For today’s alternative song of the day, we’ll be jumping back into the early 2000’s, a time when alt rock was as mainstream as it was ever going to get.
So far this week, we’ve covered both Radiohead and Nirvana, two of the biggest names in alternative rock (at least two of the first that come to my mind). But the era we’re going to look at today saw hits from a wide number of alternative bands. This was around the time that bands like Green Day, Blink-182, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Linkin Park were heard nonstop over the airwaves. It was a dark time, indeed.
I kid. While there was a fair share of crap playing on radio stations on repeat, there were also some real gems in there. But still, we won’t be going over any of those today. Instead, our song comes from a band who was far more experimental, and well, fun.
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
“The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” is the first track from The Flaming Lips’ 2006 album, “At War With the Mystics”, and released as the album’s second single. While on first listen it can sound like the silliest song you’ve heard, the lyrics are more political than some of the Lips’ earlier material.
The song asks listeners what they would do if they had all the power in the world. It presents several hypothetical questions, followed by a series of “yeah yeah yeahs” in response.
The questions throughout “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song” point a finger at those in power. But they also point a finger back at the listener, asking what any of us would do if we had power.
“If you could blow up the world with the flick of a switch
Would you do it?
Ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ”
Other questions include “If you could make everybody poor just so you could be rich, would you do it?”, and “If you could take all the love without giving any back”. Throughout the first verse, all of these questions are answered in the affirmative.
The chorus brings a dose of wisdom to the song, and works sort of like a closing argument. “And so we cannot know ourselves or what we’d really do / With all your power / What would you do?”
The second verse mirrors the first, with the exception that all of the responses are answered with “no’s”. Though the wisdom from the chorus seems to seep in halfway through this call and response.
“If you knew all the answers and could give it to the masses
Would you do it?
No, no, no, no, no, no, are you crazy?
It’s a very dangerous thing to do exactly what you want”
The reason I chose this song in particular was to demonstrate the wide range of styles encompassed by the label of alternative rock. “Alternative” to me, is nearly synonymous with experimental. It’s another way of approaching rock music. And even though there were some more popular bands out at the time that were called alternative, none of them were as experimental as The Flaming Lips.
Also, I chose this song because it’s an old favorite that I hadn’t heard in too long. I like listening to songs in which you can tell the band is having fun. And that’s definitely the case in “The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song”. It’s balance of childlike playfulness and serious political commentary makes it one of my favorites Flaming Lips’ songs. Hope you like it too.