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Music / Reggatta de Blanc

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I've got a lump in my throat about the note you wrote
I'd come on over but I haven't got a raincoat
Walked out this morning, don't believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion castaways looking for a home.

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my
I hope that someone gets my...
— "Message in a Bottle"

Reggatta de Blanc is the second studio album recorded by English-American Post-Punk/New Wave Music band The Police. It was released through A&M Records on 2 October 1979.

Following the initial UK underperformance of Outlandos d'Amour, it seemed as if A&M Records would grip the band much more tightly in an attempt to secure greater returns, but the much greater US performance of the album gave the group enough profit to record a follow-up on an equally modest budget, preventing any chance of the label being incentivized to strongarm the group.

Indeed, the band took their time with this record, taping its songs over a total of four weeks— spread out across several months— and with the same studio and producer as before (the belated UK success of Outlandos d'Amour motivated A&M to push the Police to record in a bigger studio and with a more famous producer, but the band ignored these requests). However, the more relaxed recording period was also the result of a creative block for the band: while Outlandos d'Amour was created during a particularly strong songwriting period for Sting, he found himself short on material this time around, leading him and his bandmates to dig through older, unused cuts to find stuff that they could use as Album Filler to make up for it, up to and including sticking the "So Lonely" B-Side "No Time This Time" on.

Despite this creative drought, the resultant album quickly became another commercial success for the Police, boosted by the greater performance that reissues of Outlandos d'Amour and its singles were seeing in the UK that year. During the 1979-1981 chart period, the album was a chart-topper in the UK, Australia, and the Netherlands, additionally peaking at No. 25 on the Billboard 200; it would later be certified platinum in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, as well as gold in Belgium and Germany. Leadoff singles "Message in a Bottle" and "Walking on the Moon" both became No. 1 successes in the UK, their first singles to do so.

Reggatta de Blanc was supported by four singles: "Message in a Bottle", "Walking on the Moon", "Bring On the Night", and "The Bed's Too Big Without You".


Side One
  1. "Message in a Bottle" (4:51)
  2. "Reggatta de Blanc" (3:06)
  3. "It's Alright For You" (3:13)
  4. "Bring On the Night" (4:15)
  5. "Deathwish" (4:13)

Side Two

  1. "Walking on the Moon" (5:02)
  2. "On Any Other Day" (2:57)
  3. "The Bed's Too Big Without You" (4:26)
  4. "Contact" (2:38)
  5. "Does Everyone Stare" (3:52)
  6. "No Time This Time" (3:17)

Some may say I'm troping my days away:

  • Alliterative Title: "The Bed's Too Big Without You"
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The album title, which is meant to suggest "white reggae" but in fact means "boat race" (Italian, misspelled) and "of white" (French).
  • Bags of Letters: Over a year after sending out his message, the narrator of "Message in a Bottle" eventually gets "a hundred billion bottles" in response.
  • Birthday Episode: "On Any Other Day" is revealed to be one for the narrator during the outro, explaining why the bad events happening to him are sticking out far more than usual. Stewart Copeland later explained on his website that the irony of this is meant to be the driving punchline to the song.
  • Bo Diddley Beat: "Deathwish" uses a variation: the beat is held perfectly by Sting's bass, while Stewart Copeland introduces a slight delay in the rhythm, playing the last kick of every measure a quarter note after Sting hits the BA-dump.
  • Break-Up Song: "The Bed's Too Big Without You", right down to the name.
  • Broken Record: The outro of "Message in a Bottle" consists of nothing but "(I'm) sending out an S.O.S" being repeated 25 times, although if you listen closely to the outro of that song, Sting ends it with "sending out an S.O.— blue."
  • Credits Gag: The album credits the band for "all noises" rather than the conventional "all music."
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Implied to be the case with the line "my teenage daughter ran away" in "On Any Other Day".
  • Day in the Life: "On Any Other Day" is a window into the life of a father having a particularly rough day.
  • Despair Event Horizon: "Message in a Bottle" is about trying to keep from crossing it, and successfully avoiding it after eventually finding out that everyone feels lonely sometimes.
  • Dual-Meaning Chorus: That of "Message in a Bottle", which can be interpreted as a literal plea from a castaway for rescue or a regular guy's cry for attention after ages of loneliness.
  • Face on the Cover: A monochrome, blue-tinted photo of the band members cropped in an angular letterbox.
  • Fingore: The narrator of "On Any Other Day" describes how he cut his fingers off by accidentally slamming the car door on them.
  • Gay Panic: An in-universe example: one of the misfortunes the narrator of "On Any Other Day" describes is how "my fine young son has turned out gay." The song was written at a time when it was socially acceptable to view one's son being gay as a genuine misfortune.
  • Gratuitous French: The album title tries to be this, meaning "white reggae" (the band's description for their mix of reggae and Punk Rock), though as mentioned under As Long as It Sounds Foreign, it's more broken gibberish if you try to read it through that lens.
  • Happy Birthday to You!: "On Any Other Day" closes out with a high-pitched voice singing the song over Stewart Copeland's vocals, addressing it to the narrator and ultimately revealing that the reason why he's so fixated on the bad events happening today is because it's all occurring during his birthday.
  • Instrumentals: The Title Track.
  • Irony: On his official website, Stewart Copeland described this as the driving force behind "On Any Other Day":
    "The funny thing is that all the poor man's misfortune happens on the day he should be happier than ever: his birthday!"
  • Last-Second Word Swap: Listening closely to the outro of "Message in a Bottle" reveals that Sting ends it with "sending out an S.O.— blue."
  • Letterbox: An angular one is featured on the front cover, bordering the band photo.
  • Lyrical Dissonance:
    • "Message in a Bottle" is a song that sounds catchy, but is about a castaway who fears the prospect of being alone.
    • "Bring On the Night" is commonly interpreted as being the internal monologue of a man on death row accepting his fate, though you wouldn't tell that right away with how jaunty the song sounds.
    • "On Any Other Day" is a really cheerful-sounding tune about a guy who's having a really bad day. The dissonance is further highlighted by Stewart Copeland's deadpan vocals on the song.
  • Message in a Bottle: Take a wild guess. In fact, the song currently provides the trope's page quote.
  • Mythology Gag: The shot of the tops of the band members' heads on the back cover is taken from a promotional flyer depicted on the back cover of Outlandos d'Amour's LP release.
  • Precision F-Strike: "On Any Other Day" opens with Stewart Copeland quipping "hey, the other ones are complete bullshit," one of the only instances of foul language in the band's catalog.
  • Rearrange the Song: The band members had trouble coming up with material for the album, so they frequently resorted to raiding old material they had written and cannibalizing it to make new songs: "The Bed's Too Big Without You" and "Bring on the Night" were recycled and reworked from songs Sting had written with the band Last Exit, "Reggatta de Blanc" originated as a jam they played on stage during their first tour as filler (it seems to have evolved from the instrumental break in "Can't Stand Losing You"), and "Does Everyone Stare" was cribbed from a piano piece Stewart had written in college.
  • Robinsonade: "Message in a Bottle" is narrated by a guy who describes himself as a castaway on a deserted island.
  • Scatting: The few vocals on the Title Track consist solely of this.
  • Shout-Out: In a 1998 interview with GQ magazine, Sting stated that the Last-Second Word Swap at the end of "Message in a Bottle", where he sings "sending out an S.O.— blue," is a nod to a childhood advertisement for Esso Blue kerosene.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "On Another Day" starts with a spoken snark courtesy of Stewart Copeland.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Stewart Copeland not only sings lead vocals for "On Any Other Day", but he also plays almost every instrument on the song.
  • Stylistic Suck: "On Any Other Day" is meant to sound as corny as it is, as given away during the song's spoken-word intro.
    Stewart Copeland: "You want something corny? You got it!"
  • Title-Only Chorus: "It's Alright For You", "The Bed's Too Big Without You".
  • Title Track: This album and Synchronicity are the only two in the band's catalog to sport one (Synchronicity having two of them).
  • Trauma Conga Line: "On Any Other Day" is a comical version, featuring the narrator ranting about the variety of cartoonish mishaps that happen to him during one particularly bad day.
  • Uncommon Time: The end of "Walking on the Moon" pairs a 4/4 guitar and bass riff with a triplet-based drum track.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Stewart Copeland, being an American who grew up in the Middle East before moving to England— his accent on the first verse of "Does Everyone Stare" is more neutral, while "On Any Other Day" sounds more American (which is admittedly pretty comical to hear for lyrics with British colloquialisms like "I'm the chap who lives in it").
  • Word Salad Title: Reggatta de Blanc is an attempt at writing out "white reggae" in horribly broken French.