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YMMV / Devo

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  • Acceptable Targets: As with Frank Zappa and Music/Prince, they didn't hide their contempt for their own label, Warner (Bros.) Records. The character of Rod Rooter was a particularly nasty caricature of the execs at the label.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is "Huboon Stomp" about an ordinary man Maddened Into Misanthropy by the petty injustice of the world or a depraved, subhuman rapist who blames everybody but himself for his problems?
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  • Anvilicious: As many critics have commented on, their messages started becoming noticeably more explicit around New Traditionalists ("Beautiful World" for example).
  • Creepy Awesome: The Hardcore incarnation of the band. In the 1970s, Devo had a much more experimental (read: creepy) approach, though they were no less satirical, and their sense of humor was even darker. The madness they were capable of could rival The Residents.
  • Dork Age: The late 80s. And not just because Jerry had a mullet.
  • Ear Worm: Oh No! It's Devo, their first full-on Synth-Pop album, has a plethora of those as a result.
    • Of course, the riff from "Whip It" will live forever.
    • "Jocko Homo" is one of the catchiest songs to ever be written in a 7/8 time signature.
    • "Girl U Want" was reportedly inspired by "My Sharona" by The Knack. Which is better is a matter of taste, but "Girl U Want" is one of Devo's best "bob around like an idiot" songs.
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    • "Mongoloid" might not be a song you want to get caught singing in public. Too bad it's impossibly catchy.
  • Ending Fatigue: Devo usually preferred a more succinct approach, but there are exceptions:
    • The Recombo DNA demo compilation ends with an 18-minute medley, "Somewhere With DEVO." It makes an appearance on the live album Now It Can Be Told: Devo Live At The Palace 12/9/88, trimmed down to 11 minutes.
    • The 30 minute "Jocko Homo" performances the band used to do in the 70s to troll the audience. It worked.
  • Epic Riff: "Whip It," "Be Stiff", "Space Junk," "Girl U Want" and "Gut Feeling," to name a few.
  • Face of the Band: It started as Jerry's band, but vocalist Mark easily became the face of Devo for many. Jerry, however, still addresses crowds most of the time during live shows.
  • Fandom Rivalry: There will always be a rivalry between fans of Devo and fans of Oingo Boingo. Likewise, there's also a rivalry between fans of Mark Mothersbaugh and fans of Danny Elfman over who is the better composer.
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  • First Installment Wins: Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! frequently tops the ratings and favourite lists of fans and reviewers; along with Freedom of Choice it is considered their most successful album.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In this 1981 interview, when questioned about the JFK-inspired New Tradionalists plastic hairdo, Mark replies "Chemotherapy, Jack." Bob 2 died of heart failure while undergoing treatment for cancer. Alan Myers also died of cancer.
    • In the music video / Human Highway segment for "Worried Man", skulls are rotoscoped onto the faces of Alan and Bob 2. (Also Bob 1, but he's still alive.)
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff:
    • The band has a huge following in Australia.
    • 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.
  • Genius Bonus:
  • 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!". The format turned out to be highly susceptible to "laser rot", with a number of faulty discs becoming unplayable due to the oxidation of the aluminum layer. 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.
    • In the "Jocko Homo" video, Mark Mothersbaugh looks almost exactly like the Eleventh Doctor in his bow tie, glasses, hair and mannerisms.
  • Misattributed Song: A lot of "quirky" New Wave Music 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.
    • These include "Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo and "Pop Muzik" by M.
  • Narm Charm: There's a very oddball, campy aspect to many of Devo's songs and videos, as if really cynical aliens poorly disguised themselves as humans and formed a rock band. Not that fans would have them any other way.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The two Hardcore Devo compilations. As mentioned above, they're 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. You can hear some of those demos on the Hardcore albums.
    • 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.
    • "Going Under" started in 1974 as a sludgey guitar demo called "All Of Us", of which two demos were made. As one of the band's earliest songs, the band pretended it was a standard, and reworked it into a Booji Boy led lounge track called "Softcore Mutations" (stated on the track to be performed by The Cummerbunds). "Softcore Mutations" was heavily reworked into an electronic influenced track and played live on their 1979 tour, but not used on either "Duty Now For The Future" or "Freedom Of Choice". This tour version of "Softcore Mutations" was made slightly more electronic and faster paced, and finally studio recorded for New Traditionalists as "Going Under" in 1981. "Going Under" pretty much immediately became a live staple and is beloved by fans. Its age can actually be traced from the way the lyrics are about sex, which was a common feature in their early songs but later gave way to being about the themes of devolution.
    • "Race Of Doom" was based on a song of the same name from 1975, although aside from the repeated chant it is totally different. The demo of "Race Of Doom" has been partly leaked but the full track has not.
  • 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, and whilst New Traditionalists and Oh No Its Devo were well received, the band went too far with 1984's Shout, which 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).
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny:
    • When they first appeared, Devo's cynicism was genuinely shocking. The band's "de-evolution" stance was a Take That! against the Wide-Eyed Idealism of the '60s and early '70s.
    • Sonically, in many ways, as New Wave Music, pop music and even R&B caught up with the radical-for-1977, synthesized, robotic sound of Devo, it became so commonplace by the mid-1980's that many songs from other acts of the era were mistaken for Devo songs.
  • Signature Song: To the mainstream, "Whip It." To more diehard spuds, "Jocko Homo."
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • The only reason Devo agreed to the Dev 2.0 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.
  • Sophomore Slump: Duty Now For the Future is often considered an underrated fan favourite for devoted spuds, but commercially and critically it wasn't quite as successful as Are We Not Men? or Freedom of Choice. Members of the band have expressed disappointment in the recording process and the final sound of 'Duty Now''. Jerry claims that there was too much second-guessing involved when it came to recording their second album - they scrapped original plans for the album by writing some new material which wasn't road-tested and hadn't had time to cook. He also feels that Ken Scott's production "neutered" songs like "Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA".
  • Special Effect Failure: The Chroma Key in their early videos. Especially noticeable in "The Day My Baby Gave Me A Surprize".
  • Squick:
    • The scene with Rod and Donut Rooter on the Complete Truth About De-evolution DVD, with the implication of Parental Incest, is really uncomfortable to watch.
    • The box of worms in the "Love Without Anger" video.
  • Sweet Dreams Fuel: Some of E-Z Listening Disc, a set of Muzak versions of Devo standards, is this. That is, when it's not So Bad, It's Good.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • "No Place Like Home" (from Something for Everybody) is easily their most poignant song.
    • "Beautiful World" too.
  • Ugly Cute: Booji Boi! It's Mark Mothersbaugh in a weird-looking baby mask, speaking and singing in a high voice.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Devo, being the de-evolution band, would frequently invoke genetics and mutations in their music, and sometimes even disability, such as "Mongoloid" - a term you would not use to describe a disabled person today. In the case of "Mongoloid", the theme of the song is actually quite progressive for the day — the titular character has a job and pays the bills and his friends don't treat him any differently...but the joke is derived from the idea that the TV and Media has made people stupid. It's probably worthy of note that "mutants," "beautiful mutants" and "mutations" were treated as terms of endearment for their listeners, and "Mongoloid" is a sympathetic song that's clearly meant to evoke a 'working class hero' image.
    • The 'Barbie doll' part of the song "Speed Racer" can come across as a bit sexist these days.
  • Wasted Song: "Watch Us Work It" was recorded for a commercial, got great fan response, then was only a limited single and not included on "Something For Everybody" (though it was a bonus track). Many fans say it is one of their catchiest songs.
  • 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.


Example of: