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"Semi-Charmed Life"
Single by Third Eye Blind
from the album Third Eye Blind
Released June 17, 1997 (1997-06-17)
Format CD single
Genre Alternative rock, power pop
Length 4:29 (Album Version)
4:00 (Video Edit)
3:40 (Radio Edit)
Label Elektra
Writer(s) Stephan Jenkins
Producer Eric Valentine
Third Eye Blind singles chronology
"Semi-Charmed Life"
(1997)
"Graduate"
(1997)

"Semi-Charmed Life" is Third Eye Blind's first single off their self-titled debut album, released in 1997. It was a major hit of the 1990s, reaching number four in the U.S.,[1] number one on the Modern Rock Tracks and the Top 40 in the UK. Furthermore, it has had a pervasive cultural impact, being featured in numerous movie soundtracks. VH1 has named the song as the 34th best song of the 90s.

Beneath a catchy, upbeat melody, with rapidly spoken lyrics and references to popular culture, the song contains dark lyrics about a drug user's descent into crystal meth addiction and his implied sexual activities while trying to "want something else."

According to lead singer Stephan Jenkins, the song was meant as a response to Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side", but from a San Francisco perspective.[2] The style of the song reflects changes that were occurring in the San Francisco music scene, particularly a growing interest in hip-hop.

Contents

Alternate versions

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Demo

Several changes were made for the studio recording. In the demo version, Jenkins spoke during the verses as opposed to singing it. The chorus lyrics were originally "I want nothing else to get me through this…" as opposed to "I want something else to get me through this…". In the second verse, instead of "Doing crystal meth will lift you up until you break", the demo version went "Crystal methylene will lift you up until you break". Finally, the reprise of the beginning of the second verse at the end of the song is omitted in the demo version.

Radio edits

Released on the single were a "clean edit" and the "radio edit". Both edits cut from 2:20 to 3:07 on the album version. The differences between the two edits is that the clean edit has the words "crystal meth" censored through backmasking. Radio stations that chose not to edit the drug reference played the radio edit.

The music video also shortened the song, but in a different section. The song was cut from 2:41 to 3:09. The drug references were either intact or edited out of the video, depending on which television channel the video aired.

In other popular culture

Meaning

"I think people are initially drawn to that song because of the sound of it. And then they come to realize that there's a deeper meaning to the story. But I don't think it's really like they identify with it because not that many people have had any dealings with speed addicts. I think it's a song about always wanting something. It's about never being satisfied, and reaching backwards to things that you've lost and towards things that you can never get. I think everybody has some identification with that. The story line between the people, the demise of this relationship, is just an extreme example of that condition. I think that's what makes people really relate to 'Semi-Charmed Life.' Also we ripped off Lou Reed--[singing] doot doot doot doot doot... " - Brad Hargreaves

Charts

Chart Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart[3] 8
UK Singles Chart[4] 33
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[5] 4
U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks[5] 1
Preceded by
"The Freshmen" by The Verve Pipe
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number one single
May 24, 1997 – June 21, 1997
Succeeded by
"The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Preceded by
"The Impression That I Get" by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Billboard Modern Rock Tracks number one single
July 5, 1997 – July 19, 1997
Succeeded by
"Push" by Matchbox Twenty

References

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel. The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th ed, Billboard Publications, Inc. 1996. ISBN 0-8230-7632-6
  2. ^ Elfman, Doug (February 15), "Musical Diversity – Third Eye Blind's influences range from Lou Reed to Queen", Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2002/Feb-15-Fri-2002/weekly/18032754.html 
  3. ^ "THIRD EYE BLIND - SEMI-CHARMED LIFE (SONG)". Australian-charts.com. http://australian-charts.com/showitem.asp?interpret=Third+Eye+Blind&titel=Semi-Charmed+Life&cat=s. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  4. ^ "Chart Stats: Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind". chartstats.com. http://www.chartstats.com/songinfo.php?id=25649. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 
  5. ^ a b "Chart Performance: Third Eye Blind". allmusic.com. http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&searchlink=THIRD. Retrieved 2009-11-14. 

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