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Ooooh, lawdy, trouble so hard...

Play is the fifth studio album by Electronic Music artist Moby, released in 1999 through V2 Records in North America and Mute Records internationally. The album is noteworthy for being not only his most popular album but the album that both saved his career and propelled him into superstardom.

Three years prior, Moby had released his fourth album Animal Rights, which saw him stray almost completely from the rave-friendly techno he had garnered success for to experiment with hardcore punk and alternative rock. (This was due to a number of reasons, namely his frustrations with the declining rave scene and the public's dismissal of his electronic music, along with him having had experience performing rock music around the start of his career in the 1980s.) It was an unequivocal critical and commercial disappointment, alienating his audience and turning Moby into a "has-been" in the eyes of the industry.

The album's reception led to Moby considering quitting music altogether and returning to school to study architecture. However, he decided to work on another album, planning on making it his last before ending his career.

Luckily, that album was Play.

An unexpected sleeper hit, it went from selling only six thousand copies in its first week to one hundred fifty thousand per week eleven months later. It has since sold 12 million copies, and it remains the best-selling album of electronically-produced dance music of all time.

A good portion of Play's success was its then-revolutionary promotion method: in response to getting next to zero radio play, every single song off of the album was licensed for use in advertising, films, and television. Not only did several dozen countries license songs, but many of them licensed multiple songs for use, making Moby's sound a global ubiquity, which in retrospect would come back to bite him later when his albums from the 2000s were not as well-received (and partly considered retreads of this album's formula). Regardless, Play was Moby's breakout album and is considered to be his best.

Play: The B Sides, a compilation of outtakes from Play released as B-sides across the album's various singles, was released just over a year after the album in October 2000. Moby described the outtakes as "a collection of songs that weren't quite appropriate for Play," and admitted that they would've never seen wide release if not for the album's success.


Original album

  1. "Honey" (3:27)
  2. "Find My Baby" (3:58)
  3. "Porcelain" (4:01)
  4. "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?" (4:23)
  5. "South Side" (3:48)
  6. "Rushing" (2:58)
  7. "Bodyrock" (3:34)
  8. "Natural Blues" (4:12)
  9. "Machete" (3:36)
  10. "7" (1:00)
  11. "Run On" (3:44)
  12. "Down Slow" (1:32)
  13. "If Things Were Perfect" (4:16)
  14. "Everloving" (3:24)
  15. "Inside" (4:46)
  16. "Guitar Flute & String" (2:07)
  17. "The Sky Is Broken" (4:16)
  18. "My Weakness" (3:37)

Play: The B Sides

  1. "Flower" (3:25)
  2. "Sunday" (5:03)
  3. "Memory Gospel" (6:42)
  4. "Whispering Wind" (6:02)
  5. "Summer" (5:58)
  6. "Spirit" (4:08)
  7. "Flying Foxes" (6:16)
  8. "Sunspot" (6:49)
  9. "Flying Over the Dateline" (4:47)
  10. "Running" (7:05)
  11. "The Sun Never Stops Setting" (4:19)

Ooh, lawdy now, tropin' so hard...

  • Album Filler: Surprisingly averted with this album. He claims that he often creates dozens of songs - sometimes even over a hundred - for every album, and either releases the rest as B-sides or trashes them all together. But most of the songs here generally fit well together.
  • All or Nothing: Moby stated that if this album had not become so successful, he would have gone back to school for architecture and ditched music altogether.
  • Alliterative Title: "South Side", "Whispering Wind", "Flying Foxes" and "The Sun Never Stops Setting".
  • Angelic Beauty: Christina Ricci as the angel in "Natural Blues." Lawdy, she sure knows how to move those hips...
  • Animated Music Video: The video for "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?", which features Moby's original character and mascot, Little Idiot.
  • Break Up Song: "Porcelain":
    I never meant to hurt you
    I never meant to lie
    So this is goodbye
    This is goodbye
  • Concept Video: Moby recorded twelve music videos for eight singles. That's right, some singles had multiple videos.
  • Cover Version: "Run On". The original song was a folk song called "God's Gonna Cut You Down", most famously done by Johnny Cash.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: In the liner notes for the album, Moby included entire essays about causes in which he was interested, such as veganism, humanitarianism, and anti-fundamentalism.
  • Empty Shell: The lyrics of "Machete", "If Things Were Perfect", and "The Sky Is Broken" all describe one. These songs probably have to do a lot with the depression Moby was struggling with during the album's creation.
  • Face on the Cover: The album cover depicts Moby mid-leap while another person times him with a stopwatch.
  • How We Got Here: The video for "Run On". A man, depressed with his life, commits suicide. When he goes to heaven, he finds that heaven is the perfect version of his mundane life: the cute co-worker flirts with him, there's no line in front of the copy machine, and the office serves good coffee. He ends up saving a gym instructor's life when her respiratory tract becomes blocked, and gets lauded for his achievements. Of course, the video is backwards, so it ends with him committing suicide, not the other way around.
  • Lighter and Softer: Play is this to the rest of Moby's discography up to that point. His previous work was almost exclusively rave, jungle and hardcore techno; and previous album Animal Rights was an Out-of-Genre Experience of hardcore punk and metal. His second album Ambient may come close to Play, but it sounds just as urgent as his previous works, whereas Play is patient with its tempos.
  • Limited Lyrics Song: "Honey", "Find My Baby", "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?".
    • In fact, Moby has sampled so many artists, he only has five vocal credits on the entire album: on "Porcelain", "South Side", "Machete", "If Things Were Perfect", and "The Sky Is Broken".
  • The Not-Remix: "South Side" was done as a collaboration with Gwen Stefani. However, the vocals she did for the album version came out distorted, so she is completely missing from the album version; Moby is the only one who sings on it. Stefani redid her vocals for the single version, which became massively popular in part due to her credit.
  • One-Word Title: The album itself, along with "Honey", "Porcelain", "Rushing", "Bodyrock", "Machete", "7", "Everloving", "Inside", "Flower", "Sunday", "Summer", "Spirit", "Sunspot", and "Running".
  • Questioning Title?: "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?"
  • Sampling: He mainly sampled Alan Lomax's blues recordings on this album, along with a bunch of other artists.
    • "Honey" features samples from the Bessie Jones recording "Sometimes" (1960). It also samples Joe Cocker's "Woman to Woman" (1972).
    • "Find My Baby" features samples from the Boy Blue recording "Joe Lee's Rock".
    • "Bodyrock" contains a sample of "Love Rap" (1980) as performed by Spoonie Gee & The Treacherous Three.
    • "Natural Blues" features samples from the Vera Hall recording "Trouble So Hard" (1937).
    • "Run On" features samples from "Run On for a Long Time" (1949) by Bill Landford & The Landfordairs.
    • "If Things Were Perfect" contains a sample of "Hospital Prelude of Love Theme" by Willie Hutch.
    • "Machete" contains a sample of "Apache" by the Incredible Bongo Band.
    • "Porcelain" contains a reversed sample from "Fight for Survival" by Ernest Gold.
    • "The Sky Is Broken" contains a sampled drum loop from "Long As I Can See the Light" by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
  • Something Blues: "Natural Blues". It's actually a remix of "Trouble So Hard", a popular song released in 1937 by Vera Hall.
  • Updated Re-release: A second pressing of Play was issued with the remix of "South Side" that features Gwen Stefani, and which was used in the "South Side" music video. Currently, streaming services use the original version as part of Play.