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Help Is on the Way

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This article is about the Rise Against song. For the Beach Boys song "H.E.L.P. Is on the Way", see Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of The Beach Boys.
"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
Released January 25, 2011
Format
Recorded September 2010–January 2011 at The Blasting Room, Fort Collins, Colorado
Genre
Length 3:57
Label
Writer(s) Tim McIlrath
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 addresses the slow response time for aid to disaster stricken areas. The track incorporates elements of punk rock and melodic hardcore, with lyrics that make reference to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. "Help Is on the Way" first premiered on KROQ-FM on January 17, 2011, and was later released as the album's lead single on January 25.

"Help Is on the Way" polarized critics, with some praising the furious and emotional nature of the track, 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, becoming their first song to chart within the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at eighty-nine, as well as 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.

Background[edit]

A caucasian man wearing a black shirt. The man is holding a red guitar while singing in front of a mircophone
Tim McIlrath (pictured in 2015) wrote the song's lyrics

"Help Is on the Way" was written by lead vocalist Tim McIlrath and produced collaboration by Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore. Stevenson and Livermore engineered the song alongside Andrew Berlin, while Chris Lord-Alge served as the mixer. It was recorded at The Blasting Room in Fort Collins, Colorado and mastered by Ted Jensen.[1] Rise Against unveiled the song on the California radio-station KROQ-FM on January 17, 2011,[2] before releasing it as the album's lead single on January 25.[3]

McIlrath was inspired to write the song following a trip he took to New Orleans. While he had initially gone to discuss with other musicians how to merge politics and music,[a] he was able to visit several areas affected by Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent flood, such as the Lower Ninth Ward. As McIlrath had felt that social media outlets were quick to dismiss the disaster, he compiled his thoughts and wrote the song's lyrics.[6][7] McIlrath also noted how he was critical of the United States government for its handling of various disasters. He called Hurricane Katrina "as much a man-made disaster as it was a natural disaster" while citing the lack of legislation to prevent another oil spill following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.[8]

Composition[edit]

A 24 second sample of the song's chorus. McIlrath sings lead vocals while the other band members provide backing vocals.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Help Is on the Way" is a rock song containing elements of punk rock and melodic hardcore,[9] and has been described as an "anthemic".[10][11][12] According to the sheet music, the song 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 and the melody spans a tonal range of D♯4 to B♭5.[13]

The track runs for a duration of three minutes and fifty-seven seconds,[3] and begins with a staccato guitar riff. Seven seconds in, the band performs a unified double stop, which leads into the opening verse. The pre-chorus follows suit, and the opening guitar riff is played, which is used to set up the chorus. In order to attain a smooth transition from the chorus to the next verse, small pauses of silence are utilized. After a second verse and chorus cycle, the bridge begins with guitar picking and a drum beat reminiscent of Coldplay's "Clocks". As the song reaches its conclusion, the opening guitar riff is once again employed.[14]

Lyrically, the song addresses the slow response time for aid to disaster stricken areas.[15] While Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club found that the lyrics could pertain to any difficult situation,[12] multiple references are made to Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as well as their affects on New Orleans.[8] McIlrath maintains clean vocals throughout the majority of the song,[b] but temporarily switches to screaming vocals during the bridge.[16]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Critics were polarized in their opinions when reviewing "Help Is on the Way". Tim Newbound of Rock Sound described the track as "impressively structured and equally furious",[17] while Evan Lucy of Billboard.biz cited it as "understated enough to capture radio attention and plenty explosive to please Rise Against's devoted fan base".[11] Rob Parker of NME commented on how "Help Is on the Way" and fellow Endgame track "This Is Letting Go" are able to "strike the perfect balance between punk fury and melodic accessibility without losing any of frontman Tim McIlrath’s personality".[9] Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone wrote that "Help Is on the Way" is able to "fist-pump in the face of doom".[18]

Genevieve Koski and Steven Hyden of The A.V. Club were divided in their opinions, with Koski praising the powerful lyrics, while Hyden belittled the track for being "run-of-the-mill".[12] 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, and negatively comparing the lyrics to another Rise Against song, "Re-Education (Through Labor)".[16] Johnny Firecloud of CraveOnline felt that the song "suffers from a blandness so paralyzing and repetitive, it's a wonder fans haven't clued in to the formula".[19]

Chart performance[edit]

Commercially, "Help Is on the Way" remains one of Rise Against's most successful singles to date. In the United States, it became their first song to reach the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at eighty-nine,[20] as well as number two on the Hot Rock Songs chart.[21] The track also found international success, reaching number ten on the Australia Hitseekers chart,[22] number forty-five on the Canadian Hot 100,[23] and number nineteen on the UK Rock & Metal chart.[24]

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. Described as a "dramatic and compelling narrative of Hurricane Katrina through the eyes of a family", the video 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.[25] The video follows the song's lyric thread,[26] while real footage of Hurricane Katrina and the survivors are shown throughout.[27] The video ends with a message encouraging donations, and a link to the band's activism website.[26]

Released on March 23, 2011, the band opted not to appear in the music video, as they felt their presence "might diminish the importance of [the video] and skew its reception".[27] Katie Hasty of HitFix commended this decision, stating that band "went for an artifact of truth".[26]

Personnel and credits[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Endgame.[1]

Rise Against[edit]

Additional backing vocals by Chad Price

Production[edit]

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rise Against is well known for incorporating the band members social and political views into their songs.[4][5]
  2. ^ 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.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Endgame (liner notes). Rise Against. DGC Records, Interscope Records. 2011. 
  2. ^ "[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. 
  3. ^ a b "Help Is On the Way - Single by Rise Against on iTunes". iTunes Store. Archived from the original on August 24, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ Ives, Brian (February 20, 2015). "Interview: Rise Against Stand by Their Values, No Matter What". Radio.com. Archived from the original on August 4, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2016. 
  5. ^ Kot, Greg (January 23, 2012). "Rise Against protests against lack of protest songs". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on June 25, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2016. 
  6. ^ 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. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b "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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ 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. 
  11. ^ a b Lucy, Evan (March 28, 2011). "Rise Against -- 'Help Is On the Way'". Billboard.biz. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016. Retrieved November 13, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b c 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. 
  13. ^ "Digital Sheet Music – Rise Against – Help Is on the Way". MusicNotes.com. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Grischow, Chad (March 14, 2011). "Rise Against: Endgame Review". IGN. Archived from the original on February 4, 2016. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b Nassiff, Thomas. "Rise Against - Endgame". AbsolutePunk. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  17. ^ Newbound, Tim (March 2, 2011). "Rise Against - Endgame". Rock Sound. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  18. ^ Dolan, Jon (March 15, 2011). "Endgame". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  19. ^ Firecloud, Johnny (March 13, 2011). "Rise Against: Endgame". CraveOnline. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015. 
  20. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history" Billboard Hot 100 for Rise Against. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history" Billboard Hot Rock Songs for Rise Against. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  22. ^ a b "ARIA Hitseekers – Week Commencing 21 March 2011" (PDF). ARIA Charts. p. 21. Archived from the original on January 30, 2016. Retrieved November 12, 2015. 
  23. ^ a b "Rise Against – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Rise Against. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  24. ^ a b "Archive Chart: 2011-01-30" UK Rock Chart. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  25. ^ "Help Is On The Way". riseagainst.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015. 
  26. ^ a b c 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. 
  27. ^ 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. 
  28. ^ "Hot Rock Songs Year End 2011". Billboard. Retrieved October 8, 2015. 

External links[edit]