It’s been a while since this single was released, and even more so since the album from which the single originated saw the light of day, but Heads Will Roll by New York City band Yeah Yeah Yeahs has intrigued me increasingly ever since aforementioned release.
Throughout the song, a horror-like theme dominates. A continous atmosphere of suspense. But the interesting part about this track is not what seems constant, but rather what changes on the way. While the track starts with a simple synthesizer riff, it evolves into something a tad more rock-oriented, while along the way, the angry queen, played by singer Karen O, orders the head to be chopped off in a louder and louder fashion. The first lines of the track say “Off with your head”, but the next time the chorus is played, the first word is repeated to form “Off off with your head”. Finally, in the end, “off” is heard thrice in the lyrics, and this is a simple manifestation of the way the track gradually becomes more intense. In the music video, a werewolf transforms, and in a way you could actually say that the song itself also transforms, if only slightly, along the way.
The lyrics themselves, however, are quite a puzzle. They mention both alchemy, looking glasses, chrome and glitter. The latter is shown in the music video as a metaphor for the blood that appears when heads are chopped off. Perhaps that metaphor could be extended to the lyrics in itself. If so, the words sure portray quite a bloody situation.
No matter what the situation is in the lyrics, I can’t deny that the track is well done in the instrumental department. The song has a great mix of electronic and rock instruments, indicating a well-produced alternative dance track. And, as a dance track, it really does get your feet moving. No matter how many heads may roll.