Institutionalized (song)

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"Institutionalized"
Single by Suicidal Tendencies
from the album Suicidal Tendencies
Released 1983
Format Vinyl
Recorded 1983
Genre Hardcore punk[1][2]
Length 3:49
Label Frontier
Writer(s) Mike Muir / Louiche Mayorga
Producer(s) Glen E. Friedman
Suicidal Tendencies singles chronology
"Institutionalized" "Possessed to Skate"
Suicidal Tendencies track listing
  1. "Suicide's an Alternative / You'll Be Sorry"
  2. "Two Sided Politics"
  3. "I Shot the Devil"
  4. "Subliminal"
  5. "Won't Fall in Love Today"
  6. "Institutionalized"
  7. "Memories of Tomorrow"
  8. "Possessed"
  9. "I Saw Your Mommy..."
  10. "Fascist Pig"
  11. "I Want More"
  12. "Suicidal Failure"

"Institutionalized" is a song by the American crossover thrash band Suicidal Tendencies. It was released in 1983 as the only single from their debut album, Suicidal Tendencies. "Institutionalized" is one of the band's most popular songs and has remained a live staple since it was first played in 1982.[3] The song was re-recorded on the band's 1993 album Still Cyco After All These Years; this version was nominated for the Grammy for Best Metal Performance in 1994, but lost to Ozzy Osbourne's live version of "I Don't Want to Change the World".

The original version of the song was featured on the long-out of print compilation album F.N.G., while the Still Cyco After All These Years version appears on Prime Cuts and Playlist: The Very Best of Suicidal Tendencies, which was not endorsed by the band. The song was also included in the 12-inch EP Institutionalised, which was released exclusively in the UK in 1988 after Suicidal Tendencies had risen in popularity.[4]

Song structure[edit]

The song follows "Mike", presumably a teenage Mike Muir, through a series of social conflicts with friends and, more significantly, parents. The lyrics in the verses are not sung, but spoken in a run-on sentence style. The lyrics are complemented by the lead guitar, which is subdued at the start of the verses, but becomes more frantic and powerful with the protagonist's confrontations and emotional outbursts.

Reception[edit]

Although "Institutionalized" was never a hit in the charts, it was the first hardcore punk song to receive significant airplay on MTV and is considered to be one of the songs that defines both genres.[5] Along with "Subliminal", "I Saw Your Mommy" and "I Shot the Devil", "Institutionalized" is one of the most played songs from Suicidal Tendencies,[6] and has almost frequently been performed at the band's concerts since its live debut in 1982.[3]

Music video[edit]

The original video for "Institutionalized" was premiered on MTV in 1984. Slayer's Tom Araya appears in the video, along with actors Jack Nance and Mary Woronov. The video follows Muir as he walks through the streets and skate parks of his hometown while never breaking eye contact with the camera. It features his "mom" and "dad" building Muir a homemade padded room from which he escapes with the help of his friends. Muir is later seen on stage, until the end of the video when he returns home. Although Rocky George did not play on the album version of "Institutionalized", he can be seen in on stage in the video performing the song with Suicidal Tendencies.

A video was also made for the Still Cyco After All These Years version. In the video, Muir's parents are locked up and try to escape. The scientist who attempted to lobotomize Muir in the video for "Trip at the Brain" appears in the video as well.

Usage and covers[edit]

A cover of the song is included in the music video game Guitar Hero II for PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360. The song was also featured in the game Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX 2 (2002). It was also popularly covered by the band Senses Fail, and this version can be heard in skateboarding video game Tony Hawk's American Wasteland (where one notable difference is that "Buddy" replaces "Mike" on the lyrics). Thrash metal band Evildead covered the main riff on their first release, the track was entitled "S.T. Riff".

The song appears in the films Iron Man, Repo Man and The Brady Bunch Movie. The video was also favorably featured in an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. A 2012 tribute album to the Repo Man soundtrack, A Tribute to Repo Man by American Laundromat Records, featured a cover of the song by Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra.[7]

"Institutionalized" is referenced in the Sage Francis song "Slow Down Gandhi" in the line "It's death penalty vs. suicidal tendencies / All I wanted was a fucking Pepsi / Institution / Making you think you're crazy is a billion dollar industry." Limp Bizkit also referenced it in the song "Stuck" with the lines "All I wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. So far from suicidal but still I get them tendencies bringing back the memories that I really miss." The line "All I wanted was a Pepsi" was also sampled in Cypress Hill's song "How I Could Just Kill a Man". Part of the song "My Chemical Imbalance" by punk rock band Guttermouth parodies this song. Australian band Cloud Control use the line "I'm not crazy/You're the one that's crazy" in their song "Moonrabbit" from their album Dream Cave.

A version of this song also appeared on Kiki and Herb's 2004 CD Kiki and Herb Will Die for You: Live at Carnegie Hall along with some of the character's fictional backstory on a track called "Institutionalized".

The Portland Cello Project and guitarist/vocalist Alan Sparhawk (from Minnesota bands Low and Retribution Gospel Choir) performed a version of the song in May 2012 for The A.V. Club's A.V. Undercover series.[8]

The Radioactive Chicken Heads recorded a novelty cover of the song for their 2000 album Keep On Cluckin', featuring high-pitched vocals mirroring Alvin and the Chipmunks. According to lead singer Carrot Topp, the choice to record the cover as such stemmed from his disappointment with the song selection on the 1980 Chipmunks album Chipmunk Punk. The cover was later re-released on their 2009 rarities album Poultry Uprising.

Cypress Hill used the line "All I wanted was a Pepsi" in their song "How I Could Just Kill A Man".

References[edit]