Sledgehammer (song)

Sledgehammer (song)

Single infobox
Name = Sledgehammer

Artist = Peter Gabriel
from Album = So
Released = April 1986
Format = 7", 12", CD
Recorded = 1985| Genre = Soul/Funk/Rock
Length = 5:09 (5:39 Single Version)
Label = Geffen
Producer = Daniel Lanois
Chart position =

Reviews =
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 Gabriel from 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 shakuhachi flute.

It contains somewhat subtle sexual innuendo, which was common in soul music from the time. The lyrics include phallic references 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, fruit and 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 1982 single "I Have the Touch." U.S. versions of the single contained an extended dance remix of "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.

In 1991, rappers 3rd Bass borrowed the Tony Levin bass line from the song for their hit "Pop Goes the Weasel". The 1993 Naughty By Nature song "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 instrumental of such song is used by independent wrestler Claudio Castagnoli as an entrance theme.

In 1993, the song appeared on a British television commercial for the Vauxhall Cavalier, followed by the guitar riff from Eric Clapton's "Layla". []

In 2007, Finnish Symphonic Epic Metal Northern Kings featuring Jarkko Ahola from Teräsbetoni, Marco Hietala from Nightwish and Tarot, Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica and Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto from Charon covered the song on their album "Reborn".

Dave Matthews Band began covering this song during the 2008 tour. [cite web|url=|title=DMBAlmanac|accessdate=2008-08-25]

Music video

"Sledgehammer" spawned a widely popular and influential music video directed by Stephen R. Johnson. Aardman Animations and the Brothers Quay provided claymation, pixilation, and stop motion animation 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.]

In 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 ]

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.

ee also

* "Big Time", a later song with a similar visual styled music video, also by Peter Gabriel.


External links

*MusicBrainz album|id=b7478ed1-ce12-4d04-b3f3-9ad766b0986e|name=Sledgehammer

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