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"Enola Gay" is an anti-war song by the British synthpop group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). It was the only single from the band's 1980 album,Organisation.

Written by Andy McCluskey, it addresses the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, during the final stages of World War II, and directly mentions three components of the attack: the Boeing B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay, which dropped the nuclear weapon Little Boy on Hiroshima at "8:15".

"Enola Gay" has come to be regarded as one of the great pop songs. Critic Ned Raggett in AllMusic lauded the track as "astounding...a flat-out pop classic – clever, heartfelt, thrilling, and confident, not to mention catchy and arranged brilliantly";[3] colleague Dave Thompson called it a "perfect synth-dance-pop extravaganza."[4] It featured in MusicRadar's "The 40 Greatest Synth Tracks Ever" in 2009, who noted that the song "includes some of the biggest synth hooks of all time."[5] In 2012, NMElisted the track among the "100 Best Songs of the 1980s", describing McCluskey's vocal as "brilliantly quizzical" and the song as a "pop classic".[6] It was selected by theBBC for use during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Nevertheless, it was an enormous success, going on to sell more than 5 million copies internationally.[9] The song was a hit in many countries, topping the charts in France, Italy and Portugal.[10] It was a sleeper hit in OMD's native UK: the track entered the UK Singles Chart at number 35,[11] but climbed 27 places over the next 3 weeks to reach a peak of number 8,[12] thus becoming the group's first Top 10 hit in their home country.



  • 1 Arrangement
  • 2 Title
  • 3 Lyrics
  • 4 Music video
  • 5 Track listing
    • 5.1 1980 original release
    • 5.2 2003 remix 12"
  • 6 Charts and certifications
    • 6.1 Chart positions
    • 6.2 Certifications and sales
  • 7 Alternate versions
  • 8 Cover versions
  • 9 Home computer influence
  • 10 Mash ups
  • 11 Waltz with Bashir
  • 12 See also
  • 13 Notes
  • 14 References
  • 15 External links


Typical of early OMD compositions, the track does not feature a vocal chorus,[13] and is recognisable by its strong,[14] distinctive[15] lead synthesizer hook and ambiguouslyrical content.[16]

In a 2012 interview, the band mentioned that most of the melodic parts were recorded on a Korg Micro-Preset, and that the drum machine sound was "about the last thing to go on" the recording.[16] The song is based on the 50s progression, which repeats throughout the entire song.


The song is named after the Enola Gay, the USAAF B-29 Superfortress bomber that carried Little Boy, the first atomic bomb to be used in an act of war, dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945, killing more than 100,000 of its citizens. The name of the bomber itself was chosen by its pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets who named it after his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets (1893–1983), who had been named for the heroine of the novel Enola; or, Her fatal mistake.[N 1]


The lyrics to the song reflect on the decision to use the bomb and ask the listener to consider whether the bombings were necessary ("It shouldn't ever have to end this way").[18] The phrase, "Is mother proud ofLittle Boy today?", is an allusion to both the nickname of the uranium bomb, as well as the fact that pilot Paul Tibbets named the aircraft after his mother. The phrase, "It's 8:15, and that's the time that it's always been", refers to the time of detonation over Hiroshima at 8:15am JST; as many timepieces were 'frozen' by the effects of the blast, it becomes 'the time that it's always been'. The song was also released during controversy surrounding the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's decision to allow US nuclear missiles to be stationed in Britain.[4]

Music video[edit][]

The music video begins by showing speeded-up footage of clouds passing through the sky. After the opening riff, which is shown as just the keyboardist's hands playing it whilst being animated using digitalrotoscoping, it shows a transparent video image of McCluskey vocalising and playing a bass guitar. The still photo from the album cover is taken from the video.

Track listing[edit][]

1980 original release[edit][]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Enola Gay"   3:33
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Annex"   4:33

The 12" single contained the same tracks as on the 7".

2003 remix 12"[edit][]

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Enola Gay" (Dancefloor Killa Remix) 9:02
Side two
No. Title Length
1. "Enola Gay" (dub remix) 6:57
2. "Enola Gay" (radio edit) 3:05

Charts and certifications[edit][]

Chart positions[edit][]

Chart (1980–1981) Peak


Australia (Kent Music Report)[19] 47
France (IFOP)[10] 1
Ireland (IRMA)[20] 14
Italy (FIMI)[21] 1
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[22] 31
Portuguese Singles Chart[10] 1
Spain (AFE)[23] 1
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[24] 2
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[25] 8
US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[26] 34

Certifications and sales[edit][]

Region Certification Sales/shipments United Kingdom (BPI)[27] Silver 250,000^
^shipments figures based on certification alone
Preceded by

"Amoureux solitaires" by Lio[21]

Italian number one single

4 July 1981 – 8 August 1981[21]

Succeeded by

"(Out Here) On My Own" by Nikka Costa[21]

Alternate versions[edit][]

In 1998, David Guetta & Joachim Garraud and Sash! made remixed versions of the song for the intended second disc of The OMD Singles. The second disc was dropped, and eventually only the Sash! remix appeared on The OMD Remixes EPs. In 2003 the double disc version was released in France only, which included the remixed versions by Guetta and Garraud as well.[28] The Guetta and Garraud remixes were released on a limited 12" to promote the compilation album.[29]

An early version of the song with a slightly different arrangement appears on the group's Peel Sessions 1979–1983 album. A live performance, recorded at the Guildhall in Portsmouth, England on 19 September 1980, is featured in the film Urgh! A Music War.[30]

Cover versions[edit][]

Spanish pop rock group Los Petersellers included in their second LP Contra la amenaza del Dr. Thedio (1997) a cover (many of their songs are covers) with the music of "Enola Gay" and self-penned Spanish lyrics, with the title "Manolo es Gay" (Manolo Is Gay). Serbian punk rock band KBO! recorded a version on their 2001 cover album (Ne) Menjajte Stanicu ((Do Not) Change The Station).[31] Also in 2001, the indie synthpopband The Faint covered the song on Messages: Modern Synthpop Artists Cover Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.[32]

The song was covered several times in 2007. Swedish artist Sommarkillen made a cover of the song called "Sommartjej" with new Swedish lyrics; the Danish electropop trio, Oliver North Boy Choir (formerly called Pierre) also recorded it. This track was posted on many MP3 blogs. In June 2007, José Galisteo released his cover of it on his debut album, Remember.[33] German techno group Scooter also covered the song on their 2007 album Jumping All Over the World.[34] There was also a 2007 dance version (with multiple remixes) of the single recorded by a French band Digital Air.

Home computer influence[edit][]

The song is popular with early home computer enthusiasts being used in popular computer demos such as Swinth (Commodore 64).[35] Another 8-Bit rendition of the tune can be found here. Hackers also enjoy Enola Gay; it can be found as the "music bed" for numerous mega-demos and "cracktro" found on pirated software by groups like The Beastie Boys).[36]

16-Bit computers brought with them the popular music tracker format where no fewer than a dozen versions exist.[37]

Mash ups[edit][]

In 2010, Katy Perry's hit song Teenage Dream was "mashed up" with Enola Gay by the group DJs From Mars under the title Teenage Gay.[38]

Waltz with Bashir[edit][]

The song was featured in the critically acclaimed 2008 Israeli film Waltz with Bashir, directed by Ari Folman, which documented the experiences of Folman as a young soldier in the 1982 Lebanon War. The track also features on the Max Richter soundtrack of the film.