"Temptation" is a single by the Sheffield band Heaven 17, originally released in April 1983, peaking at No. 2 in the UK charts. This was the second single to be taken from their second album The Luxury Gap, after "Let Me Go" in November 1982. "Temptation" was certified silver by the BPI in May 1983, for sales exceeding 250,000 copies.
Martyn Ware explained the subject matter of the song as "I woke up one morning and thought I've got to write a song about sex, I've never written a song about sex. So the song is about rising sexual tension; it has chords that keep going up like an Escher staircase and in the end there's this big release." Glenn Gregory later recalled that he laughed "when Martyn walked in and said he had this great idea for a song based on the Lord’s Prayer with a never-ending chord structure" (the line "lead us not into temptation" is taken from the Lord's Prayer).
Carol Kenyon provided guest vocals on the recording, although the promotional video does not feature Kenyon but a model lip-syncing to Kenyon's vocals (Kenyon was out of the country at the time the video was recorded); she continued to work with the band on the Pleasure One and Teddy Bear, Duke & Psycho albums. The song featured a 60-piece orchestra, arranged and conducted by John Wesley Barker, which was also featured on the single "Come Live with Me" and in various tracks on the parent album. In a 2016 interview Ware said that he told Barker that he wanted the arrangement to be "sweeping and expressionistic", giving the theme from The Big Country as an example of the kind of sound required.
Heaven 17 performed this song on Top of the Pops' 1000th edition in 1983.
In 1992, the song was remixed and re-released by Brothers in Rhythm, whose new mix charted at No. 4 on the UK singles chart, and reached No. 1 in the UK dance charts. The 1992 remix of "Temptation" was certified silver by the BPI in January 1993, for sales exceeding 200,000 copies.
In 2008, the song was re-recorded for Heaven 17's album Naked as Advertised with Billie Godfrey as guest vocalist. On 19 October 2010, Heaven 17 performed the song on the Later… with Jools Holland show on BBC Two in the United Kingdom.
The original Heaven 17 video, directed by Steve Barron showed the band dressed in black, in drab, grey surroundings in a style of German Expressionism and had segments of what looks like an abstract office interview of some kind between vocalists Glenn Gregory and a Carol Kenyon lookalike interspersed throughout. Kenyon herself does not appear in the video, due to a disagreement over appearance money.
Chart (1983) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report) 38
France (SNEP) 20
Germany (Media Control Charts) 11
Irish Singles Chart 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40) 27
Netherlands (MegaCharts) 25
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) 15
UK Singles Chart 2
US Billboard Club Play Singles 34
Brothers in Rhythm Remix
Chart (1992) Peak
UK Singles Chart 4
Irish Singles Chart 9
Chart (1993) Peak
Australia (ARIA) 64
Dutch Top 40 16
Germany (Media Control Charts) 42
GfK Dutch Charts 18
At the NME Awards 2007, Jarvis Cocker and Beth Ditto performed "Temptation", and released it as a charity single.
Heaven 17 collaborated on a new performance of the song with La Roux at Maida Vale on 26 January 2010 for BBC6 Music. At Glastonbury on 25 June 2010, Glenn Gregory was invited on stage to perform the version again with La Roux during their set.
References in popular culture
"Temptation" was used in the 1996 film Trainspotting and appears on the second volume of the official soundtrack. It was also used in the 2010 Plus Net advert, where the band were featured in a tongue-in-cheek appearance performing the song.
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