"Where'd You Go" is a song by American hip hop ensemble Fort Minor, the side project of rock band Linkin Park's co-lead vocalist Mike Shinoda. It is the fourth and final single from Fort Minor's debut album The Rising Tied, released on April 14, 2006. The song features Skylar Grey (then known as Holly Brook) and Jonah Matranga. "Where'd You Go" was written and produced by Shinoda. Lyrically, the song is from the perspective of the person left behind in long-distance relationships, and is about the consequences of putting one's career before one's family.
"Where'd You Go" received generally positive reviews from music critics, with most reviewers noting the song's simplicity, as well as praising Brook's vocals. "Where'd You Go" was Fort Minor's most commercially successful single, peaking within the top ten of several international music charts. "Where'd You Go" also peaked at No. 4 in the Billboard Hot 100 and received a Platinum certification by the RIAA in 2009. A music video for the single was directed by Philip Andelman. The video featured three families, who, according to Shinoda, "share the same sense of loneliness as this song." "Where'd You Go" was included in the set list of numerous Fort Minor concerts.
"Where'd You Go" was written and produced by Mike Shinoda. "Where'd You Go" is an alternative hip hop song that features a piano-based hook, as well as a choir singing background vocals throughout the song. According to the digital music sheet published at musicnotes.com, the song is written in the key of E major and is set in simple time. Brook and Matranga's vocal ranges span from the low note of B3 to the high note of B4.
Shinoda wrote the song from the perspective of a person whose lover is always traveling. In an interview with MTV, Shinoda stated why he chose to write from that point of view, saying "A lot of people do songs about being on the road, and I wanted to do this song about the opposite perspective: the people who are at home, your family, your friends, your loved ones who are at home." Shinoda also said that he wrote the song for his wife, Anna. When consulting executive producer and rapper Jay-Z and Linkin Park guitarist and Machine Shop A&RBrad Delson on which songs should be included in The Rising Tied, "Where'd You Go" is one of two songs that he requested not to remove from the album, since the song drives his wife to tears every time she listens to it.
Holly Brook (who was signed to Shinoda's record label Machine Shop Recordings) were featured artists of the song. Shinoda requested Brook to sing the chorus, since Shinoda had already written the entire song. Brook recorded the song for half an hour. Shinoda praised her vocals, calling her voice as "unbelievable." Shinoda affirmed the Brook's musical style "really rooted in the songwriting...You don't need all the frills and the production. You can put her on a $50 mic in a room and she sounds just like the record because the talent is really there. A lot of artists rely on tricks to make their stuff sound a certain way, but we all appreciate the rawness of what she does."
Shinoda stated that "Where'd You Go" was a possible single candidate at the time of the album's release. The song was released to radio airplay as the fourth and final single from The Rising Tied on April 14, 2006.
"Where'd You Go" received generally positive reviews from music critics. Bill Lamb of About.com commended the song's simplicity, saying that it will "draw pop and hip hop fans together with its universal emotional appeal." Spence D. of IGN noted that "Where'd You Go" is "the only genuine lament on [The Rising Tied]." A reviewer for Mote described the song as having "good production, a good (if a little overused) hook, and a guy with good and strangely familiar flow," buying The Rising Tied after listening to the song. Jo Timbuong of The Star compared "Where'd You Go" with Eminem's "When I'm Gone", except for a "more melancholic feel" through Brook's vocals. Alec Luhn of The Badger Herald compared Brook's vocals to American female singer Dido from the Eminem song "Stan". "Where'd You Go" won the award for Best Ringtone in the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards.
"Where'd You Go" was a commercial success, and reached numerous top 40 peaks in various charts worldwide. It spent forty-five weeks on the US BillboardHot 100 and peaked at number twelve on June 10, 2006, making Fort Minor's first and only single to peak within the top 40, as well as the first single to reach the top twenty on the chart. "Where'd You Go" is the only single of Shinoda and Matranga to reach the top 40, hence making them one-hit wonders. They were listed as the nineteenth biggest one-hit wonder of the 2000s. On June 17, 2006, "Where'd You Go" reached number two on the US BillboardPop 100. The single reached number nine on the Radio Songs chart on June 24, 2006, as well as number five in the Digital Songs chart on May 20, 2006. In 2009, "Where'd You Go" was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over a million copies. "Where'd You Go" ranked at number forty-three on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 songs of 2006.
"Where'd You Go" was also successful internationally. In Canada, the single peaked at number seven on Canadian Singles Chart. In the Czech Republic, the song debuted at No. 45 at the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry chart on February 2005. The single rose to No. 39, entering the top 40 at its second week. At its third week, the single reached the No. 20 spot. It eventually peaked at number two on the chart at its fifteenth week. The single spent forty-six weeks on the chart. In Belgium, the song peaked at number five and charted for six weeks. In Finland, the song debuted at No. 8 on the chart, but dropped to No. 15 at the following week, before falling off the chart. In the Netherlands, the song debuted at Dutch Top 40 chart at number thirty-three. In its second charting week, the song boosted up to number twenty-four, and went to number thirteen at its third week. The song reached its peak at number ten on its fourth week. The song spent fourteen weeks on the chart. In New Zealand, the song debuted on the New Zealand Singles Chart at No. 24 on April 24, 2006, and peaked at No. 14 the following week. The song spent seven weeks before falling off the top 40. In France, the song debuted and peaked at number twenty-four on October 28, 2006. The song spent ten weeks in the chart. In Austria, the song debuted at No. 43 in the week of April 28, 2006, rising to the top 40 in its second week at No. 34. In its fourth week, "Where'd You Go" peaked at No. 29.
The music video for "Where'd You Go" was directed by Philip Andelman. It features interviews with three different families: a little girl, who has divorced parents and has to undertake numerous chores; the wife of a baseball player Jason Bulger caring for their children; and the parents of a soldier in Iraq. Shinoda is seen rapping in the aforementioned families' homes, Matranga sings the chorus from a car, and Brook sings from a dining room. The scenes where the three vocalists sing also shifts to shots of the families' belongings, homes and neighborhoods. At the end of the video, a brief note by Shinoda states:
"Where'd You Go" was filmed in the homes of three families who share the same sense of loneliness as this song. Thank you for sharing your homes and stories with us.
In June through July 2006, Shinoda, in association with MTV's Overdrive hosted a contest where US residents of 18 years or older could recreate a new version of the song's music video. The winner of the contest would win a sketch painting by Shinoda that was included in the album's art. On July 31, 2006, the winner was announced. The winning video was directed by David Ly, a graduate film student at Art Center College of Design.
The remake version of the video is about a person who loses touch with himself. Originally full of life, the protagonist becomes a robot working a monotonous office job. One morning, he wakes up from a dream of a beautiful girl dressed in white on the beach. He leaves for work, and his buried alter egos, dressed in white shirts, black slacks, assorted ties and each holding either red or white roses, emerge mysteriously. At work, his boss gives him a stack of paperwork, which he does mechanically. Meanwhile, at home, the alter egos are in a circle around his coffee table, throw the roses in the center, and leave. Back at work, he prepares to go home, but is then given another stack of documents. His frustrations boil over, and he throws his tie at his boss. He runs home not knowing what he is running for, and at the moment that he walks in the door, the last of the alter egos exits. He finds a white box that replaced his coffee table and is intrigued. He unwraps the red and white ribbons and opens the box to find himself on the beach with the same girl in is dream and the roses on the water.
In 2006, Brook released an exclusive solo version of "Where'd You Go" to radio stations, written by herself. She also covered the original song that included Shinoda's rap verses in live performances. In 2007, The Deaf Performing Artists Network (D-PAN) created a music video for "Where'd You Go" using all deaf and hard-of-hearing actors. The entire song is performed in American Sign Language with some subtitles. In the video, the profanity is censored in the vocal track but is clearly sung by the actors.
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