"Calling America"
Single by Electric Light Orchestra
from the album Balance of Power
  • "Caught in a Trap"
  • "Destination Unknown" (UK 12-inch only)
  • 24 January 1986 (1986-01-24) (US)
  • 21 February 1986 (UK)
GenrePop rock
Songwriter(s)Jeff Lynne
Producer(s)Jeff Lynne
Electric Light Orchestra singles chronology
"Calling America"
"So Serious"
Music video
"Calling America" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Calling America" is a song by the rock music group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) released as a single from their 1986 album Balance of Power. The single reached number 28 in the United Kingdom and peaked at number 18 on the Billboard singles chart, making it their 20th and final Top 40 hit single in the United States.


Like most of the songs on Balance of Power, "Calling America" is musically upbeat and bright. Lyrically, it features a similar theme to ELO's earlier single "Telephone Line", where the narrator is longing for a lover from across the telephone.

However, what differentiates the song is a focus on communication via satellite and problems with such. Appropriately, the song pays homage to the track "Telstar", which had celebrated the communication satellite of the same name, in the instrumental section. In his column Real Life Rock (published in The Village Voice), Greil Marcus called the song an "answer record to [the] 24-year old hit".[1] Fellow American music journalist Chuck Eddy said, "Greil Marcus was the only person besides me who realized that 'Calling America' by ELO was one of the most brilliant records of last year. I thought it was really neat that it ended up on both our top 10s."[2]

In the UK there was also a 12-inch EPIC three-track version with "Destination Unknown" as the B-side.

Track listing

All songs written by Jeff Lynne.

7-inch single
  1. "Calling America" – 3:28
  2. "Caught in a Trap" – 3:43
US 12-inch single
  1. "Calling America" – 3:28
  2. "Caught in a Trap" – 3:43
  3. "Endless Lies" – 2:54
UK 12-inch single
  1. "Calling America" – 3:28
  2. "Caught in a Trap" – 3:43
  3. "Destination Unknown" – 4:10

Chart history

Chart (1986) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report Singles Chart[3] 47
Austrian Ö3 Austria Top 40[4] 22
Canada RPM Top Singles[5] 28
French SNEP Singles Chart 10
German Media Control Singles Chart[6] 31
Irish Singles Chart[7] 16
South Africa (Springbok)[8] 23
UK Singles Chart[9] 28
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 18
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[10] 22
US Billboard Adult Contemporary[10] 20
US Cash Box Top 100 Singles 26
US Radio & Records (R&R)[11][12] 20


The video was shot in Paris and contains shots of Centre Georges Pompidou; the band plays in front of Pompidou.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Marcus, Greil (January 2015). Real Life Rock: The Complete Top Ten Columns, 1986-2014. Yale University Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-300-19664-1.
  2. ^ Interview with Chuck Eddy, Nerve magazine, 1986
  3. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  4. ^ "Discographie Electric Light Orchestra". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
  5. ^ "RPM Top 100 Singles - April 19, 1986" (PDF).
  6. ^ "charts.de - Electric Light Orchestra". charts.de. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  7. ^ "The Irish Charts - All there is to know". Irishcharts.ie. Archived from the original on 3 June 2009. Retrieved 6 March 2013. Enter Electric Light Orchestra in the Search by Artist field, then click Search.
  8. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  9. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra". Offfical Charts Company. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Electric Light Orchestra - Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 5 March 2013.
  11. ^ ELO
  12. ^ Charts!