Black Hole Sun - Release and Critical Reception

Release and Critical Reception

"Black Hole Sun" was released in the summer of 1994 and became the most successful song from Superunknown on the American rock charts and arguably the band's most recognizable and popular song. It appeared on Billboard magazine's Hot 100 Airplay chart, reaching the top 30. The following week it debuted on the Top 40 Mainstream, where it peaked at number nine in its eighth week and remained on the chart until its 20th week. The song peaked at number one on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number two on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song spent a total of seven weeks at number one on the Mainstream Rock chart. At the 1995 Grammy Awards, "Black Hole Sun" received the award for Best Hard Rock Performance and received a nomination for Best Rock Song.

Outside the United States, the single was released in Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In Canada, the song reached the top ten on the Canadian Singles Chart. It remained in the top ten for three weeks and became the band's highest charted song in Canada. "Black Hole Sun" reached the UK Top 20 and was the last single from the album which charted in the UK Top 20. The song remains the band's highest charting single in the United Kingdom to date. "Black Hole Sun" debuted at number ten in Australia but quickly descended the chart, however widespread airplay and a promotional visit to Australia stimulated a resurgence of interest in Superunknown. "Black Hole Sun" would peak at number six on the Australian Singles Chart. "Black Hole Sun" reached the top 30 in Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, and was a top ten success in Australia, France, and Ireland. It was a moderate top 20 success in Sweden. The single has sold over three million copies worldwide.

Greg Prato of Allmusic called the song "one of the few bright spots" of the summer of 1994 when "the world was still reeling from Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain's suicide the previous April". He said, "The song had a psychedelic edge to it (especially evident in the verse's guitar part), as the composition shifted between sedate melodicism and gargantuan guitar riffs. The lyrics were classic Chris Cornell—lines didn't exactly make sense on paper but did within the song." Jon Pareles of The New York Times said, "The Beatles' techniques—fuzz-toned low chords, legato lead-guitar hooks and lumpy Ringo Starr-style drumming...are linked to Lennon-style melody in 'Black Hole Sun'." J.D. Considine of Rolling Stone stated, "With its yearning, Lennonesque melody and watery, Harrisonstyle guitar, 'Black Hole Sun' is a wonderful exercise in Beatleisms; trouble is, it's not a very good song, offering more in the way of mood and atmosphere than melodic direction." Ann Powers of Blender proclaimed that "Cornell's fixation with the Beatles pays off with the hit single 'Black Hole Sun' ". The solo for "Black Hole Sun", performed by Thayil, was ranked number 63 on Guitar World's list of the "100 Greatest Guitar Solos", and number 56 on Total Guitar's list of the "100 Hottest Guitar Solos". The song was included on VH1's countdown of the "100 Greatest Songs of the '90s" at number 25. It was also included on VH1's countdown of the "100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs" at number 77.

"Black Hole Sun" is a playable song in the 2007 video game Rock Band. The song is also available in the 2008 video games Karaoke Revolution Presents: American Idol Encore and SingStar 90s, for the PlayStation 2. Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock features the song in its downloadable content library. Also, a section of the Nintendo DS 2008 role-playing video game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood is titled "Black Hole Sun", a very likely reference to the song.

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