The Promise (When in Rome song)

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"The Promise"
Single by When in Rome
from the album When in Rome
Released1987 / 1988
  • Clive Farrington
  • Michael Floreale
  • Andrew Mann
  • Michael Brauer
  • Ben Rogan
When in Rome singles chronology
"The Promise"
"Heaven Knows"

"The Promise" is a song by the British band When in Rome. First released in 1987 on 10 Records,[3] the song is the lead single from their self-titled debut album. It was written by all three band members: Clive Farrington, Andrew Mann and Michael Floreale. The song was released in the U.S. in 1988 and made it to number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It is the band's biggest commercial hit.

Critical reception[edit]

William Cooper of AllMusic spoke of the song in a review of the When in Rome album, writing, "The 1988 hit "The Promise" was essentially a carbon copy of New Order's radio-friendly dance-rock. Dark yet catchy, boasting a throbbing dance rhythm, a singalong chorus, and a hypnotic melody, 'The Promise' certainly deserved the success."[4] Cooper also highlighted "The Promise" as a standout on the album by labeling it an AMG Pick Track.[4]

On January 22, 1989, a review of the album was published in the daily issue of the Junction City, Kansas newspaper Daily Union. The review mentioned the song, saying, "'The Promise', a hit in the United Kingdom, is typical. Starting with a piano that picks out the melody, the song throbs along electronically with clear harmonies of Mann and Farrington piercing through the catchy melody."[5]

Chart performance[edit]

"The Promise" was initially released as a 12" record and reached the top of the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart. After the release of the group's self-titled debut album, the song was re-released and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, the single was less successful in the band's native Britain, reaching number 58.

Chart (1988–1989) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[6] 103
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[7] 58
US Billboard Hot 100[8] 11
US Billboard Dance/Club Play Songs Chart[8] 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales Chart[8] 19

Cover versions[edit]

  • The band Blue October has covered the song on several occasions.
  • The band Hey Mercedes covered the song as a hidden track on their 2002 EP The Weekend EP.
  • Rock band Eightyonedays covered the song on their 2003 EP The Theory of Negativity.
  • The Eyeliners released a more punk oriented version on their 2005 album No Apologies.
  • Anberlin released a cover of the song on a special edition of their 2007 album Cities, as well as on their b-sides album, Lost Songs.
  • New Found Glory covered the song on their album From the Screen to Your Stereo Part II, with backing vocals provided by Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional.
  • The female electro duo Marsheaux covered it on their 2007 album Peekaboo.
  • Holly Miranda covered the song on her EP Choose to See, which was included with the purchase of her 2010 album The Magician's Private Library.[9]
  • Reel Big Fish covered the song on their 2012 album Candy Coated Fury.[10]
  • William Control covered the song as a B-side addition to the April 2014 released album, The Neuromancer.
  • American bluegrass and country artist Sturgill Simpson covers the song on his 2014 album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.
  • Indie singer-songwriter, Alexz Johnson, and singer-songwriter and producer, William McAuley III (stagename "Bleu"), covered and released the song on their 2016 duet collaboration album titled "Johnson & McAuley" as the first single.
  • Mikee Plastik produced an official remix of the hit song in 2012. The only files provided to Plastik by When In Rome were the vocal leads by Clive Farrington, as well as some harmony vocals by Farrington. Plastik tracked the piano intro, programmed foundation beats, placed in Farrington's vocal tracks, then tracked the secondary vocal, which he sang. He then brought in Christian Menses (Psychotica) to track synth bass and thicken the percussions. Finally, he sent the track over to Pete Jones (Public Image Limited / Department S), who added more synth textures and finalized the track. The final result, "The Promise (Mikee Plastik - Retro/Necro mix)", got some club play in the US.
  • Troy Baker's band, Window to the Abbey covered the song on their 2017 album Moving Around Bias.
  • Mint Julep covered the song for the film Alex Strangelove (2018)

Usage in media[edit]

  • The song appeared in the 2004 movie Napoleon Dynamite during the final scene in which Deb and Napoleon play tetherball together and continues into the credits.
  • In 2015, the Sturgill Simpson cover of the song was featured in episode 9 of season 2 of the HBO show, The Leftovers.
  • In 2016, the song made an appearance in Season 4, Episode 7 of the ABC show "The Goldbergs" towards the closing part of the show.
  • In 2017, the song was used in SyFy's Blood Drive. Season 1, Episode 3 Steel City Nightfall.


  1. ^ Cooper, Duncan (2014-06-18). "Watch Sturgill Simpson's Heartmelting Cover of "The Promise," That Old New Wave Hit". The Fader. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  2. ^ "Song Premiere: Johnson & McAuley arrive with a blissful cover of '80s classic 'The Promise'". Vanyaland. 2016-02-18. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  3. ^ "When In Rome - The Promise at Discogs". 2011-10-26. Retrieved 2016-08-17.
  4. ^ a b Cooper, William. "When in Rome - When in Rome : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  5. ^,1696850&dq=when+in+rome+virgin&hl=en
  6. ^ "Response from ARIA re: chart inquiry, received 12 September 2016". Retrieved 2016-09-12.
  7. ^ "The Official Charts Company - The Promise by When In Rome Search". The Official Charts Company. 6 May 2013.
  8. ^ a b c When in Rome. "When in Rome - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
  9. ^ "Holly Miranda - Choose To See EP (CD) at Discogs". Discogs. Zink Media, Inc. Retrieved 2010-08-24.
  10. ^ "Candy Coated Fury - Reel Big Fish". AllMusic. 30 July 2012. Retrieved 26 October 2016.