Better (Guns N' Roses song)

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"Better"
GNR Better.jpg
Promotional single by Guns N' Roses
from the album Chinese Democracy
Released November 17, 2008
Format Digital download, promo single
Recorded 2001–2007
Genre Hard rock, heavy metal
Length 4:57
Label Geffen
Songwriter(s) Axl Rose and Robin Finck
Producer(s) Axl Rose, Caram Costanzo

"Better" is a song by American rock band Guns N' Roses, featured on their 2008 sixth studio album Chinese Democracy. It was sent out as the second radio promo from the album, after "Chinese Democracy", but was not commercially released as a single eligible for international sales charts.

Background[edit]

"Better" was written by lead vocalist Axl Rose and former Guns N' Roses guitarist Robin Finck between 2001–2007, before the band headed out on tour in 2006, by that time the song had already been recorded, later however, most of former drummer Bryan Mantia's drums on the track were edited by drummer Frank Ferrer. Prior to the song being released as a single, "Better" had been played live by Guns N' Roses on their Chinese Democracy Tour in 2006 and 2007.[1] In February 2006, the song, alongside a few other unreleased songs, was leaked onto the internet through a Guns N' Roses fan site.[2][3] The band's management requested that all links to the MP3 files and all lyrics to the songs be removed from forums and websites.[4]

Coinciding with the 2006 tour, the song "Better" was featured in an internet advertisement for Harley-Davidson in October 2006.[5] Keyboardist Dizzy Reed stated that the release was an accident, with two versions being made, one 'experimental edit' featuring a demo of Better and one with Paradise City.[6] The ad with Better was mislabeled and inadvertently uploaded online for a day before being replaced by the intended ad with Paradise City.[6] The 'final' version of the song was leaked online to positive reviews in February 2007.[7]

Music video[edit]

Breaking a two-month silence by posting on a message board on December 11, 2008, Axl Rose revealed that a music video for "Better" directed by Dale "Rage" Resteghini[8] would be released "soon".[9] Shortly after, Rose wrote that Lars Ulrich stated that he makes an appearance in the video saying, "There’s a shot of me and Axl embracing backstage at some concert, and I signed off that, and hopefully it’ll make it in the final cut.” Ulrich was later blamed by Rose's associate, Fernando Lebeis, to be the reason the video has been delayed, since "the Metallica drummer needed to sign a release". Ulrich responded by saying “I have heard about this, yes. There was a couple of clips of me in the video and they asked if I would sign off on it. When it got to me, I signed off on the one clip… I don’t know where [the rumor] came from. I’d love to be in a Guns N’ Roses video. It’s my favorite song on the record — I think it’s a great song." On December 30th, 2008, Rose wrote on the message board "Lars isn't holding anything up with our video. Our message board comments were meant casually, in fun and amongst friends...We hope to have our video out shortly." [10] On September 13, 2012, nearly four years after the single release, a workprint of the video leaked onto the internet. As of today, nearly 10 years later still no official music video has been released.

Live[edit]

"Better" debuted live on May 12, 2006 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. It has been played at almost every show since. During the Not in This Lifetime... Tour, a new version of the song was played, featuring an additional intro and the opening lines being sung by Duff McKagan, Dizzy Reed and Melissa Reese.

Reception[edit]

The song has received a mostly positive reception from critics. Consequence of Sound wrote "While there’s the industrial-like swagger that’s prevalent in “Chinese Democracy”, the bite and harmony is classic GN’R. In fact, this might actually be the best song on the record, out of all three singles released from the record it has been considered to be the lead single." Rolling Stone concluded, "Like 'Chinese Democracy', 'Better' feels like classic Guns N’ Roses — Rose’s growling croon in the verses could have floated out of the Use Your Illusion sessions."[11] The song was officially released as a single on November 17, 2008. On Rolling Stone's "100 Best Singles of 2008" list, "Better" placed at number 19.[12] Consequence of Sound stated the song was the "hit" of the album, saying "Anyone who’s ever doubted this current line up should listen to this song. It’s brutal, honest, and aggressive. Rose sings with a cadence that’s uncanny, and he hasn’t sounded this youthful and bittersweet since 1987’s “Sweet Child of Mine”. When guitarist Robin Finck wails at 3:43, there’s this feeling that screams, “They’re back,” even if “they” aren’t."[13]

In a retrospective on the album, Steven Hyden of Grantland.com stated the song is "the album’s catchiest track" and "the poppiest song in the GNR catalogue next to Don't Cry".[14] The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame blog listed the song as one of the 10 'essential' Guns N' Roses songs.[15] In 2016 Spin ranked it as the 6th best Guns N' Roses song out of 79.[16]

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[17]

Guns N' Roses
Additional credits
  • Guitar solos – Buckethead, Robin Finck
  • Arrangement – Robin Finck, Axl Rose
  • Drum arrangement – Robin Finck, Caram Costanzo, Brain
  • Digital editing – Eric Caudieux, Caram Costanzo, Robin Finck, Axl Rose

Chart positions[edit]

Chart (2008) Peak
position
US Mainstream Rock (Billboard)[18] 18

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Guns N' Roses On Tour!!!". GNRontour.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  2. ^ "GNR Leak - antiMUSIC News". iconofan.com. February 16, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  3. ^ Dave De Sylvia (February 17, 2006). "Another GNR Demo Leaks - Sputnikmusic". sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Guns N' Roses Tracks Leak". ultimate-guitar.com. February 16, 2006. Retrieved February 14, 2015. 
  5. ^ Borivoj Krgin (October 24, 2006). "AXL ROSE And Girlfriend Hanging Out In Miami: Photos Available". Blabbermouth.net. Borivoj Krgin. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Borivoj Krgin (March 13, 2007). "GUNS N' ROSES Keyboardist Reveals 'The Truth' About The Leaked Song 'Better'". Blabbermouth.net. Borivoj Krgin. Retrieved May 3, 2015. 
  7. ^ Tom Breihan (February 21, 2007). "New Guns N Roses Song: Pretty Good!". Status Ain't Hood. Retrieved April 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ "Music Video News: SHOT: Guns N' Roses - Rage, director". Video Static. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  9. ^ Rolling Stone, Axl Rose Talks Chinese Democracy, Kanye, "Better" video in Late Night GnR Message Board Chat, December 12, 2008
  10. ^ GunsNRoses.com (2008-12-30). "Guns N' Roses: News". Web.gunsnroses.com. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  11. ^ "A Look Back at 1991 as New Guns N' Roses Single 'Better' Premieres". Rolling Stone. 2008-11-17. 
  12. ^ "Rolling Stone's 100 Best Singles Of 2008". Stereogum. Retrieved 2011-10-27. 
  13. ^ "Album Review: Guns N' Roses – Chinese Democracy". November 19, 2008. 
  14. ^ Hyden, Steven (July 23, 2013). "Building a Better Democracy". 
  15. ^ "10 Essential Guns N' Roses Songs". 
  16. ^ "Every Guns N' Roses Song, Ranked". February 19, 2016. 
  17. ^ Chinese Democracy (Media notes). Guns N' Roses. Geffen Records. 2008. 
  18. ^ "Guns N Roses Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved March 26, 2017.