The title of today’s posting was a throwaway remark included in the information sheet pulled together for FAC 9 on 13 September 1979 (see yesterday’s blog post for more info).
By September 1979, Devo, from Cleveland, Ohio, had been together for six years, with their back catalogue consisting of a handful of singles (the first of which was released in 1977) and two studio albums. Prior to releasing any music, they had found some underground fame (and become hip) for the fact that their music was released via films and videos rather than on vinyl, but this was really down to the fact that many in the industry regarded them as a joke band and no record deals were on offer.
I don’t know if Devo were ever hip once they became a conventional act, but a little over a year after FAC 9 had posed the question, they were bona fide chart stars in their home country:-
mp3 : Devo – Whip It
“Whip It” debuted at number eighty-five on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 on August 30, 1980. It spent twenty-five weeks on the chart, peaked at number fourteen on November 15, 1980, and finished the year at number ninety-four on the Billboard Year-End singles chart for 1981. In the U.S., the song also reached number thirteen on the Cash Box Top 100, number eight on the Hot Dance Club Play chart, and number seventeen on the Record World Singles chart. “Whip It” found international success, peaking at number seventy-seven on the Australian Kent Music Report, number eleven on the Canadian RPM Top Singles chart, number eleven on the Official New Zealand Music Chart, and number fifty-one on the UK Singles Chart.
Here’s the b-side to the hit 45:-
mp3 : Devo – Snowball
As it turned out, Devo, despite a recording career that encompassed 25 releases, never bothered the US or UK singles charts again. Nor did any of their studio albums from the late 80s onwards sell in any great numbers, but they have continued to generate a lot of positive press and sell out decent sized venues whenever they tour.
3 thoughts on “WILL DEVO EVER BE HIP AGAIN?”
Devo was never hip and made a point of trying not to be. That’s why they were so excellent. Kinda surprised at/bemused by the whole idea.
I grew up with Devo – my parents are from Akron and apparently went to school with the guys, and so Devo’s Greatest Hits was always playing in our house. When I told people I liked them I usually got laughed at, I guess cuz all they knew was “Whip It”. It wasn’t until college that I realized they were actually very well-liked and respected in certain circles. I think the band purposely tried to sabotage their own image on several occasions. I was recently spinning Oh, No! It’s Devo and marveled at how acutely self-aware they seemed to be of their own position. They knew people were sick of them and there was nowhere to go but down. That said I feel like Devo are very hip nowadays! At least among people I know. Probably one of the coolest bands I listen to really.
“Beautiful World” didn’t trouble the charts? It was on the radio a lot in Brisbane back in the day…