Things Can Only Get Better (D:Ream song)

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"Things Can Only Get Better"
Dream-things can only get better s.jpg
Single by D:Ream
from the album D:Ream On Volume 1
Released10 January 1993
RecordedAosis Studios
LabelMagnet Records
D:Ream singles chronology
"U R the Best Thing"
"Things Can Only Get Better"
"Shoot Me with Your Love"
Music video
"Things Can Only Get Better" on YouTube

"Things Can Only Get Better" is a song by Northern Irish musical group D:Ream. The Labour Party notably used it as a theme during the party's successful campaign in the General Election 1997.[1] The song took several months to reach the top of the UK Singles Chart. Originally a club hit, pop success took much longer for the song – initially, it reached only #24 on the chart in January 1993.

Band member Al Mackenzie left later that year, and remaining member Peter Cunnah took the band in a more pop friendly direction. "Things Can Only Get Better" was remixed and became a bigger hit, spending four weeks at number one in January 1994.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

Billboard wrote about the song: "Charming U.K. dance/pop act follows its first Stateside No. 1 club hit, 'U R The Best Thing', with a radio-friendly ditty that blends an insinuating groove with rollicking gospel chants and a wildly infectious pop melody. Track builds to a fitting, anthemic musical climax that is complemented by choir vocals and heartfelt lead belting."[3]

Music & Media wrote in their review: "Patience pays double. After a first attempt exactly a year ago, this poppy rave anthem is now a top 10 hit in the UK. This optimistic perspective on life deserves your support."[4]

Network 40 wrote: "With a #1 Dance song under their belt, D:REAM pumps out their best effort to date in stylish Pop fashion. A House approach gives this tune a cutting edge feel. D:REAM sends a positive message to disenchanted youth. Featuring powerful vibes flavored by Techno bass thumps as well as Peter Cunnah's searing harmonies, this record will stir up the request lines for months. Encompassing the best of Dance, Rock, and Alternative, D:REAM hits a home run."[5]

Smash Hits gave the song 5 out of 5. They noted: "D:Ream are the best dance act this side of the moon and it's a crime that they're not as big as M People already with all their fab dancey tunes. Stick it on, stick it out and let 'em down. Just watch the elastic on your knickers burst with the sheer excitement of it all. Bloomin' marvellous."[6]

Commercial performance[edit]

"Things Can Only Get Better" was originally a club hit, reaching number 24 in the United Kingdom in January 1993. A year later, in January 1994, the song was released in a new remix and spent four weeks at number one in the UK. In Europe, the song peaked within the top 10 in Belgium (number 10), Finland (number 2), Iceland (number 4), Ireland (number 2), Scotland (number 4) and Sweden (number 7). On the Eurochart Hot 100, "Things Can Only Get Better" reached number 5. Outside Europe, the song reached number 3 in Israel and number 9 in Australia. In the United States, the 1994 version peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Things Can Only Get Better" was directed by British film and music video director James Lebon. The video was nominated for the International Viewer's Choice Award for MTV Europe at MTV Europe Music Awards in 1994.

In popular culture[edit]

As a campaign song[edit]

In 1997, the track was adopted by the UK Labour Party, as their theme for the General Election (the title claiming that things "cannot get worse"), as Labour's campaign was that the United Kingdom was in a dire state, after eighteen years of Tory government under first Margaret Thatcher and then John Major, and the Labour Party said they could fix the problems of the country.

On the back of this use it returned to the chart, reaching #19 in May 1997, when Labour returned to power with Tony Blair as Prime Minister, replacing John Major's Conservatives as the party in government, with one of the biggest landslides in British political history.

John O'Farrell used the song title as the title of his book about Labour's 18 years in opposition. Later, lead singer Peter Cunnah admitted mixed feelings about the use of the song as part of the election campaign.


In February 1998, the song was featured in an episode of Top Gear, during the review of the Toyota Avensis, with an voice over by presenter Jeremy Clarkson.[7]

In 2013, the song was adopted as a chant by fans of Sunderland A.F.C., after the teams revival under manager Gus Poyet. Supporters of Sunderland launched a campaign to get the song back into the chart, to coincide with their team's Capital One Cup Final on 2 March 2014 at Wembley Stadium. On 3 March 2014, the song re entered in the UK Dance Chart at #19. Mackenzie described the resurgence to a Sunderland website as "a bit bizarre" but he was "revelling in it" [8][9][10]

In an interview on the television programme Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe, D:Ream's keyboard player, the physicist Brian Cox, reflected on the song during a discussion about the destruction and incineration of Earth by the sun, admitting that it is "one of the most misleading and scientifically inaccurate pop songs that's ever been written".[11]


Chart (1993–94) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[12] 9
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 23
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[14] 10
Denmark (IFPI)[15] 19
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[16] 5
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[17] 2
Germany (Official German Charts)[18] 20
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[19] 4
Ireland (IRMA) 2
Israel (Israel Top-30)[20] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[21] 21
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[22] 20
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[23] 46
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[24] 4
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[25] 7
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[26] 11
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 1
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play 7
Chart (1997) Peak
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[27] 17
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 19
UK Dance (Official Charts Company)[28] 30
Chart (2014) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[29] 66
UK Dance (Official Charts Company) 19


  1. ^ "Farewell to Cool Britannia". Daily Mail. 5 May 2007.
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. pp. 562–3. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ "Billboard: Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard magazine. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  4. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  5. ^ "Mainstream: Music Meeting" (PDF). Network 40 (1993-11-12, page 22). Retrieved 21 February 2018.
  6. ^ "new singles". Smash Hits (1993-04-12, page 57). Retrieved 16 May 2019. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  7. ^ "Old Top Gear Saloons 1/2". 2 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Campaign to get 1990s Sunderland anthem Things Can Only Get Better to No1". Sunderland Echo. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  9. ^ David Boyle (12 January 2014). "Adam Johnson puts stunning Sunderland in D:Ream-land | Metro News". Retrieved 31 March 2014.
  10. ^ WeAreWearside (26 February 2014). "Dare to D:Ream - Interview with Band Member Al Mackenzie On SAFC Campaign". Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  11. ^ Cox, Brian (29 December 2016). "Charlie Brooker's 2016 Wipe" (Interview). Interviewed by Diane Morgan. BBC.
  12. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  13. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  15. ^ Danish Singles Chart 11 March 1994
  16. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  17. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5.
  18. ^ " – D:Ream Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  19. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 03.03.1994 - 09.03.1994" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  20. ^ Israel Top-30 01.02.1994
  21. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – D:Ream" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  22. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  23. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better". Top 40 Singles.
  24. ^
  25. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better". Singles Top 100.
  26. ^ " – D:Ream – Things Can Only Get Better". Swiss Singles Chart.
  27. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100 27 April 1997 - 03 May 1997".
  28. ^ "Official Dance Singles Chart Top 40".
  29. ^