"Bitter Sweet Symphony" is a song by English alternative rock band The Verve. It is the lead track on their third studio album, Urban Hymns (1997). It is based on a sample it uses from the Andrew Loog Oldham orchestral cover of the Rolling Stones' song "The Last Time", and involved some legal controversy surrounding a plagiarism charge. As a result, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were added to the songwriting credits, and all royalties from the song went to former Rolling Stones manager Allen Klein. In April 2019, Jagger and Richards signed over all their publishing for the song to Richard Ashcroft.[1] The song was released in June 1997 by Hut Recordings as the first single from the album, reaching number two on the UK Singles Chart and remaining in the chart for three months.[2]

Acclaimed in music publications, it was named Rolling Stone and NME Single of the Year for 1997, and is considered one of the defining songs of the Britpop era. The accompanying music video features lead vocalist Richard Ashcroft walking down a busy London pavement – in Hoxton Street, Hoxton – oblivious to what is going on around and refusing to change his stride or direction throughout.[3][4] At the 1998 Brit Awards, "Bitter Sweet Symphony" was nominated for Best British Single. The song was released in the US as a single in March 1998 by Virgin Records America, reaching No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100,[5] and the music video was nominated for Video of the Year, Best Group Video, and Best Alternative Video at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.[6][7] In 1999, the song was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song.[8]

Production[edit | edit source]

Producer Youth said: "This was certainly the most successful track I've done. I think Richard had actually cut a version with John Leckie but, by the time I came on board, he didn't want to do the song. I persuaded him to have a go at cutting a version but at first he wasn't really into it. It was only once we'd put strings on it that he started getting excited. Then, towards the end, Richard wanted to chuck all the album away and start again. What was my reaction? Horror. Sheer horror. All I could say was, I really think you should reconsider."[9]

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Dispute over
  2. "The Verve's bitter sweet career". BBC News. Retrieved 8 March 2015
  3. Verve Single Tops Charts But Success Is Bittersweet Rolling Stone. Retrieved 12 February 2012
  4. McLean, Craig (14 January 2006). "Still crazy". The Daily Telegraph. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/rockandjazzmusic/3649299/Still-crazy.html. Retrieved 11 February 2012.
  5. Billboard Hot 100 (line 17). TheBestSongsEver.com
  6. The Brit Awards: The Verve Template:Webarchive Brits.co.uk. Retrieved 11 February 2012
  7. 1998 MTV Video Music Awards Rock on the Net. Retrieved 11 February 2012
  8. 41st Grammy Awards - 1999 Rock on the Net. Retrieved 12 February 2012
  9. Q January 2001
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