Songs for the Deaf is the third studio album by Queens of the Stone Age. Released in 2002, it exhibits an impressive Genre Roulette, since the band successfully straddled their original stoner rock sound with more aggressive Hard Rock influences.
This is largely thanks to the fact that Dave Grohl contributed the drum work and even toured with the band, inspiring frontman Josh Homme to use a heavier sound during the production process. The result is a weird mix of psychedelic, garage, and doom rock, which garnered widespread positive reviews.
The album is also noted for its fake radio show excerpts between songs, which makes fun of pretentious radio station hosts and the shallowness of mainstream music. The record itself is a loose Concept Album, since the excerpts collectively take the listener on a drive from Los Angeles to the desert (specifically Joshua Tree).
Josh Homme claims that this was added to keep fluidity between the tracks, but his inclusion of stupid radio deejays throughout the album seems to speak to his disdain toward going mainstream and selling out early in his career. In any case, this has become Hilarious in Hindsight since the singles "No One Knows", "Go with the Flow", and "First It Giveth" did become hits.
The record has gone platinum and helped the Queens gain mainstream recognition.
- "The Real Song for the Deaf"note (1:33)
- "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire" (3:12)
- "No One Knows" (4:38)
- "First It Giveth" (3:18)
- "A Song for the Dead" (5:52)
- "The Sky Is Fallin'" (6:15)
- "Six Shooter" (1:19)
- "Hangin' Tree" (3:06)
- "Go with the Flow" (3:09)
- "Gonna Leave You" (2:50)
- "Do It Again" (4:04)
- "God Is in the Radio" (6:04)
- "Another Love Song" (3:16)
- "A Song for the Deaf" note (6:42)
- "Mosquito Song"note (5:37)
- Josh Homme vocals, guitar
- Nick Oliveri bass, vocals
- Mark Lanegan vocals
- Dave Grohl drums, percussion, backing vocals
Tropes for the Deaf:
- Abstract Apotheosis: Inverted in "God Is In The Radio". In the song, heavenly or pure music, when transferred to the radio, is said to become mere conventional music palatable to the masses.
- Album Title Drop: The dumbass deejays do it twice, even though neither of them fully grasp the meaning behind it. The first one just calls it a "saga" and laughs about the irony, while the second one believes that it is so deep that she is smarter and more intellectual than anyone else who listens to the album.
- Bilingual Bonus: The end of "No One Knows" features a Latino deejay introducing the next song in Spanish.
- Break Up Song: "Gonna Leave You". "Another Love Song" could be interpreted as a post-breakup song.
- Call-Back: The end of "Song for the Deaf" samples an outtake for the song "Feel Good Hit of the Summer", which was the opening track of their previous album, Rated R.
- Careful with That Axe: Nick Oliveri's screeching in "Six Shooter".
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Six Shooter", which features Nick Oliveri's angry screaming:Fuck this road
Well, fuck you too
I'll fucking kill your best friend
What you fucking going to do?
- Concept Album: Mainly a thinly-veiled critique on how stupid, shallow, and pretentious mainstream radio hosts are. It also subtly mentions the band's desert rock roots, since the car in the album appears to travel from Los Angeles into the desert.
- Continuity Nod: "Mosquito Song" mentions the lyric "Lullabies to paralyze", which is the name of the next Queens of the Stone Age album. It is unlikely that this was intended from the beginning; rather, Josh probably decided to just keep the name since he liked that lyric so much.
- Drugs Are Bad: "First It Giveth":I'm in you, you're in me, I can't tell
You're so cruel, more than me, it is true, that's right
Loyal to only you, up your sleeve
- Dumbass DJ: On numerous tracks, such as the Spanish-speaking one at the end of "No One Knows", the one in the beginning of "Millionaire", the evangelical one at the beginning of "God Is in the Radio", and the creepy woman at the end of "Another Love Song"/the beginning of "Song for the Deaf". These seem to parody the fact that rock is treated as a higher art form these days.
- Epic Rocking: "A Song for the Dead", "Sky is Falling", and "God Is in the Radio" are all about six minutes in length. "Song for the Deaf" is about four minutes long before the silence, the laughing, and the Hidden Track.
- Fading into the Next Song: The album is strung together by radio deejays.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Millionaire" stops with around 35 seconds left in the actual song. After a few seconds of silence, it starts again.
- Fake Radio Show Album: The basic premise (and appeal) for the album. The title itself, Songs for the Deaf, even mocks mainstream radio for playing music that is palatable to an audience who doesn't know what real music is (and is, therefore, "deaf").
- Functional Addict: While "First It Giveth" and "No One Knows" don't glorify drugs, they certainly don't treat them very negatively, either.
- Grande Dame: The woman who announces "Song for the Deaf" is incredibly snobbish and pretentious, and patronizes the listener as though she is introducing a higher art form.
- Gratuitous Spanish: The Spanish-speaking DJ at the end of "No One Knows" who introduces "First It Giveth".
- Human Head on the Wall: At the end of the Music Video of "No One Knows", a vengeful deer has mounted the band members' heads above his bed after they hit him with their car.
- Intercourse with You: "Do It Again" is this from the perspective of a Stalker with a Crush.
- In the Style of...: "Six Shooter" and "Millionaire" are done in the style of heavy metal to mock harder genres for their stupid lyrics.
- Long Title: "You Think I Ain't Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire", which is usually truncated as "Millionaire" in conversation.
- Loudness War: Done intentionally. The album has a rather bass-heavy mix and loud, low-fi gain, which does make it sound as though it is being played on a car stereo.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: A trident on the red cover. The US vinyl version featured a red Q with a sperm cell, though for obvious reasons, this was not widely released.
- New Sound Album: Songs for the Deaf was Queens of the Stone Age's first commercially successful album thanks to the Genre Roulette and the singles. Josh Homme even laughed at the idea that he would have to write a "single" in order to get the band more visibility, but did so nevertheless.
- Not Christian Rock: The references to god or a higher being in the songs speak more toward Josh Homme's spirituality, not his religiousness.
- The Plague: "Mosquito Song", the hidden track, seems to refer to this:Somehow they pick and pluck
Tenderize bone to dust
The sweetest grease, finest meat you'll ever taste
So you scream, whine, and yell
Supple sounds of dinner bells
We all will feed the worms and trees
- Precision F-Strike: "Song for the Dead" has one toward the end:In a hearse rolling over
Just a track in the line
- Quieter Than Silence: Somewhat overlaps with Bookends; the intro is ambient and eerie, and the end of "Song for the Deaf" fades out to a somber but peaceful sense of quietude.
- The Something Song: "Song for the Deaf", "Mosquito Song", and "A Song for the Dead". "The Real Song for the Deaf" could count, if it is truly a track.
- Soprano and Gravel: Josh and Mark, respectively, on "Song for the Deaf". This is especially surprising since Josh has a noted deep voice for the genre, and yet Mark's aggressive sound made the lead singer sound melodious.
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Used for artistic effect; as another layer of detail to the album's radio aesthetic, it opts to loudly bleep an entire song when a curse word comes up as opposed to quietly taking it out of the vocal track.
- Step Up to the Microphone: Taken to Vocal Tag Team levels. To wit:
- Nick Oliveri screams "Millionaire" and "Six Shooter", and sings "Gonna Leave You" and "Another Love Song".
- Mark Lanegan (who did not play an instrument for the album) contributes vocals for various tracks, and sings lead on "A Song for the Dead", "Hangin' Tree", and "God Is in the Radio".
- Averted by Dave Grohl. Despite the fact that he is the lead singer of Foo Fighters, he wanted to take a break from singing and instead contribute pure drum work for the album. He even considered quitting the Foo Fighters for a while.
- Stop and Go: "Song for the Dead", which stops in between before picking back up again.