Released on: The Everlasting (Single #22) Epic Records, 30 November 1998
Peak UK Chart Position: #11
Band Ranking: #30
Of the four Manics duets to be released up to now, ‘Black Holes for the Young’ is notable for being the only one not to have been released as a single. Instead, lowlier even than an album track, it emerged only as a B-side on the Everlasting single in November 1998, six years after the previous duet, [A26] ‘Little Baby Nothing’. One of the main differences between the two songs – besides the obvious creative changes that had occurred in the Manics camp in that time – is that Bradfield’s duet partner is not an untested ex-porn star but rather Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
Now known as a major star, Ellis-Bextor was significantly less famous back then. She fronted the indie rock band theaudience which released its only album just two months before The Everlasting saw the light of day. Given the major fame she now possesses, Ellis-Bextor’s presence on the song is almost alarming, because she seems like such an unlikely Manics collaborator. However, her obvious talent and crisply English vocals shine through, and she has a real presence on the song even if Bradfield handles more of the lines.
In fact, ‘Black Holes For the Young’ almost sounds like a potential A-side and had it been released as a single in about 2002 it probably would have shot to the top of the charts like a bullet – and not just because of Ellis-Bextor’s presence. The song is also striking for its heavy use of organ, which helps the song take on a curious kind of ’60s psychedelia feel which really adds to it. This is in fairly stark contrast to the lyrics, which are concerned both with class issues and urban/rural conflict (“subsidise the opera, forget coal”) and the occasionally recurring Manics topic of the vacuousness of London culture (see also [T49] ‘Nostalgic Pushead’ and [B53] ‘Us Against You’).
Cruelly relegated to B-side status when it might have been so much more, ‘Black Holes For the Young’ is one of the most memorable and significant Manics B-sides, which is long overdue some more recognition.
Choice Lyric (Full Lyrics)
“and paracetamol my only drug”
Paracetamol – common painkilling drug.