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Music / Freedom of Choice

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"Crack that whip! / Give the past a slip..."

Freedom of Choice is the third album by Devo, released in 1980 through Warner (Bros.) Records in North America and Virgin Records internationally. Together with their debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978) it is seen as their best album, most notable for their Signature Song "Whip It".


Side One

  1. "Girl U Want" (2:55)
  2. "It's Not Right" (2:20)
  3. "Whip It" (2:37)
  4. "Snowball" (2:28)
  5. "Ton O' Luv' (2:29)

Side Two

  1. "Freedom of Choice" (3:28)
  2. "Gates Of Steel" (3:26)
  3. "Cold War" (2:30)
  4. "Don't You Know" (2:14)
  5. "That's Pep!" (2:17)
  6. "Mr. B's Ballroom" (2:45)
  7. "Planet Earth" (2:45)

Freedom of Tropes:

  • Concept Album: Most of the songs are about deteriorating relationships.
  • The Evils of Free Will: "Freedom Of Choice"
    Freedom of choice is what you got, Freedom from Choice is what you want.
  • Face on the Cover: The band members are all featured on the album cover in their trademark outfits.
  • Freedom from Choice: The Title Track, "Freedom Of Choice" is about this, with examples like a dog not being able to decide between two bones and starving to death. The refrain changes to the trope name at the end.
  • Love Hurts: "It's Not Right" about a cheating partner, "Cold War", where the protagonist tells his partner he doesn't owe her anything.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Another common theme, employed especially in "Ton o' Luv."
  • New Sound Album: While Devo's previous two albums made conspicuous use of synthesizers, particularly on Duty Now for the Future, Freedom of Choice marked the point where the band fully embraced Synth-Pop.
  • New Wave Music: One of the defining albums of the genre in The '80s.
  • One-Word Title: "Snowball."
  • Pep-Talk Song: On this album they were pretty generous with the pep talk songs, whether sarcastic or not: "Whip It," "Freedom of Choice," "Gates of Steel," and "That's Pep!"
    Twist away the gates of steel!
  • Poe's Law: One of their T.V. appearances was cancelled when the host deemed the "Whip It" video to be offensive to women. Jerry explains in a 1981 interview that "Whip It" is in fact "the opposite of sexist." And while pointing at Mark's dorky suit, he remarks: "I mean, does this guy look like a sexist?"
  • Record Producer: Robert Margouleff.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Whip It" was intended to encourage Jimmy Carter to "whip" his opponents in the presidential race.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: BDSM is glorified in the music video for "Whip It."
  • Shout-Out:
    • Their trademark "energy domes" are a shout-out to Wilhelm Reich, who developed a theory about this.
    • The lyrics of "That's Pep!" were swiped from a poem written by Grace Bostwick around 1919 for American Magazine (re-published in the May 1924 edition of Ohio State Engineer), and then transformed by the band's arrangement into massive Sarcasm Mode.
    • Casale wrote the lyrics of "Whip It", which were intended to satirize American optimism, by taking inspiration from Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, a 1973 novel that contains satirical limericks about capitalist can-do clichés. Casale incorporated lyrics that would sound like motivational clichés if taken out of context. The riff is a deconstructed version of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman".
    • The lyrics of "Snowball" reference Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" and the myth of Sisyphus.
  • Signature Headgear: The Energy Domes were introduced by this album. They claim the domes are "orgone collectors" that gather energy released out of the top of one's head and redirect it back into the body. Mark once said that they don't wear them all the time, but some people do and will probably live 150 years because of it.
  • Title Track: "Freedom of Choice:"
    A victim of collision on the open sea
    Nobody ever said that life was free
    Sank, swam, go down with the ship
    But use your freedom of choice
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Girl U Want" and "Ton o' Luv."