I remember when this group exploded on MTV, you know the station that used to play music..well those people. Anyway I remember when this song and video came out, it caused a bit of scandal with the subject matter that was shown. I liked the song because it was corny and a bit edgy, totally different than what was playing on the radio during that time. DEVO to me prestaged the New Wave invasion.
Freedom of Choice is the third studio album by the American new wave band Devo. It was originally released in May 1980 on the label Warner Bros. The album saw the band moving in more of an overt synth-pop direction, even though guitars still played a prominent role and contained their biggest hit to date, "Whip It."
motorik beat, similar to tracks by Neu!. The lead instrument is a Minimoog synthesizer. The bass is performed with a custom six oscillator synthesizer, custom made by Moog Music for Devo. The whip sound was made with an EML ElectroComp 500 synthesizer, Neumann KM 84 and U 87 condenser mics.On an episode of the VH1 show TrueSpin, Gerald Casale revealed that the lead guitar riff from "Whip It" is based on the riff from "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison with the beat moved to the back.
Gerald Casale states that the lyrics were written by him "as an imitation of Thomas Pynchon's parodies in his book Gravity's Rainbow." The lyrics evoke a working class desire to pull oneself up and to overcome adversity. The song has violent undertones, and Devo has often described it as about then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter, as Mothersbaugh describes in an interview on To the Best of Our Knowledge. According to MusicNotes.com, "Whip It" is composed in the key of E major.
Devo funded the music video for "Whip It" with $15,000 USD of their own money. The main visual of the video, Mark Mothersbaugh whipping the clothes off a woman, was inspired by an article in a 1962 issue of Dude magazine. In an interview for Songfacts, Casale explains "There was a feature article on a guy who had been an actor and fell on hard times, he wasn't getting parts anymore. He moved with his wife to Arizona, opened a dude ranch and charged people money to come hang out at the ranch. Every day at noon in the corral, for entertainment, he'd whip his wife's clothes off with a 12-foot bullwhip. She sewed the costumes and put them together with Velcro. The story was in the magazine about how good he was and how he never hurt her. We had such a big laugh about it, we said, 'OK, that's the basis for the video. We'll have these cowboys drinking beer and cheering Mark on as he's in the barnyard whipping this pioneer woman's clothes off while the band plays in the corral.'"
In the video, Devo wear black, sleeveless turtlenecks, and their famous energy dome headgear. When the video begins, all the members, except for Mark Mothersbaugh, wear the turtlenecks pulled over their faces. During the performance, each member lowers the turtleneck. Bob Mothersbaugh ("Bob 1") plays a Gibson Les Paul with an inverted horn, Bob Casale ("Bob 2") plays a red Rheem Kee Bass, and Alan Myers plays a set of Synare 3 drum synthesizers.
Not surprisingly, the S&M overtones of the video caused controversy. Devo was cut from a January 30, 1981, appearance on the television show The Midnight Special hosted by Lily Tomlin. After viewing the video Tomlin deemed it offensive to women, and according to Gerald Casale, "She promptly cancelled us off the special, she said she wouldn't go on if Devo was on her show."Despite this, "Whip It" received heavy rotation on MTV after its introduction in 1981