Placebo are an Alternative Rock
band formed in London in 1994, currently made up of Scottish-American Brian Molko on guitar/vocals and Swedish Stefan Olsdal on bass. 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 attended the same high school but didn't meet formally until 1994, when they met in a tube station in London. Noticing Stefan had a guitar strapped to his back, Brian invited him to come see his own local gig. Stefan loved his performance so much that they wound up collaborating on the band Ashtray Heart, which quickly became Placebo. Originally, they 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 only top 20 single in America, "Pure Morning."
Their style began as a glam-influenced alternative rock style full of raw guitar riffs, but, starting with 2000s Black Market Music,
they began to experiment more with synthesizers and new instruments. Much of their notoriety also stems from the androgynous appearance of Molko, alternative rock's reigning king of Viewer Gender Confusion
. While the band never really hit the big time in the Western world, they've developed a huge cult following.
After the tour for Meds
proved to be dysfunctional for the band, Molko and Olsdal fired Steve Hewitt and replaced him with Steve Forrest. Forrest played with Brian and Stefan during the Battle For The Sun
and Loud Like Love
tours. With the recent departure of Forrest, Colour Of Fire
alumni Matt Lunn has taken over drum duties for 2015.
- Placebo (1996)
- Without You I'm Nothing (1998)
- Black Market Music (2000)
- Sleeping With Ghosts (2003)
- Meds (2006)
- Battle For The Sun (2009)
- B3 EP (2012)
- Loud Like Love (2013)
- Live at La Cigale (2006)
- iTunes Live: London Festival '09 (2009)
- Live At Angkor Wat (2011) (iTunes only release)
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: "Song To Say Goodbye" averts this trope. Brian wrote the song as a letter to himself, trying to get away from the destructive lifestyle he was leading at the time.
- For a straight example, "The Bitter End" is a really angry example.
- Concept Album: Sleeping with Ghosts is about relationships of many kinds.
- Meds gets a little darker with its theme of alcoholism and drug addiction.
- 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".
- Darker and Edgier: Meds.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: What most early interviews and media snippets seem to have focused on. Often leads to Viewer Gender Confusion on music videos and forums as well.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: You'd better believe Brian fits this.
- 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 ("HK Farewell" from the debut) to a heavily overdubbed & distorted rocker ("Evil Dildo" from Without You I'm Nothing).
- Limited Lyrics Song: "Bionic" from the self-titled debut, "English Summer Rain" from Sleeping With Ghosts.
- Love Hurts: Averages a few of these songs an album. Placebo aren't exactly the most uplifting band in the world.
- 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 naïve 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.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "WE! ARE! LOUD! LIKE! LOVE!"
- The entire chorus of "Pure Morning," essentially.
- Rearrange the Song: Here's a fun one for Placebo completists. The band have a particular love of this trope, usually in the form of slowing down a song for maximum moodiness. Slower versions of "Every You Every Me," "36 Degrees," "Teenage Angst," "I'll Be Yours," "Plasticine" and "Breathe Underwater" are out there, usually as B Sides, and Live At Angkor Wat is a live album almost wholly devoted to this trope, slowing down songs like "Because I Want You," "Meds" and more.
- On the other side of the coin, "Sleeping With Ghosts" was originally a power ballad, but it was revised as a more upbeat rock number and retitled "Soulmates."
- "English Summer Rain" and "Every You Every Me" were slightly remixed for their respective single releases.
- 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.
- Textless Album Cover: Sleeping With Ghosts.
- Tick Tock Tune: Done on "Without You I'm Nothing".
- Title Only Chorus: "Come Home," "You Don't Care About Us."
- Unplugged Version: As mentioned in Rearrange the Song, they've done quite a few stripped down renditions of their songs, so as a result there's unplugged versions of "Teenage Angst" and "Every You Every Me."