Placebo are an Alternative Rock
band formed in London in 1994, currently made up of Brian Molko on guitar/vocals, Stefan Olsdal on bass and Steve Forrest (replacing the recently departed Steven Hewitt) on drums. Molko remarked on one occasion that the name of the band was, as opposed to its English meaning, a Latin word for "I will please."
Brian and Stefan originally had Robert Schultzberg (an old school friend of Stefan's) behind the kit, but after recording the self-titled debut with him, the disagreements soon became so intense that (after some false starts) they soon cut ties with him and settled on Steven Hewitt. With him, they recorded perhaps their most famous album, Without You I'm Nothing
. The album contained their breakthrough single in America, "Pure Morning."
Their style began as a glam-influenced alternative rock style full of raw guitar riffs, but as time went on, they began to experiment more with synthesizers and new instruments. To this day, however, they still gain much of their notoriety from the androgynous appearance of Molko. Steve Forrest replaced Hewitt after the tour for Meds
Placebo have recorded six full length albums:
- Placebo (1996)
- Without You I'm Nothing (1998)
- Black Market Music (2000)
- Sleeping With Ghosts (2003)
- Meds (2006)
- Battle For The Sun (2009)
...and one compilation of their greatest hits:
- Once More With Feeling (2004)
Tropes used by this band include:
- Anti Christmas Song: "Allergic (To Thoughts Of Mother Earth)" is this, according to Word of God.
- Bishōnen: Brian Molko
- Bi the Way: Brian. And the bassist is gay, while every drummer so far is straight.
- Breakup Song: Meds has a particularly cold one in "Song To Say Goodbye."
- Actually, "Song To Say Goodbye" is not a Breakup Song, even though it sounds at first. Brian wrote the song as a letter to himself, trying to get away from the destructive lifestyle he was leading at the time.
- "The Bitter End" counts as a really angry example.
- Concept Album: Sleeping with Ghosts is about relationships of many kinds.
- Cover Version: Have covered two signature eighties songs, Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" and Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good".
- They've released a whole album of covers, actually, including the aforementioned "Running Up That Hill".
- Creator Breakdown: The entirety of the album Meds is a sickening, depressing, and honestly brutal description of drug and alcohol addiction. There's a few good words to take home for the anguished addict in their first sober album, Battle for the Sun.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: What most early interviews and media snippets seem to have focused on.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: You'd better believe Brian fits this.
- Ending Fatigue: The end of "Ask For Answers" is over a minute and a half of a repeated guitar riff, one that was nowhere to be found in the rest of the song. One has to wonder why that riff is there, because it's not like the song would be very short without it.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Placebo is surprisingly popular in Greece.
- Gratuitous French: Brian has re-recorded vocals for a few songs entirely in French, such as "Protect Me From What I Want" - or rather, "Protège Moi."
- Greatest Hits Album: Once More With Feeling.
- Hidden Track: For the first few albums the band made a habit of these, ranging from a pleasant, almost easy listening ballad (the debut) to a heavily overdubbed & distorted rocker (Without You I'm Nothing).
- Love Is A Drug: "Special K". It can be interpreted as a song about the drug, or about falling head over heels for someone.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "Commercial for Levi" has a rather upbeat melody and naive percussion in the background while the singer is pleading for the life of a self-destructive friend. (Yet again confirmed by Word of God that it was basically singing to a mirror.)
- Meaningful Name: Subverted. You could read all kinds of stuff into "I will please", but Brian stated that they were primarily looking for a name that would be good to shout for fans at concerts.
- Obsession Song: "Centrefolds" certainly fits.
- Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Moreso in earlier songs.
- Refrain from Assuming: "Every You, Every Me". Most people think the song is called "Every Me and Every You", because that's how the chorus seems to go. If you read the back of the CD case, it is quite clearly called "Every You, Every Me" and if you listen to the chorus more carefully, you'll hear the end of the chorus goes "every me and every you, every me."
- And a lot people think it's called "Sucker Love" after the first two words of each verse.
- Sampling: "Slave To The Wage" samples an old Pavement song, "Texas Never Whispers."
- Self-Titled Album: The debut.
- The Other Darrin: Or in this case The Other Steve. Steve Hewitt who was the band's drummer for years was suddenly replaced by Steve Forrest.
- Tick Tock Tune: Done on "Without You I'm Nothing".
- Unplugged Version: They've done quite a few stripped down renditions of their songs, such as "Teenage Angst" and "Every You Every Me."