb. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  11. ^ "Snow Patrol - Filmography". IMBb. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  12. ^ a b "'Planets' video exclusive!". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  13. ^ "Radio 2 Live session". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  14. ^ "6music acoustic set". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  15. ^ a b c "The Planets Bend Between Us out now!". Snow Patrol. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "The Planets Bend Between Us - Single". iTunes. Retrieved 22 July 2009.  Note: Need iTunes to view link.
  17. ^ a b "The Planets Bend Between Us - Single". iTunes. Retrieved 22 July 2009.  Note: Need iTunes to view link.
  18. ^ Rogers, Georgie (5 May 2009). "Gary Lightbody solo". BBC. Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  19. ^ "Snow Patrol 'Planets' Music Video". Magdalena Design. Retrieved 18 July 2009. 
  20. ^ "Snow Patrol - If There's a Rocket Tie Me to It". YouTube. Retrieved 22 May 2009.  Note: Official channel for Universal Music Group. Need to click "more info" on the right.
  21. ^ "MTV Must C". MTV. Archived from the original on 3 November 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2009. 
  22. ^ "Snow Patrol singer 'to go solo'". BBC. 5 May 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2009. 
  23. ^ "Snow Patrol - The Planets Bend Between Us (Single)". HMV. Retrieved 30 June 2009. 
  24. ^ "The Planets Bend Between Us - Single". iTunes. Retrieved 30 June 2009.  Note: Need iTunes to view link
  25. ^ Modell, Josh (22 October 2008). "Snow Patrol, 'A Hundred Million Suns' (Geffen)". Spin. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  26. ^ Rosen, Jody (30 October 2008). "Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  27. ^ Lai, Alex. "Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns album review". Contactmusic. Retrieved 24 May 2009. 
  28. ^ Langager, Ross (27 October 2008). "Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns". PopMatters. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  29. ^ Walters, Sarah. "Single Review: Snow Patrol: The Planets Bend Between Us (Fiction)". CityLife. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  30. ^ Fulton, Rick (29 May 2009). "Singles: 29 May". Daily Record. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  31. ^ Diver, Mike (26 May 2009). "Singles Round Up - May 25th". Clash Music. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  32. ^ Cadden, Avril (24 May 2009). "Singles & albums out this week: 25 May". Sunday Mail. Retrieved 21 June 2009. 
  33. ^ "Week 29: Nederlandse Tipparade". Musicone. Retrieved 13 July 2009. 
  34. ^ a b "Chart: UK Chart May 24th". ATRL. Retrieved 5 June 2009. 
  35. ^ "Snow Patrol - A Hundred Million Suns". Discogs. Retrieved 23 May 2009. 

External links[edit]