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The Meaning Behind The Song: Uncontrollable Urge by Devo



Uncontrollable Urge, a well-known song by the American rock band Devo, has captivated audiences for decades with its infectious energy and thought-provoking lyrics. Released in 1978 as part of their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, the song embodies the band’s distinctive style, combining elements of punk rock, new wave, and avant-garde music. Its unique sound and evocative lyrics have made it a beloved track among Devo fans and music enthusiasts alike.

The Meaning Behind The Song: Uncontrollable Urge

At its core, Uncontrollable Urge delves into the topic of primal human instincts and desires that one struggles to control. The song delves into the overpowering feeling of an uncontrollable urge and highlights the conflict between societal expectations and individual desires. Through its frenetic pace and pulsating rhythm, Devo artistically conveys the internal struggle many individuals face in restraining their impulses.

Uncontrollable Urge can be interpreted as a commentary on the relentless pursuit of desires and the tension it creates within oneself. The lyrics resonate with themes of rebellion, nonconformity, and the yearning to break free from the societal norms that restrict personal expression. The repeated line “Got an urge, got a surge” emphasizes the intensity and urgency of these primal desires that can often consume individuals.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What inspired Devo to write Uncontrollable Urge?

Uncontrollable Urge was a product of the creative genius of Devo’s lead vocalist, Mark Mothersbaugh. He drew inspiration from his personal experiences and observations of human behavior. The concept of the song was born out of the band’s fascination with the conflict between individual desires and societal expectations.

2. Was Uncontrollable Urge a commercial success for Devo?

Although Uncontrollable Urge did not achieve significant commercial success upon its initial release, it has gained cult status over the years. The song’s popularity has grown through its inclusion in various films, television shows, and commercials. It has become an integral part of Devo’s discography and a fan-favorite at their live performances.

3. How did Uncontrollable Urge contribute to Devo’s overall musical style?

Uncontrollable Urge showcases Devo’s unique blend of punk rock, new wave, and avant-garde influences. The song’s energetic and unconventional sound epitomizes the band’s innovative approach to music. It solidified their reputation as pioneers of alternative and experimental rock, laying the groundwork for their future musical endeavors.

4. Can Uncontrollable Urge be interpreted as a social commentary?

Yes, Uncontrollable Urge can be viewed as a social commentary on the individual’s struggle for autonomy and the pressures of conformity. The song reflects Devo’s satirical and critical perspective on societal norms, emphasizing the importance of embracing one’s true desires and identity.

5. What other songs by Devo display similar themes or styles?

Devo has consistently explored themes of deviance, technology, and social critique throughout their discography. Songs like “Whip It,” “Mongoloid,” and “Freedom of Choice” share the same spirit of nonconformity and societal commentary as Uncontrollable Urge.

6. How did audiences originally react to Uncontrollable Urge?

Uncontrollable Urge initially shocked and intrigued audiences with its unconventional sound and thought-provoking lyrics. While it may not have gained mainstream success at the time, it quickly became a favorite amongst Devo’s dedicated fan base and contributed to their growing reputation as avant-garde musical innovators.

7. Have other artists covered Uncontrollable Urge?

Yes, Uncontrollable Urge has been covered by various artists over the years, further cementing its status as a highly influential song. Artists such as The Flaming Lips and Soundgarden have paid homage to the track, showcasing its enduring appeal and influence in the music industry.

8. What impact did Uncontrollable Urge have on Devo’s career?

Uncontrollable Urge played a pivotal role in establishing Devo’s unique musical identity and contributed to their lasting legacy. The song, along with their other groundbreaking tracks, helped solidify their position as one of the most influential and innovative bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

9. How does Uncontrollable Urge resonate with listeners today?

Uncontrollable Urge’s exploration of uncontrollable desires and the tension between societal expectations and personal expression remains relevant today. Its frenzied energy and infectious melodies continue to captivate new generations of listeners, serving as a reminder to embrace individuality and defy social constraints.

10. Are there any live performances of Uncontrollable Urge worth watching?

Yes, Devo’s live performances of Uncontrollable Urge are truly captivating. The band’s electrifying stage presence and energy add a new dimension to the song, making it a must-watch for both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

11. What sets Uncontrollable Urge apart from other songs of its time?

Uncontrollable Urge stands out due to its unconventional structure, raw energy, and thought-provoking lyrics. Its blending of punk rock aggression with new wave sensibilities created a unique sonic experience that set it apart from other songs released during the late 1970s.

12. How does Uncontrollable Urge continue to influence musicians today?

Uncontrollable Urge’s innovative approach to music and its rebellious spirit continue to inspire contemporary musicians across various genres. Its impact can be seen in the work of artists who strive to push the boundaries of conventional sound and challenge societal norms.

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About Warren Barrett

Warren has spent nearly half a century (now that's a long time!) as an ink-stained wretch writing for music magazines and websites and has no plans on giving up soon.

He is curious about all types of music and instruments apart from any genre with 'Urban' in the title. He's also not so keen on Plastic Potted Plants, Reality TV, and any movies with Kevin Costner in them.

He lives in Delaware with his wife Wendy and lots of great memories...

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