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Matthew "Matt" Hales (born 17 January 1972), better known as Aqualung, is an Englishmarker singer and songwriter best known in the UK for his song "Strange and Beautiful", which was featured on a television advertisement for the new Volkswagen New Beetle during the summer of 2002 and went on to become a Top 10 hit in the UK singles chart later that year. In the United Statesmarker, Aqualung is also known for the song "Brighter Than Sunshine", which had considerable airplay and was used in the film A Lot Like Love and various television spots.


Early life

Hales grew up in Southamptonmarker, a city on the south coast of Englandmarker, where his parents ran an independent record shop. He wanted to be - and indeed was - a musician from an early age, although he said in a BBC interview that there were a couple of years when he was about 12 that he wanted to be a stuntman. At the age of 16, he was awarded a scholarship to study music composition at Winchester Collegemarker. By the age of 17, he had written his first symphony entitled Life Cycle.

Also while he was a teenager, he formed his first band, which was known by several names during its lifespan: Da Fook Mo a Dib, White Noise, and Mecano Pig. In 1990, they produced an album, Mecano Pig, but broke up soon after that.

In the autumn of 1990, Hales moved to Londonmarker to study music at City Universitymarker. While he was there, he and his brother Ben formed a new band, Gravel Monsters, although they later changed their name to RUTH (and their fan club became ALAN). They released several singles and an album, Harrison, but had very little success. They changed their name again to the 45s, and in 2001 were signed to Mercury Records. However, they only released two further singles, and in March 2002 they were dropped and the band split up.

Matt is married to Bad Girls actress Kim Oliver, who helped him write the lyrics to "Strange and Beautiful".

Career as Aqualung

His debut single, "Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)", was released in the UK on the B-Unique label on 16 September 2002, after gaining popularity as the soundtrack on an advert for the new Volkswagen Beetle, and reached number 7 in the UK Top 40. It was also featured in the film Wicker Park. This was followed shortly after by his eponymous debut album, Aqualung.

He released his second album, Still Life, in 2003 to critical acclaim albeit limited commercial success. As part of the promotion for this album, Aqualung embarked on two contrasting tours of the U.K.marker in early 2004 - the first as a duo comprising Hales and his brother Ben on guitar playing at unusual venues such as churches, and the second with the pair and a full backing band playing at more conventional rock venues. Two of the gigs in London were recorded and released as a Live DVD through the band's website along with two compilation CDs of B-Sides and Remixes.

Matt Hales appeared on the 2004 Tiësto album Just Be on the track "Ur".

A compilation of tracks from his first two albums was released in the United Statesmarker, entitled Strange and Beautiful following a new contract being signed with Columbia Records for future worldwide releases. The track "Brighter Than Sunshine" became a big hit and enjoyed Top 40 airplay for several months, after being featured in the film A Lot Like Love. The band have also enjoyed increased notoriety through appearances on various talk shows and the use of the band's songs in shows such as Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, The O.C., Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs and recently CSI: Miami, Cold Case, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Skins.

"Easier To Lie" was the single featured in Scrubs, the Lie to me pilot episode and Brothers and Sisters (Episode 3)

In 2006, they were special guests on Tom McRae's Hotel Cafe Tour.

In mid 2007, the Aqualung track "Left Behind" off of the earlier release Strange and Beautiful was featured in a series of Chrysler car commercials in the U.S. giving Aqualung even more notoriety, despite the financial troubles of the struggling automaker.

In 2007, Aqualung's "Something to Believe in" was featured in the TV series Gossip Girl. and One Tree Hill, as well as in an episode of CSI: Miami. In January 2008 the song was also featured on ABC network's Eli Stone pilot episode.

After recently completing their US tour, Aqualung announced the release of his next album, Memory Man, which includes eleven new songs. It was released on 13 March 2007 in the USA, with other parts of the world to follow. The first single in the US is "Pressure Suit", with "Cinderella" as the first single in the UK, released on June 11.

Good Times Gonna Come was featured in the season 2 episode 2 of the British television drama Skins as well as a UK advert for Sky.

On 31 August Hales released news of his upcoming album on his myspace page "I’m really very pleased with the new album... It’s a mixture of some old songs and some new songs and a song by Paul Simon. And it’s emotional and candid and funny and friendly. It feels like coming home. I think you’ll like it".

Hales completed his first UK tour since the first album in June, ending the tour at the newly re-opened Tabernacle, Notting Hill, London. He states how surprised and pleased he was with the turnout. More recently, Hales has announced his relocation to the United States and the beginning of production of a new album.

As of 2009, Hales has been working with Leona Lewis on her new album Echo.



Title Release date Label Status
Aqualung 30 September 2002 B-Unique Gold
Still Life 27 October 2003 B-Unique
Strange and Beautiful 22 March 2005 Columbia
Memory Man 13 March 2007 Columbia
Words and Music 7 October 2008 Verve Forecast


Title Release date Label
Exclusive iTunes EP 16 August 2005 Columbia
Still Life 1 1 March 2005 Columbia
Exclusive iTunes EP 2 17 January 2006 Columbia


Title Release date Chart positions Label
UK US Pop 100 US Adult Top 40
"Strange and Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)" 16 September 2002 #7 B-Unique
"Good Times Gonna Come" 2 December 2002 #71 B-Unique
"Brighter Than Sunshine" 13 October 2003 #37 81 #32 B-Unique
"Easier to Lie" 13 March 2004 #60 B-Unique
"Pressure Suit" 9 January 2007 Columbia
"Cinderella" 11 June 2007 Columbia
"On My Knees" 16 September 2008 The Verve Music Group


  1. aqualung

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