Cult of Personality (song)

Last updated
"Cult of Personality"
Living Colour Cult of Personality.jpg
Single by Living Colour
from the album Vivid
ReleasedJuly 14, 1988
Producer(s) Ed Stasium
Living Colour singles chronology
"Cult of Personality"
"Middle Man"

"Cult of Personality" is a song by rock band Living Colour. It was their second single off their debut album, Vivid , released on July 14, 1988. "Cult of Personality" reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 9 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance in 1990. Its music video earned the MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video and MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist. The song was ranked No. 69 on VH1's 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs. [3] The solo was ranked No. 87 in Guitar World's "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" list. [4] It was also selected for inclusion in the musical reference book, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: And 10,001 You Must Download. The band's founder, Vernon Reid described the song as very special for the band not just for its commercial success but because it was essentially written in just one rehearsal session. The riff was stumbled upon while practicing something else and by the end of the session they had written what was to become Living Colour's best known song. The song contains many political references, and shares its name with a phenomenon involving psychology and politics.


Political figures referenced

"Cult of Personality" prominently includes several audio samples of speeches from 20th-century political leaders.

The song begins with an edited quote from the beginning of "Message to the Grass Roots", a speech by Malcolm X. As it appears in the song, the quote is:

"... And during the few moments that we have left, ... We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand."

The unabridged beginning of the speech is:

"... And during the few moments that we have left, we want to have just an off-the-cuff chat between you and me—us. We want to talk right down to earth in a language that everybody here can easily understand." [5]

During a rest in the music at 4:35, John F. Kennedy's inaugural address is heard ("Ask not what your country can do for you ..."). The song ends with Franklin D. Roosevelt saying "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself", from his first inaugural address. The lyrics also mention Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, and Mahatma Gandhi.


Chart (1989)Peak
Australia (ARIA Chart) [6] 54
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ) [7] 3
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) [8] 67
US Billboard Hot 100 [9] 13
US Mainstream Rock ( Billboard ) [10] 9
US Rock Digital Songs ( Billboard ) [11] 21

In other media


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  3. " music". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2009.
  4. 100 Greatest Guitar Solos
  5. Malcolm X: "Message to the Grass Roots":
  6. "Chartifacts > Week Ending: 19 May 1991 (from The ARIA Report Issue No. 69)". (original document published by ARIA). Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  7. " – Living Colour – Cult Of Personality". Top 40 Singles.
  8. "Official Charts > Living Colour". The Official UK Charts Company . Retrieved August 24, 2016.
  9. "Living Colour Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  10. "Living Colour Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard.
  11. Living Colour – Chart history
  12. "GTA San Andreas Radio X Soundtracks Playlist on Spotify". Rockstar Games.
  13. Sinclair, Brendan (October 5, 2007). "Q&A: RedOctane cofounder Charles Huang". GameSpot. Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  14. "Rock Band Blitz Setlist and Power Up Announcement". Archived from the original on 2012-06-10.
  15. "NBA 2K16 Soundtracks Playlist on Spotify". 2K Games.
  16. What Happened After SmackDown, Punk’s Theme Song, Updates on Finlay & Cara | WRESTLESCOOP
  17. WWE: Living Colour to Play CM Punk to the Ring at WrestleMania | Bleacher Report
  18. Schwartz, Nick. "WWE stars react to CM Punk's loss at UFC 203". FoxSports. Retrieved September 11, 2016.

Cult of Personality official video on YouTube