An insanely catchy mix of a driving semi-African beat, curlicue guitar, and just enough New Wave sheen to sound great on both college radio and MTV, “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” is one of the more memorable one-shots that came out of the mid-80s.
At least for us Americans: despite both the single and the album cracking the top forty, their U.S. record company, Arista, didn’t release any of their next three albums, and by the time they got another U.S. record company to release one of their records, it was 1990, and nobody gave a shit.
And in more major label major-label shenanigans, the U.S. version was retitled “Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly).” Why? I would love to know at what meeting Arista decided that a song that went to #2 in the U.K. needed its phrases shifted for the — I guess? — more illiterate U.S. market?
EXEC #1: “This Icicle Works song has a great chorus that sticks in your head forever, but I think we need to switch up the title.
EXEC #2: “What? Why?”
EXEC #1: “Because those idiot new wavers are going to be looking the “Whisper to a Scream” song in the record stores, and maybe they don’t read the full title and never buy it!!”
EXEC #2: “That doesn’t make any sense. I mean, the entire hook is the “We are we are we are” part. So maybe by your logic, we should rename the song “We Are We Are We Are (Birds Fly) A Whisper to Scream.”
EXEC #1: “That would never fit on the label. I still like my idea. Here, have some more coke.
EXEC #2 [Snorts a line]: “Oh wow, you know what? That’s the greatest idea ever!”
EXEC #1 [Snorts a line]: “Right?!? Let’s go for it!!”
Cool thing is that we got to bring Icicle Works to The Star Palace in the summer of 1984, and while I didn’t like the album all that much — and was honestly sick of getting requests for this song every few minutes — I remember them being pretty good, especially the drummer.
“Birds Fly” (A Whisper to a Scream)”
Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.
Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)
Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page