Cannonball (Damien Rice song)

Last updated

Single by Damien Rice
from the album O
  • 17 May 2002 (2002-05-17) (Ireland)
  • 20 October 2003 (2003-10-20) (UK)
Recorded2000 (Monkstown, Rathgar, and Celbridge)
Genre Folk rock
  • 3:27 (radio version 1)
  • 3:32 (radio version 2)
  • 5:10 (album version)
  • 4:20 (single version)
  • 4:37 (video version)
  • Damien Rice (Ireland)
  • 14th Floor (UK)
Songwriter(s) Damien Rice
Producer(s) Damien Rice
Damien Rice singles chronology
"The Blower's Daughter"
Music video
"Cannonball" on YouTube

"Cannonball" is a song written and performed by Irish folk singer Damien Rice. It was released as the second single from his debut album O in 2002, following the release of his debut single "The Blower's Daughter". It was re-released in 2003 (reaching number 32 on the UK Singles Chart), 2004 (reaching number 19) and 2011 (reaching number 9).


The song was picked to be covered as the winner's single for the British The X Factor in its eighth series and was released by the series winners Little Mix on 11 December 2011, topping the British and Irish Singles Charts in its first week of release.

Australian singer Natalie Imbruglia covered the song for her 2015 studio album Male .


In Ireland the single was issued as a CD maxi single in May 2002 on the artist's own label Damien Rice Music. [1] It contained a remixed version of the track by Paul PDub Walton and Mark "Spike" Stent, plus a demo, a live track and an instrumental of the A-side. [2] Unlike the album version, the single mix includes drums.

In Britain the single was released in October 2003 by 14th Floor Records, on a standard CD single and Enhanced CD. The Enhanced CD featured an exclusive B-side, "Moody Monday", and the music video for "Cannonball". It was packaged in a gatefold card sleeve with a poster. [3] The second CD contained live versions of "Cannonball", "Amie" and "The Blower's Daughter", recorded live at Union Chapel. [4] This release included four postcards. A limited edition one-track 7" single was also pressed. [3]

The single was re-released on 5 July 2004, with an additional DVD single containing two remixes and a filmed interview and a biography, rising to #19 on its re-release.

The single versions (of which there are two, with slightly differing production) are markedly different from the original version found on the album, with background production and a quicker vocal.

Chart performance

The song was originally released on 17 May 2002 and did not chart at the time.

In 2003, it reached number 32 on the UK Singles Chart on the chart of 1 November 2003, slipping back to 57 the following week for a total run of just 2 weeks in the charts.

On its re-release in 2004, the song had limited success, entering the UK Singles Chart at number 19 on 17 July 2004 and then slipping back in the charts. It had a total run of seven weeks in the charts that year. It also peaked at number 21 on the Irish Singles Chart.

The song was rereleased in 2011 reaching number 13 on 22 September 2011 (week 38) in Irish Singles Chart. [5] Due to an impressive and popular X Factor audition from John Adams, singing an acoustic cover in the first round of 2011 auditions, Cannonball reentered the British Singles Chart on 24 September 2011 at number 39, and rising to 9 in the week of 1 October 2011 [5] before slipping back in the charts.

As of December 2011, the song has sold 191,696 copies in the UK. [6]

Track listings

Irish CD

  1. "Cannonball" (Single Version)
  2. "Lonelily" (Original Demo)
  3. "Woman Like a Man" (Live Unplugged)
  4. "Cannonball" (Instrumental Album Version)

British CD

  1. "Cannonball" (live)
  2. "Amie" (live)
  3. "The Blower's Daughter" (live)

British Enhanced CD

  1. "Cannonball" (Radio Remix)
  2. "Moody Monday"
  3. "Cannonball" (Video)


Chart (2002)Peak
Ireland (IRMA) [7] 21
Chart (2003)Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) [8] 32
Chart (2004)Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) [9] 19
Chart (2011)Peak
Ireland (IRMA) [7] 13
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) [8] 9


RegionCertification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI) [10] Gold400,000Double-dagger-14-plain.png

Double-dagger-14-plain.png Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Little Mix version

Single by Little Mix
Released11 December 2011 (2011-12-11)
RecordedDecember 2011
Songwriter(s) Damien Rice
Little Mix singles chronology

In 2011, British girl group Little Mix covered "Cannonball" as one of the finalists in the eighth series of The X Factor . Following the announcement that they had won the show, their version was released as the winner's single on 11 December 2011. [11] Little Mix and eventual runner-up Marcus Collins performed the song during the final show of the series. Third place runner-up Amelia Lily also pre-recorded her version in the studio. The song later appeared on the expanded edition of Little Mix's debut album DNA .

"Cannonball" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, becoming the fastest-selling single of 2011 but the lowest-selling winner's single since 2004. [12] The landmark was beaten by Military Wives the following week, and, although Cannonball sold 390,000 by the end of 2011, was only the 41st biggest-selling song of 2011 (17,000 below "Lego House" by Ed Sheeran), making it the first ever X Factor winner's single to miss the End of Year Top 40 all together, despite it having an extra week of sales compared to the normal number of weeks that the winner's single is released before the End of Year Top 40 is counted. This is because of the very high sales which other songs received, in spite of the fact that Steve Brookstein's winners song only sold half Little Mix's sales and was 2004's 30th highest seller. Also the target market was predominantly young children, and ratings of that series X Factor were, whilst higher than most, lower than the previous series. In 2007, this total would have been the fifth highest-selling. The song, however, was Christmas number one in Ireland, its second week of a four-week spell in Rice's home country.

Rice had no say in the decision for the X Factor to release "Cannonball". [13] He told BBC News: "Anything I have control over, I control. Adverts I have control over, nobody can use a song without asking permission. Once you release something into the public, anybody can make a cover of it. X Factor can cover whatever they want. That's the part that's a little disappointing. People think you've cut some deal for money, I haven't seen any lump sum of money from that thing at all."

Rice has a long history of choosing art over money, leaving his band Juniper (later to become Bell X1) in 1995 upon them signing a six-album deal with Polygram as he was "dismayed by the commercial path the company wanted the band to take". [14] Rice & Bell X1 do however remain on good terms. After the X-Factor release, he proceeded to donate money to Haiti to "cleanse myself of any possible X Factor money that could come in". [15]

Critical reception

In a positive review, Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave the song three stars out of five, stating: "Naturally the production has been given the deluxe valet, swapping the raw acoustics of the original for a Casio keyboard piano riff, fist-clenching strings and the inevitable key change. But credit where it's due, they've played around (or as Gary put it, "Little Mixed") with it enough to distance themselves from the original." [16]

Music video

The music video for "Cannonball" was uploaded onto Little Mix's official Vevo page on 20 December 2011. It depicts their best moments throughout The X Factor, and their performance of the single. [17]

Chart performance

For the first time since series 1, The X Factor winner's single was not released the week of the coveted Christmas number one chart battle. The Official Charts Company announced that the 2011 Christmas number-one would be announced on Christmas Day, [18] meaning releases on 18 December 2011 will be new entries in the chart that week. The winner's single was released in shops on 14 December 2011, [19] which means it would have had to maintain significant sales numbers in its second week to achieve the Christmas number-one.

The song debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart selling over 210,000 copies in its first week, becoming the fastest-selling single of the year. [20] It is the third lowest-selling X Factor winner's single. The song has sold 465,000 copies in the UK as of December 2012. [21]

In Ireland, the song was Christmas number one and remained at the top of the Irish Singles Chart for four weeks until it dropped to number four on 13 January. [22]

Track listings

Digital download
2."Little Mix - Audio Message"0:22
CD single
2."Super Bass" (X Factor performance)2:26
3."E.T." (X Factor performance)2:13
4."Don't Let Go (Love)" (X Factor performance)2:33

Credits and personnel

Credits adapted from CD single liner notes. [23]



RegionCertification Certified units/sales
Ireland (IRMA) [28] Gold10,000 [29]
United Kingdom (BPI) [30] Gold548,000 [31]

Release history

United Kingdom [32] 11 December 2011 Digital download Syco Music
Ireland [33]
Germany [34] 12 December 2011
Ireland [35] 14 December 2011 CD single
United Kingdom [35]

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