Cough Syrup (song)

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"Cough Syrup"
Young the Giant - Cough Syrup.jpg
Single by Young the Giant
from the album Young the Giant
Released2008 (as The Jakes)
October 2010 (digital download)
July 12, 2011 (radio)[1][2]
  • Sameer Gadhia
  • Jacob Tilley
  • Eric Cannata
  • Francois Comtois
  • Ehson Hashemian
Young the Giant singles chronology
"My Body"
"Cough Syrup"

"Cough Syrup" is a song by American alternative rock band Young the Giant from their eponymous debut album. It was composed when the band was named The Jakes, and first appeared on their 2008 EP Shake My Hand. Released by Young The Giant as a single in 2011, the song peaked at number three on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.

Origins and lyrics[edit]

"Cough Syrup" predates Young the Giant, when the band was known as The Jakes. The song appeared on the band's 2008 Shake My Hand EP, received regular airplay on KROQ's Locals Only radio program, and won a "Best Song" nomination at the 2009 OC Music Awards.[3][4]

Lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia explained that "Cough Syrup" was written at a time when the band was unsigned, had no money and "didn't really know what to do with [themselves]." The group, he continued, "felt somewhat oppressed by the universal expectation of what to do in Orange suburbia in general. I think we really yearned to break out of that and do something a little bit different." Gadhia said the song is "kind of a cry for help" to "break free, not necessarily from oppression, but the common symptoms of suburbia like boredom, normality and homogeneity."

Bassist Payam Doostzadeh, in a 2011 interview, said that with "Cough Syrup" being the oldest song in Young the Giant's catalog, "it's kind of hard for us to play it." Doostzadeh added, "I mean, we've had it for four years and it's just now getting on the radio? But our fans don't know that."[5]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Cough Syrup" debuted June 21, 2011 on MTV and played at the top of each music hour beginning at 6 a.m.[6][7] Directed by Petro, it features the band in an indoor swimming pool complex along with synchronized swimmers, fish tanks, glitter and fluorescent dyes.[8] According to Gadhia, the band "wanted more of a visual aspect to the music video because "My Body" was more of a narrative. We wanted something that would pop but still make thematic and artistic sense." The video concept, Gadhia said, centered on viscosity, "the friction of fluids and the obstacles that everyone, any object, has to face in order to evolve."[9]

Critical reception[edit]

Consequence of Sound's Caitlin Meyer, in a review of the Young the Giant album, wrote of the song: "Mellow guitar and cello contrast the sunny preceding tracks, the lyrics contemplate apathy and misdirection, and yet the chorus is still so compelling that you find yourself humming it hours later."[10] Both Chris Conaton of PopMatters and Eduardo Rivadavia of Allmusic described "Cough Syrup" as being stylistically similar to Coldplay's typical sound.[11][12] Conaton added that the song is "good, but it seems to follow the script on 'how to do anthemic rock' exactly."[11] Rolling Stone's Matt Ross called "Cough Syrup" an "album highlight",[13] while Chris White of musicOMH suggested the song is influenced by Kings of Leon.[14]

Cover versions and remixes[edit]

Darren Criss' character Blaine Anderson covered the song on the season three episode of Glee titled "On My Way" during a scene when closeted football player Dave Karofsky attempts suicide after being outed.[15] Young the Giant was satisfied with the song's placement in the show's suicide scene. "I don't think we ever had the intent of the song... in such a serious scene," Gadhia told Billboard. "It's very, very intense, very, very impactful, and we most definitely empathized with that. All of us have been victims of bullying -- and been bullies at some point in time. It's something that hits everyone."[16]

Ra Ra Riot remixed "Cough Syrup" for Young The Giant's Remix EP, released in September 2011.[17]

The song was also covered by Melanie Martinez in Season 3 of The Voice during the Top 12 Live Performances episode. The song was again covered on The Voice in 2013 by Matthew Schuler, who had the fastest four-chaired turn in The Voice history.

Charts and certifications[edit]


  1. ^ "Modern Rock Available for Airplay Archive". FMQB. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  2. ^ "Top 40 Mainstream Radio Adds (July 12, 2011)". Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved January 8, 2012.
  3. ^ Fakorski, Kelly Skye (2011-08-11). "Young the Giant Invites 300 Fans to Join VMAs Performance". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  4. ^ "2009 Awards". OC Music Awards. Archived from the original on 2011-11-18. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  5. ^ Freedman, Peter (2011-09-29). "Young the Giant Grows Into Its Name". Dallas Observer. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  6. ^ "Quick Hits: MuchMusic Video Awards, Selena Gomez, AC/DC & Metallica, Coldplay, Cake, Amy Winehouse, Against Me!, Carnival Of Madness tour, Red Bull Riot Fest, POPPED! Festival, Young The Giant, Mr. Big, Jimi Hendrix". FMQB. 2011-06-20. Archived from the original on 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  7. ^ Roa, Ray (2011-06-21). "Video: Young The Giant – 'Cough Syrup'". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  8. ^ Newman, Jason (2011-06-21). "Video Premiere: Young The Giant, 'Cough Syrup'". MTV. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  9. ^ "The Grammys At Lollapalooza With Young The Giant And DJ Lady D". 2011-08-22. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  10. ^ Meyer, Caitlin (2010-12-21). "Album Review: Young the Giant – Young the Giant". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  11. ^ a b Conaton, Chris (2011-02-21). "Young the Giant: Young the Giant". PopMatters. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  12. ^ Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Young the Giant - Young the Giant Album Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  13. ^ Ross, Matt (2011-05-05). "Reviews: Young the Giant - Young the Giant". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  14. ^ White, Chris. "Young The Giant - Young The Giant : Album Reviews". musicOMH. Retrieved 2011-11-03.
  15. ^ Votta, Rae (2012-02-21). "'Glee's Max Adler on Karofsky's Suicide Attempt in Bold Episode". Billboard (Nielsen Company). Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  16. ^ Graff, Gary (2012-02-22). "Young the Giant Happy With 'Glee' Moment". Billboard (Nielsen Company). Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  17. ^ Kaufman, Gil (2011-09-21). "Young The Giant Psyched About Their VMA Bump". MTV. Retrieved 2012-04-04.
  18. ^ "Chart History: 'Cough Syrup' - Young the Giant". Billboard (Nielsen Company). Retrieved 2011-04-04.
  19. ^ "Archivio - Top Digital Download - Classifica settimanale WK 15 (dal 09-04-2012 al 15-04-2012)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Archived from the original on October 26, 2013. Retrieved October 26, 2013.
  20. ^ "Nielsen Music - Italian Official Airplay Chart" (in Italian). Nielsen Music. Archived from the original on 5 December 2011. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  21. ^ "Discografie Young the Giant" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2011-08-29.
  22. ^ "Best of 2011 - Alternative Songs 21-30". Retrieved January 23, 2013.
  23. ^ "Best of 2012 - Rock Songs 21-30". Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  24. ^ "Best of 2012 - Alternative Songs 11-20". Retrieved January 16, 2013.
  25. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Young the Giatnt – Cough Syrup". Music Canada.
  26. ^ "Italian single certifications – Young the Giant – Cough Syrup" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select "2012" in the "Anno" drop-down menu. Select "Cough Syrup" in the "Filtra" field. Select "Singoli online" under "Sezione".
  27. ^ "American single certifications – Young the Giant – Cough Syrup". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]