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Music / The The

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"Everybody knows what's going wrong with the world
But I don't even know what's going on in myself."
The The, "Slow Emotion Replay"

The The are a search-engine-confounding English New Wave group, active on and off since 1979, that was popular among the college crowd mainly during The '80s. Singer/songwriter Matt Johnson is the only consistent member.


  • Burning Blue Soul, 1981
  • Soul Mining, 1983
  • Infected, 1986
  • Mind Bomb, 1989
  • Dusk, 1993
  • Hanky Panky, 1995
  • NakedSelf, 2000

Tropes associated with The The:

  • Airplane of Love: "This Is The Day" mentions this in the chorus:
    You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes
    You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky
  • Alternative Rock: From Mind Bomb onwards.
  • Apocalypse How: For "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)", a Class 2.
  • Call-Back: The segments of Matt's performance of "The Inertia Variations" titled "This Day" and "Feelings" feature an ambient-sounding soundtrack that when listened to closely is actually the intro to "This Is The Day" slowed down.
  • Concept Album: Infected is one about the US and UK politics of the time, and western greed.
    • Mind Bomb is also one about politics, although more global than its predecessor, and contrasts the political with the personal too.
    • Dusk is one centred around the themes of love, lust and grief, and is heavily influenced by the death of Matt's brother.
  • Cover Album: Hanky Panky, a collection of Hank Williams covers.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Matt.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Often, most notably the Mind Bomb album cover and "Slow Emotion Replay" music video.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Any album and single artwork done by Matt's brother Andy, inlcuding Soul Mining, Infected and Dusk.
  • Darker and Edgier: Infected. Hoo boy.
    • Dusk, in its own way, being much more melancholic, introspective and personally dark as opposed to its more political predecessors.
    • NakedSelf, while not darker lyrically, is much darker musically, with an Industrial Rock influenced sound.
  • Dark Reprise: In 1994 the band released a re-recording of "This Is The Day", retitled "That Was The Day", and it sounds much more stripped-down and melancholic. The lyrics are unchanged but are given a different feel by the music, changing the meaning of the song from being about a person who's struggled but now has a bright future ahead of them to one who's still struggling and is desperately hoping that things get better for them.
  • Eagleland: A strong Type 2 in pretty much every song that refers to America.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Prior to the recording of Soul Mining, Matt released an experimental, largely instrumental solo album for 4AD entitled Burning Blue Soul. It has since been accepted as canon and re-issued under the The The moniker.
    • Earlier still, the group's debut single from 1979 "Controversial Subject" has a much more blatant Post-Punk sound than the Genre-Busting of later efforts.
  • Epic Rocking: Much of Mind Bomb is this trope.
    • A lot of Soul Mining is too.
  • Face on the Cover: Matt on the cover of Mind Bomb
  • Grief Song: Much of Dusk was influenced by the death of Matt's brother Eugene in 1989. It's basically a Grief Album.
  • I Am the Band: From 1982 to 1987, Matt didn't have a set lineup for The The, choosing to use various musicians for recording and touring.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: The entire band. Not in the typical NSFW sense that usually applies to this trope, more in the 'ungodly confusing and difficult to search for' sense.
  • Let's Duet: "Kingdom of Rain" from Mind Bomb is a duet with SinĂ©ad O'Connor, and "Slow Train To Dawn" from Infected is one with Neneh Cherry.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "This Is The Day" sounds like an uplifting song, but it's about a person who's too depressed to actually change anything in their life.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: Mind Bomb just has a black and white photo of Matt against a white background, and NakedSelf has a picture of a lightbulb hanging from a ceiling surrounded by darkness as the main album cover, with an image of the band's logo spraypainted in white against a dark brick wall on the slipcase.
  • New Sound Album:
    • Mind Bomb brought in a more textured full band and guitar-heavy sound, as opposed to the Synth-Pop and dance influenced sound of the two previous albums due to The The now having a set lineup, and also featuring Johnny Marr.
    • Dusk delves even further into this, featuring a much more acoustic-heavy sound.
    • NakedSelf is probably the biggest example of this in their discography, bordering on Industrial Rock.
  • New Wave: All their 80s output, but particularly Infected.
  • Post-Punk: Soul Mining and Infected arguably count as this.
  • Protest Song: A good portion of their discography is this. Infected and Mind Bomb are essentially Protest Albums.
  • Punny Name: "The Beat(en) Generation"
  • Revolving Door Band: From 1982 to 1987 (although mixed with I Am the Band), and again since 1995.
  • Shout-Out: The opening of "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" parodies the opening of the Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz".
  • Spell My Name with a "The": Two of 'em, in fact.
  • Synth-Pop: Soul Mining and Infected
  • What You Are in the Dark: "This Is The Day":
    You could have done anything, if you wanted
    And all your friends and family think that you're lucky
    But the side of you they'll never see
    Is when you're left alone with your memories
    That hold your life together, like glue