Monday, April 8, 2013

"Whip It" by Devo

Gold Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  0314
Date:  08/30/1980
Debut:  85
Peak:  14
Weeks:  25
Genre:  New Wave

Pop Bits:  Devo may have just remained a popular cult band had it not been for this unexpected hit. The Ohio band's name revolves around "de-evolution," the concept that society is no longer evolving, but regressing. This would be reflected in their music and in their live performances that contained satirical humor and social commentary. Their first two albums (the first one produced by Brian Eno) were highly influential and showed a progression to move towards electronic music. When their next album "Freedom of Choice" came out, the streamlined electro-pop truly announced that the 80s had arrived and this single shot the group into the mainstream. Although the group would remain quite popular for years to come, this was the peak of their charting efforts.

ReduxReview:  Devo were a major part of my high school years. They were really the one cult-ish group that we latched onto when no one else did. We burned through several cassette copies of their albums and loved the whole de-evolution concept. We even watched their early film called "The Truth About De-Evolution" that came out two years before their full-length debut album. They were odd, had a bizarre look and concept, and we ate it up. "Whip It" is a classic of the 80s and it is the song everyone knows from them. But if you haven't listened to their earlier stuff like "Jocko Homo" or even some later songs like "Through Being Cool," you really don't know Devo.


Trivia:  When this song hit the mainstream, many took its lyrics to be about S&M. And their video for the song didn't really do much to dissuade that interpretation as it featured the group using whips to remove the clothes from a woman (that in itself was based on a live entertainment husband/wife act done on an Arizona dude ranch). The song was not about S&M, but the lyrics (written by group member Gerald Casale) were meant to mimic the type of parody that author Thomas Pynchon used in his book "Gravity's Rainbow," and appears to be about overcoming adversity.


1 comment:

  1. Chart Run: 85 - 75 - 60 - 47 - 43 - 37 - 31 - 26 - 21 - 19 - 17 - 14 - 14 - 14 - 17 - 17 - 18 - 27 - 27 - 33 - 48 - 55 - 66 - 84 - 94