21st Century (Digital Boy)

Album: Against the Grain (1990)
Charted: 41


  • This song was first released on the album Against the Grain in 1990, but it was rerecorded for their 1994 album Stranger Than Fiction and released as a single. The theme of the song is a criticism of modern consumerist culture: "I don't know how to live, but I got a lot of toys."
  • The song also is a homage (or at least it refers to) King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man," with the title, also the set of lyrics that are sung in the background of the last lyrics: "Cat's foot iron claw, neurosurgeons scream for more. Innocents raped with napalm fire, everything I want I really need." These lines are a direct quote from the song; only the last line is reworked, the original was: "Nothing he's got he really needs." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Martin - Rostock, Germany, for above 2
  • The video shows a young child transfixed to a TV screen while the band plays inside it. Director Gore Verbinski created an interesting effect by submerging the band in a plastic swimming pool filled with water that was treated with various dyes and other substances.
  • The lyrics, "I tried to tell you about no control, but now I really don't know, And then you told me how bad you had to suffer, is that really all you have to offer?" reference the Bad Religion albums Suffer and No Control, both released prior to Against the Grain. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Lucas - Los Angeles, California

Comments: 1

  • Lucas from Los Angeles, CaliforniaBad Religion has never had a Hot 100 hit, but "21st Century (Digital Boy)" is one of their most popular songs, making it #11 on the Alternative chart. It's also their highest-charting signle in the UK, where it peaked at #41.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie Combination

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

Francis Rossi of Status Quo

Francis Rossi of Status QuoSongwriter Interviews

Doubt led to drive for Francis, who still isn't sure why one of Status Quo's biggest hits is so beloved.

Tanita Tikaram

Tanita TikaramSongwriter Interviews

When she released her first album in 1988, Tanita became a UK singing sensation at age 19. She talks about her darkly sensual voice and quirky songwriting style.


QueenFact or Fiction

Scaramouch, a hoople and a superhero soundtrack - see if you can spot the real Queen stories.

Gary Louris of The Jayhawks

Gary Louris of The JayhawksSongwriter Interviews

The Jayhawks' song "Big Star" has special meaning to Gary, who explains how longevity and inspiration have trumped adulation.

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. Televangelists

Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk: Rock vs. TelevangelistsSong Writing

When televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart took on rockers like Ozzy Osbourne and Metallica, the rockers retaliated. Bono could even be seen mocking the preachers.