Tunes of the Weird: Devo

Sometime in the late ’70s (full details are classified), a small group of government scientists attempted to create a grand unified theory of culture. Using the largest supercomputer available at the time, they input a diverse collection of items reflecting the day — a self-help book, a prototype synthesizer and, something that was lying around the office for some reason, a book on sadomasochism.

The computer made some hiccuping noises. Smoke started to rise from the reel-to-reel tape inputs. In the midst of the evacuation, the computer abruptly released the output. It was this video:

Fortunately, they had the ideal band to record this. Devo had been operating for a few years. They were involved with a sort-of religious movement. They used synthesizers. They wore flower pots. They didn’t mind making videos in which they could explain the whips but probably couldn’t explain why a woman was making a dinner consisting entirely of meringue.

The religious movement, incidentally, celebrates feast days of Monty Python, Bill Hicks and Weird Al Yankovic.

The latter, coincidentally, did a pretty good Devo parody. (Not a specific song. Just the whole concept.)

There’s really no one else quite like Devo, with the possible exception of the Earons, who were supposedly some sort of extraterrestrial mechanoid race of synth-reggae musicians whose drummer kept pointing at the viewer. They were anonymous except for the lead singer, who seemed to be angling for a solo career once the gimmick wore off.

Not sure if that solo career ever materialized because … well, because I don’t know the guy’s name. But the Earons apparently are still together in some fashion, because they have a Web site urging us to “stand by for further transmissions.” Did they open an auto repair chain?

Devo still tours. The supercomputer recovered to beat Garry Kasparov but was stolen by a group of doctors trying to find another pill for people who forget to take their Viagra.

UPDATE: I get maybe 50 page views a week, and yet every time I embed a video from YouTube, that video disappears. They took down two of three here — apparently, no one is enforcing Earons copyright.

So here’s a link to the same Weird Al video on what appears to be an official Weird Al YouTube space. There, you can also see the epic R. Kelly parody Trapped in the Drive-Thru.

The Devo video is still there, but they’ve disabled embedding. Follow the link.

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