Laurie Anderson still holds a unique title in the world of performance art – she is the only performance artist to have a song in the UK Top 10. Thanks to a BBC Radio DJ, Anderson’s eight and a half minute work about technology, communication and war, O Superman, made it all the way to No.2 on the UK pop charts in October 1981.
O Superman was merely one small part of a four and a half hour performance art work titled United States. The song uses a vocoder to distort the performer’s voice (some of it spoken word) and its unlikely commercial chart success catapulted Anderson beyond the New York art scene into part of the mainstream.
While having studied fine arts at university, Anderson is perhaps best known as a composer and experimental musician. Her performance art pieces in the late 70s and 80s were particularly groundbreaking in their use of multimedia.