Windowlicker

Album: Modern Rhapsodies (1999)
Charted: 16

Songfacts®:

  • Released February 23, 1999 on an eponymous single, "Windowlicker" was NME's 1999 Single of the Year in its year-end charts.

    The title could be a reference to the term "window licker," which has been used in the past as a derogatory name for someone with mental disability. It could also reference the French term for window shopping (a phrase used to denote the action of picking up passing women) - "faire du lèche-vitrine" - which translates literally as "licking the window."
  • The track begins with the main melodic motif, and James' vocals pitched down. It then enters a chopped and screwed percussive section, before the main motif and James' vocal melodies enter with the main refrain. Over the course of the track, these elements and others are manipulated with increasing intensity.
  • The full music video contains a 4-minute opening segment in which two men try in vain to pick up a pair of women, before Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) arrives in a 38-window stretch limo and starts dancing. The whole video is a parody of contemporary American gangsta hip-hop music videos - in this segment there is an average of a profanity every two seconds.

    The single artwork and music video follow a motif found in much of James' work, in which his own face replaces those of others. This was achieved using masks and makeup rather than digital graphics. Chris Cunningham created the artwork and directed the video.
  • In 2000, the track was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Video, but lost to Robbie Williams' ice-skating themed video for "She's The One."
  • A spectrogram of the track reveals a spiral at the end of the song. This was achieved using MetaSynth, a program allowing the user to insert a digital image as the spectrogram.
  • Beatboxer and comedian Beardyman covered the track, using just his voice and looping samplers, at his 2009 performance at Edinburgh Comedy Festival.
  • Dutch multi-instrumentalist Binkbeats covered the track as part of Boiler Room's "Beats Unraveled" series, in 2014.

Comments

Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks

Randy Newman

Randy NewmanSongwriting Legends In Their Own Words

Newman makes it look easy these days, but in this 1974 interview, he reveals the paranoia and pressures that made him yearn for his old 9-5 job.

Adele

AdeleFact or Fiction

Despite her reticent personality, Adele's life and music are filled with intrigue. See if you can spot the true tales.

Krishna Das

Krishna DasSongwriter Interviews

The top chant artist in the Western world, Krishna Das talks about how these Hindu mantras compare to Christian worship songs.

Chris Squire of Yes

Chris Squire of YesSongwriter Interviews

One of the most dynamic bass player/songwriters of his time, Chris is the only member of Yes who has been with the band since they formed in 1968.

16 Songs With a Heartbeat

16 Songs With a HeartbeatSong Writing

We've heard of artists putting their hearts into their music, but some take it literally.

Tom Waits Lyrics Quiz

Tom Waits Lyrics QuizMusic Quiz

Pool balls, magpies and thorns without roses - how well do you know your Tom Waits lyrics?