|Single by Blur|
|from the album The Great Escape|
|Released||13 November 1995|
|Format||7" vinyl (jukebox only), cassette, 2 x CD|
|Genre||Chamber pop, Britpop|
|Songwriter(s)||Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree.|
|Blur singles chronology|
"The Universal" is a song by English alternative rock band Blur and is featured on their fourth studio album, The Great Escape. It was released on 13 November 1995 as the second single from that album, charting at number five on the UK Singles Chart and number 12 in both Iceland and Ireland.
In keeping with the song's science fiction theme, the single's cover art is an allusion to the opening shot of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and the music video is a tribute to the movie A Clockwork Orange, with the band dressed up in costumes similar to Alex and his droogs. Both films were directed by Stanley Kubrick.
A music video for the song was directed by Jonathan Glazer. The band is presented in imitation of the opening scenes from the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, in the Milk Bar. Blur star as the quasi-Droogs, complete with Damon Albarn wearing eyeliner similar to the character Alex DeLarge. They perform in the bar in all-white. Though the band do not engage in their usual vibrant stage demeanor, Damon Albarn frequently turns to the camera and gives a sly, crooked smile. Graham Coxon spends the majority of the video sitting against the wall, while playing his guitar. They also spend some time during the video sat down on the seats, watching the people around them.
The bar patrons consist of different groups; a male with two females are openly kissing. The man has lipstick all over his face; a lone female entertains male business colleagues by exploiting their sexual interest in her; two men, one identified as a 'red man' (dressed entirely in red) who used to be 'blue', conduct a stilted (subtitled) conversation; two other men – one of them wearing a vicar's clerical collar – become increasingly drunk on cocktails, laughing more and more hysterically until the clergyman tells his friend something to which the viewer is not privy, causing his friend to withdraw into stunned silence (a device similar to that used in Radiohead's promotional video for the song "Just" in the same year). There are also two old men who make a few comments (again subtitled) marveling at the scene. Blur then walk down the aisle to exit the building. Damon Albarn stops them, then the clergyman moves in to kiss his friend. There are also scenes outside, showing high rise buildings, where people are gathered around a golf ball speaker atop a roof, listening.
7" and cassette
CD2: The Universal II – Live at the BBC
- Note: the 7" vinyl edition was pressed for use on jukeboxes and was not issued commercially.
- Damon Albarn – lead vocals, synthesizers
- Graham Coxon – electric guitar, backing vocals
- Alex James – bass guitar
- Dave Rowntree – drums
- The Kick Horns – horns
|Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)||12|
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||5|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||5|
Uses in popular culture
- A cover by Irish crooner Joe Dolan in 1998 made it to number 19 in the Irish charts.
- The song was used during the closing montage of ITV's Rugby World Cup 2003 footage.
- The song has been used on TV advertisements for British Gas since 2009 (although it never re-entered the top 40).
- The song was used in a 2002 ad for the Chrysler Concorde.
- The song was featured in an ad for VH1, Latin-America.
- The song was featured in the episode "I Don't" of MTV animated series Daria.
- Irish singer Lucy O'Byrne released a cover and video clip as part of her first album in 2016.
- "From Blur To Bowie, 18 Ingenious Music Moments Inspired By Stanley Kubrick Movies". NME. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
- "Blur - "The Universal [version 1]"". mvdbase.com. Retrieved 28 June 2010.
- Auction takes Blur back to their roots - BBC News Online
- "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (9.12. '95 – 15.12. '95)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). 9 December 1995. Retrieved 5 November 2019.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – The Universal". Irish Singles Chart.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- "Swedishcharts.com – Blur – The Universal". Singles Top 100.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
- on YouTube