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The Beastie Boys vomit up a protest song

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Five years after their last album, the Beastie Boys have rushed to throw up on their website a new anti-war “song” called “In a World Gone Mad.” On one hand, I’m not particularly inspired by the prospect of some cheap peace sentiments. On the other hand, the Beastie Boys are way my favorite all time rap or hip hop act. The prospect of fresh Beasties certainly has some allure.

Unfortunately this recording turns out to be next to worthless. Politics aside for a moment, there is no SONG here. There is no kind of significantly patterned note spread that could even charitably be called a MELODY. Corollary to that, there are no significant hooks; it’s not catchy at all.

Further, there is no significantly creative RECORD MAKING here. Granted, the song itself doesn’t give them much to work with, but they aren’t even trying. This is the most bare-boned and unimaginative arrangement they have ever created. They are just throwing down the most simplistic “old school” beats, the most primitive Run-DMC or Grandmaster Flash. As a record, this ain’t fit to be played between, say, “Hot in Herre” and “Work It” – much less “Sabotage” or “Car Thief.” Besides being much better compositions, these are seriously 100 times better RECORDINGS than this cheap Beastie throwaway. This crap sure ain’t no Paul’s Boutique.

At this point, it wouldn’t matter if the lyrics were a stirring tribute to America’s brave soldiers facing down evil in Iraq, it would STILL suck because it’s just such crappy music. [I ain’t buying Darryl Worley’s “Have You Forgotten” song either, on exactly these grounds.] Jeez, after FIVE YEARS you’d hope they could come up with ONE decent groove. This sure doesn’t bode well for their new album in progress.

Here, however, are the words that they actually came up with:

IN A WORLD GONE MAD by the Beastie Boys

In a world gone mad it’s hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight

Mirrors, smokescreens and lies
It’s not the politicians but their actions I despise
You and Saddam should kick it like back in the day
With the cocaine and Courvoisier
But you build more bombs as you get more bold
As your mid-life crisis war unfolds
All you want to do is take control
Now put that axis of evil bullshit on hold
Citizen rule number 2080
Politicians are shady
So people watch your back ’cause I think they smoke crack
I don’t doubt it look at how they act

In a world gone mad it’s hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight

First the ‘War On Terror’ now war on Iraq
We’re reaching a point where we can’t turn back
Let’s lose the guns and let’s lose the bombs
And stop the corporate contributions that their built upon
Well I’ll be sleeping on your speeches ’til I start to snore
‘Cause I won’t carry guns for an oil war
As-Salamu alaikum, wa alaikum assalam
Peace to the Middle East peace to Islam
Now don’t get us wrong ’cause we love America
But that’s no reason to get hysterica
They’re layin’ on the syrup thick
We ain’t waffles we ain’t havin’ it

In a world gone mad it’s hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight

Now how many people must get killed?
For oil families pockets to get filled?
How many oil families get killed?
Not a damn one so what’s the deal?

It’s time to lead the way and de-escalate
Lose the weapons of mass destruction and the hate
Say ooh ah what’s the White House doin’?
Oh no! Say, what in tarnation have they got brewing??!!!!???!!
Well I’m not pro Bush and I’m not pro Saddam
We need these fools to remain calm
George Bush you’re looking like Zoolander
Trying to play tough for the camera
What am I on crazy pills? We’ve got to stop it
Get your hand out my grandma’s pocket
We need health care more than going to war
You think it’s democracy they’re fighting for?

In a world gone mad it’s hard to think right
So much violence hate and spite
Murder going on all day and night
Due time we fight the non-violent fight

Even besides the fact that they are on the wrong side of this issue, this is a piss poor piece of lyric writing. They are simply re-gurgitating, vomiting up the regular generic politically correct slogans. They have added nothing significant to the cliches that they are spouting. They have little apparent real emotional content. The lyrics sound like they spent about five minutes writing them- they couldn’t have spent enough time crafting them to have any real emotional investment.

Again, not particularly caring to answer to the trite political content per se, but looking at this as a song lyric, it is unfocused and scattered. Dubya used to drink and do coke [allegedly], and Iraq has oil. Therefore we shouldn’t go to war. “Now put that axis of evil bullshit on hold” is not an argument or a striking lyrical turn of phrase. It is merely a curse. Bush is stupid, just like Zoolander. This constitutes a [patently untrue] political cliche presented through the most obvious crass pop culture reference. In other words, it is a lazy by the numbers Beasties lyrical move.

By contrast, let us compare this Beastie Boys opus to another song about fighting, by the Flaming Lips.

“Fight Test” by Flaming Lips

I thought I was smart, I thought I was right
I thought it better not to fight
I thought there was a virtue in always being cool
So it came time to fight, I thought I’ll just step aside
And that the time would prove you wrong
And that you would be the fool

I don’t know where the sunbeams end and that the starlights begin
It’s all a mystery

Oh, to fight is to defend
If it’s not now then tell me when would be the time
That you would stand up and be a man
For to lose I could accept
But to surrender I just wept
And regretted this moment, oh that I, I was the fool

I don’t know where the sunbeams end and that the starlights begin
It’s all a mystery
And I don’t know how a man decides what’s right for his own life
It’s all a mystery

‘Cause I’m a man, not a boy
And there are things you can’t avoid
You have to face them when you’re not prepared to face them
If I could, I would, but you’re with him
I’d do no good
I should have fought him but instead I let him, I let him take you

I don’t know where the sunbeams end and that the starlights begin
It’s all a mystery
And I don’t know how a man decides what’s right for his own life
It’s all a mystery

Now, this is nothing to do with politics in general let alone Iraq in particular. For all I know, the Flaming Lips may be the biggest anti-war peace fags on the planet. They could even conceivably be rational adults who oppose the war. They might support the president. You can’t tell on the basis of this song, as it is about something much more personal.

Whichever way you want to look at it, these lyrics mean something. Somebody is actually having a reflective moment, thinking seriously about their place in the world. The lyrics have some emotional nuance. They are poetic, without being ham handed. It is a well thought-out lyric. Oh, it also comes attached to an honest-to-Rand MELODY.

Look, I’m open to some anti-war protest songs. If you want me to swallow the cheap politics though, you’re going to have to come up with a real song. At least Lennon’s silly-ass “Give Peace a Chance” was catchy.

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  • anastasia

    I assume the author of this piece has enlisted to prove he’s not an “anti-war peace fag” on the “wrong” side of the issue. If not, he’s a loud-mouthed hypocrite. There’s WAAAAAY too much testosterone on this site and in this case has led to some really pathetic bigotry.

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Blah, blah, blah. If’n I don’t cowtow to some pc fantasy land with my every turn of phrase, then I’m a “pathetic bigot.” It’s going to take a lot more than calling me names to convince me that this crap constitutes a SONG.

    And it’s going to take a LOT more than calling ol’ Al names to deal with the likes of Bin Laden or Hussein. Setting out that only able bodied recruitment age people are entitled to favor defending the nation is a very mildly clever debate tactic. However, it will not deter the North Koreans or Al Qaeda.

    Come back when you want to speak in an adult manner. Thanks.

  • http://www.eddriscoll.com Ed Driscoll

    Anastasia,

    I agree that Al’s use of the term “peace fag” was more than a little in-your-face. But subtlety has its dangers as well, as your remark that one must have enlisted to support war indicates. It not only paints all those in favor of liberating Iraq with a single brush, it also assumes that everyone in the military is pro-war, when I’m sure that there’s as wide a range of opinions as in the civilian populace from which they came from–and will return to, when they leave the service.

    Regards,

    Ed

  • http://www.foliage.com/~marks Mark Saleski

    besides al, where the hell is your review of Elvis Costello on letterman?

  • http://www.peacesong.com m

    Any of you ever been in combat? Or you just watch too many action videos and Fox News?

    One of the world’s top traffic sites for songs protesting The Iraq War(google search ‘peace song’, ‘peace songs’, ‘anti-war music’.) is based in NYC.

    This site features freely downloadable MP3’s of The War Trilogy, exploring the by-products of our current war/’war on terrorism': violence to our soldiers, our civil liberties and to non-combatants.

    The aftermath of the Iraq War for a U.S. soldier is the theme of ‘Baghdad Road’. ‘Enemy Me’ looks at the corrosive impact of the ‘war on terrorism’ on civil liberties. ‘Sudden Sound’ contrasts the death of a non-combatant with the TV spectacle.

    (You can download the Real Audio and MP3 files at http://www.peacesong.com.)

    The War Trilogy has managed to find a diverse following around the world on the Internet, drawn from the ranks of disaffected veterans, peace activists, refugee welfare advocates, active soldiery, folk song enthusiasts and civil liberty watchdogs.

    In the interim, a link or blurb is always a help…hey! give a shout, anyway..

    m
    http://www.peacesong.com
    peacesongnow@aol.com
    (917)776.8948

  • http://www.morethings.com/log Al Barger

    Again, the point here is not political but artistic. If the Beastie song was any good, I’d be all about it, regardless of the cheap political boilerplate.

    To that end, I highly recommend Sananda Matrieya aka Terence Trent D’Arby’s song “Daddy, Can I Have a War?” I could just SLAP the dude for some of the dumb Freudian lyrics, but they hang together cohesively, and there is an actual MELODY and nice brooding rock vibe. This is BY FAR the best anti-war song of this conflict. I recommend it even to people who believe in defending the country.

  • jerky

    my favorite song is the one about people who so proudly talk all of their shit and don’t have the brains to just shut the hell up and do something about it. oh yeah, and whatever the fuck you fucks think about war – it’s gonna take more than a fuckin mouse, keypad and a bag of pork rinds. but just sit there typing, bitching, and being the useless modern 2004 cell phone fucks that you are. bite shit.

  • bob2112

    I heard the song when the record came out. I thought it was great, but I didn’t think it was goning cause all this anger. Mellow out Al, it’s just a song. It preaches bad stuff to the choir. It wont tear down any walls. It may make somebody vote, God forbid.

  • bob2112

    The Beastie Boys song.

  • Jason Sulyma

    This is a terrible review. No joke, you dig yourself into a hole in a number of instances. For one, you say that the song has no melody or no hook, therefore it makes it a crappy recording- That’s where I probably should have stopped reading due to your ignorance and lacking ability to even comprehend music. Yet, I still read on… only to see that you say that the Beastie Boys are on the “wrong side of the issue”. Doesn’t it occur to you that if there were to be a right side to the issue, that it wouldn’t be as big of an issue as a multi-country war is!? In all honesty, you think you are smarter than you are. How about you learn what constructing a good song is all about, and then come on back and write an article.

    The Beastie Boys did a terrific job- they made their stand on the issue, and the reason that they made the song so non-“catchy” persay (as it is just not mainstream) is because they most likely didn’t want people who do not understand music to be listening to it- hence the reason why you dislike it. The song is for followers who think like them. It’s simple, you like the song, then you appreciate their opinion.