- Sledgehammer (song)
Name = Sledgehammer
from Album = So
Released = April
Format = 7", 12", CD
1985| Genre = Soul/ Funk/Rock
Length = 5:09 (5:39 Single Version)
Label = Geffen
Chart position =
- #4 (UK)
- #10 (Netherlands)
Last single = "
Walk Through The Fire" (1984)
This single = "Sledgehammer" (1986)
Next single = "Don't Give Up" (1986)
"Sledgehammer" is a hit song by
Peter Gabrielfrom his 1986 album "So". It peaked at number one in Canada for four weeks on July 21, 1986, number one in the U.S. on July 26, 1986,cite book |title= Rock N' Roll Gold Rush |last= Dean |first= Maury |authorlink= Maury Dean |coauthors= |year= 2003 |publisher= Algora |location= |isbn= 0-87586-207-1 |pages= 160 |url= ] and number four in the UK singles chart, thanks in part to a popular and influential music video. It was his biggest hit in North America and ties with Games Without Frontiers as his biggest hit in the U.K.
The song was influenced by 1960s
soul music, as evident by the use of horns and a general Stax sound. The distinctive Horn section was provided by the Memphis Horns- who were house musicians for Stax records. The song also features a synthesized shakuhachiflute.
It contains somewhat subtle sexual innuendo, which was common in soul music from the time. The lyrics include
phallicreferences such as a steam train, bumper cars, a Big Dipper ( roller coaster) and a fruit cage. It also includes references to the sexual reproduction of plants, mentioning pollination, fruitand bees.
"Sledgehammer" was Peter Gabriel's first and, to this date, only number-one hit in the U.S. It replaced "Invisible Touch" by his former band Genesis, which had its only number-one U.S. hit the previous week.
The single release also included a previously unreleased track called "Don't Break This Rhythm" and an "'85 Remix" of his
1982single "I Have the Touch." U.S. versions of the single contained an extended dance remixof "Sledgehammer." It was among the first singles released on compact disc.
The TV series "
Sledge Hammer!" was also popular when the song was released, although the two are not related.
1991, rappers 3rd Bassborrowed the Tony Levinbass line from the song for their hit "Pop Goes the Weasel". The 1993 Naughty By Naturesong " Hip Hop Hooray" also samples the shakuhachi intro. In 2000, the song was sampled for "I Got to Have It" by Jermaine Dupri, Monica and Nas, which appeared on the soundtrack for the motion picture " Big Momma's House". The instrumentalof such song is used by independent wrestler Claudio Castagnolias an entrance theme.
1993, the song appeared on a British television commercial for the Vauxhall Cavalier, followed by the guitar riff from Eric Clapton's " Layla". [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOWEhvwRkEQ]
In 2007, Finnish Symphonic Epic Metal
Northern Kingsfeaturing Jarkko Aholafrom Teräsbetoni, Marco Hietalafrom Nightwishand Tarot, Tony Kakkofrom Sonata Arcticaand Juha-Pekka Leppäluotofrom Charoncovered the song on their album "Reborn". Dave Matthews Bandbegan covering this song during the 2008 tour. [cite web|url=http://www.dmbalmanac.com/SongStats.aspx?sid=549|title=DMBAlmanac|accessdate=2008-08-25]
"Sledgehammer" spawned a widely popular and influential
music videodirected by Stephen R. Johnson. Aardman Animationsand the Brothers Quayprovided claymation, pixilation, and stop motionanimation that gave life to images in the song. The video ended with a large group of extras jerkily rotating around Gabriel, among them: Peter's daughters Anna and Melanie, the animators themselves, and director Stephen Johnson's girlfriend. Also included were six women who posed as the back-up singers of the song. Gabriel lay under a sheet of glass for 16 hours while filming the stills for the video. [ Cross, Alan. "The Impact Of The Music Video". Corus Radio. October 7, 2001.]
1987, it won nine MTV Video Music Awards, a record which still stands as of 2007. It ranked at number four on MTV's "100 Greatest Music Videos Ever Made" ( 1999). MTV later announced that "Sledgehammer" is the most played music video in the history of the station. "Sledgehammer" has also been declared to be MTV's number one animated video of all time. [ MTV. Top Ten Animated Videos Countdown. June 28, 1998. Transcript at http://www.outpost-daria.com/ts_top10.html ]
The video was also voted number seven on
TMF's "Ultimate 50 Videos You Must See" - first aired 24 June 2006. It ranked at number 2 on VH1's "Top 20 Videos of the 80's" as well as being named the #1 "Amazing Moment in Music" on the Australian TV show " 20 to 1" in 2007.
The portion of the song featuring the synthesized flute solo was realized in the video by first one and then two oven-ready chickens, headless and featherless, animated using stop-motion. These were animated by
Nick Park(of " Wallace and Gromit" fame) who, at that time was refining his work in plasticine animation.
* "Big Time", a later song with a similar visual styled music video, also by Peter Gabriel.
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