MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Rock Rewind: EMF “Unbelievable”

The signature guitar riff and dance rhythm of  “Unbelievable” are an indelible part of pop culture today, and as often as it has been played in films, video games, sporting events and the like, the average American can recognize it instantly. But fewer can identify who made the song famous.

British alternative dance-rock band EMF were by all accounts a one-hit wonder here in the U.S. (although they fared better on the charts in their homeland). “Unbelievable,” their 1991 debut single from their debut album Schubert Dip, shot to Number 3 in the UK and Number 1 in the U.S., effectively taking the world by storm.

What is remarkable about the tune is that it was allowed on the air at all. The recording of “Unbelievable” features background samples of comedian Andrew Dice Clay (considered one of the foulest-mouthed comics of the time), with a repeated line in the background of “What the f**k was that?” Somehow, it got past the censors, perhaps because many considered the line to be indiscernible amid the noise of the chorus. But if you listen for it—it’s definitely there.

While EMF never had a hit that came close to “Unbelievable,” the momentum of that one single was enough to keep them going for eight years and three subsequent reunions, the third of which took place in 2012.

The meaning of the name “EMF” is a subject of continued debate.

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About the Author


Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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