Better Than This

Album: Perfect Symmetry (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • Pianist and songwriter Tim Rice-Oxley told The Sun October 3, 2008: "Better Than This is a good example of optimism among the darkness. We can do better. Spend your life doing something of real worth rather than chasing the dream of celebrity."
  • Vocalist Tom Chaplin spoke about this song concerning the cult of celebrity on the record label's website: "I love Better Than This. Sonically it's a big departure, but lyrically, being about the state of 'celebrity culture'… people see it as such an important thing and pin so much hope on it. Certainly, in my opinion, the fame and celebrity side of things is something I find hard to reconcile. I'd much rather it was just about the music; the reason we got into the band in the first place. It wasn't to get rich or become famous or to get girls – it was to be out there singing. That magic connection between you and a crowd of people who have turned up to pour everything out, like you have… that coming together is the biggest buzz in my life."
  • Bullz-Eye.com asked Rice-Oxley whether the melody or the "Ashes To Ashes"- style drum track came first on this tune. He replied: "I think we had at least the melody of the song and the chords and everything, but it really didn't have a groove or anything like that. When I was doing the demo, I just thought oh, rather than having another kind of indie rock and roll sort of rhythm, that I'll try something a bit more bouncy, and you know, add that groove, then I was playing a sort of funky guitar,and then I got out one of my old synthesizers that I actually never play – I bought in a junk shop in Toronto, I think. So I was just playing around with it and came up with this sound, and it's the sound you hear in the riff. I thought "Wow, that's pretty great," and went off to bed because it was the middle of the night by then. And then I woke up the next morning I thought, "Ah, you slipped a little Bowie in there!" By the time you have that creative impulse, and something is kind of organically called a song, that stuff is the kind of magic you have to go with, I think. The synth has a hint of 'Ashes to Ashes' but I think the song, even if you take away that riff, the song I think, is one of the best I've written."
  • Chaplin said on Perfect Symmetry's bonus DVD that this is one of his favorite songs on the album, "partly because it was such a challenge to sing it. " He added: "I remember when Tim premiered the demo, I sort of, immediate thoughts were, how am I going to get my head around this and sing this song. It's a worthwhile challenge and such a powerful song."
  • Chaplin (from the album's bonus DVD): "It's very much a song of the times, it's a song about celebrity culture and the way people react to fame and how important that is – I think we've discovered as a band, and as myself, the fame part of things is such a minor part of what we do. And it always seemed like this amazing prize we were going to have when we got successful as a struggling band. But actually as it turns out it was something that I was quite turned off by and found it quite difficult to reconcile and so for us, the notion of people wanting to be famous for the sake of it is very strange. So I think that song questions why you would want to do that, and again I think its another song about, it has a positive edge, a sympathetic edge to it – why don't you down all that crap and do something that is ultimately positive. Change things for the better."
  • Some copies of the vinyl version came with "Keane" 3D glasses to coincide with the band's world first 3D webcast, which took place on www.keanemusic.com on April 1, 2009.

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