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The Sign (song)

"The Sign"
TheSign.jpg
Standard European artwork
Single by Ace of Base
from the album 'Happy Nation (U.S. version) and The Sign'
Released
  • 29 October 1993 (Europe)
  • 21 December 1993 (US)
  • 17 January 1994 (UK)
Format
Recorded 1993
Genre
Length 3:08
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Ace of Base singles chronology
"Waiting for Magic"
(1993)
"The Sign"
(1993)
"Don't Turn Around"
(1994)
Music video
"The Sign" on YouTube

"The Sign" is a song by the Swedish band Ace of Base, which was released on 29 October 1993 in Europe. It was an international hit, reaching number two in the United Kingdom and spending six non-consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. More prominently, it became the top song on Billboard's 1994 Year End Chart. It appeared on the band's album Happy Nation (titled The Sign in North America).

Background

In Europe, Ace of Base's debut album was called Happy Nation, and when Arista was prepping the American album release, the label thought it could use a few new tunes. Ace of Base had already written "The Sign" for their second album. The execs decided to not only hasten its release, but also to make the song the title track.[1]

Composition

"We recorded it rather fast. The chorus was hard to sing since it has no time to breathe in it. We solved it by letting Jenny sing the second and fourth part of it. They wanted Linn to sing because Denniz loved her voice, so she did the vital parts. Denniz [PoP], [co-producer] Douglas [Carr] and I were happy with the result. An interesting part is that the song was so loud that we had to reduce the volume by three decibels compared to the other tracks when we mastered the album.".

—Jonas Berggren talking to Idolator about how the song was made.[2]

"The Sign" has been described as a "techno-reggae confection with a killer chorus". It's seemingly about a couple contemplating the state of their relationship and deciding to split up, a summation Jonas Berggren in interviews has stated is "more or less" correct.[3]

In an 2015 interview with Billboard Jonas Bergren told about the recording of the song: "When we recorded 'The Sign,' it was a bit too merry. So we put the [hums] da na-na na-na na-na in between the melody lines. It's a bit minor in that part. It becomes major and minor, as a total. But the chorus is mostly major."[4]

The song is performed in the key of G major for the verses and chorus but in G minor for the intro and instrumental breaks. The song follows a tempo of 97 beats per minute in common time. The group's vocals span from A3 to E5.[5][6]

Critical reception

Neil Strauss from The New York Times wrote about the song: "Ace of Base creates another pop ballad about an imperfect relationship by repeating a deceptively mystical hook ("I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes") over a minimal bass line."[7] Music & Media commented: "More pop reggae from the same Swedish chiefs."[8]

Impact and legacy

In 2014, Idolator ranked "The Sign" No. 1 on their ranking of The 50 Best Pop Singles of 1994.[9] In 2016 Rolling Stone placed the song at No. 42 on their list of 50 Best Songs of the Nineties.[10] And in 2018 Billboard put "The Sign" at No. 65 on their ranking of All-Time Top 100 Songs.[11] They wrote:

Chart performance

In Europe "The Sign" reached #1 in Denmark, Finland, Germany and Spain. At November 28 it entered the Eurochart Hot 100 at #29 and peaked at #2 eight weeks later. It also peaked at #1 in Australia, Israel, New Zealand, Canada and Zimbabwe. And in the US it topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Hot 100 charts.

The song was the No. 1 song of 1994 according to Billboard magazine's year-end charts. The song was ranked at number 65 on The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs for the first 60 years of the Hot 100 chart[13] and received a nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Group or Duo at the 1995 Grammy Awards.[14]

"The Sign" entered the European airplay chart Border Breakers at number 10 on November 21, 1993, due to crossover airplay in Central-Europe. It also peaked twice at number 1; on December 18, staying for five weeks and again on March 9 for a two week stay.[15] Together, "The Sign" and Ace of Base's next single "Don't Turn Around" monopolised either the number 1 or 2 spot on Border Breakers for 36 weeks. "The Sign" in the end of 1994 also held the record for longest-running single on Border Breakers, with a total of 42 weeks before slipping off on August 20.

Music video

Ace of Base in "The Sign" music video.

The music video of the song features the pop group singing amidst romantic and joyful images; "The Sign" was depicted as a computer generated ankh (also known as key of life) and a djed (ancient Egyptian symbol representing stability). The music video is directed by Mathias Julien. The beginning of the video is an homage to Depeche Mode's Enjoy the Silence.

Amid the images is a little story of a man and woman sitting side by side until the man leaves, seemingly abandoning the woman. However, he comes back with a rose and offers it to the woman. The woman graciously accepts and takes his hand. However, a bright light shines in the woman's face, drawing her away, abandoning the man and dropping the rose on the chair.

The video was released in five different edits throughout various territories. In the US, the original edit of the video was later re-edited, changing some of the shots with Jenny in the foreground from black and white to color. Other versions show more shots of the group singing with their backs in a circle, as well as more shots of Linn singing her parts in her solo black and white take.

Usage in media

The song was heavily featured in the fifth season finale of American Dad!, "Great Space Roaster". The song has also been covered in the TV series Full House, in which fictional band "Girl Talk", led by character Stephanie Tanner, mess up the song during the performance. Girl Talk performed the song again in Fuller House. The song is also played in the South Park episode "Prehistoric Ice Man," the 2012 comedy Pitch Perfect and in the pilot of Hindsight. In 2016, it was covered in a commercial for Uncle Ben's rice.

Track listings

CD single – Australia

  1. "The Sign" – 3:08
  2. "The Sign" (Long Version) – 4:43

CD single – Germany

  1. "The Sign" (The Remix) – 5:40
  2. "The Sign" (Ultimix) – 6:49
  3. "The Sign" (Dub Version) – 5:10

CD single – Japan

  1. "The Sign" – 3:08
  2. "Young And Proud" – 3:56

CD single – UK

  1. "The Sign" – 3:08
  2. "The Sign" (Long Version) – 4:43
  3. "The Sign" (Dub Version) – 5:10

CD single – U.S.

  1. "The Sign" (Ultimix) – 6:49
  2. "The Sign" – 3:08
  3. "Young And Proud" – 3:56
  4. "Happy Nation" (12" Version) – 6:40

CD maxi – France

  1. "The Sign" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "The Sign" (Long Version) – 4:43
  3. "The Sign" (Dub Version) – 5:10

7" single – France

  1. "The Sign" (Radio Edit) – 3:08
  2. "The Sign" (Long Version) – 4:43

Official versions

  • Album Version
  • Ultimix
  • Dub Version
  • Long Version
  • The Remix
  • Ultimix Remix
  • Freedom Bunch Mix (2009)

On several of the band's compilation albums, an error occurred with "The Sign", cutting one second from the beginning.

Personnel

  • Vocals by Linn Berggren ,lead, Jenny Berggren,later became lead and Jonas Berggren
  • Backing vocals by Jenny Berggren, Linn Berggren, Jonas Berggren and Douglas Carr
  • Written by Jonas Berggren
  • Produced by Denniz Pop, Douglas Carr and Jonas Berggren
  • Recorded at Cheiron Studios

Charts and sales

References

  1. ^ "Ace of Base Founder Discusses 'New' Album, Shares the Stories Behind the Band's 5 Biggest Hits". billboard.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018. 
  2. ^ "The 50 Best Pop Singles Of 1994 (Featuring New Interviews With Ace Of Base, TLC, Lisa Loeb, Real McCoy & Haddaway)". idolator.com. Retrieved 14 July 2018. 
  3. ^ "Ace of Base Founder Discusses 'New' Album, Shares the Stories Behind the Band's 5 Biggest Hits". billboard.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018. 
  4. ^ "Ace of Base Founder Discusses 'New' Album, Shares the Stories Behind the Band's 5 Biggest Hits". billboard.com. Retrieved 19 February 2018. 
  5. ^ Jenny. "Ace of Base "The Sign" Sheet Music in G Major - Download & Print". Musicnotes.com. Retrieved 2017-09-24. 
  6. ^ "The Sign - Ace of Base - Spot On Track". www.spotontrack.com. Retrieved 24 September 2017. 
  7. ^ Strauss, Neil (17 April 1994). "POP BRIEFS". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2018. 
  8. ^ "New Releases: Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. p. 8. Retrieved 23 April 2018. 
  9. ^ "The 50 Best Pop Singles Of 1994 (Featuring New Interviews With Ace Of Base, TLC, Lisa Loeb, Real McCoy & Haddaway)". idolator.com. Retrieved 14 July 2018. 
  10. ^ Sheffield, Rob. "The 50 Best Songs of the Nineties". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 14 July 2018. 
  11. ^ "The Biggest Hits of All: The Hot 100's All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 7 August 2018. 
  12. ^ Feeney, Nolan. "How Ace of Base's 'The Sign' Kickstarted the Swedish Pop Machine". Billboard. Retrieved 14 July 2018. 
  13. ^ The Billboard Hot 100 Chart 60th Anniversary, The Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs (60–51), Billboard.com
  14. ^ The 37th Grammy Nominations, [1], Los Angeles Times
  15. ^ "Border Breakers: Monitoring The Impact Of Euro Talent" (PDF). Music & Media. 19 November 1994. Retrieved 2 April 2018. 
  16. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Ace of Base – The Sign". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  17. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Ace of Base – The Sign" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  18. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ace Of Base – The Sign" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  19. ^ Belgian peak Archived 9 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ "Top 10 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 26 February 2018. 
  21. ^ "Music & Media: Eurochart Hot 100" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved 15 January 2018. 
  22. ^ Pennanen, Timo (2006). Sisältää hitin - levyt ja esittäjät Suomen musiikkilistoilla vuodesta 1972 (in Finnish) (1st ed.). Helsinki: Tammi. ISBN 978-951-1-21053-5. 
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  25. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (07.01.1994-13.01.1994)" (PDF) (in Icelandic). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 4 February 2018. 
  26. ^ "Irish Singles Chart, database". Irishcharts. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  27. ^ Israeli Singles Chart (2 weeks at No. 1 from 16.11.1993 to 23.11.1993)
  28. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Ace of Base" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
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  30. ^ "Charts.nz – Ace of Base – The Sign". Top 40 Singles.
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Ace of Base – The Sign". VG-lista.
  32. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100 (27 February 1994-05 March 1994)". officialcharts.com. Retrieved 7 February 2018. 
  33. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959–2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2. 
  34. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Ace of Base – The Sign". Singles Top 100.
  35. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Ace of Base – The Sign". Swiss Singles Chart.
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  37. ^ "Ace of Base Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  38. ^ a b c "Ace of Base, Billboard charts". Allmusic. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  39. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 Pop Singles" (PDF). Cash Box (1994-04-16, page 6). Retrieved 19 February 2018. 
  40. ^ * Zimbabwe. Kimberley, C. Zimbabwe: singles chart book. Harare: C. Kimberley, 2000
  41. ^ "Listy bestsellerów, wyróżnienia :: Związek Producentów Audio-Video". Polish Airplay Top 100. Retrieved 28 November 2016.
  42. ^ a b "The ARIA Australian Top 100 Singles 1994". Australian Record Industry Association Ltd. Archived from the original on 25 October 2015. Retrieved 2 November 2015. 
  43. ^ Canada Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1994
  44. ^ Canada Top 50 Dance Tracks of 1994
  45. ^ "Single top 100 over 1994" (pdf) (in Dutch). Top40. Retrieved 17 April 2010. 
  46. ^ 1994 French Singles Chart Disqueenfrance.com Archived 20 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine. (Retrieved 30 January 2009)
  47. ^ "End of Year Charts 1994". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 3 December 2017. 
  48. ^ "1994: Year-End USA Charts (Singles)". Billboard. Retrieved 12 June 2009.  (archived by Top40-Charts.com)
  49. ^ Geoff Mayfield (25 December 1999). 1999 The Year in Music Totally '90s: Diary of a Decade – The listing of Top Pop Albums of the '90s & Hot 100 Singles of the '90s. Billboard. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  50. ^ Bronson, Fred (2 August 2012). "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved 1 August 2018. 
  51. ^ "Best of All Time – Singles". Charts.org.nz. Hung Medien. Retrieved 12 August 2016. 
  52. ^ "Austrian single certifications – Ace of Base – The Sign" (in German). IFPI Austria.  Enter Ace of Base in the field Interpret. Enter The Sign in the field Titel. Select single in the field Format. Click Suchen
  53. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Ace of Base; 'The Sign')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  54. ^ "British single certifications – Ace of Base – The Sign". British Phonographic Industry.  Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Enter The Sign in the search field and then press Enter.
  55. ^ "American single certifications – Ace of Base – The Sign". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH
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External links