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Devo – Whip It

Very little can be said about “Whip It” that hasn’t already been said. So we’ll keep it brief and simple.

Yes, “Whip It” is Devo’s only brush with Top 40 fame.

Yes, the song reached #14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Yes, the song might be about S&M.

Yes, the song might also be about making a milkshake.

Yes, the song was very controversial when it was first released in 1980.

Yes, “Whip It” is widely and deservedly considered on the of definitive songs of the New Wave era.

Yes, “Whip It” is ranked #63 on VH1’s ranked “Whip It” #63 on their list of the 100 greatest songs of the 80’s and #15 on their list of the “100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s.”

Yes, we still love it.

Click here to read the lyrics to “Whip It” by Devo

Listen to the song, which will then become an earworm and stay with you for weeks.

Listen to “Whip It” by Devo

Whip It - Devo

The story behind the “Whip It” video

One other thing: Here is the true story, straight from Devo on the making of this iconic video.

Devo funded the music video for “Whip It” with $15,000 of their own hard-earned dollars. The main focus of the video is lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh faux-whipping the clothes off a woman (this video appeared on MTV so the woman obviously stays clothed throughout the video). The inspiration for this controversial image was an article in a 1962 issue of “Dude” magazine.

We can only imagine how the members of Devo ended up reading a 1962 issue of “Dude” magazine in 1980..

Regardless, in an interview for Songfacts, Devo founding member Gerald 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.'”

Early MTV was a wild, strange thing.

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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4 Responses to "Devo – Whip It"

  1. Matt Thurston says:

    I love the whole Freedom of Choice record. And I can’t think of that record without simultaneously thinking of Queen’s “The Game” record. I received the Devo record for Xmas in 1980, and my brother received the Queen record at the same time. We played both incessantly for the next 6 months.

  2. Michael Waterman says:

    Matt, Like you, “The Game” record was a big deal among my friends. We loved all the hits, of course. But “Don’t Try Suicide” is the song I remember debating. Was it serious? Was it a joke? Did anyone avoid suicide thanks to the wisdom of Freddie Mercury? Inquiring young minds wanted to know.

  3. Christian Zacher says:

    This song is awesome and legendary

    a milestone of alternative rock

    even for people like me in their 20s

  4. Jocko Homo says:

    The production and reception of “Whip It” was a mystery to Devo fans, who found it to be the weakest of Devo’s many great songs. I’m a little sad that Devo will be remembered primarily for this one poppy, if strange, hit, while their output included such new wave/punk masterpieces as “Jocko Homo,” “Mongoloid,” “Gates of Steel,” and the best and oddest (that’s a word, right?) cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction”ever. I’m happy they actually made some money with it, same as I’m happy that the advertising use of “Lust for Life” has surely given Iggy Pop a more comfortable retirement.

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