This month marks 23 years since the international release of Teardrop, one of the mammoth singles of 1998. The song immediately hit #1 around the world, and was the second cut released from the break-out album by English electronica group Massive Attack, Mezzanine. Here are five things you may not know about the beloved song.
1. The vocals were very nearly sung by Madonna. Of the three Massive Attack bandmembers, Andrew Vowles was in favour of offering the song to the American pop superstar, and sent her the demo – which she absolutely loved, and was keen to sing right away. The other two bandmembers – Robert Del Naja and Grant Marshall – wanted the more ethereal voice of Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) to lead the song. Madonna was reportedly very disappointed when the two-to-one vote didn’t go her way.
2. Fraser wrote the lyrics herself, and during recording she discovered that her friend and musician Jeff Buckley had passed away. “[The] song’s kind of about him… that’s how it feels to me, anyway,” she said in 2009.
3. The song’s pulsating rhythm, reminiscent of a heartbeat, is sampled from jazz pianist Les McCann’s 1973 track Sometimes I Cry.
4. The infamous video, depicting a fetus in utero, was directed by English filmmaker Walter Stern. He’s responsible for numerous iconic music clips, including The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony, The Prodigy’s Breathe, and INXS’s Elegantly Wasted.
5. In 2010, Robert Del Naja revealed that the band still have the video’s robotic nipper, but it’s a little worse for wear. “We kept the Teardrop baby, but being made of old latex, it just doesn’t have the longevity,” he said. “It’s now just a primitive animatronic half-creature in a puddle of rotten latex. It’s still quite scary: it’s like a museum piece, but for all the wrong reasons.”