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How are The Chemical Brothers perceived around the world?

  • Giant
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Well, like the question says, I'm curious to know how The Chemical Brothers are perceived regarding your location.

I'm really interested in feedback from those who are in the UK. Are they a national treasure? Or are they seen as blokes who've been around too long, and just make annoying computer music?

For those stateside and particularly non-euro countries, Am I alone in thinking that The Chemical Brothers are more of a niche type group? Obviously, their top charting days are long gone (Though I thought "Go" had a really good shot). But, is it a struggle to find a person that's actually listened to one of their albums without your recommendation?

Let's hear your opinions.
« Last Edit: Jan 31, 2017, 20:32 by Bosco »  


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In Russia the brothers are known by many people because of porn video "student's day" which contains HBHG :)
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Hi Bosco, . .  so i'm from the UK and have been a fan of The Chems since their first album landed on my ears in '95, . ,  back then they were more niche and sort of remained underground and elusive to the majority of people (apart from those into dance, electronic music etc.) but over the years,  through chart hits,  their big selling singles etc, and probably some of their music being used in adverts.. they've become more widley known to everyday people. I wouldn't say they're regarded as a national treasure (that's more Elton John, Paul McCartney territory) as they're never seen in the media doing interviews or turning up on chat shows etc, .. but I think we all like the way they remain out of the public media eye, ..  unless, that is they're behind the decks at one of their shows laying down the beats. I'd say they're highly regarded in the UK as masters of the electronic music genre and most music fans (edit).. (into dance/electronic music aged 50 or below).. will probably have some of their work in their collection.
« Last Edit: Jan 31, 2017, 23:13 by Fine Time »  
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  • Peter the Bellboy
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Agreed. For the most part people have heard the name and will recognise HBHG. I would argue personally though that it actually is "a struggle to find a person that's actually listened to one of their albums without your recommendation". Even fellow musicians or other big music fans don't ever seem to know them in the same kind of way we do. Even the names of albums or songs other than HBHG don't seem to be common knowledge.

That said, the turnout for their shows at Glastonbury (arguably more casual fans in attendance) is always huge. And new material on the radio is seems to be met with open arms from most people.


Whenever I mention them over in America I'm met with a blank face. Though someone did comment on my Chems hoody when I was hiking around Yosemite, which was pretty neat!
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Thanks for the responses so far.

Yup, I think everyone has dealt with the "My Chemical Romance" misunderstanding.

From my experience (2001 is when I started paying attention), Block Rockin' Beats and Galvanize are the most well known Chemical Brother tunes for my area.

Block Rockin' Beats is the only song that I've heard on Chicago radio airways, but that was back 10+ years ago on a former Alternative Rock Station. It was part of their "shuffle mix" list and would get a couple plays a week.

Galvanize, never got radio play here in Chicago. But it was especially heard on Budweiser commercials, at sport stadiums, and used as back filling music on several different media platforms.

I wonder what US band would be an accurate parallel in terms of appreciation and popularity. It's difficult to gauge, because like Fine Time mentioned they do live a pretty privatized life.





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Here is another sidebar question, how would you rank Daft Punk, The Chemical Brothers, and Underworld in terms of popularity in your area?

(bare with me, I know that reads as a mundane question)
« Last Edit: Feb 01, 2017, 01:46 by Bosco »  


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Almost nobody I talk to knows Underworld, unless I have made them listen or they have been in 'the biz' a while. Some barely recognise Born Slippy and even with them doing the music for our Olympic Opening Ceremony they have no idea who they are. They think of the vampire movies before they know it's a band.

It would definitely be Daft Punk > The Chemical Brothers > Underworld in the UK. No question.
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Yeah, agree with Enjoyed,  almost no one will know Underworld (the band) if you ask them,  save a few that will say,  oh,  they did that track off the film Trainspotting. I'm sure thousands watched the Olympics in 2012 and remember the moment with the Isles of Wonder track, they may have later bought the soundtrack to the opening ceremony and read on the back of the Cd that Underworld wrote the track,  they would've thought,  who the hell are they.

As Daft Punk aren't around doing anything these days I'd say in terms of popularity in my area,  or if you asked 100 people in the street etc, they would be familiar with The Chemical Brothers,  then,  Daft Punk,  then Underworld.

Wierd fact from me: Bosco,  you mention Chems tracks you heard on Chicago radio, . .  well the most geographically distant place I heard a Chemical Brothers track on the radio was in the Falkland Islands,  I was down there in'99 (in the Navy at the time) and I heard HBHG on the radio,  I knew they had a new album coming out so it was great to hear this new song from them,  it sounded great on first listen,  really different,  could tell it was a killer track.
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I'm on the north-east/mid-Atlantic border in the States. Think Philly/New York/DC. In most conversations regarding music, people seem to recognize the Chemical Brothers but either identify them as that 90's techno band or a one-hit wonder. I think more people in this market are more familiar Setting Sun or BRB than HBHG because they were played on the radio here.

Daft Punk is more widely known and identified.

Some people say they've heard of Underworld, but overall electronic music is not very popular with my peer and age groups.


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I think we've officially entered "between albums" territory with this thread.

which was pretty neat!
Enjoyed, you've turned American already!

Yup, I think everyone has dealt with the "My Chemical Romance" misunderstanding.
Not me. Not in UK/Ireland. But then it's not so rare to hear the Chems on "normal" radio here.

Some barely recognise Born Slippy
I think almost anyone who saw Trainspotting in '96 associates it with Born slippy and vice versa. Being a British film it probably made more impact here than elsewhere. Those same people may not be able to name another UW track though.

It would definitely be Daft Punk > The Chemical Brothers > Underworld in the UK. No question.
Agreed.


As Daft Punk aren't around doing anything these days I'd say in terms of popularity in my area,  or if you asked 100 people in the street etc, they would be familiar with The Chemical Brothers,  then,  Daft Punk,  then Underworld.
Don't agree. Get Lucky made Daft Punk more famous than they'd ever been. The addition of superstar Pharrell (and to a lesser extent Nile Rodgers) made sure of that. The buzz around RAM was definitely greater than that around BITE.

I'm on the north-east/mid-Atlantic border in the States... I think more people in this market are more familiar Setting Sun or BRB than HBHG because they were played on the radio here.

I suspect BRB remains their best known track in the UK. I have, on occasion heard people using the expression, Block Rockin Beats to describe music.
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That's pretty awesome that you've been to the Falkland Islands, Fine Time.


To no surprise, I too, was introduced to Underworld via 'Trainspotting'. Although I do admit checking out there music via napster/limewire (remember that!) previous to seeing the movie, and finding their music horribly repetitive and dull. And then my ears matured...

I remembered Daft Punk's "Around the World" getting big play on radio here. Followed by Hanson's "MMMMBop", Chumbawamba's "Tubthumping",  and Aqua's "Barbie Girl" via B96 (Chicago Radio Station), back in 1997.

They might have been a lot bigger than I'm aware of after they released "Discovery", but I never really payed attention to  Daft Punk until I got into The Chemical Brothers.

If you ask me, I think things really blew up for Daft Punk after there 2006 Coachella Live set (I've said this before). It was at perfect time where YouTube and internet video hosting was just taking off, and music festivals were becoming trendy again. Their show killed, and created a hype storm like I've never seen. Then came Kanye sampling HBFS, the Tron Soundtrack, and finally the Grammy award winning album, RAM.

But yes, Daft Punk, is seemingly the most popular of the three.

I guess what starting this conversation is helping me understand, is that I overestimated the popularity of The Chemical Brothers (and Underworld), in the UK.

It also helps put into perspective what us fans should expect in terms of touring, new albums, and whatnot. 


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Wow, its stuff like this that really has me miss working in a record store! Toward the end of my time at Tower Records, I worked the floor and dealt more with customers one-on-one (I was previously a display artist and visual merchandiser there for years, which meant I was usually holed up in the back away from customers.) Anyway, when you work in an environment like that, when you're talking with people and helping them connect with music, your finger is sort of on the pulse. When someone came in and said, "what's that song they used in the Nissan commercial?" or a random "OK I heard this song on the radio last night and it went like this <starts singing>" your finger is sort of on the pulse of what other people are listening to. When something was popular, you sold more of it, ordered more of it, priced more of it, and stuck more of it on the shelves. It's kind of hard to gauge that nowadays, at least for me. I'm old. :P I don't go to clubs regularly anymore although I did break that cycle 3 months ago and was dragged out to. Brit pop club in Los Angeles' China Town. Of course Hey Boy Hey Girl was on rotation and I am happy to report it still teases and pleases a dance floor.

I'd say pretty much everyone in my circle is familiar with the Chemical Brothers in some way, or they own an album or 2 or 3. I don't listen to the radio much these days but when I do, it's a KCRW (which is an indie Los Angeles station) or at risk of saying the oldest thing on the internet today... I also listen to the oldies station (they haven't played the Chems yet but all the songs of my youth are on heavy rotation - yikes!) If I were to judge the scope of their popularity solely on the crowds at music festivals, I'd say they are big enough to draw a crowd even if it's the most basic casual-listening "oh, they did that song? Had no idea" fan.

It's funny, I was talking to my son's godfather a couple months ago. He lives in San Francisco. He and his partner know I'm a fan of the Chems. But the only song they know is Salmon Dance, oddly enough.
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I love the Oldies station. There is a lot of great music and musicians that I glossed over when I was younger, that I have new appreciation for today.

But your comment raises a few good questions. Will the "oldies" (that we are familiar with) be eventually replaced by "new oldies"? Or maybe, the "new oldies" will be just added to the original "oldies"? Furthermore, in a couple more years, will The Chemical Brothers moderate worldly success find them in such a category?


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For Germany I can say that they are not unknown, but they mostly don't made it into the charts or get some airplay on radio. Most people know HBHG & Galvanize. And then there are the people who know Do It Again (because they've seen the Paco Rabanne ad) and Go (because it was used for an ad for a German TV show) - but they don't know it's by Tom'n'Ed.
no idea, no idea


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Will the "oldies" (that we are familiar with) be eventually replaced by "new oldies"? Or maybe, the "new oldies" will be just added to the original "oldies"?

It's hard to say exactly how it will go down. I think about this myself and have observed four major things.

1 - Oldies from the 50s/60s will always be considered 'oldies', regardless of the rest.

2 - I've heard young people categorize bands like Nirvana or Bon Jovi as classic rock, which I've always reserved for rock bands of the 60s/70s in the vein of Led Zepplin and such.

3 - Any hip hop that's not 'right now' is considered old school, be it from 2 or 35 years ago. It's a broad category.

4 - If nothing else, consider this: most of us remember when Snoop Dogg was fresh, but we must acknowledge he is old now. Seriously, he's like this generation's version of Willie Nelson.


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