Moving on Up (song)

"Moving on Up"
Single by M People
from the album Elegant Slumming
B-side Remix
Released September 13, 1993
Format 7" single, 12" maxi
CD single, cassette
Genre House
Length 5:29 (album version)
3:34 (single edit)
Label Deconstruction
Writer(s) Mike Pickering, Paul Heard
Producer M People
Certification Silver
M People singles chronology
"One Night in Heaven"
"Moving on Up"
"Don't Look Any Further"

Moving on Up is the seventh overall single from British band M People and the second single from their second album Elegant Slumming (1993). Written by Mike Pickering and Paul Heard. Produced by M People. It was released on 13 September 1993. The song peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart and was the biggest selling M People single.



Previous single One Night in Heaven had garnered the band a massive-selling Summer hit single with both sustained radio airplay and critical acclaim. As another precursor to the highly anticipated album Elegant Slumming, they would release another classic song with a feel good, radio-friendly vibe.


"Moving on Up" is an uptempo dance-pop song, and follows in the footstep of previous single One Night in Heaven although this time with much more a sassier, angry edge. It has a harder edge focusing on the end of a relationship from the perspective of a spurned lover. The song was recorded at The Roundhouse Studios in Chalk Farm, London. The backing vocals during the chorus is sung by vocalist Juliet Roberts who was featured prominently on the last single.

The song is made up of fewer, and more simplistic, elements than the last single, but the melody line is guided by the insistently looped infectious moog bassline, subtle rhythm guitar, programmed drumming, and underlying blowy synth effect with high hat synths and a four to the floor thumping house beat. This is embodied by the progressive and euphoric chords and additional chords during the choruses. Finally, Shovell’s percussion is more on tambourine and less on bongos. The middle eight of the song is split between a saxophone break followed by a choral break with the insistent refrain: #“Moving on Up, Moving on Up, Moving on Up, Moving on Up”#. Particular mention goes to the saxophone which provides the songs main instrumental ad-lib comes from the saxophone played quietly throughout and then predominantly during the instrumental break and throughout.

The song is set in the time signature of common time with a faster tempo of 124 beats per minute and is written in the key of C minor. Its start of with a keyboard intro on prominent 1st keyboard chord structure to move into a joint 1st and 2nd keyboard (strings) intro looping the same structure leading into Heather vocals.

Lyrically, the song is written from a female perspective towards a useless lover who has let her down again “this time you’ve gone too far” and is written with the perspective of breaking out of a relationship that clearly no longer works. Throughout there is a sax riff reminiscent of Motown classic "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations.

Chart performance

"Moving On Up" became the third consecutive M People single chart in the Top 10 and then climb higher. It entered the chart at number 4 following the strongest ever one week sale for the band to date in excess of 118,000 copies. In the second week the single was then to climb once more to the highest chart position of any M People single, to number 2, selling a further 121,000 copies.

In its fourth week, when the parent album Elegant Slumming was released shifting 39,000 copies to chart and peak at number two this still had very little effect on the single sales as it remained at number five for two weeks. This provided M People with a top five single and album for one week for the very first time, which would happen when the fourth single "Renaissance" was released the following February (in 1994).

The single spent a total of five weeks in the top 10, selling a total of over 550,000 copies.

"Moving on Up" proved to be M People's biggest hit worldwide but just reaching #2 on the UK Singles Chart. The single was also a success in Switzerland, Sweden and Netherlands.

It also topped the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in the U.S. in 1994. It is also M People's only single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 reaching number 34.


"Moving on Up" was serviced to radio five weeks before physical release on Monday 9th August 1993 while "One Night in Heaven" was still being very heavily rotated on UK Radio spending its second month in the Top 15. After the first week on airplay, the single landed at number 61 being played over 300 times on UK Radio. In a direct switch as soon as station played "Moving on Up" more and "One Night in Heaven" less causing the single to glide from 61 32 to 21 to soar to 9 and then to 5 in the week of physical release. Once again, most UK Independent Local Radio stations BBC Radio 2 and particularly Radio 1 were major supporters to the song and had quickly added the song to their A-Lists.

It stayed in the Airplay top ten for a total of seven weeks and then took a further eleven weeks to leave the Airplay Top 75. So after a grand total of 22 weeks, it was still being heavily played when its successor, the slower "Don't Look Any Further" was released to radio. This meant that since May 1993, M People had at least one single continually in the Airplay chart until that December (seven months).

Music video

The video was filmed in at a studio in Shepperton, London on the 7th August 1993 and sees the band performing on stage within a club/bar scene. Heather starts the video in the first shot as she enters and walks down the steps in an elegant black dress and wearing sparkly jewellery. As the video progresses it becomes clear that a literal interpretation of the song is being played out as the packed bar is visited by a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. Heather walks through the club of dancing people singing and looking directly at the camera while Paul Heard plays the bass guitar, Shovell on drums and Mike Pickering on the sax in the background. Before the first verse is finished, the couple are already seen arguing and remonstrating with each other and then, by the end of the chorus, the male part of the couple has already been pulled away and is seen dancing with another girl much to the annoyance of his girlfriend who looks on. By the bridge of the second verse, the girlfriend has clearly had enough and pulls him off the other girl and they are arguing seems more pronounced. He then ignores her and still persists with dancing with the other girl.

The video is inter-cut with particularly striking shots; there are white-shirted twins who watch the unfolding events from the bar throughout and the barman and barmaid who continually flirt across the bar. During the choral middle eight, a stroked black cat, is first seen walking along the bar and then when the camera cuts away, a Frenchman’s closer inspection while on an old-fashioned phone, looks though his monacle to see the cat has turned white. Additionally, while he is on the phone, a lizard is seen moving across the dialler.

By the final chorus, the girlfriend returns, cup of water in hand, and turns him round from talking with that other girl and pours the water on his head, looks satisfied and he looks shocked. The music then plays out with the final shot of the continually dancing crowd.

Live performances

When performed live, "Moving on Up" proves itself to be the biggest crowd pleaser and since the Bizarre Fruit Tour in 1994 has always the final song of the set and the encore. It’s a time for the band to really get in the funky dance groove and turn the song into a highly soaring, hands-in-the-air anthem.

All the members of the band get a chance to shine, with the backing vocalists having their section, Shovell gets a chance to wonder around the stage armed with a tambourine, Paul Heard and Paul Birchall on 1st and 2nd keyboards, but particularly outstanding is the sax solo performed by Snake Davis in the outro as he has almost 90 seconds to ad lib his way through a jazzy, soulful breakdown solo while the audience clap till the end.

During the Bizarre Fruit II tour, Summer M Parties and Fresco tour, they performed a longer version of the song providing the audience with a chance to chant the refrain: “Moving” six times, before the final chorus.


The first two tracks on the CD single were the radio edit and album version. M People themselves created a dub of the original radio edit as the third track, which was the only time this was done on one of their singles. Finally, the fourth track was an actual remix by the American House Music DJ Roger Sanchez on the uplifting ‘Roger S. Gospel Revival mix’.

A further mix of the single appeared on the Elegantly American (EP) – the ‘MK Movin’ Mix’


On UK and European versions of the single the cover appeared with three quarters of the cover featuring a side profile of lead singer Heather Small looking serious to hint that she’s moving away. The bottom quarter of the single has a purple banner all the way across with the title written on it. On U.S. Versions of the single, the colour of this banner was red, yellow or blue.


Moving on Up featured on many compilations including Now That’s What I Call Music! 27, Telstar’s Hits 93: Volume 4 in the UK and many other across the globe. The single has also been featured in many films including the 1997 British blockbuster The Full Monty, The Next Karate Kid and the American comedy The First Wives Club.

Track listings

CD single / 12" maxi - Promo
  1. "Moving on Up" (M People master edit) – 3:34
  2. "Moving on Up" (M People dub) – 4:35
CD maxi
  1. "Moving on Up" (M People master edit) – 3:34
  2. "Moving on Up" (M People master mix) – 5:29
  3. "Moving on Up" (M People dub) – 4:35
  4. "Moving on Up" (Roger S. gospel revival mix) – 5:55
12" maxi
  1. "Moving on Up" (M People master mix)
  2. "Moving on Up" (M People dub)
  3. "Moving on Up" (Roger S. gospel revival mix)
  4. "Moving on Up" (Roger S. moving mix)


Chart (1993/94) Peak
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[1] 4
Austrian Singles Chart[1] 17
Canadian RPM 100[2] 23
Dutch Mega Top 100[1] 11
French SNEP Singles Chart[1] 3
Irish Singles Chart[3] 4
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart[1] 4
Swedish Singles Chart[1] 20
Swiss Singles Chart[1] 19
UK Singles Chart[4] 2
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[5] 34
U.S. Billboard Hot Dance Club Play[5] 1
U.S. Billboard Rhythmic Top 40[5] 33
U.S. Billboard Top 40 Mainstream[5] 14
Preceded by
"Beautiful People" by Barbara Tucker
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single
April 23, 1994 - April 30, 1994 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Love & Hapiness" by River Ocean featuring India


See also

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