This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #474: Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand.
Over one hundred years ago, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were assassinated by a gunman as they drive through Sarajevo in a motorcade. The gunman shot the Archduke in the neck. He shot Sophie in the stomach. As Sophie began to bleed out from her wound, she collapsed onto her husband’s lap. Although seriously wounded, the Archduke tried to comfort her, urging her to live on for the sake of their children. Shortly thereafter, Sophie’s heart stopped beating. The Archduke began choking on his own blood. Both Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie, were dead upon arrival at the local hospital. Although there are always many factors that lead up to momentous events in History, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, is widely viewed as setting in motion the events that started World War 1 in Europe. The assassin’s bullets that took two lives that day ended up costing the lives of millions of others and the world was never the same again. Fast forward almost one hundred years later. Two art students in Scotland named Alex Kapranos and Paul Thomson became friends after discovering that they had similar interests in Art and Music. They decided to form a band and, after much discussion, settled upon the name Franz Ferdinand because they wanted their music to be like the Archduke’s death…..a transformative moment where their songs change the way people view music.
I am not sure that they have accomplished that lofty goal but, Franz Ferdinand did have one big hit in the Alternative Music Genre with a song called, “Take Me Out”. This song is widely regarded as one of the top Alternative songs of this century. It was a Top Ten hit in many countries and received dozens of awards across the globe, including the Mercury Prize in 2004, which is awarded, ostensibly, for the Top Song/Album/Band in the UK. While Franz Ferdinand have had other minor hits, “Take Me Out” is their signature song.
It is easy to write this band off as a proverbial one-hit wonder but, there is actually more to them than meets the eye. For example, the band members approach their projects from a musical point of view but, also, from an artistic one, as well. They believe that their Art is multi-dimensional and, because of that, the listener/viewer can interpret their work in a multitude of ways. The video for “Take Me Out” is heavily influenced by Dadaism, which is an Art Movement that eschews traditional forms and styles and, instead, seeks to express meaning and emotion through a series of nonsensical forms. Artists influenced by Dadaism tend to be anti-war and use their art form as a means of expressing their political views. In their video, the band exist as three-dimensional objects in a two-dimensional world. They claim that you can watch this video repeatedly; taking away new and different interpretations and meanings each time.
I first listened to “Take Me Out” on the reality show “Rockstar: INXS” which, as I discussed in an earlier post, was a show where contestants sang songs each week in the hope of impressing the remaining members of the band, INXS, who were using the show as a way to find a new lead singer after the death of Michael Hutchence. One week, a contestant named Mary Casey was given this song to sing. *(I will post his rendition in the comments section.) His performance was the first time I had heard of the song or the band. To me, the song seemed to be about a guy trying to meet a girl in a bar or club and not being successful. It was all pretty straight-forward. But nothing with Franz Ferdinand is as straight-forward as it may seem.
The band has never denied or refuted the “dating” interpretation for this song. But, as well, they have never refuted nor denied the other interpretation that many believe is the true inspiration for this song and that is, the actual assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife, Sophie. The lyrics to “Take Me Out” speak of the desire for Love and the reality of loss, rejection and loneliness. Is it about some guy lacking the nerve to ask out the girl of his dreams or is this song about the human drama intertwined with one of History’s great tipping points? I will leave that for you to judge. One of the ways Art becomes important is when it speaks to the human condition and “Take Me Out” does that. Franz Ferdinand may have had only one big hit but, they packed a lot of Art into it. It is rightly regarded as one of the anthems of the modern Alternative Music scene; a poppy song that packs a political punch. If they never have another hit song, Franz Ferdinand will have made their mark in modern music history…..just as they intended.
The link to the music video for Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand can be found here.
The link for the video of Rockstar: INXS contestant, Marty Casey, singing Take Me Out can be found here.
Franz Ferdinand have a website that, I am sure, they would like you to visit. You can do so by clicking on the link here.
Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire me to write this post. The link to their website can be found here.