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Before they signed with Warner Bros. Records and had a hit with "Whip It" in the U.S., several of their independent singles charted in the U.K. and they were a highly anticipated band in Europe and Australia. In fact, the easiest Devo singles to find in the UK are by far those from the period of their first and second albums, whereas it is the opposite way round in the US. At the time, the UK got the exclusive b-sides Penetration In The Centerfold, Social Fools (rerecording) and Soo Bawls.
There was a big following in Japan too, the most notable result of which was the inspiration of Polysics.
Harsher in Hindsight: Their very name and idea becomes harsher in hindsight a lot. The name stands for "de-evolution" and the idea that we've evolved to out max and now we're going to de-evolve into monkeys. While we might not de-evolve, scientists have said we're pretty much not going to get any smarter than we are now. See, this video for an explanation given by an expert.
Hilarious in Hindsight: In an amusing instance of Technology Marches On, the video compilation The Complete Truth About De-evolution was originally released on LaserDisc and featured interstitials from a 1984 film they'd made with Pioneer advertising their LaserDisc technology. When Rhino ported The Complete Truth to DVD, they made the curious decision to keep the LaserDisc ads in place. Especially ironic is Jerry's line, "The technology that simply won't wear out!". Strangely enough, the DVD was in some places worse off than the LaserDisc - the galleries, for instance, require you to pause your DVD player and go frame-by-frame, or else you will see a barrage of images zip by in a matter of seconds. It wasn't until 2014 when MVD re-released The Complete Truth that some of these quirks were corrected and the LaserDisc ads were put aside as a bonus feature.
Misattributed Song: A lot of "quirky" New Wave songs are attributed to the band. The most notable one is definitely "Dare To Be Stupid" by "Weird Al" Yankovic which is a spot-on parody of their work, even down to the video. Mark Mothersbaugh thought it was so good that he was jealous of Yankovic for coming up with it.
Nightmare Fuel: The two Hardcore Devo compilations are demos from 1974 to 1977, and they are some seriously creepy sounding stuff ("U Got Me Bugged" in particular is little more than a loop of high-frequency noise).
The robotic voice on "Mechanical Man" is just a little bit terrifying. Then you add the discordant music.
Me feel swell. Me work well. Me want what you got.
The "Beautiful World" video. Plenty of music videos include mushroom clouds for shock effect, but something about the imagery of a crying, starving child and a '50s cartoon clip about a man suffering from radiation poisoning (from a Public Service Announcement about fallout) is singularly unnerving.
Older Than They Think: Many of the band's songs were written and demoed before they were signed to a record label.
Also, the intro video they used on their 1981 New Traditionalists tour features someone wearing a jacket saying "Don't Shoot, I'm A Man" on it, which much later became the title of a song on their album Something For Everybody.
Seasonal Rot: The band's transition into quirky synth-pop that worked so well on Freedom Of Choice wound up becoming increasingly generic and straightforward within a few years, culminating with 1984's Shout that was a critical and commercial failure. The failed comeback album, Total Devo only made things worse, and the band, needless to say, don't play anything from those albums anymore (nor anything from the mostly ignored Smooth Noodle Maps).
The only reason Devo agreed to the Dev2.0 concept in the first place was because of how ridiculous it was.
Jerry Casale: You went beyond getting mad to just like going, 'This is proof of devolution. This is it.' We thought it was really funny."
The band has fallen back on the "proof of de-evolution" line of reasoning more than once, particularly in reference to the Seasonal Rot mentioned above. They ultimately mused that even Devo is not immune to the effects of de-evolution - decay was inevitable, according to their genetic imperative - and life marched on.
We're Still Relevant, Dammit: Something For Everybody utilized Auto-Tune on a few tracks. Done for mocking reasons (this is Devo). Jerry joked about it in a couple interviews, claiming he wished he'd thought of it himself.
Win Back the Crowd: Their Dork Age in the late 80s and early 90s dwindled their fanbase down to only the most hardcore, but then they reemerged in the mid-90s as a nostalgia act (mostly playing their hits from 1978-1980) to great fan response, leading to Devo becoming a reliable touring band and their influence growing ever since.