Saturday, March 22, 1980

Pink Floyd hit #1 with “Another Brick in the Wall”

Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)

Pink Floyd

Writer(s): Roger Waters (see lyrics here)

Released: November 23, 1979

First Charted: December 1, 1979

Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 15 HR, 42 AR, 15 UK, 16 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.1 UK, 4.26 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 643.0 video, 530.84 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Pink Floyd started in the late ‘60s as a psychedelic rock band and had some successful UK singles, but by the late ‘70s, they “were one of the biggest album-sellers on the face of the planet.” SG They “made grand and pretentious statement-albums” SG and were “keen to distance themselves from the fads and fashions of the singles market.” HL Their only Billboard Hot 100 hit had been the #13 peak of “Money.”

With 1979’s The Wall Pink Floyd undertook their most ambitious endeavor yet, crafting a double album built around the concept of alienation as shaped by the album protaganist’s construction of an imaginary wall to shield him from the outside world. The concept was partially inspired by the band’s aversion to becoming a band big enough to tour stadiums in the U.S.

It therefore was even more surprising when the seemingly popularity-averse band released a single to promote the album. The song, “Another Brick in the Wall (Part II),” was singer/songwriter and bassist Roger Waters’ “vicious attack on teachers…inspired by the cruelty of his own schoolmasters.” RS500 The song topped the charts in the UK and U.S. and “pulls off the rare concept-album trick of serving the overarching narrative while still working as its own discrete piece of music.” SG

Waters originally saw the song “as a solo-acoustic number” SG but producer Bob Ezrin challenged guitarist David Gilmour to hit the clubs and check out the sound of disco music. Gilmour “hated what he heard” SG but one “can at least hear some distant echo” SG of the genre in the song.

Ezrin and Gilmour have both been credited with the song’s most important signature – a chorus song by a kids choir at Islington Green School which adds “a taste of juvenile rebellion.” DT While initially intended for the background, the strong results led to the choir being featured up front in the vocals instead. TB It “adds subversion by having a bunch of school kids sing the refrain.” DT The apartheid regime of South Africa ironically fed right into Waters’ message when they banned the song because the black school children were adopting it as a protest against the country’s repressive educational system. TB


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First posted 4/24/2021; last updated 3/30/2023.

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