Richard Melville Hall (born September 11, 1965), better known as Moby, is one of the most respected Electronic Music artists in his field. He's known for his strikingly diverse body of work, often characterized by touching synth orchestrations and heavy sampling of vintage folk, blues and gospel music, with the occasional Alternative Rock song.
While he began as a Punk Rock musician in the early 80s, he transitioned to electronics in the later half of the decade, carving out a niche for himself in the techno scene of the early 90s (mainly off of his hit song "Go") before his first widespread success came in 1995 with the Genre-Busting Everything Is Wrong, earning him acclaim and spots on big American tours like Lollapalooza while also proving there was more to his musical identity than a four-on-the-floor beat.
A year later, due to his frustration with the dying rave scene, the general public's dismissal of techno, and life in general, he attempted to return to his punk roots and tailor himself to the then-thriving alt-rock scene with the album Animal Rights. While people have since warmed up to it, there's no denying that it flopped hard both critically and financially at its release, costing him his record deal and single-handedly undoing all of the success he'd earned up to that point. (Ironically, this was right around the time other electronic acts like The Prodigy and Nine Inch Nails were achieving more mainstream success themselves.)
After a three-year downward spiral of alcoholism, he released what he assumed would be his last album, Play, a groundbreaking record based around the then-novel idea of building breakbeat and downtempo songs around field recordings of blues, folk and roots songs (similar to contemporaries DJ Shadow and Thievery Corporation). Though critics and audiences were still too busy laughing at him for Animal Rights to take notice at the time, the album eventually became a massive success, making history for being the first (and possibly only) album to have every single song be licensed for use in television, films and commercials, with some songs being licensed multiple times outside of America, and eventually becoming one of the best-selling albums of all time. What everyone had assumed would be Moby's Swan Song (including Moby himself) ended up propelling him to rockstar status.
Moby's followup, 2002's 18, is the beginning of the second phase of his career. Eschewing the genre-defiant eclecticism of his previous body of work, Moby began focusing almost entirely on making downtempo/chillout music based around samples of existing guitar-based recordings. While 18 was mainly a retread of Play, other albums saw experimentation with guitars and pop songcraft (Hotel), dance music (Last Night) and ambient music (Long Ambients).
In 2016, Moby briefly changed direction again with a pair of energetic electronic rock albums, These Systems are Failing and More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse, largely informed by the cultural and political climate of America. The albums were surprisingly well-received — two decades after Animal Rights, Moby finally got some decent reviews for dabbling in rock music.
That same year, he published his first memoir, Porcelain, which covered his early life up to just before the release of Play. A second memoir, Then It Fell Apart, covering the post-Play years, was released in 2019.
Nowadays, Moby is more of a cult figure than the major player he once was, but his legacy as an innovator in electronic music and respect as a songwriter has earned him the license to more or less do whatever he wants.
Prior to Play, Moby's music had previously broken a Guinness World Record for fastest recording ever with "Thousand" (take a wild guess how many BPM it is). Other notable songs of his include "Extreme Ways," the official unofficial theme song to The Bourne Series, and his only US hit, "South Side," a duet with Gwen Stefani.
- Moby (1992)
- Early Underground (1993) - compilation of early singles
- Ambient (1993)
- Move - The E.P. (1993)
- Everything Is Wrong (1995) - came with limited edition bonus album, Underwater
- Animal Rights (1996) - came with limited edition bonus album, Little Idiot
- Little Idiot (1996) - limited-edition bonus disc of ambient music
- I Like to Score (1997) - compilation of music Moby has made for films
- Play (1999)
- MobySongs 1993-1998 (2000) - Greatest Hits Album of music from Moby's early career
- 18 (2002)
- Hotel (2005) - came with limited edition bonus album, Hotel : Ambient
- Go - The Very Best of Moby (2006) - updated Greatest Hits Album; contains one disc of hit songs and a second disc of remixes of "Go"
- Last Night (2008)
- wait for me. (2009) - came with limited edition bonus album, wait for me. ambient
- destroyed. (2011)
- Innocents (2013)
- Long Ambients 1: Calm. Sleep. (2016)
- These Systems are Failing (2016) - Moby & the Void Pacific Choir
- More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse (2017) - Moby & the Void Pacific Choir
- Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt (2018)
- Long Ambients 2 (2019)note
- All Visible Objects (2020)
- The Alcoholic: Moby's relationship with alcohol is well-documented. The last third of his memoir details how he went Off the Wagon in the mid-90s following a lifetime of sobriety (alcoholism had killed his father, which turned him off to drinking up to that point) and eventually became an outright hard drinking party guy who'd have upwards of fifteen drinks per night, though he was always careful to call himself an "alcohol enthusiast" and not an alcoholic. He would eventually return to sobriety in the mid-2000s once he realized that a). he was incapable of drinking in moderation and b). it was negatively affecting his music.
- As the Good Book Says...: The title of "God Moving Over the Face of the Waters" was inspired by Genesis 1:2."Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."
- After the End: "South Side"
- Album Filler: By his own admission, there are plenty of songs on his albums which he throws on for no better reason than padding.
- Ambient: Though not as popular as his dance or rock music, he's more than dabbled in this genre for the entirety of his career, from the occasional song on his early records to entire albums made exclusively of ambient songs. This includes the appropriately titled Ambient (really an odds-and-ends compilation released by his label without Moby's endorsement) and his Long Ambients series.
- Since Everything Is Wrong, he's also released entire ambient companion pieces to every single one of his albums. All of these include Moby's Signature Style of breakbeats and atmospheric soundscapes.
- Animated Music Video: Several:
- "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" has an animated music video featuring the "Little Idiot" character that's on the single's cover.
- "Mistake" also stars the "Little Idiot" and his dog.
- "Are You Lost In The World Like Me?" and "In This Cold Place," from the Void Pacific Choir albums, have animated videos directed by Steve Cutts.
- Audience Participation Song: "The Perfect Life"
- B-Side: Countless. He's compiled some of his b-sides on a few occasions: Rare: The Collected B-Sides 19891993, Play: The B-Sides and 18: The B-Sides + DVD.note
- Bald of Awesome: Hard to believe that there was a time where he had hair◊.
- Book-Ends: His re-version of the James Bond theme starts and ends with the same sampled line: "Bond. James Bond."
- Bowdlerise: When "That's When I Reach For My Revolver" was released as the lead single from Animal Rights, he changed the titular phrase to "That's When I Realize It's Over" to appease MTV. He also changed the line "Its dead eyes look upon us" to "Instead they look upon us."
- Concept Album:
- Last Night is an attempt to condense a night out in New York City into an hour-long album, with nods to the city's rich history of dance music from the 1970s onward.
- destroyed. is a soundtrack for walking around cities at 2:00 AM.
- Cover Version: The aforementioned cover of Mission Of Burma's "That's When I Reach For My Revolver." Also, for the encore of his 2003 set at Glastonbury (which can be found on the bonus disc of 18: The B-Sides), he and his band do a cover of Radiohead's "Creep," of all songs.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: In Europe, Animal Rights was a fully realized hard rock/punk rock album with two ambient book ends, while a limited edition also include a bonus ambient album. The US release re-arranged the tracklist and replaced one rock song with five ambient/ambient techno songs (most taken from that bonus album), making it as uneven in genre as Everything Is Wrong was.
- Darker and Edgier: Animal Rights, wherein he dropped his electronic music sound for a heavy and angry sound inspired by the Hardcore Punk and Metal records he enjoyed from his youth. These Systems are Failing and More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse also fall under this trope.
- Distinct Double Album: Everything Is Wrong, Animal Rights and Hotel were all released with a limited edition bonus disc of ambient music in their first pressings. wait for me. would count, except the second disc is essentially the same album without the drums.
- Downer Ending:
- Everything Is Wrong ends with the horribly desolate "When It's Cold I'd Like To Die", which encompasses the feeling of purely giving up after struggling with emotional problems.
- The video for "Wait for Me": after getting fired from his dead-end job, mugged on the street, and left by his wife, the nameless video game protagonist goes up to his room and jumps to his death, deciding to exit the "game" instead of playing again.
- Dying Dream: Implied with "When It's Cold I Like To Die."
- Early Installment Weirdness: Wanna listen to Moby's early stuff after discovering him through Play? Hope you like super-fast rave and jungle beats!
- Epic Rocking: He loves this trope.
- Many of the songs on Animal Rights span past 5 minutes. "Face It" clocks in at almost exactly 10 minutes.
- Destroyed Remixed contains a 30-minute ambient song from Moby.
- Long Ambients 1 has eleven tracks that all range from 20 to 30 minutes in length. The album as a whole is just over four hours long.
- Genre Roulette: His discography is possibly one of the most eclectic out of a musician in the past few decades. He has ambient music, rock, electronica, techno, and trip hop all under his belt, and you better believe he experiments with these a lot on his albums.
- Greatest Hits Album: He has two: Songs (1993-1998), which is designed for fans who climbed on board after Play became a success, and Go: The Very Best Of Moby, which focuses mostly on his wave of success in the early 2000s.
- Hope Springs Eternal: The main purpose of "We Are All Made of Stars", which was written in New York after 9/11 deliberately for this effect.
- Humble Hero: Considering how much of an icon he is in Electronic Music, Moby positions himself as (and is seen by his fans) as this.
- I Am the Band: When on tour for Animal Rights, he pulled this image.
- Iconic Song Request: "Extreme Ways", his most famous song, especially because it was used in The Bourne Series.
- Loudness War: These Systems are Failing is a rare album that's compressed so heavily that it clocks in at DR3. DR6 tends to be the average for heavily compressed modern records.
- Metal Scream: Animal Rights was jam packed with this.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most of his stuff ranges from a 2 to a 6, but he's done everything from a 1 to an 11.
- Mood Whiplash: His early albums and compilations. Everything Is Wrong, for example, follows a euphoric rave song ("Bring Back My Happiness") with a seriously over-the-top Heavy Metal song ("What Love").
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Everything Is Wrong, again. Pretty much every song is in a different genre, from hardcore punk to rave to ambient techno to a contemporary classical piece that was used in the climactic scene of Heat.
- Non-Appearing Title: "Natural Blues"note , "Down Slow", "The Rafters", "Look Back In", "18", "My Weakness", "Machete", "Signs of Love", "Sleep Alone", "Fireworks", "Rushing", "7", "If Things Were Perfect", "Everloving", "Inside", "Guitar Flute & String", "Porcelain", and "Temptation" to name a few.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: "Novio."
- Only Known by Their Nickname: By all accounts, nobody calls him Richard. Even his family calls him Moby.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: Animal Rights saw an electronica artist delving into hardcore rock and punk. Understandably, it backfired horribly on him. He tried it again nearly 20 years later with These Systems Are Failing, with better success.
- Refrain from Assuming:
- That song from Play that repeats the word "sometimes" over 75 times? It's called "Honey".
- The "Bring Sally Up" song used for squats in exercise classes the world over? It's actually called "Flower". Made even worse by the fact that "Bring Sally Up" is a mondegreen. note
- Rearrange the Song: There's been multiple incarnations of "Go." The most famous version, which samples "Laura Palmer's Theme" from Twin Peaks, is actually the Woodtick Remix.
- Sampling: Specializes in it.
- Self-Titled Album: His debut album in 1993.
- Shirtless Scene: When the famous "Thousand" is played live, it's usually Moby shirtless, standing on his keyboard, pounding his fists, raising his arms, and staring stoically into the audience. All while a bajillion lights flash on him.
- Special Guest: Appeared as a judge for a Nerd Anthem challenge in series 3 of King of the Nerds.
- Stage Names:
- Real name Richard Melville Hall. He gets his stage name from the fact that "supposedly Herman Melville was my great-great-great-granduncle." Herman Melville, of course, wrote Moby-Dick.
- Has also released music under the name Voodoo Child. His album Baby Monkey was released under this name so he could "concentrate on the music without having to worry about promotion or record sales".
- Subverted Kids Show: The music video for "In This Cold Place" shows several of these, such as the Care Bears becoming racist toward certain colors and building a wall to divide them, and Tom murdering Jerry as well as his family with weaponry resembling that controversially used in the War on Terror.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Inside" off of Play.
- Three Chords and the Truth: "Beautiful," which is almost childishly simple to evoke the image of two self-indulgent people perpetually complimenting one another.
- Title-Only Chorus: "Someone To Love" from Animal Rights.
- Updated Re-release: Hotel : Ambient (the second disc of Hotel) received this in 2014, with Moby reportedly realizing that there was no way to get the second disc by itself when a fan stopped him and asked him about it.
- Viewers Are Morons: Moby invoked this with Animal Rights, as he was fed up of people not understanding his electronic music. Ironically, just as he decided to shift his direction, his electronic music started getting recognition.