Youth of the Nation
|"Youth of the Nation"|
|Single by P.O.D.|
|from the album Satellite|
|Released||December 25, 2001|
|P.O.D. singles chronology|
"Youth of the Nation" is a song by American Christian metal band P.O.D. It was released on Christmas 2001 as the second single to come from their second major label album, Satellite. It was inspired in part by the school shootings at Santana High School and Columbine High School. While Satellite contained numerous hit songs, "Youth of the Nation" was the band's only No. 1 hit on the Modern Rock chart and reached No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, their only single to reach the top 40, and No. 6 on the Mainstream Rock chart. The song was included in "Weird Al" Yankovic's polka medley "Angry White Boy Polka" from his 2003 album Poodle Hat, despite lead singer Sonny Sandoval's mixed race background. It was also featured as downloadable content in the music video games Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band 3.
The song's inspiration stems from a trip when the band was on their way to record for Satellite on March 5, 2001. They were held up in traffic and discovered that the reason was a shooting at Santana High School where a fifteen-year-old student named Charles Andrew Williams killed two and wounded thirteen. The album was consequently delayed, and the band was inspired to write "Youth of the Nation."
In a 2008 interview, guitarist Marcos Curiel described the event:
- "We were rehearsing and writing Satellite a couple of blocks away from the school. One day on the way to the studio, there were all these helicopters and cars speeding by. We really didn’t know what was going on. When we got to the studio, this guy had the news on, and he was like, ‘This kid just went and started blasting fools.’ So we started jamming, and that rhythm just naturally came out, then Wuv [Bernardo, drummer] put that drumbeat on it, and the song was born."
Lyrics and song structure
"Youth of the Nation" contains three stories of adolescent tragedy in American culture. It begins by describing a teenager unknowingly skating to school only to be shot by a fellow student. Lyrics go on to speculate whether or not the boy who committed the act felt unloved. Following the chorus, a 12-year-old girl called "little Suzie" is depicted as having been abandoned by her father and subsequently "finding love in all the wrong places." Finally, another teen known as "Johnny boy" fails to fit in with his peers and ultimately commits suicide by firearm, "[telling] the world how he felt with the sound of a gat [handgun]."
The music video for "Youth of the Nation" has the band performing the song in a room filled with photos of adolescents as seen on the single cover. It revolves around a group of teenagers taking a cross country trip in a car from New York City to Venice Beach in Los Angeles via Western Pennsylvania (New Kensington, Arnold, Cheswick, Harmarville), Carhenge is used as a backdrop for parts of the chorus along with other locales. The book On the Road by Jack Kerouac can be seen on the dashboard of the car. Directed by Paul Fedor, the video found significant airplay on MTV2.
Marcos Curiel noted that censorship of the video came into play due to Viacom: "We had a girl sitting on the hood of the car going down the highway trying to be free-spirited, you know? [...] But, Viacom and MTV had us edit that out because kids are so easily influenced."
- "Youth of the Nation" (album version) – 4:18
- "Alive" (Semi-acoustic version) – 3:27
- "Sabbath" – 4:33
Chart and sales
2003 Grammy Awards
- Best Hard Rock Performance (nomination)
2002 MTV Video Music Awards
- Best Rock Video (nomination)
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