DEVO – “Whip It”

“Whip It” is a song by American rock band Devo from their third album Freedom of Choice (1980). It is a new wave and synth-pop song that features a synthesizer, electric guitar, bass guitar, and drums in its instrumentation. The apparently nonsensical lyrics have a common theme revolving around the ability to deal with one’s problems by “whipping it”. Co-written by bassist Gerald Casale and singer Mark Mothersbaugh, Devo recorded “Whip It” with producer Robert Margouleff at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.

Although “Whip It” was released as the second single from Freedom of Choice, Warner Bros. Records did not expect it to be a hit, due to its nonstandard tempo and strange lyrics. The disc jockey Kal Rudman took an interest in the song and it was soon being played on several radio stations in the Southeastern United States. Peaking at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, “Whip It” became a hit single and found chart success in several countries. Mothersbaugh believes the song sold well because some people assumed the lyrics are about masturbation or sadomasochism.

An accompanying music video depicts these sexual themes; it features Mothersbaugh whipping clothing from a woman on a dude ranch. Despite some claims of misogynistic undertones, the video became popular on the fledgling television channel MTV.

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