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Help Is on the Way

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"Help Is on the Way"
A faded drawing of a fist in front of a heart. In the lower left corner, the text "RISE AGAINST" is displayed, with "HELP IS ON THE WAY" underneath in smaller text
Single by Rise Against
from the album Endgame
ReleasedJanuary 25, 2011
Format
RecordedThe Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado
Genre
Length3:57
Label
Songwriter(s)Rise Against
Producer(s)
Rise Against singles chronology
"Savior"
(2009)
"Help Is on the Way"
(2011)
"Make It Stop (September's Children)"
(2011)

"Help Is on the Way" is a song by American rock band Rise Against, featured on their sixth studio album Endgame (2011). Inspired by lead vocalist Tim McIlrath's visit to New Orleans, the song is about the slow response time for aid to disaster stricken areas. It incorporates elements of punk rock and melodic hardcore, with lyrics that allude to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. "Help Is on the Way" premiered on KROQ-FM on January 17, 2011, and was later released as Endgame's lead single on January 25. The song also featured in two games: Shift 2 Unleashed and Watch Dogs.

"Help Is on the Way" polarized critics, with some praising its lyrics and song structure, while others criticized it for being bland and repetitive. Despite the mixed reception, it remains one of the band's highest charting singles to date. It peaked at eighty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached number two on the Hot Rock Songs chart. The accompanying music video depicts an African-American family, as they attempt to escape increasing floodwater levels that engulf their neighborhood.

Composition[edit]

"Help Is on the Way" is a rock song containing elements of punk rock and melodic hardcore.[2] John Fortunato of The Aquarian Weekly described the song as a "menacingly anthemic, phlegm-clearing diatribe".[3] "Help Is on the Way" is written in the time signature of common time, with a moderate tempo of 108 beats per minute. It is composed in the key G minor, with a melody that spans a tonal range of D4 to B♭5.[4]

Lyrically, "Help Is on the Way" is about the slow response time for aid to disaster stricken areas.[5] During the first and second verses, the lyrics allude to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as their affects on the Gulf Coast of the United States and the city of New Orleans.[6] Singer Tim McIlrath maintains clean vocals throughout the majority of the song,[a] but temporarily switches to screaming vocals during the bridge.[7]

McIlrath wrote the lyrics, which were inspired by a trip he took to New Orleans.[8] While he had initially gone to discuss with local musicians how to merge politics with music,[b] he was able to visit several areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood, such as the Lower Ninth Ward. As McIlrath felt that news outlets were quick to discuss less important stories following the disaster, he compiled his thoughts and wrote the song's lyrics.[9][10] McIlrath also noted his criticism of the United States government and how they handled these disasters influenced the lyrics; he called Hurricane Katrina "as much a man-made disaster as it was a natural disaster", and lambasted the fact that no legislation was passed to prevent another oil spill following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.[11]

Release and reception[edit]

"Help Is on the Way" had its world premiere on the California radio-station KROQ-FM on January 17, 2011.[8] It was then released on January 25, as the lead single from Rise Against's sixth album Endgame.[12] Commercially, "Help Is on the Way" is one of Rise Against's most successful singles to date. In the United States, it remains the band's only song to reach the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at eighty-nine,[13] and reached number two on the Hot Rock Songs chart.[14] The single also achieved international success, reaching number ten on the Australia Hitseekers chart,[15] number forty-five on the Canadian Hot 100,[16] number four on the Czech Republic Modern Rock chart,[17] and number nineteen on the UK Rock & Metal chart.[18]

Critics were polarized in their opinions when reviewing "Help Is on the Way". Tim Newbound of Rock Sound described the piece as "impressively structured and equally furious",[19] while Evan Lucy of Billboard thought it was "understated enough to capture radio attention and plenty explosive to please Rise Against's devoted fan base".[6] Rob Parker of NME felt that "Help Is on the Way" and fellow Endgame track "This Is Letting Go" were able to "strike the perfect balance between punk fury and melodic accessibility without losing any of frontman Tim McIlrath’s personality".[2] Chad Grischow of IGN complimented the music, saying that "as powerful as the lyrical content of the song is, the storm of guitars rolling over it like a gristly, foreboding cloud kick you in the chest just as hard".[5]

Koski and Steven Hyden of The A.V. Club were divided in their opinions, with Koski praising the powerful lyrics, while Hyden belittled the song as "run-of-the-mill".[20] Thomas Nassiff of AbsolutePunk wrote that "Help Is on the Way" was one of the weaker moments from the album, criticizing the intro guitar riff, while comparing the lyrics to those of another Rise Against song, "Re-Education (Through Labor)".[7] Johnny Firecloud of CraveOnline was heavily critical of the song, stating that it "suffers from a blandness so paralyzing and repetitive", and ultimately summarized it as "totally flaccid".[21]

Music video[edit]

An aerial view of a heavily flooded city district
The music video depicts the flooding of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina

The accompanying music video was directed by Alan Ferguson and filmed in New Orleans. It follows an African-American family as they're forced to move into their house's attic, and eventually their rooftop to escape the increasing floodwater levels caused by Hurricane Katrina.[22] The video follows the song's lyric thread, while real footage of Hurricane Katrina and the survivors are shown throughout.[22][23] It ends with a message encouraging donations, and a link to the band's activism website.[22]

The video was released on March 23, 2011. It does not feature any band members, who opted not to appear in it, as they felt their presence would be detrimental to the video's message.[23] This decision was commended by critics, with Katie Hasty of HitFix stating that band "went for an artifact of truth".[22][24]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Endgame.[25]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In rock music terminology, clean vocals are used in the context of aggressive music to differentiate singing from screaming or growling, which are called unclean vocals.
  2. ^ Rise Against is well known for their political activism, with many of their songs advocating social justice.[8]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Weiss, David (October 12, 2011). "How Brandon Barnes Plays "Help Is On The Way"". Drum!. Archived from the original on December 9, 2015. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Parker, Rob (March 16, 2011). "Album Review: Rise Against - Endgame (DGC/Interscope)". NME. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  3. ^ Fortunato, John (May 4, 2011). "Interview with Tim McIlrath from Rise Against: Prophesying A Favorable 'Endgame'". The Aquarian Weekly. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  4. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – Rise Against – Help Is on the Way". MusicNotes.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  5. ^ a b Grischow, Chad (March 14, 2011). "Rise Against: Endgame Review". IGN. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Lucy, Evan (April 2, 2011). "Reviews: Singles". Billboard. 123 (11): 37.
  7. ^ a b Nassiff, Thomas. "Rise Against - Endgame". AbsolutePunk. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "[World Premiere] Rise Against "Help Is On The Way" From Endgame". KROQ-FM. January 17, 2011. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  9. ^ Mills, Lauren (May 30, 2011). "DS Exclusive Interview Part One: Tim McIlrath (Rise Against) talks about "Endgame," Against Me! and division amongst fans". Dying Scene. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ Erickson, Anne (March 22, 2011). "The Gibson Interview: Rise Against Guitarist Zach Blair". Gibson.com. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved January 13, 2016.
  11. ^ "Interview: Tim McIlrath Shows There Is No Limit For Rise Against". Shockya.com. May 17, 2011. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved November 6, 2015.
  12. ^ "Help Is On the Way - Single by Rise Against on iTunes". iTunes Store. Archived from the original on August 4, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  13. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history". Billboard Hot 100 for Rise Against. Archived from the original on November 8, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  14. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history". Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Rise Against. Archived from the original on January 25, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  15. ^ a b "ARIA Hitseekers – Week Commencing 21 March 2011" (PDF). ARIA Charts. p. 21. Archived (PDF) from the original on January 31, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  16. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history". Canadian Hot 100 for Rise Against. Archived from the original on November 1, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  17. ^ a b "IFPI ČR Hitparáda - Radio - Top 20 Modern Rock Týden - 201107" (in Czech). IFPI Czech Republic. Archived from the original on February 25, 2016. Retrieved February 25, 2016.
  18. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2011-01-30". UK Rock Chart. Archived from the original on October 7, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  19. ^ Newbound, Tim (March 2, 2011). "Rise Against - Endgame". Rock Sound. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  20. ^ Hyden, Steven; Koski, Genevieve (July 29, 2011). "July 30, 2011". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on September 7, 2015. Retrieved November 13, 2015.
  21. ^ Firecloud, Johnny (March 13, 2011). "Rise Against: Endgame". CraveOnline. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  22. ^ a b c d Hasty, Katie (March 23, 2011). "Watch: Rise Against reveals compelling 'Help Is on the Way' music video". HitFix. Archived from the original on May 29, 2011. Retrieved January 12, 2016.
  23. ^ a b Bychawski, Adam (March 23, 2011). "Rise Against reveal Hurricane Katrina-inspired 'Help Is On The Way' video". NME. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  24. ^ Kim, Dave (March 24, 2011). "Rise Against Release Powerful Video". WGRD-FM. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016. Retrieved February 9, 2016.
  25. ^ Endgame (liner notes). Rise Against. DGC Records, Interscope Records. 2011.CS1 maint: others (link)
  26. ^ "Hot Rock Songs Year End 2011". Billboard. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2015.

External links[edit]