"Into the Lens" is a song originally written by Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes of The Buggles. It was first released as "Into the Lens" on the Yes album Drama in 1980, and the year after on Adventures in Modern Recording, the second and last album of The Buggles. Both versions were also released as singles: "Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)" by Yes in 1980 and "I Am a Camera" in October 1981 by The Buggles (on Carrere Records).

Development[edit source | editbeta]Edit

"I Am a Camera"
Single by The Buggles
from the album Adventures in Modern Recording
B-side "Fade Away"
Released October 1981
Format 7", 12"
Genre Synthpop
Length 4:32
Label Carrere


Writer(s) Geoff DownesTrevor Horn
Producer Trevor Horn
The Buggles singles chronology


"I Am a Camera"


"Adventures in Modern Recording"


The first version of the song was a demo, recorded on a Sunday afternoon when songwriters Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes started working on the second Buggles album in 1980.[1] When they joined Yes, it gained input from other members Steve HoweChris Squire and Alan White, and therefore, "Into the Lens" features a more distinctive "prog rock" sound.[1]

When Horn and Downes resumed work on the Buggles album which would become Adventures in Modern Recording, the song was reworked as "I Am a Camera" - now with a tendency towards the characteristic synthpop style of that group. Trevor Horn said about the two versions:[1]

The song "I Am a Camera" was a Buggles track and we had adapted it into a Yes track. It became "Into the Lens" and, naturally, slightly more overblown. I don't mind "Into the Lens"—the melody's unadulterated while the arrangement's a lot more complicated—but I still prefer The Buggles version. I think Geoffrey's brilliant on the The Buggles version.[1]

Version history and releases[edit source | editbeta]Edit

The two versions feature slightly different lyrics, notably "I will never let you go, and you always let the feelings show" ("Into the Lens") compared to "I will never let you go, if you want to let the feelings show" ("I Am a Camera"). The line "taken in tranquillity" is also absent from the Buggles song, but reappears on the "12" Mix", which was added as a bonus song for ZTT's (Trevor Horn's own label) 2010 re-release of Adventures in Modern Recording. The line "I am a camera" is a quote fromChristopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin (1939). The full sentence reads, "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking." There was also a play (1951) and subsequent film (1955) based on the novel under the name I Am a Camera.

Along with the "On TV" and "Lenny" singles, The Buggles' "I Am a Camera" was re-released by ZTT on iTunes in 2012, including three bonus tracks: the aforementioned "12" Mix" of the song, and two demos both entitled "We Can Fly From Here" ("Part I" and "Part II" respectively).[2] The latter two songs would (like the "I Am a Camera" demo) be reworked as Yes songs, and in fact become the basis of Yes' future album, 2011's Fly From Here, which would mark the second time that both Horn and Downes would work with Yes following a departure by Jon Anderson - Downes returning on keyboards for both the album and the tour, but Horn taking the role as producer and offering some backing vocals, but reserving lead vocals for Benoît David. Along with the "12" mix", the B-side, and the two demos also appear on ZTT's 2010 re-release of Adventures in Modern Recording.

The Buggles version originally peaked on the Single Top 100 at #46,[3] but reached #11 on the Dutch Top 40.[4] It also reached #45 on the Italian Hit Parade Singles Chart.[5]

The single edit of Yes' own "Into the Lens" was entitled "Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)".

Music Video[edit source | editbeta]Edit

In the music video made for "I Am a Camera", during the beginning, there are a pair of Horn's trademark glasses. On one of the lenses is a video and the other is glass. Horn comes out of the video side of the glasses (as illustrated). There are scenes involving Horn singing, broken glasses and opticians' tools. The video is seemingly set in a dollhouse. Towards the end, Horn is seen lying on the floor passed out.[6]

Other information[edit source | editbeta]Edit

Since 1982, few frames from the song are used as a jingle of "music premiere" at Polish Radio 3 and as a jingle of new song on their chart, Lista Przebojów Programu Trzeciego.

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