Heart Like Chernobyl

From Soft Cell Wiki
Heart Like Chernobyl
Track by Soft Cell
Year 2020
Recorded Kitchen Sink Drama Studio
Written Marc Almond
Composed David Ball
Produced Philip Larsen
Genre synth-pop
Album *Happiness Not Included
Also in Bruises On All My Illusions
“Heart Like Chernobyl” is a song by Soft Cell from their 2022 studio album *Happiness Not Included.

Origin[edit | edit source]

Dave Ball said that he wrote the music to “Heart Like Chernobyl” during the peak of 2020 quarantine lockdown and he had been alone for about 6 weeks, which made him “feeling a bit Joy Division” and recalling their track “Isolation.”[1][2] Marc Almond later wrote lyrics about how people become desensitised by being bombarded by negative news, turning into “nuclear wasteland of feelings.” Almond also cited Chernobyl HBO series, premiered in 2019, as an inspiration,[3] thus Chernobyl nuclear disaster is referenced in the title and trough the song.

Record and release[edit | edit source]

Like other songs on *Happiness Not Included, “Heart Like Chernobyl” was recorded during 2020 lockdown, with the duo working on it separately. Ball initially recorded music for the track digitally as usual demo in his home studio, in the kitchen (being later credited on album as Kitchen Sink Drama Studios).[1][2] He wanted to refine the track further, but Almond asked him to leave it as is, refering to it as old school minimal electronics, and later recorded vocal track while not singing, “trying to do a bit of a Lou Reed vibe.”[3]

“Heart Like Chernobyl” was the first released song from the album, but as taster for it and not as single. It was announced on July 30th, following the announce of the album.[4] On 12th August 2021 (a day earlier than listed in initial announce) its lyric video was published on Soft Cell's official YouTube channel, followed by posts on social media pages and the track being available on streaming platforms.[1] The album was released in May 2022.

Other versions[edit | edit source]

Extended[edit | edit source]

An extended mix of the song by Dave Ball was released on Bruises On All My Illusions CD single on 18 February, 2022.[5][6] It later was included on 4LP release accompanying the studio album, *Happiness Now Extended, released in July 2023, then on *Happiness Now Digital USB collection in 2024.

Live[edit | edit source]

Soft Cell started performing “Heart Like Chernobyl” live before album's release, on 2021 concert tout celebrating 40th anniversary of Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. A recording from final show in London was released in 2023 with Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret... And Other Stories: Live releases, then later included on *Happiness Now Digital USB collection.

Instrumental[edit | edit source]

An instrumental version was announced with *Happiness Now Digital USB collection, set for release in January 2024.

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • Written-By (music), synthesizer – David Ball
  • Written-By (lyrics), vocals – Marc Almond
  • Production, sound engineering, synthesizer, drum programming – Philip Larsen
  • Sound engineering – Barry Grint

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

Written by Marc Almond

Oh dear
I feel like North Korea in the winter
I've got a toxic touch
'Cos everything is dying all around me
Lovers, pets and plants
Cousins, uncles, aunts
So run like the devil
Before you regret you ever found me

All I have to say
The news it's made me this way
Another horror everyday
So in your knees and pray

It's purely anectodal
More than the sum total
Throw me down the waste disposal
I've got heart like Chernobyl

People escaping the war in boats
Tip them over and see who floats
When I'm faced with people dying
No emotion, it's like watching a soap
Appeal to my better nature
And tell me Jesus is the answer
He tried to see the good in everyone
But Jesus was a naive romancer

It's purely anectodal
More than the sum total
Throw me down the waste disposal
I've got heart like Chernobyl

It's purely anectodal
I'm Constantinople
Every army falls invading my walls
I've got heart like Chernobyl

Watch out for reactor 5
Nobody gets out alive
So do what you have to do
If you're gonna survive
It's all the fault of the media
All the fear they feed ya
Throw me down the waste disposal
I've got heart like Chernobyl

Videos[edit | edit source]

Heart Like Chernobyl
music video by Soft Cell
Still frame from
“Heart Like Chernobyl” video
Released 14 September 2021
Recorded Tate Britain Museum, London, UK
Previous Northern Lights
Next Purple Zone

Lyric video[edit | edit source]

The lyric video for “Heart Like Chernobyl” was created by Ewan McWilliam of Design Workshop in 2021. It consists of video footages of Pripyat city, Ukraine, where Chernobyl power plant is located, in a variety of color effects, corresponding to artworks of the album. It was published on band's official YouTube channel and social media pages on August 12th 2021.[1]

Music video[edit | edit source]

The video for “Heart Like Chernobyl” was filmed on 18th August 2021, in Tate Britain Museum, London, UK. The set of the video is red lit part of installation Rupture No.1: Blowtorching The Bitten Peach by artist Heather Phillipson.[2][7]

Finished video first appeared on Almond's official web site, on September 14th 2021.[2] On 17th September it was published on Soft Cell's official YouTube channel.

Availability[edit | edit source]

“Heart Like Chernobyl” appears on following records.

Official releases

Year Title Type Version
2022 Bruises On All My Illusions Single Extended
*Happiness Not Included Album Original
2023 *Happiness Now Extended Album Extended
2024 *Happiness Now Digital Other Original

Original version of the song is also available on streaming platforms.

Listen[edit | edit source]

Official uploads on YouTube

Soft Cell - Heart Like Chernobyl (Lyric Video) []

Soft Cell - Heart Like Chernobyl at Tate Britain []
Music video

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • “Heart Like Chernobyl” has determined front cover artworks of the album and some of the singles, including streaming platform ones, – a Ferris wheel in Pripyat.
  • On streaming platform artwork the song title imitates *Happiness Not Included album title, with asterisk replaced by radiation hazard symbol.
  • The samples at the beginning and the end of the song are further references to Chernobyl nuclear disaster: the first one is a recording of one of emergency calls to the fire department,[8] and another is fragment of Mikhail Gorbachev's speech regarding the tragedy,[9] with click sounds of Geiger counter.
  • Although reactor 5 is mentioned in the song, the explosion on Chernobyl nuclear power plant happened in reactor No. 4, while No. 5 was in construction and eventually not completed.[10]

References[edit | edit source]

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