Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Yeah Yeah Yeahs in 2002. L–R: Brian Chase, Karen O, Nick Zinner
Yeah Yeah Yeahs in 2002. L–R: Brian Chase, Karen O, Nick Zinner
Background information
OriginNew York City, U.S.
Years active
  • 2000–2014
  • 2017–present

Yeah Yeah Yeahs are an American indie rock band formed in New York City in 2000. The group is composed of vocalist and pianist Karen O (born Karen Lee Orzolek), guitarist and keyboardist Nick Zinner, and drummer Brian Chase.[4] They are complemented in live performances by second guitarist David Pajo (formerly of Slint and Tortoise), who joined as a touring member in 2009 and replaced Imaad Wasif, who had previously held the role. According to an interview that aired during ABC's Live from Central Park SummerStage series, the band's name was taken from modern New York City vernacular.[5]

The band has recorded five studio albums; the first, Fever to Tell, was released in 2003. The second, Show Your Bones, was released in 2006 and was named the second-best album of the year by NME.[6] Their third studio album, It's Blitz!, was released in March 2009. All three albums earned the band Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Music Album. Their fourth record, Mosquito, came out in April 2013. In September 2022, they released Cool It Down, and the album was also nominated for a Grammy award.


Formation and Fever to Tell (1990s–2004)[edit]

Karen O and Brian Chase first met as students at Oberlin College in Ohio in the late 1990s, where Chase was a jazz student at the conservatory. Karen then transferred to New York University and met Zinner, a student at Bard College, in a local bar, where they formed an "instant connection". During this time, they also shared a loft with future members of the band Metric.[7] Orzolek and Zinner formed an acoustic duo called Unitard but soon decided to "shake things up a bit" by forming a "trashy, punky, grimy" band modeled after the art student, avant-punk bands Karen O was exposed to at Oberlin.[8] After the drummer they initially recruited bowed out, Chase joined the lineup.

The band wrote a slew of songs at their first rehearsal and soon wound up supporting the Strokes and the White Stripes, earning a significant buzz for their arty and garage punk scene. In late 2001, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their self-titled debut EP, which they recorded with Boss Hog's Jerry Teel, on their own Shifty label.[9] Early the next year, they stepped into the international spotlight, appearing at SXSW, touring the U.S. with Girls Against Boys, and Europe with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, and headlining their own U.K. tour. Wichita Recordings distributed the group's EP in the U.K. and Touch and Go reissued it in the States.[10]

In 2003, the band released their debut album, Fever to Tell, which received several strong critical reviews and sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide. The album's third single, "Maps", received significant airplay on alternative radio. In 2010, Rolling Stone ranked "Maps" as 386th in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The video for their 2004 single "Y Control" was directed by Spike Jonze. In October 2004, the band released their first DVD, Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow. The DVD included a concert filmed at The Fillmore in San Francisco, all of the band's music videos to date, and various interviews. Later the same year, they were featured in Scott Crary's documentary Kill Your Idols.

In November 2009, NME rated Fever to Tell the fifth-best album of the decade.[11]

Show Your Bones and Is Is EP (2005–2007)[edit]

Karen O live at the Tim Festival in 2006

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' second album, Show Your Bones, was released on March 28, 2006. Karen O told online zine Drowned in Sound, "Show Your Bones is what happens when you put your finger in a light socket", crediting "9-year old antigenius wonder-kid Drake Barrett for the insight."[12] The first single from the album, "Gold Lion", was released on March 20, 2006, reaching number 18 in the Official UK Singles Chart. It has been noted by Leah Greenblatt that "Gold Lion" sounds startlingly similar to "No New Tale To Tell" from 1980s alternative band Love and Rockets.[13]

The band toured throughout Europe and the United States during much of 2006, and also helped to curate an edition of the British All Tomorrow's Parties festival.

In December 2006, the album was named second-best album of the year by NME magazine, and "Cheated Hearts" was voted tenth-best song. Rolling Stone magazine named Show Your Bones the 44th-best album of 2006, while Spin magazine ranked it number 31 on their 40 best albums of 2006.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs' third EP, titled Is Is, was released on July 24, 2007. It includes 5 previously unreleased songs and a short film, which was recorded and filmed at the Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. The songs were written in 2004, during the Fever To Tell tour, and performed live often.[14] Three of the five tracks were featured on the Tell Me What Rockers to Swallow DVD.

Karen O and Nick Zinner performing at the Glastonbury Festival, 2009

It's Blitz! (2008–2009)[edit]

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' next album was released in March 2009 and titled It's Blitz!.[15] The band says the album sounds different from their previous ones but "still [sounds] like Yeah Yeah Yeahs". It was originally set to be released on April 13, but following an internet leak on February 22,[16] the band's label, Interscope, pulled the release date closer to reduce the leak's impact.[17] The album spawned three singles: "Zero", "Heads Will Roll," and "Skeletons."

It's Blitz! was named second-best album of 2009 by Spin Magazine and third-best by NME, along with "Zero" from the album listed as the best track of the year by both.[18][19][20][21]

Mosquito and hiatus (2011–2016)[edit]

On December 9, 2011, Karen O reported to NME that she had been working on new music with the band, hinting a new album was possibly in the making.[22] On January 14, 2013, it was announced via their official Facebook page that the new album would be titled Mosquito. It was released on April 16, of the same year.[23] The album features production by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Nick Launay, and LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.[24] The first single, "Sacrilege", was released on February 15, 2013.[25] "Despair" was released as the second single on July 23, 2013.[26]

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing in Ventura, California, 2013

In December 2014, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs went on hiatus.[27] In 2016, the band received writing credits on the Beyoncé single "Hold Up".[28]

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs performing at Corona Capital Guadalajara, 2019

Return in 2017[edit]

On June 20, 2017, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced that they would be headlining the Austin "Sound on Sound" festival on November 10, adding: "Watch for more news coming soon"[29] The Sound on Sound festival was subsequently cancelled.[30]

On May 26, 2018, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played at All Points Festival in Victoria Park, London.[31]

Reissue of Fever to Tell[edit]

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released a deluxe remastering of their debut album Fever to Tell on October 20, 2017, through Interscope / UMe. It features previously unreleased demos, B-sides, and other rarities from the era.[32]

In a press release, the band announced, "A friend of a friend kept asking if we were ever gonna put Fever to Tell out on vinyl as it hasn't been on vinyl in 10 years. That's not right. So here it is on vinyl for the first time in 10 years plus a time capsule of photos, demos (1st ever recorded,) a mini film documenting our near downfall and other fun memorabilia, from the turn of the century NYC, made with love + the usual blood, sweat + tears of Yeah Yeah Yeahs."

To celebrate the reissue, the band performed a small series of shows in October and November at The Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles, California, the Fox Oakland Theatre in Oakland, California, and Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.

Cool It Down (2022)[edit]

In June 2022, the band announced that they would be releasing the album Cool It Down on September 30, making it their first record in nine years.[3] They released the first single, "Spitting Off the Edge of the World", featuring Perfume Genius, on June 1.[33] On September 29, 2022, the band performed their second single, "Burning", on Jimmy Kimmel Live! as part of the show's weeklong residency at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.[34][35]

Musical style[edit]

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs' style has been described as "an art-rock trio who made an edgy post-punk, dancefloor-friendly racket that mixed up Blondie, Pretenders, and Siouxsie and the Banshees".[2][36]

Band members[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Antville Music Video Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2006 "Gold Lion" Best Cinematography Nominated
Best Performance Video Won
2013 "Despair" Nominated
"Sacrilege" Video of the Year Nominated
Best Narrative Won
Best Editing Won

BMI London Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2007 "Gold Lion" Pop Award Won

Best Art Vinyl

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2022 Cool It Down Best Vinyl Art Nominated [37]

D&AD Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 "Y Control" Direction Yellow Pencil
2014 "Sacrilege" Cinematography Wood Pencil
Editing Graphite Pencil

Grammy Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004 Fever to Tell[38] Best Alternative Music Album Nominated
2007 Show Your Bones[39] Nominated
2010 It's Blitz![40] Nominated
2023 Cool It Down Nominated
"Spitting Off the Edge of the World" Best Alternative Music Performance Nominated

International Dance Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2010 Themselves Best Artist (Group) Nominated
It's Blitz Best Artist Album Nominated
"Heads Will Roll" Best Alternative/Rock Dance Track Nominated

Libera Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2023 "Spitting Off the Edge of the World" Video of the Year Nominated
Cool It Down Marketing Genius Nominated

MTV Video Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004 "Maps" Best Art Direction Nominated
Best Editing Nominated
Best Cinematography Nominated
MTV2 Award Nominated
2009 "Heads Will Roll" Breakthrough Video Nominated
2013 "Sacrilege" Best Direction Nominated
Best Cinematography Nominated

MVPA Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2005 "Y Control" Best Alternative Video Won
2006 "Gold Lion" Best Cinematography Nominated
2009 "Zero" Best Rock Video Won

mtvU Woodie Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2004 Themselves Woodie of the Year Nominated
2009 "Heads Will Roll" Best Video Woodie Nominated

NME Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2003 Themselves Philip Hall Hot New Band Award Won
Karen O Hottest Woman Nominated
2005 Nominated
2007 Nominated
2010 "Zero" Best Dancefloor Filler Nominated
Themselves Best International Band Nominated
2011 Karen O Hottest Woman Won

New York Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 "Heads Will Roll" (A-Trak Remix) Best Dance Remix Won

Rober Awards Music Poll

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2009 Themselves Best Rock Artist Won
Band of the Year Nominated
"Zero" Song of the Year Nominated
"Heads Will Roll" (A-Trak Remix) Best Remix Nominated

Shortlist Music Prize

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2003 Fever to Tell Album of the Year Nominated

UK Music Video Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2013 "Sacrilege" Best Rock/Indie Video Won
Best Editing Won

Žebřík Music Awards

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2009 Karen O Best International Female Nominated [41]
Themselves Best International Discovery Nominated


Studio albums


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