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"Cranes in the Sky" is a song by American singer and songwriter Solange. Released on October 5, 2016 by Saint Records and Columbia Records, it is the first single from Solange's third album, A Seat at the Table. The song was written by Raphael Saadiq, Frequent collaborator Nick Kobe, and Solange, and produced by Sir Dylan along with Saadiq and Solange.

"Cranes in the Sky"
Single by Solange
from the album A Seat at the Table
ReleasedOctober 5, 2016 (2016-10-05)
FormatDigital download
  • 2008
  • 2016
Solange singles chronology
"Electric Lady"
"Cranes in the Sky"
Music video
"Cranes in the Sky" on YouTube

"Cranes in the Sky" is an mid-tempo soul ballad, that lyrically explores the singer's unsuccessful attempts to distract herself from a longstanding pain. The single's accompanying music video was directed by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson.[1] Following its release, "Cranes in the Sky" debuted at number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2] It won the Grammy for Best R&B Performance at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.


Background and compositionEdit

Solange wrote "Cranes in the Sky" eight years before the album's release, in the aftermath of her break-up with the father of her child–whom she had been with for five years, since age seventeen.[3][4] In 2008, producer and singer Raphael Saadiq handed Solange a CD with a few instrumentals on it. One consisted simply of drums, strings, and bass. Two months later, Solange wrote "Cranes in the Sky" while listening to the instrumentals in a Miami hotel. In 2016, when she had finished writing and creating A Seat at the Table in New Iberia, Louisiana, Solange revisited "Cranes in the Sky"—shortly after which she called Raphael and asked if he would help produce a few other songs on the album.[5] Lyrically, the song explores the idea of attempting to avoid the elephant in the room. It describes a person looking to distract themselves in various ways from an unaddressed sadness. In speaking of the title, Solange explains a situation where sudden economic growth turned a once quiet, tranquil town into a busy, construction-infested city, where mechanical cranes block the view of the scenery. She says, "Like so much of America, [in that town] there was just so much real estate development. And, literally everywhere that I looked, I saw a crane in the sky. You could not look down any street without seeing dozens and dozens of them, and it felt very heavy. They were an eyesore [...] and so disruptive to a place that I found peace in." [6] She continued, saying that "all this excessive building" was not "really dealing with what was in front of us".[3]

Critical receptionEdit

"Cranes in the Sky" was ranked at number 7 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Songs of 2016” list: “Solange drops a song that can always stop you dead in your tracks, no matter where or when you hear it – describing the kind of sadness she can't escape by crying, drinking, sexing or shopping it away. The music builds from quiet meditation – that Raphael Saadiq bass – into towering soul.” [7]

Billboard ranked "Cranes in the Sky" at number 12 on their "100 Best Pop Songs of 2016" list: “Post-adolescent angst has rarely been as pretty as Solange makes it sound in this delicate, lilting single — which you’re as likely to hear on Hot 97 as at your local coffee shop. An orchestral beat from Raphael Saadiq supports the song’s lyrical quest for serenity, creating a sort of musical safe space for the beautiful, uncluttered respite that Solange spends the single desperately searching for.”[8]

Pitchfork listed "Cranes in the Sky" as the 3rd best song of 2016.[9] In the annual Village Voice's Pazz & Jop mass critics poll of the year's best in music in 2016, "Cranes in the Sky" was also ranked at number 3.[10]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Cranes in the Sky," directed by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson, was released on October 2, 2016 alongside the music video for "Don't Touch My Hair."[1][11]

Commercial performanceEdit

In the United Kingdom the song charted at number 29 on the UK R&B Singles chart on October 7, 2016.[12] In the week of October 22, 2016, "Cranes in the Sky" debuted at number 74 on the Billboard Hot 100 and 28 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the United States.[13][14]

Credits and personnelEdit

Credits adapted from the liner notes of A Seat at the Table.[15]


Weekly chartsEdit

Chart (2016) Peak
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[16] 30
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[12] 29
US Billboard Hot 100[13] 74
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[14] 28


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[17] Gold 500,000 

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
 sales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b "Solange Knowles Dropped Two New Music Videos From A Seat at the Table – Vulture". October 3, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "The Hot 100, The Week of October 22, 2016". Billboard. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Beyonce Interviews Solange And We Finally Get The Meaning Of 'Cranes In The Sky'". Uproxx. January 10, 2017. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Grossman, Wendy; Peterson, Todd (October 26, 2004). "Solange Knowles Gives Birth to a Boy". People. Time. Retrieved 2008-12-06.
  5. ^ Sonis, Rachel (October 5, 2016). "Solange Talks Writing "Cranes In The Sky" On Instagram". Idolator. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  6. ^ Koontz, Christian (January 16, 2017). "Solange Breaks Down The Making of "Cranes In The Sky"". SongExploder. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  7. ^ "50 Best Songs of 2016". Rolling Stone. November 30, 2016. Retrieved November 30, 2016.
  8. ^ "Billboard's 100 Best Pop Songs of 2016: Critics' Picks". Billboard. December 12, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "The 100 Best Songs of 2016". Pitchfork Media. December 12, 2016. Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  10. ^ "PAZZ+JOP 2016". Village Voice. January 25, 2017. Archived from the original on February 3, 2017. Retrieved January 28, 2017.
  11. ^ "SOLANGE - CRANES IN THE SKY (OFFICIAL VIDEO)". YouTube. solangeknowlesmusic. Retrieved October 11, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Official R&B Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  13. ^ a b "Solange Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Solange Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved October 12, 2016.
  15. ^ "Here Are The Full Album Credits For Solange's A Seat At The Table". The Fader. September 30, 2016. Retrieved October 10, 2016.
  16. ^ " – Solange – Cranes in the Sky" (in Dutch). Ultratip. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – Solange – Cranes in the Sky". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External linksEdit