“Where the Wild Roses Grow” is a murder ballad by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, as well as Kylie Minogue. The song is the band’s fifth and lead single from their ninth studio album, Murder Ballads (1996), which was released by Mute Records. The song was written by the band’s frontman Nick Cave and produced by Tony Cohen and Victor Van Vugt.
Music critics generally praised the song and it became the band’s most successful single worldwide, reaching No. 3 in Norway, the top five in Australia, and the top twenty in the UK, Ireland, Germany, and New Zealand. There was also a limited promotional release in the United States. Despite never reaching the top ten in that country, the song was certified Gold in 1996 in Germany for 250,000 copies sold. The song charted again at the bottom of the German Top 100 in 2008 due to digital downloads after it was used in a soap opera. Australia also awarded gold status to “Where the Wild Roses Grow” for selling 50,000 copies.
Cave was inspired to write “Where the Wild Roses Grow” after listening to a traditional song, “Down in the Willow Garden”, which tells of a man courting and killing a woman. Arrangement by Cave for CD-Maxi single “The Ballad of Robert Moore & Betty Coltrane” / “The Willow Garden”.
Cave described how he wrote the song:
“Where The Wild Roses Grow” was written very much with Kylie in mind. I’d wanted to write a song for Kylie for many years. I had a quiet obsession with her for about six years. I wrote several songs for her, none of which I felt was appropriate to give her. It was only when I wrote this song, which is a dialogue between a killer and his victim, that I thought finally I’d written the right song for Kylie to sing. I sent the song to her and she replied the next day.Nick Cave, quoted in Molly Meldrum presents 50 Years of Rock in Australia (2007)
“Where the Wild Roses Grow” was described by James Masterton for Dotmusic as “a gorgeous, mellow 1940s-style ballad.” The pan-European magazine Music & Media wrote: “Written especially for Minogue, the diminutive singer is an unlikely but stunning pairing with Cave”. Minogue’s declarative lyrics set Cave in a sombre, Leonard Cohen-like mood. Throughout the retelling of the tale of murder, tension gradually mounts as each character tells their version of events.” Music Week rated it four out of five and added, “Nick croons while Kylie purrs in this folksy foretaste of the murder ballad album”.
A video for this song, commissioned by Emma Davies for Mute Records and shot by director Rocky Schenck and produced by Nick Verden for Atlas Films, shows Kylie Minogue in character, apparently murdered by Nick Cave. The ghost-like form and the river pose are similar to Millais’ painting Ophelia (1851–52). Cave’s character places a rose in Minogue’s mouth and closes her eyes at the end of the video.
Have fun with Daria’s rendition of this cool song. You won’t be disappointed. Put your eyes closed and really listen to this song.
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