We’re just a funny bunch of guys, and we’re also very cynical. We’re doing dance music because we’re the furthest thing from a Studio 54. We just sit around, eat pizza, drink canned beer, and fart.
Electric Six are a Detroit
sextet that formed in 1996. The band began in earnest as "The Wildbunch" until a group from Bristol found out and complained. They're best known for their single "Danger! High Voltage!,"
a dance-friendly duet with a mechanic who won a contest to sing with the band because he was the only person to enter
, and its associated video which involves the lead singer making out with a middle-aged woman on a stuffed moose, and both of them have a glowing crotch.
The video for their single "Gay Bar"
also received viral-type attention on the internet for its very unique take
on the White House cabinet of US president Abraham Lincoln
. Members of the band are also involved in such listen-worthy side projects as Evil Cowards
and the dairy promotion campaign White Gold.
Their music is often described with words such as "disco," "metal," "new wave," "dance," "punk", "rock"
and "fairly ridiculous" with influences ranging from KISS
to The Doors
to Captain Beefheart
. While practically unknown to the general public in their home country, they were well received in the UK
, which is rather ironic for a band that could be described as remarkably American
and aware of it: their lyrics routinely reference US politics and have Shout Outs
to their home town of Detroit. The singer and head songwriter, Dick Valentine, is noted for his unique and emphatic vocal delivery
and his extensive lyrical use of both So Bad, It's Good
sexual innuendo and humorous pop culture reference.Current LineupStudio Album Discography
Electric Six provide examples of the following tropes:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Pulling the Plug on the Party", "We Were Witchy Witchy Witchy Witchy White Women"
- Affectionate Parody: The video of "Body Shot" parodies old porn videos.
- "Down at McDonellzzz" parodies old multi-language MTV videos with a woman doing sign language next to scrolling text in Esperanto.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The titular device from the song "Broken Machine." As the lyrics go, it doesn't care if it tears us apart. It also suffers from erectile dysfunction.
- Album Title Drop: Fire was so named because the band noticed that the songs had an abundance of the word in them and decided to roll with it.
- Likewise, KILL was named from the song "Egyptian Cowboy", as well as being the overall 'feel' of the record.
- Angst: Examples include "Rubber Rocket" about the protagonist lamenting that he'd jerk off to internet porn rather than go back to a particular woman and "The Band in Hell" involving a failed artist lamenting his apparent one-way romance with someone... and is now forced to play at a seedy bar in Hell with a band that has Hitler in it to suck for all eternity. Yeah.
- They make it all dance-able and non-serious, so fret not.
- Anti-Love Song: Examples include "Lenny Kravitz", which is a rather curt lyrical dismissal of a one-night stand, "Infected Girls", which is extolling the singer's desire to mate with STD-infected women due to being infected himself, and "Kukuxumushu", which is about how much the singer got dumped repeatedly, was stalked by different women and pleads with his girlfriend to NOT make him write her a damn love song, they're only fuck buddies.
- Arc Words: Fire (hence the album title) and Nuclear War on the album Fire. Devil on every album. On the album Mustang, Dick had a real thing for the word Dragon, it is used in several of the songs, most notably in the scaly anthem "Jessica Dresses Like A Dragon".
- Arms Dealer: Whoever's singing "Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)".
- Art Major Biology: "Every barracuda starts out as a guppy."
- Auto Erotica: Played straight in a spoken word snippet of "I'm The Bomb." Off the same album, "Getting Into The Jam" repeatedly mentions the narrator's plan to "make it in my car" with a woman.
- Badass Boast: But you can't ignore my techno.
- The party leader in "Down at McDonnelzzz" boasting that "The leader's gonna make you party/Preventing you from departing."
- "I invented the night!" and "You must obey the Dance Commander." They're very fond of these.
- Bar Brawl: One erupts as Dick passes by a bar in the video to "There's Something Very Wrong With Us Tonight."
- Beneath the Mask: The band has stated that they play disco dance music because it's "exactly what we are not."
- This is touched on in "Gay Bar, Pt. 2", when Valentine sings about how surprised people are to learn he likes listening to Peter, Paul, and Mary.
- Blessed Are The Cheese Makers: "American Cheese."
- Burger Fool: In the lyrics of "Down at McDonnelzzz" a guy shows up to hold a parking lot party at a
McDonald's McDonnelzzz because "his people need a place to go." The video plays the trope straight thematically: a Sunglasses at Night centaur with a Vanilla Ice haircut, a DeLorean and plastic toy katana and his clown-dressed friends hurl burgers at a Burger Fool, interrupting his training video, before breaking out the 40s of malt liquor.
- "Boy or Girl" suddenly switches to the narrator welcoming someone to Big Burger. Can he take your order?
- "Pleasing Interlude I" has the man walk down to Monty's Grille to get a burger. Things go awry.
- "Telephone Conversation" deliberately averts this, which is why the song wasn't released on an album. It namechecks Koo Koo Roo, a Michigan restaurant chain. The band didn't want to change the lyrics, but didn't want the chain to sue them, so the track was eventually self-released on Sexy Trash.
- "Late Night Obama Food" is a nonsensical song about having to eat fast food out in the city.
- Calling Your Attacks: Most of Fire would have Dick announce the SOLO!
- Taken Up to Eleven in "Riding On a White Train", where he repeatedly announces the solo while it's playing.
- The Conspiracy/Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: "Formula 409" features the band, circa the lineup of Flashy, being abducted by men wearing suits and T. rex masks and brainwashed with psychotropics into literally cleaning up Detroit with spray cleaner and rags.
- For the former trope, "Germans in Mexico" qualifies, wherein American Fighter Jets snatch Mexican women for sale in Berlin (or are called upon to stop said sale) and German spies attempting to take over the world are in love with the president's daughter.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Just try reading any of Dick Valentine's lyrics, or better yet, the blog on the band's website.
- Concept Video: Most videos they've shot qualify. Notable ones include "There's Something Very Wrong With Us So Lets Go Out Tonight", with its twist ending, and "Dance Commander" which, due to having two completely unrelated concepts smashed together and cut between, also qualifies as a Surreal Music Video.
- Creepy Monotone: The distorted voice in "Lucifer Airlines" and "It's Horseshit!"
- Crowd Chant: Human Zoo opens with a crowd chanting the band's name, before it segues into "Karate Lips".
- Darker and Edgier: KILL.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Discussed and ultimately subverted in "Vibrator"— the narrator's sexual prowess is so great that his baby don't need no vibrator.
- Dead All Along: The singer reveals this to be the case at the end of "Transatlantic Flight." The vocoder chorus even hammers it home by repeating "Everybody's dead" over and over again at the end.
- Death: The narrator in the video for "There's Something Very Wrong With Us Tonight".
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Put a little mustard on that mustard!"
- Dr. Feelgood: The singer of "I Buy The Drugs."
- Ending Fatigue: Invoked in "Improper Dancing":
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "I Am a Song."
- It watches you masturbate and hits on women. A very naughty song...
- "Formula 409." You can clean your kitchen, baby. Make it look good every time. You can use a little Mr. Clean, or...
- Excited Song Title!: "Danger! High Voltage", "Rip It!", "Randy's Hot Tonight!", "Clusterfuck!", "I am a Song!", "Gridlock!", "Hello! I See You!"...
- Fan Disservice: Tina Kanarek, the woman in the "Danger! High Voltage!" video, was 70 at the time. Having the voice of Jack White doesn't help.
- The naked porn star grandmother in the video for "Body Shot".
- Functional Addict: Played with in "Feed My Fuckin' Habit", and presumably who the narrator in "I Buy the Drugs" is talking to.
- Genre Throwback: "Heartbeats and Brainwaves", a throwback to '80s synthpop.
- Girls Love: "We Were Witchy Witchy White Women" talks of two lesbian witches.
- Groin Attack: Dick is nearly bitten in the dick by a dog at the end of "Formula 409." Luckily, he punches it away.
- Historical Hilarity: The video for "Gay Bar", starring an entire White House of gay Abraham Lincolns.
- Hot-Blooded: Dick Valentine's style of singing is so over the top it probably never even knew a top existed.
- He lets up a little bit on some songs: "Steal Yo Bones", "Chocolate Pope", "Jimmy Carter" and "Watching Evil Empires Fall Apart" are examples. However his distinctive wacky accent is impossible to disguise.
- Intercourse with You: If it's not a Silly Love Song or angst.
- Zig-Zagged: Given how alternately serious and non-serious the band comes off as.
- I Am the Band: Dick Valentine is the only person left of the original Wildbunch since Fire. Eventually getting switched around, people have been hanging about since Switzerland and Señor Smoke. He also is the primary music and songwriter for the band, with only the most recent albums featuring songs penned and composed by other members.
- It Came from Beverly Hills: In "I'm The Bomb" the subject of the singer's affections is cited as "a superstar living in the three-one-oh," which is the area code that dominates most of the upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods. The singer being thought of as "just another sucker perpetrator living in the two-one-three" is yet another Shout-Out to Detroit.
- "I Buy The Drugs" says the drug dealer operates out of the PO Box of FOX Broadcasting's LA headquarters.
- Large Ham: Every. Single. Song.
- Special mention should be given to the word 'Devil'. Every time Dick says it he does it in a way that makes him sound like an over the top cartoon villain - "Deh Ville". As he loves saying the word, this happens a lot (especially in the Wildbunch period).
- Last Note Nightmare: "It Ain't Punk Rock" goes from a regular E6 song and into some sort of nightmarish industrial-ambient thing for a good one minute."
- Letting the Air out of the Band: "(Who The Hell Just) Call My Phone" ends like this after suddenly bringing an accordion into the instrumentation.
- Lounge Lizard: Dick Valentine's stage and lyrical persona — the full-blown Casanova Wannabe version, but it was especially prevalent in Fire.
- "Taxi To Nowhere" is a fast-paced lounge piano song (complete with sounding like it was an amateur recording of a lounge singer in a hotel somewhere) about being stuck in a moving taxi without any money.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Jimmy Carter" reuses a chorus line from "Backstreet's Back", except that it's sung in a very serious and somber tone, used in a very serious and melancholy way, and juxtaposed with depressing quotations from William Butler Yeats.
There's a lion out in the desert
Slouching towards Bethlehem to be born again
Backstreet's back, alright
- "Iron Dragon", off of Mustang, is a sombre break-up song... that also talks about wizards, dragons, knights, and fighting armies.
- The Man Behind the Man: In this case, the Woman behind The Guy Who Rules the World in "Watching Evil Empires Fall Apart".
- There's also the smoking cat in "Formula 409"'s music video, apparently commanding the T. rex suitmen.
- The narrator in "There's Something Very Wrong With Us, So Let's Go Out Tonight" sees everything the policeman sees...
- The narrator of "American Cheese" is apparently rather rich. And powerful. Subverted when the outro reveals he's quite powerless.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: They technically hover within the 3-5 range, but through sheer moxie manage to rock harder than many bands higher on the scale.
- New Sound Album: Heartbeats And Brainwaves is essentially an Electric Six take on Synth Pop.
- No Mouth: The bride in the Psychic Visions video.
- Ode to Intoxication: "I'm On Acid," from the Wildbunch days and "I Buy The Drugs," from the viewpoint of the enabler to the intoxicated.
- Out-of-Genre Experience: "(Who The Hell Just) Call My Phone" is, for the most part, similar to a song you'd expect from the "disco" side of Electric Six. But near the end, the same riff plays out, but with the bass and drums replaced with an accordion, before Letting the Air out of the Band.
- Performance Video: "I Buy The Drugs" has them performing at Detroit's only existing frat house, in a sort of Animal House style.
- "Rubber Rocket" is the band doing a Detroit bar crawl.
- Piss-Take Rap: One pops up in "It Gets Hot", for some reason.
- Porn Stache: The video of "Body Shot" and their cover of "Radio Gaga", featuring Freddie Mercury cosplay.
- Product Placement: Parodied in "Down at McDonnelzzz", especially in the music video. The burgers held by the lusty women are even black-bar censored out as they sexily eat them.
- "Formula 409". Even better than Mr. Clean!
- The Flashy Man: The Xbox to your Atari. Several years before Cee Lo Green made the same analogy.
- Subverted with "Infected Girls." At the end one can hear a girl reciting part of "Pleasing Interlude I" from Señor Smoke in Croatian. The only words understandable to an English speaker, however, are what sounds like "chocolate and a Coca-Cola" which makes it sound like she's just listing products.
- The line about Druid Fluid from "Clusterfuck", which is an actual beer. May be unintentional.
- Refuge In Absurdity: Read their lyrics sometime.
- The press releases they write up for new albums are completely ridiculous. The one for their latest album Zodiac has them deliberately name dropping Glenn Beck, Lady Gaga, and Robert Pattinson to increase its chances of getting Google hits. The press release for Flashy featured a several-paragraph-long Shaggy Dog Story about communism.
- Rape as Drama: "Cheryl vs. Darryl" has the eponymous ex-couple's breakup begin with a casting call for a rape scene. When all's said and done, their romance is completely destroyed by it, even if it was simulated.
- Relax-o-Vision: The "SIT-BACK-RELAX" in "Lucifer Airlines" attempts to be this. Whether it's successful in the context of the song is up for debate, considering where the airline goes.
- Running Gag: In "Showtime", the repeated references to "putting a little mustard on it".
- Serious Business: Inverted. The band has a very light-hearted and casual attitude towards their music. As a result the group has often been written off as a novelty joke band by critics at home and abroad. Valentine's response: "Some people take music very seriously, and then they see us, and they want to take it seriously but they're too afraid the joke is going to be on them."
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: Subverted. The members establish an image of being party-crazed rock star barflies but then, when interviewed, admit they're doing it simply because it's a fun change of pace from their normal lives.
- Sexophone: Used in a number of tracks. "Dirty Looks" is a good example, as is "Formula 409."
- Silly Love Songs: If they're not vaguely angsty songs or songs about sex metaphors, they're this. Pumped to eleven.
- Shout-Out: Enough to probably deserve their own page.
- "Gay Bar, Part Two" references a lot of Fire, Senor Smoke, and Switzerland, and in turn is a jab at people's claims that they only ever wrote a handful of songs worth listening to and people who never bothered to check anything past Fire.
- From their Wildbunch days, "I Am Detroit, you are Mars. You've got red sand, I've got cars."
- "American Cheese" reuses "Vengeance and Fashion"'s end beat. Either a Shout-Out or the musical equivalent of Lazy Artist.
- As with Affectionate Parody above, Down at McDonnelzzz is a Shout-Out to '90s-era MTV videos.
- Top Gun is part of the brainwashing program in the "Formula 409" video.
- The song "Boy or Girl" has "Hi, welcome to BIG Burger. Can I take your order?"
- "Doom and Gloom and Doom and Gloom" musically references, of all songs, "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Baker Street".
- "Pulling the Plug on the Party" includes the lyric "We dropped turkeys out of planes just to fill up the sky\And they know damn well they can't fly."
- Flashy Man, who Dick says is "the Xbox to your Atari".
- "Absolute Pleasure".
- As already noted, "Escape from Ohio" is a Take That to the whole state, but does also give positive mention to a couple of prominent bands that hail from there (Devo and Guided By Voices).
- The man the narrator talks about in "The New Shampoo" is obviously The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.
- Spoken Word in Music: Some appropriate voice clips are used to set up "Flashy Man". There's nothin' wrong with likin' a flashy man.
- Spooky Painting: Several in the "Danger! High Voltage!" video.
- Spot The ImposTOR: "Pleasing Interlude I".
- I... woke up on the Main Page again... and I needed something to write about. So I went down to the fora. "What'll it be?" Said Fast Eddie, sporting a wry grin. "Just give me the usual, Eddie," I said. Fast Eddie scratched his head. "What was that again?" The usual was a heaping of TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life, with Sugar Wiki fritters And a Diet Coke. Fast Eddie knew that! I had been editing here every day for the past four years! Then I began to realize... The troper standing behind the server was the IMPOST-OR.
- Stage Names:
Interviewer: So, with the band, it seems like pseudonyms are important for you guys—
Dick: I wouldn’t say they’re important.
Interviewer: So then why use them?
Dick: Well, it’s a kind of escapism, I suppose. It's another security blanket. We're all terribly weak people, so we need something.
- STD Immunity: Averted with "Infected Girls", about having sex with, er, STD-infected girls.
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: Generally once or twice per album;
- "Synthesizer" from Fire is remarkably softer than the rest of the album, and yet still manages to both rock and hold a dance beat. "I Invented The Night" does both, it is a ballad for the verses and goes into rock for the bridge and chorus.
- "Jimmy Carter" off of Señor Smoke is an oddly beautiful acoustic ballad stuck right in the middle of an otherwise dance-heavy album and features some of the most bizarre Word Salad Lyrics they've ever written. "Pleasing Interlude I" and "II" and parodies of this.
- "Taxi To Nowhere" is piano jazz on Senor Smoke, although the original Wildbunch version of the song has a rock guitar arrangement.
- "There's Something Very Wrong With Us, So Let's Go Out Tonight", although "Surprisingly Sinister Song" would be more accurate, on Switzerland, as well as "Germans in Mexico". "Chocolate Pope" is much more gentle and light-hearted for the album, as well.
- "Watchin' Evil Empires Fall Apart" from Flashy, which, while still a rock song, is more ballad-ish and contemplative than the others.
- "Immolate Me", "One More Time", "People Like You (Don't Like People Like Me)", "The World's Smallest Human Being" and "Cold Future" from Sexy Trash.
- Many of their Wildbunch songs ("Jimmy Carter" is a remake of one such song from those years).
- "Steal Your Bones" from KILL.
- "Doom and Gloom and Doom and Gloom" and "Table and Chairs"/"Talking Turkey" from Zodiac.
- "I Go Through Phases" and "The Intergalactic Version" from Heartbeats and Brainwaves, though the entire album is gentle, compared to some of their others.
- "Iron Dragon" and "Cheryl versus Darryl" from Mustang.
- Surreal Music Video: Videos not mentioned elsewhere on this page that qualify include "Mr. Woman" which features a giant couch stalking Dick Valentine, "Infected Girls" with Dick dressed as a cowboy in hell, dancing men in hazmat suits and fellatio on the steps of a Buddhist temple, and "Synthesizer" in which Guy Perry waltzes through a number of completely unrelated scenes naked and sporting a keytar sent from the gods.
- Take That: There's a few.
- "Rock And Roll Evacuation" from Señor Smoke was recorded in the middle of president George W. Bush's second term, hence the line "Mr. President, make a little money sending people you don't know to Iraq. \ Mr. President, I don't like you, you don't know how to rock."
- Averted in the "Radio GaGa" music video, though Dick knew exactly he was doing when he was dressed as Freddie Mercury dancing on his own grave.
- A lighthearted one at the Electric Six Wiki founder:
"Somebody in Newcastle has taken the time to research the catalog of Electric Six and provide a compendium of lyrics to our songs. While we are grateful and honoured, we are also very worried about this person."
- " Except for GBV and Devo / Nothing seems to redeem Ohio / It is the state that killed my love.
- One of the songs on Absolute Pleasure is introduced with the phrase, "This goes out to some of the ladies". The song? "Infected Girls"
- "Adam Levine", which is not only an insult at Adam Levine, it's also one at pop idols in general. The chorus literally tells him to rot/burn in Hell.
- Lenny Kravitz: "And I never understood why anybody likes Lenny Kravitz."
- The Eighties: "Jam it in the Hole". STOP! THEY ARE GOOD TIMES!
- Heartbeats and Brainwaves is a deliberate throwback to '80s synthpop.
- This Is a Song: "I am a song! And though my words don't often rhyme! I am a song! With a refreshing twist of lime!"
- "Love Song For Myself", from the same album.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe: The artist in "Bleed for the Artist" seems to specialise in this.
- Un Entendre: Not uncommon for the band. A prime example would be this line from I'm The Bomb - "Hey, girl... when I'm fuckin' you... it's like nothin' else matters. Maybe we'll reach down, between my legs... AND EASE THE SEAT BACK!"
- That also doubles as a Van Halen Shout-Out.
- "Formula 409" is either about a government conspiracy and/or what disinfectant you should use to clean your kitchen, or more sex. Possibly both.
- Tyop on the Cover: The Mustang cover art includes a woman wearing a jean jacket with the band name and album title spray-painted on it, but the latter is rendered as "Eletric Six" (the band name is also printed elsewhere on the cover, spelled correctly this time). Dick Valentine has said this was a genuine mistake that happened when they commissioned the artwork, but they decided to Throw It In.
- Visual Pun - In the "Formula 409" video, Dick Valentine's disembodied head. Dick head?
- Word Salad Lyrics: While the lyrics themselves aren't especially tangled up, the band has admitted that no less than 90% of their songs are about absolutely nothing. The topics of their songs also ping-pong back and forth between the initial subject matter and any number of nonsensical witticisms: exactly how the fire in the Taco Bell is relevant to the fire in the disco need not be over-thought.
- Of special note is "She's White"'s opening line "I was born a prisoner in your dungeon of flesh", which is this trope embodied.
- "Kukuxumushu" (which means 'flea's kiss' in Basque) appears on the surface to be an Anti-Love Song about a girl with the titular name, but Valentine admitted he just saw the word in a clothing store in Spain and wanted to use it in a song.
- Whip It Good: The cover of Human Zoo has a man using a leather belt in this fashion. On some rug pelts.