By Mark Nobes

Produced by Peter Collins, "The Riddle" was Nik Kershaw's fifth hit single and peaked at #3 in the UK. It was the title track from his second album, which reached #8 in the UK album charts.

Nik's songs had a very distinctive sound in the 80s and they were always very melodic. With it's Celtic vibe featuring military drums and a penny whistles, and an interesting chord change from F minor to A major, "The Riddle" is no exception.
Lyrically, it lives up to its title, being perplexing and leaving the listener with little idea as to what the song is about. Indeed, there have been many theories provided by various sources over the years, and Nik has even received letters from fans providing their version of the solution! However, the true answer may surprise you and will probably disappoint you - scroll down to the lyrics section to find out the answer! 
In his review for Smash Hits magazine (9-21 Nov 1984), Neil Tennant wrote "I suspect it's the first genuine Christmas single of the season - albeit a little early - and the song is most likely to be whistled by your milkman in the winter months ahead". Well, I'm not sure that this one is regarded as a Christmas tune, Neil, and I'm still none the wiser as to whether you actually like the single!
Nik Kershaw achieved success with eight top 30 hit singles during the 80s. In 1984, the singer/ songwriter spent no less than 50 weeks in the singles charts.
Nik Kershaw on the front 7 inch vinyl sleeve of

The Video

You can listen to the original 12 inch extended version of the song in our video above. The official video is a little further down this page.
The video has an Alice in Wonderland theme and Nik (who is dressed in a black polo neck jumper with bracers) has to make his way around a very weird house which has lips singing through holes in the wall and rats walking all over some French Fancies and Cherry Bakewells - Mr. Kipling will not be pleased! At one point, Nik chases after Alice, who disappears through a small doorway, which is locked when the singer tries to open it.
A guy dressed as The Riddler from Batman makes several appearances in the video, and we also see Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The video ends by revealing that the house is shaped like a question mark and is in miniature size. The Riddler picks it up and runs off with it.

Did you Know?

Nik Kershaw was born in Bristol and also penned the #1 hit single "The One And Only" for Chesney Hawkes in 1991, which also appeared on the soundtrack to the British film Buddy's Song, and also in the movie Doc Hollywood

Kershaw also played electric guitar on Elton John's hit single Nikita in 1985.

Chart Performance

"The Riddle" entered the UK singles chart at #17 on 11th November 1984, reaching No.3 for one week on 2nd December, spending a total of eleven weeks in the official Top 100.
The single was a major top 10 hit in many countries, reaching #3 on the Irish Singles Chart, #3 on Portugal's main chart, #5 on the Swedish Topplistan chart, #5 on Norway's VG-Lista, #6 on the Recorded Music NZ (New Zealand), #6 on the Kent Music Report in Australia, #8 on the Official German Chart (GFK), #9 on the Springbok Radio chart in South Africa and #10 on Italy's Musica e dischi.
The Riddle vinyl sleeve rear - Nik Kershaw NIK 6

7" vinyl sleeve rear


UK 7 Inch Vinyl - MCA - NIK 6

A. "The Riddle" - 3:52

B. "Progress" - 3:02

UK 12 Inch Vinyl - NIKT 6

A. "The Riddle" (Extended Riddle) - 5:08

B. "Progress" (Live) - 3:02

Limited Edition Cassette Single - NIKC 6

A1. "The Riddle"

A2. Interview

A3. "Progress" (Live)

B1. "I Won't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" (Extended Mix)

B2. "Wouldn't It Be Good" (Extended Mix)


What are the lyrics to "The Riddle" actually about? Well, according to Nik Kershaw himself, they were "nonsense, rubbish, b*ll*cks, and the confused ramblings of an 80s popstar". Okay, well he certainly made that clear. So they are actually about nothing!