|Single by Garbage|
|from the album Version 2.0|
|B-side||"13 x Forever"
"Medication (Acoustic Version)"
|Released||September 28, 1998 (Europe)
October 5, 1998 (UK)
October 26, 1998 (Australia)
January 4, 1999 (US Top 40)
|Format||3" CD single
CD maxi, Cassette single
|Recorded||March 1997 - February 1998
|Genre||Alternative rock, electronica|
Almo Sounds/Interscope (US) Mushroom/BMG (Worldwide)
|Garbage singles chronology|
"Special" is a 1998 song written and performed by Garbage, and was the third international single to be released from the band's platinum second album Version 2.0. "Special" gained much attention in the music press upon the release of Version 2.0, as it contained a vocal interpolation of a lyric taken from "Talk of The Town" by The Pretenders.
A moderate hit upon its international release at the end of 1998, it became a sleeper hit in the United States the following year. The song's success was marked by becoming nominated in the Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group categories in the 2000 Grammy Awards, and winning a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award for Song of the Year and BMI Award for Best Pop Song. The music video for "Special" also received multiple nominations from music industry award panels and winning a D&AD Award, MTV Video Music Award, and a VH1 Visionary Video award.
"Special" was written and recorded by Garbage (Duke Erikson, Shirley Manson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig) at their own recording studio Smart Studios, in Madison, Wisconsin during the 1997 sessions for Version 2.0.
"Special" contains an uncredited lyric from The Pretenders song “Talk Of The Town” which was written by lead singer Chrissie Hynde. After contacting her, Hynde sent a fax to the group stating that Garbage could "sample her voice, her music or, indeed, her very arse". An early mix of "Special" also contained a sample of band member Duke Erikson on vocals. Shirley Manson thought it was a good idea beforehand, but admits that the results "were shocking to hear"!
"Special" was first performed live on May 15, 1998 at the band's performance at Ryan's Ballroom in Combined Locks, Wisconsin  the opening date of the Version 2.0 tour. "Special" has been performed consistently ever since, including on both beautifulgarbage and Bleed Like Me live sets.
"Special" is A-listed at Radio One and XFM and B-listed at Virgin, and also kmakes the playlists of 52 regional radio stations. Garbage promote "Special" at the beginning of September with performances on MTV Europe, TFI Friday, Top Of The Pops and Pepsi Chart Show. Promotional discs and 12" remix packs are distributed across Europe from September 21 to clubs and DJs, which enabled the Brothers in Rhythm remixes to reach #6 on the pre-release industry Buzz Chart.
"Special" is released in the UK on October 5 on three formats. The cassette single and first CD single contains new track "13x Forever"; the CD also includes a Brothers in Rhythm remix. The second CD single includes an acoustic version of Version 2.0 album track "Medication" and a remix of "Push It by Victor Calderone. "Special" charts at #15 in the UK Singles Chart. Sales of Version 2.0 increase, and the album is certified platinum on October 16. A week after the initial single release, Mushroom issued "Special" in a collectable 3" CD single format in blister pack packaging, featuring both b-sides and the Brothers in Rhythm remix of "Special". The 3" CD format was deleted after one week on sale.
On October 12, "Special" was added to Modern Rock radio stations across the US, and remixes produced by Rickidy Raw are serviced to Urban radio, in support of Garbage's headline concert tour around the United States, Canada and Mexico. Garbage perform "Special" on Late Show with David Letterman on October 29, and the following day promote the single on The Howard Stern Show, but perform #1 Crush instead of "Special". "Special" debuts on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart at #40 on October 31.  Garbage then perform "Special", as well as other tracks, on a MusiquePlus special filmed in Montreal on November 14, and perform "Special" on The Tonight Show on December 11.
On January 4, 1999, a Top 40 remix of "Special" is serviced to airplay and on January 26 is declared '#1 Most Added' track at Top 40 radio with 53 adds, beating out Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right but It's Okay". Mainstream airplay of "Special" increases, and it debuts on Hot Dance Club Play, Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks and Top 40 Mainstream charts over the following two months, and by February 20, registers on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart at #13 and climbs to #1 in that chart over the next five weeks. Garbage perform "Special" on Saturday Night Live on March 20 and again on a return performance on The Tonight Show on April 2. "Special" debuts on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot 100 Airplay charts on March 27, continuing to climb until it peaks at #52 and #42 respectively on May 22. "Special" also reaches at #22 on the Top 40 Tracks chart the same week.
|Track title||Length||Remixer/Producer||Commercial release|
|"Special (Pop mix)"||3:35||Garbage||No|
|"Special (Brothers In Rhythm Club mix (Radio edit))"||4:11||Brothers in Rhythm||No|
|"Special (Brothers In Rhythm Club mix)"||7:24||Yes|
|"Special (Brothers In Rhythm Club mix)" 12" mix||9:58||No|
|"Special (Brothers In Rhythm Club mix (Instrumental))"||10:00||No|
|"Special (Rickidy Raw R+B remix)"||5:25||Rickidy Raw||Yes|
|"Special (Rickidy Raw Late Night mix)"||5:58||No|
For the initial release of "Special", Brothers in Rhythm's remix was included. Several early press releases for the single also included a remix by Nellee Hooper, but this version remains unreleased. Rickidy Raw's remixes were commissioned to service to urban radio stations.
In 2007, Brothers in Rhythm's remix was remastered and included on the Absolute Garbage bonus disc Garbage Mixes.
The promotional video for "Special" was shot in London on August 26, 1998 by director Dawn Shadforth for Black Dog Films. The video featured the band combatting against each other in a sci-fi dogfight duelling it out in the skies of an alien world. The fighter planes from the video were designed by graphic artists who had worked on visual effects for 1998's Lost In Space and 1999's Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. The video premiered in the US on December 6, 1998.
Director Dawn Shadforth came to Garbage's attention when they viewed her clip for All Seeing I's single "Walk Like A Panther". Her innovative storyboard treatment for the video highly impressed the band. Freelance stylist William Baker, who worked on the video, said "Dawn wanted to present Shirley Manson as a space-age fighter pilot, with shots showing her sexily manipulating the controls of her craft". Shadforth later used techniques she used on the "Special" video on the video for Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out of My Head".
"In the year 3030, Queen Astarte has taken to the skies to defend her once peaceful homeland from the evil lords of Garbania who seek to rule the universe. She has but one last chance to thwart their wicked plan........"
In 1999, the video won a 'silver' D&AD award for Best Direction in Pop Promo Video. The video for "Special" was nominated for 'Best Special Effects' and 'Best Art Direction' at the MTV Video Music Awards on September 9, 1999. The group won the former award but lost out on the latter. The "Special" video won the 'Visionary Video' award at the VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards in December 1999. In 2000 "Special" was nominated in the Music Week CAD (Creative and Design) Awards for Best Special Effects In A Video (to effects team Paul Simpson, Stuart Gordon, and Sean Broughton).
"Special" end-of-year poll results:
Brothers In Rhythm remixes
Rickidy Raw remixes
|1998||"Special"||UK Singles Chart||#15|
|1998||"Special"||Australian Singles Chart||#54|
|1999||"Special"||US Billboard Hot 100||#52|
|1999||"Special"||US Billboard Hot 100 Airplay||#42|
|1999||"Special"||US Hot Dance Music/Club Play||#10|
|1999||"Special"||US Modern Rock Tracks||#11|
|1999||"Special"||US Adult Top 40||#16|
|1999||"Special"||US Top 40 Mainstream||#18|
|1999||"Special"||US Top 40 Tracks||#22|
|1999||"Special"||US ARC Weekly Top 40||#8|