Rockin' the Suburbs (song)

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"Rockin' the Suburbs"
Single by Ben Folds
from the album Rockin' the Suburbs
Released 2001
Format CD Single
Genre Alternative rock
Length 4.58
Label Epic
Writer(s) Ben Folds
Ben Folds singles chronology
N/A "Rockin' the Suburbs"
"Still Fighting It"
Rockin' the Suburbs track listing
"Not the Same"
"Rockin' the Suburbs"

"Rockin' the Suburbs" is a song by Ben Folds on the album of the same name. It is Ben Folds' biggest solo hit so far, gaining radio and MTV airplay (though "Landed" and "Bitches Ain't Shit" achieved higher chart positions on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S., this was mostly due to their popularity on the iTunes Music Store rather than radio airplay).

Music and lyrics[edit]

Folds stated of the inspiration for this song:

"I used to do this big rant at the end of some gigs with Ben Folds Five. The band broke into this big heavy metal thing and I started as a joke to scream in a heavy metal falsetto. I found myself saying things like: Feel my pain, I am white, feel my pain. I was going to write this song about Korn. I don’t know, it wasn’t as funny when I directed it at somebody. So I thought I would write it not directed to anybody. I mean, I would be happy to tell the guys from Korn that I wrote a song about them, but I think, when people listen to it, it is a better song when it is not directed to anybody."[1]

The song parodies Korn and Rage Against the Machine. Folds stated of the song "I am taking the piss of the whole scene, especially the followers."[1]

The song's simplistic guitar part (played by Folds) separates the song from much of his work with Ben Folds Five, who famously shunned guitars in their music (using them only on a single studio recording, "Emaline").

The lyrics for a portion of this song are often changed during live performances. In the refrain of the song, "I'm rockin' the suburbs, just like ______ did", Ben inserts the name of a musical artist. In the album version, the order for the names is: Michael Jackson, Quiet Riot, and Jon Bon Jovi. For live performances Ben has inserted other names, such as Bryan Adams. On the Songs for Goldfish version, he mentions William Shatner (for whom he produced an album, Has Been) and Henry Rollins (whom he worked with on Shatner's song "I Can't Get Behind That").[citation needed]

When performing the song live, especially on television, Folds has been known to change some of the lyrics around for comic effect. Most famously, while on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn inserting "girl we couldn't get much higher," a reference to The Doors song "Light My Fire," where a profanity was supposed to be uttered.

Single track listing[edit]

  1. "Rockin' the Suburbs" [Radio Edit]
  2. "Girl"
  3. "Make Me Mommy"
  4. "Rockin' the Suburbs" [Video]

Japanese EP:

  1. "Rockin' the Suburbs" [Radio Edit]
  2. "One Down"
  3. "Girl"
  4. "Make Me Mommy"
  5. "The Secret Life of Morgan Davis"

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Rockin' the Suburbs" was directed by friend "Weird Al" Yankovic, who also plays the role of a producer who fixes Folds' "shitty track," directly riffing on one of the song's lyrics.

The video, which closely reflects the joke-heavy style of Yankovic's own videos, features Folds playing multiple members of an angry rock band in a suburban den and in front of a white background.

After the song's bridge, Folds is shown outside in a suburban neighborhood wearing a backwards red Yankees cap, the trademark of Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. During this part of the video, Folds does suburban things such as jumping in pools and flipping burgers.

Near the end of the video, Folds can be seen playing a keytar. On occasion, he also plays the keytar for live performances. The make and model he uses is a red Roland AX-1.

At the end of the video, the "band" (all Ben again) plays in front of a black background with holes punched in it, a style that matches the live-action parts of the Korn video for "Freak on a Leash." A subliminal message reading "Korn Sucks" briefly appears.

Over The Hedge remake[edit]

In 2006, Folds rewrote this song for the animated movie Over the Hedge, with film co-star William Shatner providing vocals during part of the song. Shatner does the voice for Ozzie the Opossum, who encourages his daughter (voice by Avril Lavigne) to play dead in threatening situations.

While the new version features none of the swearing and parodies of the original, Folds makes some very pointed barbs at the concept of suburbia in the song, including jabs at homeowner associations and driving long distances to work.

This version of the song was also featured in the film Marley & Me.


External links[edit]