Virtual Insanity

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Virtual Insanity"
Single by Jamiroquai
from the album Travelling Without Moving
Released19 August 1996 (1996-08-19)
  • 5:40 (album version)
  • 4:04 (single version)
  • 3:46 (radio edit)
LabelSony Soho Square
  • Al Stone
Jamiroquai singles chronology
"Do U Know Where You're Coming From"
"Virtual Insanity"
"Cosmic Girl"
Audio sample
Music video
"Virtual Insanity" on YouTube

"Virtual Insanity" is a song by British funk band Jamiroquai, released on 19 August 1996 as the second single from their third studio album, Travelling Without Moving (1996). The song interpolates parts of Jocelyn Brown's post-disco hit "Somebody Else's Guy" (1984), and its award-winning music video was released in September 1996. "Virtual Insanity" was a number-one hit in Iceland and reached number three on the UK Singles Chart. As well as becoming a top-ten hit in Finland, Ireland, and Italy, the song also climbed to number 38 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart upon the single's release in the United States in 1997. The song also earned the band a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.[1]


The song's lyrics took inspiration from a walk in an underground city in Sapporo, Japan:[2] "everything was covered in snow and there was absolutely no one about. [We took] these stairs that led down to this whole underground city … with all the colour and noise you get in Japanese streets."[3]

Thematically, the lyrics are concerned with issues like overpopulation, human genetic enhancement, eugenics and ecological collapse.

The first B-side of the single is the song "Do U Know Where You're Coming From", in collaboration with M-Beat. It was released as a single earlier in 1996. The second B-side of the single is "Bullet". The song starts with a 3-second percussion intro, and switches into a longer, very claustrophobic introduction. During this part, very faint vocals can be heard in the background, while the melody progresses.

In the beginning of the song, a sound that is sampled from the film Alien appears. It is the sound sequence when the S.O.S. signal appears on the screens of the spaceship Nostromo at the start of the film.

Critical reception[edit]

The song received favourable reviews from music critics. Scottish newspaper Aberdeen Press and Journal viewed it as "cool if lyrically trite".[4] Justin Chadwick from Albumism wrote that the "midtempo, piano-driven groove" finds the singer "lamenting the proliferation of technology at the expense of human connection and preservation of our planet", as best evidenced in the chorus with lines such as, "Always seem to, be governed by this love we have / For useless, twisting, our new technology / Oh, now there is no sound—for we all live underground". He added, "While the song itself reflected Jamiroquai's more mature and polished sound at the time, it was the accompanying video unveiled the following month that became the band's transformative, watershed moment."[5] Larry Flick from Billboard described it as "wriggling" and "funk-fortified".[6] A reviewer from Liverpool Echo noted, "If you stop dancing, and listen to the lyrics, you see a whole new side to singer Jay Kay."[7] Music Week rated it four out of five, writing, "From its simple piano opening onwards, this gorgeous, immaculately-recorded track doesn't put a note wrong. Further evidence that Jay Kay is maturing musically."[8] Ted Kessler from NME declared it as a "bittersweet" gem and a "fine" single.[9] Sam Taylor from The Observer remarked its "effortless swank".[10] Aidin Viziri from Salon said the singer "keeps the party alive with unbridled enthusiasm", "exploring the chaos of modern life".[11]

Music video[edit]

"Virtual Insanity" is Jamiroquai's best-known music video. It was directed by English filmmaker, director, and screenwriter Jonathan Glazer. At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards in September 1997, it earned 10 nominations, winning four awards, including "Breakthrough Video" and the "Best Video of the Year". In 2006, it was voted 9th by MTV viewers in a poll on music videos that 'broke the rules.' The single was released in the U.S. in 1997. At the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards, Jamiroquai performed the song, recreating the famous floor moving concept with two moving rooms on wheels, going in different directions, for Jay Kay to dance on.[12]


Jay Kay in a moving futuristic room in the "Virtual Insanity" music video, which received critical acclaim.

The video consists mainly of Jamiroquai's singer, Jay Kay, dancing and performing the song in a bright white room with a grey floor. Throughout the video, there are several combinations of couches and easy chair, which are the only pieces of furniture in the room. The video earned recognition from critics for its special effects: the floor appears to move while the rest of the room stays still. At some points, the camera tilts up or down to show the floor or ceiling for a few seconds, and when it returns to the central position, the scene has completely changed. Other scenes show a crow flying across the room, a cockroach on the floor, the couches bleeding, and the other members of Jamiroquai in a corridor being blown away by wind. This became the second video released by Jamiroquai to be successfully done in one complete, albeit composited, shot; "Space Cowboy" was the first. In a short making-of documentary, director Jonathan Glazer describes how the walls move on a stationary grey floor with no detail, to give the illusion that objects on the floor are moving. In several shots, chairs or couches are fixed to the walls so that they appear to be standing still, when in fact they are moving. In other shots, chairs remain stationary on the floor, but the illusion is such that they appear to be moving.[13] In September 2021, a long-awaited remaster of the video in 4K was premiered on YouTube to promote a new vinyl release of Travelling Without Moving.[14] In addition to heavy rotation on MTV and other music television networks, the video for "Virtual Insanity" has amassed more than 227 million views on YouTube as of January 2023.[15][16]


Year Organization Award Result
1997 MTV Video Music Award Video of the Year Won
Best New Artist Nominated
Breakthrough Video Won
Best Direction (Directors: Jonathan Glazer) Nominated
Best Choreography (Choreographers: Jason Kay) Nominated
Best Visual Effects (Visual Effects: Jonathan Glazer and Sean Broughton) Won
Best Art Direction (Art Director: John Bramble) Nominated
Best Editing (Editor: Jonathan Glazer and John McManus) Nominated
Best Cinematography (Cinematographer: Stephen Keith-Roach) Won
International Viewer's Choice Award for MTV Europe Nominated

Track listings[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United Kingdom 19 August 1996
  • CD
  • cassette
Sony Soho Square [55]
United States 20 May 1997 Work [56]

In popular culture[edit]

The music video for "Virtual Insanity" has been parodied in various music videos and television shows; Austin Mahone and Pitbull took inspiration from it in the video for their 2014 single "Mmm Yeah",[57] and it is one of the many songs parodied in the video for FIDLAR's 2015 single "40oz. on Repeat".[58] Other notable parodies include a flashback from a season-14 Family Guy episode called "Scammed Yankees"[59] and a 2021 episode of Robot Chicken.[60] The music video also inspired a video game entitled Jamiroquai Game, wherein the player must avoid the various objects in the scene, akin to the video.[61] A cover remix version of the song created by WaveGroup and DJ TK-ST was featured in the 2006 music video game Beatmania.[62][63] In 2021, Japanese fashion designer Junya Watanabe has made collaboration with Jay Kay for collection F/W22.



  1. ^ Considine, J.D. (26 February 1998). "Odd Spins; Grammys: Upsets are sprinkled through the Grammy Awards, but Dylan and other veterans get their due.: [Final Edition]". The Baltimore Sun. ProQuest 407010278. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Scansmiths – Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity – ScanSmiths".
  3. ^ Kay, Jay (2013). Travelling Without Moving (liner notes). Jamiroquai. Sony Music Entertainment. 88691967912.
  4. ^ Aberdeen Press and Journal. 20 September 1996. p. 12.
  5. ^ Chadwick, Justin (7 September 2016). "Jamiroquai's 'Travelling Without Moving' Turns 20: Anniversary Retrospective". Albumism. Retrieved 16 November 2020.
  6. ^ Flick, Larry (28 September 1996). "Dance Trax: 'The Way It Is' Changes Color Under Chameleon" (PDF). Billboard. p. 30. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  7. ^ Liverpool Echo. 18 October 1996. p. 36.
  8. ^ "Reviews: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 10 August 1996. p. 12. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  9. ^ Kessler, Ted. "JAMIROQUAI – Travelling Without Moving". NME. Archived from the original on 17 August 2000. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  10. ^ Taylor, Sam (20 October 1996). "Pop". p. 11. The Observer.
  11. ^ Viziri, Aidin (17 January 1997). "Sharps and Flats". Salon. Archived from the original on 2 September 2000. Retrieved 9 August 2020.
  12. ^ "Beck, Jamiroquai big winners at MTV Music Awards". CNN, 5 September 1997
  13. ^ Jonathan Glazer The Making of Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity, YouTube, URL accessed 3 June 2018
  14. ^ Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity (Official 4K Video), retrieved 13 September 2021
  15. ^ Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity (Official Video), retrieved 15 January 2023
  16. ^ Jamiroquai - Virtual Insanity (Official 4K Video), retrieved 15 January 2023
  17. ^ Virtual Insanity (UK CD1 liner notes). Jamiroquai. Sony Soho Square. 1996. 663613 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  18. ^ Virtual Insanity (Australian CD single liner notes). Jamiroquai. Sony Soho Square. 1996. 663439 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  19. ^ Virtual Insanity (UK CD2 liner notes). Jamiroquai. Sony Soho Square. 1996. 663613 5.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  20. ^ Virtual Insanity (UK cassette single sleeve). Jamiroquai. Sony Soho Square. 1996. 663613 4.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  21. ^ Virtual Insanity (European CD single liner notes). Jamiroquai. Sony Soho Square. 1996. SSQ 663613 1.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  22. ^ Virtual Insanity (US promo CD liner notes). Jamiroquai. Work Group. 1996. OSK 9857.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  23. ^ Virtual Insanity (US promo maxi-CD liner notes). Jamiroquai. Work Group. 1996. OSK 0587.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  24. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 143.
  25. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  26. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in French). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  27. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3288." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13, no. 37. 14 September 1996. p. 16. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  29. ^ "Jamiroquai: Virtual Insanity" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  30. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  31. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in German). GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  32. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (03.10.1996 – 09.10.1996)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 4 October 1996. p. 16. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  33. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Virtual Insanity". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  34. ^ "Top National Sellers" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13, no. 37. 14 September 1996. p. 18. Retrieved 26 November 2019.
  35. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved 26 July 2021.
  36. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved 25 July 2021.
  37. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity". Singles Top 100. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  39. ^ "Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  40. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  41. ^ "Official Hip Hop and R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  42. ^ "Jamiroquai Chart History (Adult Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  43. ^ "Jamiroquai Chart History (Alternative Airplay)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  44. ^ "Jamiroquai Chart History (Dance Club Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  45. ^ "Jamiroquai Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  46. ^ "Jamiroquai Chart History (Japan Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  47. ^ "Rapports annuels 1996" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
  48. ^ "Year-End Sales Charts – Eurochart Hot 100 Singles 1996" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 13, no. 51/52. 21 December 1996. p. 12. Retrieved 5 June 2020.
  49. ^ "Tops de L'année | Top Singles 1996" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  50. ^ "Árslistinn 1996". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 2 January 1997. p. 25. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  51. ^ "Top 100 Singles 1996". Music Week. 18 January 1997. p. 25.
  52. ^ "Italian single certifications – Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Retrieved 30 September 2019. Select "2019" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Virtual Insanity" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli" under "Sezione".
  53. ^ "Japanese ringtone certifications – Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 28 February 2021. Select 2010年12月 on the drop-down menu
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Jamiroquai – Virtual Insanity". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  55. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music Week. 17 August 1996. p. 35. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  56. ^ "New Releases". Radio & Records. No. 1197. 16 May 1997. pp. 36, 42.
  57. ^ Dias, Bruno (13 March 2014). "Austin Mahone se inspira no Jamiroquai para o clipe de MMM Yeah" [Austin Mahone takes inspiration from Jamiroquai for the video for MMM Yeah]. Capricho (in Brazilian Portuguese). Archived from the original on 9 May 2021.
  58. ^ Williams, Tom (3 June 2015). "Watch FIDLAR Parody A Stack Of Famous Music Videos". Music Feeds. Archived from the original on 10 August 2016.
  59. ^ Cartermiroquai, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 13 September 2021
  60. ^ JamiroFan2000 (10 September 2021). ""Jamiroquai Gets The Coffee" (From New Episode Of 'Robot Chicken')". r/jamiroquai. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  61. ^ Dean, Rob (13 May 2015). "Control virtual Jamiroquai in game based on the "Virtual Insanity" music video". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 14 April 2019.
  62. ^ Choi, Dan (27 January 2006). "Beatmania features for America this March [Update 1]". Joystiq. Archived from the original on 9 February 2006.
  63. ^ Wavegroup & DJ TK-ST - Virtual Insanity, 100BPM. Genre, R&B Mix ^^ Beatmania US ^^ 【BMS】, archived from the original on 21 December 2021, retrieved 13 September 2021
  64. ^ "Junya Watanabe Fall/Winter 2022 Collection ft. Jamiroquai". Highsnobiety. 18 January 2022. Retrieved 4 May 2022.