21. Massive Attack & Elizabeth Fraser – ‘Teardrop’ (1998)

“Love is a verb
Love is a doing word”

Written by Robert Del Naja/Grantley Marshall/Andrew Vowles/Elizabeth Fraser

Produced by Massive Attack/Neil Davidge

Taken from the album Mezzanine

Also released on Singles 90/98 and Collected

UK #10, AUS #16

When I was eight years old I received 100% Hits: The Best Of 1998 for Christmas. It was an amazing gift, it introduced me to artists like Janet Jackson, Placebo, Stardust, Regurgitator and Pauline Pantsdown. But most important, at the end of the second disc, was a strange, hypnotic song called ‘Teardrop’ by a band I’d never heard of before. In the booklet there was a photo of some men next to the song, but that was clearly a woman’s voice. Or was it? It sounded completely alien, not of this world at all.

Of course as I got older I understood that sometimes people guested on other people’s songs, and Cocteau Twins vocalist Elizabeth Fraser had collaborated with Massive Attack on some songs for their third studio album Mezzanine. ‘Teardrop’ wasn’t just their biggest hit and most famous single, it was also the best thing they’d ever done. With a gentle heartbeat, er, beat, and lots of little production flourishes that take you years to fully appreciate, ‘Teardrop’ is beautiful and unsettling, confusing and comforting. You have no idea what 99 percent of the lyrics are, but it doesn’t matter. You’re drowning in the sound.

Equally creepy and weird was the video, in which the song was lip-synched by a fetus in the womb. It’s just as squicky as that sounds, especially when you really watch the little fetus-face singing along all animated and such. It gives you a bad case of the shudders but that’s what great music should do, it should move you in different ways. Watching the video might be a bit of a mindfuck but hearing the song out of that context turns it around completely, turns it into a feast for you to either consume or roll around in as you see fit.

Music video:

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