Play was released on this day (May 17) in 1999.
Today we celebrate 20 years since the release of one of the most influential electronic records of all time. Moby became the first pop sensation to come out of techno when he dropped his iconic album Play; not his first album, but certainly the first to make any sort of real impact.
Play was something of a saving grace for Moby, who considered quitting the music industry following the failure of his 1996 album Animal Rights. But after receiving fanmail from icons such as Terence Trent D'Arby, Axl Rose and Bono, he was buoyed enough to turn his hand to this project.
He'd decided that Play would be his final album before retiring to become an architect, and thus he put extra effort into getting the mixing perfect. It meant wasting a lot of time and money in three different studios, but he eventually got the album the way he wanted it when he took it home. Certainly, he had no idea of how much of a success it was destined to be.
He was unsurprised when the initial commercial impact proved poor; it debuted at number 33 in the UK charts and barely received any airplay. In a last ditch attempt to gain exposure for the material, he began licensing it for films, TV shows and adverts which eventually allowed sales to pick up.... and then some. After 10 months, it had reached number one and stayed there for five consecutive weeks.
Play re-defined the electronica scene, bringing a mainstream audience to the genre for the first time. It was robbed of the Best Alternative Music Performance at the Grammys by Beck's Mutations (Beck would also beat Moby to the Brit Award for International Male Solo Artist), but it sold more than 12 million copies worldwide, making it the biggest-selling electronica album in music history as well as the biggest-selling independent album of 2000.
Memorable singles included the Platinum-certified Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad?, Honey, Run On and Body Rock.