Devo – Uncontrollable Urge

Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
Year :
Talking Heads / Can / They Might Be Giants

Insomnia is always a strange experience for me. I never have trouble sleeping when I don’t actually enough time for a complete night’s rest. But, provide me with the opportunity for ten hours or more of beauty sleep and my mind goes into full on freak-out mode. This can’t possibly be right.

Last night was one of those special nights. Not necessarily a complaint, mind you. The occasional bout of insomnia can be a strangely enjoyable experience. Channel surfing, in particular, has it’s own rewards. It’s like a late-night safari through an alternative reality.

To wit: I discovered last night that it now only requires an intense 25-minute per day workout to become totally ripped, that girls have a secret code around pooping in public restrooms, and that UFC President Dana White enjoys watching people get knocked unconscious outside of the octagon, too.

That last tidbit of information comes courtesy of the MTV show Rediculousness, a sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos for the digital age. Hosted by pro skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, Rediculousness takes a particular delight in laughing at people getting hurt in failed attempts at “extreme” sports. The show has its moments, but on the whole, unlike AFV–which has a goofy charm (babies, pet tricks, etc.)–Rediculousness is almost purely injury bloopers. There’s a real meanness to it. It passes the time well enough, but it left me feeling more than a little empty for having spent my time with it.

Devo’s “Uncontrollable Urge” is excerpted as the show’s theme song and it’s an interesting choice for a few reasons. First and foremost, I presume the band is somehow getting a modest paycheck from the endeavor and, I suppose, that’s all that really matters. That being said, I both like and dislike the use of the song here. Devo always had a mocking sensibility when it came to the stupidity of humans. “Uncontrollable Urge” absurdly delights in the animal-ness of the human condition and the thin layers of society separating us from “purging” our uncontrollable urges. The naked thrill seeking featured on Rediculousness seems to fall squarely into this kind of behavior. In that sense, it’s a perfect theme song.

On the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if Mark Mothersbaugh groans a little every time he gets his royalty check from this show. Host Dyrdek is a dude par-excellence, the kind of guy who seems like he would have made life hell for a Devo fan in the wilds of high school. His co-hosts are a guy who literally says nothing at all and a vapid, valley girl known as Chanel West Coast. On this particular late night marathon, he was also joined by the aforementioned MMA impresario Dana White, a man who calls to mind the pejorative “steak neck.” This is a cast of characters who also seem like they should be in Devo’s cross-hairs.

On the other, other, hand, Devo has an absurdist streak. On “Jocko Homo,” which shares album space with “Uncontrollable Urge,” Mothersbaugh sings:

I can walk like an ape
Talk like an ape
Do what a monkey do
God made man
But a monkey supplied the glue

In some sense, were all participating in the “ridiculousness” of just being human. We are all goofballs, laughing at each other as we continuously fall down and make a general mess of things. Providing the theme to a show like “Ridiculousness” might be actually be the perfect outlet for Devo after all.

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(@YahSureMan) is the Founder of The Daily Soundtrack and Bark Attack Media. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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