Blow Up the Outside World

"Blow Up the Outside World" is a song by the American rock band Soundgarden. Written by frontman Chris Cornell, "Blow Up the Outside World" was released on November 18, 1996, as the third single from the band's fifth studio album, Down on the Upside (1996). The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, where it spent a total of four weeks at number one. The song was included on Soundgarden's 1997 greatest hits album, A-Sides.

SoundgardenBUTOW.jpg
SoundgardenBUTOW.jpg

Origin and recording

"Blow Up the Outside World" was written by frontman Chris Cornell. Cornell stated that he wrote the song when he was in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and at the time of writing it "[he] was a little fucked up". Guitarist Kim Thayil on the song's guitar solo:

A blues-type thing, exactly. And after I recorded it, the rest of the band loved it, and the assistant engineer loved it, but I kept feeling like it was too stiff. I was using a Tele with .011's. I was listening to it, going, 'You know, it doesn't have my trademark finger vibrato', like you can hear on Ultramega OK and Badmotorfinger. I wasn't quite satisfied with it, but because everyone else really enjoyed it, eventually I let it go ... I finally had to relax and trust the guys that it was cool.

Composition

Regarding "Blow Up the Outside World", drummer Matt Cameron stated that "there's certain points in that tune that are just a really nice, emotional crunch that happens somehow ... that one in particular, that made my girlfriend cry the first time she heard it". Thayil on the song:

A nice ironic, final single in a way. People said there was a Beatles-ish element. I suppose there is a bit of Paul McCartney and a little bit of Lennon in the flavour of the song. Everyone in the band grew up with the Beatles and we had a certain degree of respect and admiration for them that's not uncommon. I think many people were Beatles fans, especially for that period in time. There's a number of acoustic guitars on the track as well and then, towards the end of the song, it gets louder and aggressive and goes to these power chords, and is maybe a little reminiscent of AC/DC.

Lyrics

When asked if he really wanted to "blow up the outside world", Cornell said, "All the time, so it doesn't encroach on me—you can hibernate and not have to worry about it."

Release and reception

"Blow Up the Outside World" was released as a single in 1996 with a previously unreleased B-side titled "A Splice of Space Jam". The cover art is taken from a series of photographs by Catherine Chalmers featuring a tomato being eaten by caterpillars, which at one point were considered for use for the Down on the Upside cover.

It appeared on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 Airplay chart, reaching the top 60. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number eight on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song spent a total of four weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock chart.

Outside the United States, the single was released commercially in Australia. In Canada, the song reached the top 90 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and later it charted on the Canadian Alternative Top 30 chart where it reached number two.

Neil Strauss of The New York Times said that "the band can harness grunge's self-absorption to heavy metal's destructive energy and come up with a song like 'Blow Up the Outside World'."

Music video

The music video for "Blow Up the Outside World" was directed by Devo bassist Gerald Casale. The video was filmed at Occidental Studios in Los Angeles, California. The video features Cornell being tied down to a chair in a position similar to Alex DeLarge from the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange and forced to watch a film parodying the montage from the 1974 film The Parallax View while being watched by scientists. It also features the band performing the song in a room which is eventually blown up. The video was released in October 1996.

Cover version

A cover version of the song was used in TV advertisements for the 2014 film Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. The same cover was also used in TV spots for the second season of the WGN America drama Manhattan.

Track listing

All songs written by Chris Cornell, except where noted:

CD (Europe) and 7" Vinyl (Europe)
  1. "Blow Up the Outside World" – 5:46
  2. "Dusty" (Moby mix) (Cornell, Ben Shepherd) – 5:06
CD (Australia and Europe)
  1. "Blow Up the Outside World" – 5:46
  2. "Gun" (live) – 5:41
  3. "Get on the Snake" (live) (Cornell, Kim Thayil) – 3:40
  4. "A Splice of Space Jam" (Matt Cameron, Cornell, Shepherd, Thayil) – 4:03
  • Live tracks recorded on December 10, 1989 at the Whisky A Go-Go in Los Angeles, California. This show was recorded for the Louder Than Live home video. The sleeve of the single incorrectly states the date as May 1, 1990.
Promotional CD (US)
  1. "Blow Up the Outside World" – 5:46
  2. "Blow Up the Outside World" (edit)

Charts

Chart (1996) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) 76
Canada Top Singles (RPM) 89
Canada Rock/Alternative (RPM) 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 40
US Radio Songs (Billboard) 53
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard) 1
US Alternative Songs (Billboard) 8
Preceded by
"Hero of the Day" by Metallica
Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks number-one single
December 28, 1996 – January 17, 1997
January 25–31, 1997
Succeeded by
"Lady Picture Show" by Stone Temple Pilots

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