Kinks – Give The People What They Want

Back in 1981 I bought the album that this song is the title track to. I had their greatest hits of mostly their sixties hits and this album was the first new Kinks album I ever bought.

The song is a pure rock song with a huge punk edge. I read where a critic wrote that The Kinks were a great punk band who could actually play their instruments and with this song you see that.

This song is my favorite song off the album. While writing Low Budget, their previous album, Ray was watching American TV including “That’s Incredible” where people did dangerous and insane stunts. He writes a fair statement about the viewing public…now and then. Parts of it are crude but is true to life.  When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane, But still we watch the re-runs again and again, We all sit glued while the killer takes aim… 

The song tells the truth…violence sells.

Ray Davies: “What happens is the consumer is being used to entertain, to get high ratings, to sell products to consumers. It was going around in a circle. That’s a real con. And good shows were being dropped from TV. I’ve just written an outline, and I hope we’re going to get some money from RCA to do a videodisc because it’s a media-based album.”

From Songfacts

The title track to The Kinks 1981 album, “Give The People What They Want” was written by their frontman Ray Davies in response to what he saw on American TV when he was writing songs for their previous album, Low Budget. He noticed that TV was getting more and more sensational, and that viewers were fascinated with violence and tragedy – similar to how Romans watched Christians get fed to the lions.

One show Davies watched was That’s Incredible, where regular people performed dangerous stunts.

Ray Davies said that he took out the following verse:

The French Revolution was a crazy scene
All those aristocrats getting guillotined
The promoters cleaned up
The expenses were low
An execution costs nothing
It’s a wonderful show

Taken at face value with just the title for reference, this song can appear to be about The Kinks making an effort to please their audience by delivering a hit. That interpretation is way off, however, as the song is much more a social commentary on those who pander to the masses.

The Kinks went for a monster drum sound on this one in an effort to make it arena-friendly. To get his sound, they placed corrugated iron around the walls of Konk Studios in London, where they recorded the album.

Give The People What They Want

Hey, hey, hey
Give the people what they want

Well, it’s been said before, the world is a stage
A different performance with every age
Open the history book to any old page
Bring on the lions and open the cage

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

The Roman promoters really did things right
They needed a show that would clearly excite
The attendance was sparse so they put on a fight
Threw the Christians to the lions, it sold out every night

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
The more they get, the more they need
And every time they get harder and harder to please

Give ’em lots of sex, perversion and rape
Give ’em lots of violence, and plenty to hate
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

When Oswald shot Kennedy, he was insane
But still we watch the re-runs again and again
We all sit glued while the killer takes aim
“Hey Mom, there goes a piece of the president’s brain!”

Give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Blow out your brains, and do it right
Make sure it’s prime time and on a Saturday night
You gotta give the people what they want
You gotta give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want
Give the people what they want

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

20 thoughts on “Kinks – Give The People What They Want”

  1. New one for me. Remember the movie, “Running Man”? Not only the running men but the commercials they had. “Climbing for Dollars” where there were vicious dobermans under the climber waiting to attack if (when) they fall. I really do wonder how far it will be taken. Reality TV is where reality and fantasy merge. I don’t know how kids can separate the two!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. In general, I’m more drawn to The Kinks’ ’60s music, but this tune undoubtedly rocks!

    As for a new album, I know there’s been talk about a reunion and work on a new album. I’m not aware anything actually has come out.

    I think their most recent release is a 50th-anniversary reissue of the Lola album, which came out last December.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hadn’t heard anything but I wanted to be sure….yea this was my first real taste of the Kinks…I did have the older ones but I did like this one.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m happy I got to see them still in action as far as the charts…they just had a top ten with Come Dancing

        Like

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