Listening Activity #9 - Message In A Bottle

February 22, 2018

Message In A Bottle was released in 1979 by the band The Police, the lead single from their second album Reggatta de Blanc. It became their first UK number one single and one of their most popular songs of all time. 
Listen to how the crowd react when they hear the opening riff. They recognise it instantly and you can hear the hundreds of people singing along to every word. What is it about this song that people seem to love? Perhaps it's the rhythm which changes slightly in different sections of the song. Perhaps its how the lyrics repeat themselves:

I'll send an SOS to the world,
I'll send an SOS to the world,
I hope that someone gets my,
I hope that someone gets my,
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle,
Message in a bottle.

Sting gets the crowd involved in the performance by encouraging the crowd to sing 'Message in a bottle' with him at 3:14. We see how at ease he is with performing and how much the crowd loves him and the music. We can also see how relaxed the atmosphere is, as you can see Sting has some water and tea beside him on a small stool - hardly what you'd expect from a rockstar!
As we continue to learn together, we'll be able to see how different performers perform and what makes them different from others. We'll be able to see how interaction with the crowd changes from genre to genre and from musician to musician.



  • What instrument is Sting playing?

  • How many people are on stage?

  • What do the bass guitar and guitar do at 0:05?

  • What does it mean to 'send out an SOS?

  • Can you name another song by Sting?

  • Can you find 6 musical differences between this and the original song?

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illustrations by Charity Russell

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