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Music / Only a Lad

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Only a lad, you really can't blame him. Only a lad, society made him. Only a lad, he's our responsibility. Oh, oh, oohh oh oh oh!

Only A Lad is the debut album of New-Wave/Ska-Punk band, Oingo Boingo. Released in 1981, the album features a bunch of topics such as living in a Dystopian world (Perfect System), being pro-capitalist (Capitalism) and other topics. It also features a cover of The Kinks "You Really Got Me".


Side One
  1. "Little Girls" (3:44)
  2. "Perfect System" (3:46)
  3. "On the Outside" (3:39)
  4. "Capitalism" (3:40)
  5. "You Really Got Me"note  (4:40)

Side Two

  1. "Only a Lad" (3:56)
  2. "What You See" (3:43)
  3. "Controller" (3:24)
  4. "Imposter" (2:59)
  5. "Nasty Habits" (4:06)

We're all tropes now, you know...

  • Adults Are Useless: "Only a Lad" is about a psychopath called Johnny whose increasingly violent acts are excused by the grownups around him because of his young age. In the song's final verse, the song's narrator grows fed up with their inability to do anything and finally tells Johnny to go burn in hell.
  • Being Watched: "Controller", where the narrator is getting paranoid because of this.
  • Black Comedy: Most of the album falls under this, but "Little Girls", which is sung from the point-of-view of a pedophile, stands out.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: Surprisingly averted for the song "Capitalism", where it's about how capitalism is not bad and how there is nothing wrong with it.
    • Of course, knowing the rest of this album being filled to the brim with piercing satire, it could easily just be making fun of capitalists.
  • Concept Video: "Little Girls". Where Danny hangs out with little people and little girls.
  • Covert Pervert: In "Nasty Habits":
    People act so proper when they're going 'bout their business
    Cup of coffee, friendly conversation
    'Til they get home
    'Til they get home
    Turn the phone off, lock the door and shut the curtains
    Make sure that the neighbors are without suspicion
    No one will know
    No one will know
  • Cover Version: The Kinks "You Really Got Me".
  • Fish out of Water: "On The Outside".
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: In "Perfect System":
    I'm in love with you I know
    And I know that you love me too
    • and later...
    There's no reason to wear a frown
  • Karma Houdini: Johnny in "Only a Lad" gets away with arson, theft, assault, and vehicular manslaughter because the judge believes it's society's fault he's such a psychopath. However, the narrator predicts - or at least hopes - that Johnny will go to Hell when he dies.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The title track, where it tells a story of a boy named "Johnny" who shoots a lady in the leg, commits arson and murder.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Basically the whole album. (Except for "You Really Got Me")
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Nasty Habits" has this line:
    Do you peek at magazines
    Filled with doggies and leather queens?
  • One-Word Title: "Capitalism", "Controller" and "Imposter".
  • Precision F-Strike: "What the hell do you know about suffering and pain, you dumb fuck?" in "Capitalism" is the only instance of cursing on the whole album, and the instrumentation even briefly stops to emphasise it.
  • Pyromaniac: Johnny had other interests... HE LIKED TO BURN THINGS!
  • Soapbox Sadie: "Capitalism" is about the narrator getting extremely irritated at one.
    You talk, talk, talk about suffering and pain
    Your mouth is bigger than your entire brain
  • Shout-Out: The cover of the album is a reference to The Boy Scouts Of America Handbook 1960 official handbook, illustrated by Norman Rockwell.
  • Society Is to Blame: "Only A Lad" is about a violent sociopathic young boy who keeps getting away with literal murder based off of this excuse.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Danny Elfman does this alot.
  • Take That, Critics!: "Imposter" is basically this, where it depicts critics as stuck-up and failed artists because they had no talent to begin with.
  • Title Track: "Only A Lad".
  • Villain Protagonist: "Little Girls", which is sung from the point of view of a pedophile. "Only A Lad" is also about a unrepentant, violent sociopath named Johnny, though the song isn't technically sung from his point of view.
  • White Guilt: "Capitalism" is, in part, about this.