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Ultravox - Vienna (1980)

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  • 80's Score80's Score 80's score: 1.88

"Vienna" is a 1980 song by British new wave band Ultravox. It was released as the third single from the band's fourth album ...

"Vienna" is a 1980 song by British new wave band Ultravox. It was released as the third single from the band's fourth album Vienna on 9 January 1981 through Chrysalis Records. It spent four consecutive weeks at number two in the UK Singles Chart without ever getting to number one; it was kept off the number one spot by John Lennon's "Woman" for a week, and then by Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face", for a further three weeks. "Vienna" is ranked as the fifth-best-selling UK single for 1981. The single was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry in February 1981, for UK sales exceeding 500,000 copies. The single peaked at number one on the Top 40 charts in many European countries including the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland.

It also won "Single of the Year" at the 1981 Brit Awards. The song is regarded as a staple of the synthpop genre that was popularised in the early 1980s. The song was also performed at the 1985 Live Aid concert in Wembley Stadium. It remains Ultravox's signature song, being their most commercially successful release and is often performed live by Midge Ure in solo performances.

It was voted Britain's favourite single to ever peak at number two in the charts in a 2012 poll run by BBC Radio 2 and the Official Charts Company. It was awarded an honorary number one by the OCC.

The music video, directed by Russell Mulcahy, is particularly evocative of The Third Man. It was Ultravox's second video, after "Passing Strangers" (also with Mulcahy), and cost £6000–£7000, footed by the band after Chrysalis refused to fund it.

"It may come as a surprise to know that approximately half of it was shot on locations in central London, mainly at Covent Garden and also in the old Kilburn Gaumont Theatre in North London (now a Bingo hall). The embassy party scene was in some house we’d rented in town. Can’t remember where, but I do remember that it took the crew a long time to set up the lights to prepare for filming. So long that we all got impatient with waiting and dipped into the many cases of wine we’d laid on for refreshment after the shoot. By the time the crew was ready to film, we were all well partying for real."

"The other half was in Vienna. We did it on the cheap. There was just us and Nick, our trusty camera man. We took an early morning flight to Vienna, ran round like loonies in and out of taxis as we filmed, and soon discovered that, due to it being the winter off-season, many of the splendid places we’d been counting upon filming were either shut for redecorating or covered with webs of scaffolding. “What do you mean it’s ‘closed for repairs’?!” We finished up in the cemetery for the shots with the statue which had been used for the single’s cover (a gentleman who made pianos for the rich and famous of his time, I believe), did the sunset shot, and then dashed back to London to start editing."

— Warren Cann, Explaining the location details to Jonas Wårstad

The gravestone that is shown in the video and on the single cover is part of the grave of Carl Schweighofer and is located on the Zentralfriedhof in Vienna. Schweighofer was a famous Austrian piano manufacturer.