Song of the Day: “Heads Will Roll”

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The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s 2009 single is still one of the best songs to immediately get you into the Halloween mood.

For the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at songs from both contemporary artists and older legends, This week, however, we’re going to dive right into the spirit of the season. With October beginning to wind down, the anticipation for Halloween is only growing. So each day, we’ll be bringing you a new song you can add to your Halloween playlist. It’s time for some spooky tunes and haunting tracks.

Our song of the day today is the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Heads Will Roll”, from their 2009 album, “It’s Blitz!”. Before we get too far into the song itself, let’s first take a look at the album it first appeared on.

It’s Blitz!

“It’s Blitz!” is the third studio album released by the American indie rock band, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The album was released through Interscope Records three years following the well-received “Show Your Bones”, and two years after the EP “Is Is”. Three singles were released for the album: “Zero”, “Heads Will Roll”, and “Skeletons”.

Upon its release, “It’s Blitz!” received universal acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it currently has a critic score of 82, and a user rating of 8.3 out of 10. “It’s Blitz” was also nominated for Best Alternative Music Album at the 2010 Grammy Awards. On the charts, the album peaked at No. 22 on the Billboard Top 200, but reached the top five for both the Top Alternative and Top Rock Albums.

“It’s Blitz!” was produced by Nick Launay, who also worked with notable artists in the past like Nick Cave, Arcade Fire, and Talking Heads. In an interview, he talks about the recording process for “It’s Blitz!”.

“The ‘It’s Blitz!’ album was a very unusual record because it was all written in the studio. They only had a few songs they played live that we then worked on and changed and made into what they now are, but most of the record was written in the studio, which is very unusual these days…

“Brian [Chase] would play lots of different drumbeats and we’d record it, chop it up and then make a groove loop out of it. Nick (Zinner) would then just jam to it, and we’d come up with an interesting rhythm part. Karen [O] would listen to that and come up with a vocal melody and then suddenly everything would fall into place.”

Heads Will Roll

“Heads Will Roll” is possibly now the most famous and recognizable song the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have ever made (with the exception of “Maps”). The same year the track was released, a remix of it by A-Trak also came out, becoming the most popular remix of the song, despite the many other remixes that have come out since.

The music video for the original song plays out like a short horror spoof. It portrays the band playing at an underground venue, with a werewolf dancing on stage reminiscent of Michael Jackson. As the song continues, the werewolf transforms, and proceeds to tear through the audience. The video ends with the band having been killed, and Karen O delivering the last lyrics from her decapitated head. Instead of blood, there is confetti and glitter.

At the time, the synth-powered, pop-punk dance track became an instant hit. And even ten years later, it isn’t hard to see why. It’s a song that builds and sustains its energy with a strong dance beat, and killer vocals by Karen O.

Final Thoughts

As far as Halloween tracks go, “Heads Will Roll” is one that belongs on any and all playlists dedicated to the holiday. Even if you’re not a huge fan of their other material, there’s no denying the pervasiveness of “Heads Will Roll”. And if the Halloween you’re heading to is going to include any dancing, it’s a safe bet that you can expect to hear this or the A-Trak remix at least once throughout the night.

As far as my personal preference goes, I’ll go with the original version any day over the remix. At the same time, however, this does fall into the category of “songs I’ve heard maybe one too many times”. While I wouldn’t want to listen to it on repeat all day, I stand by my assertion that any Halloween playlist would be incomplete without it.

That about does it for our discussion today. I hope you enjoyed listening to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Heads Will Roll”. We’ll be back tomorrow with another song to add to your Halloween playlist.

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