Loser
by Beck

Album: Mellow Gold (1994)
Charted: 15 10
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • The chorus of "Soy un perdedor" is Spanish for "I'm a loser." Beck grew up in a Latin section of Los Angeles and most of his schoolmates were of Mexican descent.
  • "Loser" is one of the most bizarre songs ever to become a hit. A sample of the lyrics:

    Dog food stalls with the beefcake pantyhose
    Kill the headlights and put it in neutral


    Beck moved to New York at 18, then went back to Los Angeles a year or so later, in 1990. He started making up outlandish raps both to amuse his friends and to check the pulse of the crowds at his bar and coffeehouse gigs where most people wouldn't pay attention. He signed to the independent Bong Load Records in 1991, which connected him with Karl Stephenson, a producer who had done work with the Geto Boys. At Stephenson's house, they wrote and recorded "Loser" in a few hours; Beck hit on the title and chorus after doing some raps and exclaiming, "I'm the worst rapper in the world - I'm just a loser!"

    Bong Load didn't release the song until 1993, by which time Beck had released some singles, including one called "MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack." The song earned airplay on college radio and on some of the more adventurous alternative stations, including KNDD in Seattle, and the major labels came calling. Beck signed with Geffen Records in an unusual deal that let him issue his wares on indie labels as well, including Bong Load. It was far from the highest offer, but gave him the creative freedom he was after. Geffen put him on their alternative imprint, DGC, and released "Loser" in early 1994. With their promotional push, the song took off, climbing to #10 in the US in April. It ended up the biggest hit in Beck's highly eclectic discography.
  • The sample of "I'm a driver, I'm a winner, Things are gonna change soon, I can feel it," comes from an independent film called Kill the Moonlight, directed by Beck's friend, Steve Hanft. Beck did some songs for the film, which wasn't released until 1994, a year after song was issued with the sample. Hanft directed the video for "Loser."
  • The music video is as disjointed as the lyric, with a stop-motion coffin, graveyard aerobics, and shirtless acoustic guitarist. At the beginning of the video, Beck is wearing a Star Wars Stormtrooper helmet that had to be blurred out for legal reasons. Beck was known to respond to request for "Loser" at concerts by putting on the helmet, playing the song from cassette on a boombox, and dancing around the stage.

    Beck had utter disdain for MTV (did we mention he recorded a song called "MTV Makes Me Wanna Smoke Crack"), but they loved him, putting the video in hot rotation.
  • The media narrative of this song was that it's an anti-establishment slacker anthem emblematic of Generation X ennui. Beck fielded questions on the topic at most interviews. He told The Guardian in 1996: "That sort of slacker idea, or the goofy hip-hop guy, I just think it's silly, it's not me. It's like a cartoon. I'm never going to come up with a synopsis, a shorthand version of myself that somebody can just glance at and say, 'That's it.'"
  • This song was climbing the charts when Kurt Cobain died from suicide on April 5, 1994. Nirvana's label, Sub Pop, sold T-shirts emblazoned with the word "LOSER" a few years before this song was released. Both the song and the label used the word in a self-deprecating, anti-corporate fashion, but Beck never associated with the grunge scene.
  • The drum riff is sampled from Johnny Jenkins' 1970 cover of "I Walk on Guilded Splinters," originally by Dr. John.
  • Fans who bought the Mellow Gold album or went to a Beck concert were often surprised to hear that "Loser" is a musical outlier in his catalog, which at the time was filled with a strange mixture of folk, punk and blues. Beck made no effort to appease these fans, but always played the song, sometimes changing the lyrics for his own amusement.
  • This is mentioned in the 2017 novel Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and his son Owen King. Jared, the main character's son, references the song after being beat up by three guys. "I am a loser," he thought. "That Beck song, it must have been written with me in mind."

Comments: 47

  • JoshHow would anyone even think that this song is political? Dude wrote it as a joke, nothing more
  • Gneric from Nm"Started playing this slide guitar part..." Like the slide guitar part from Allman Brothers "Midnight Rider"
  • Mike from OhioDose anyone know what the yellow shirt in the start of the video is?
  • T. Greening from Ohio"I'm a driver. I'm a winner. Things are gonna change I can feel it" may have been in Kill the Moonlight, but it IS from a George H.W. Bush speech. I know because I watched the speech and even as an H.W. supporter I realized how silly that line sounded. The economy was a wreck at the time and I guess the idea was to portray him as a "man in charge", something he wasn't always seen as. Anyway, I don't know what speech it was from, only that I remember watching it.
  • Db from PolelandIts not 'soy un perdedor'
    Its 'soy un candedor'

    which means 'I'm a singer'

    ....listen....
  • Madden from Seattle, WaI did the rap of this song in my English class for a poem.
  • Rob from Cleveland, OhI do like this guy a lot, but I don't find saying that his songs are "about" something to be exactly accurate. Inspired by, yes. The borderline nonsensical lyrics make the songs so much easier to identify with. A strange sort of symmetry.
  • Don from B G, KyI think the music video to LOSER was shown in an episode of BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD on MTV back in the 90's.
  • Jacob from Elderwood , CaThis song is really cool. Its kinda random which makes it good
  • George from Waynesburg, Kythis song was used in an Episode of Glee on FOX
  • Landon from Winchester, OhThe inspiration for him calling himself a loser was his attempt at trying to fuse rock with rap, and discovering that he was really bad at it, and so he sings "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me?" And the rest of the song's content floated easily as he keeps moping about how he is an outcast to society. Just like me. :-([. Like the song, though.
  • The Internet from Floreat, BahrainSong is 10 kinds of awesome, but Beck is a scientologist freakboy.
  • Jack from Hollywood, CaWhy haven't The Biggest Loser used this track. Seriously. I'm a winner, things are going to change, I can feel it".
  • Julie from Dewitt, NeWho cares what the facts are I got this song stuck in my head while trying to shave my legs in the dark. I then thought the lyric " so shave your face with some mace in the dark. " I got a chuckle out of it from myself and I havent been able to get the song out of my head sence then. Thank god that it was just sunday. I love this song and it makes me laugh.
  • Cornflakes from Bfe, TnUgh I thought this was 'songFACTS'. That part about Beck intentionally writing "Loser" into the chorus is completely untrue. It actually came about accidentally. He was frustrated while recording 'Mellow Gold' and shouted "I'm a loser so why don't you kill me." They liked it and kept it in.
  • Catrencella from Mooresboro, NcLOL! i lvoe this song, what used to happen to me is ppl would tell me im a loser, and i would start singing this song!
  • Pk from Sedalia, MoMy theme song XD
  • Bertrand from Paris, FranceIf any major pop hit from 1994 could be described as coming from left field, it would be Beck's "Loser." It's a bit like welding a killer self-deprecating chorus to Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." In the years to come Beck would prove "Loser" was just a tiny peek at his well of creativity.

  • Mikapl from Warsaw, United StatesThere is a part where the chorus is recorded backwards... It is inserted from time 2:35 if you play song forward
  • Austin from Smallsville, NeOne time when he was writing a song he was trying to rap like Chuck D. of Public Enemy. But after a few tries he began singing I am a loser. He started singing that and finnally wrote some lyrics to it.
  • Ben from Cincinnati, Ohactually it's borrowed from "hats off to roy harper" by led zeppelin
  • Madison from Norway, MeBeck's grandfather, Al Hansen was an artist who hung around with Warhol. Al and some friends were going in to the Factory as Valerie Solanis was coming out after shooting Warhol. Al & these few friends were first on the scene.

    Beck's mother, Bebe, started acting in Warhol films when she was around 13.
  • Law from Singapore, SingaporeThe song's opening riff (actually the main riff) was ripped (pardon the pun) from Allman Brother's "Midnight Rider". Awesome result though, was a compliment really.
  • Jed from Orwigsburg, PaI saw Beck in concert not too long ago. He opened with Loser and everybody went nuts. It was amazing. He really knows how to have a good time when he does a concert. At one point, his percussion section played the beat to Clap Hands with their dinner utensils and it was spectacular. Beck is the man.
  • Dave from Cardiff, WalesBeck's surname is Hansen; three years after "Loser", the fact that he looked a lot like Isaac Hanson had many people wondering if the three Hanson brothers (of "MMM-Bop" fame) were related to Beck! Silly question really coz Beck has more talent in one eyelash than those teeny-boppers will have in all their miserable career...
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesAt one time or another, I heard a rumor that the chorus lyrics were an apology along the lines of "Yes, I know this song isn't very good." ...

    I could have sworn the "I'm a driver, I'm a winner" soundclip was Bush Senior. In the video, I would be interested in knowing who the cemetery cheerleaders and the little girl drummer were.

  • Rick from Mcallen, TxWay to go Sammy from NY. I wholeheartedly concur there, chief. Beck and Henry Rollins for Prez and Vice Prez.
  • Andy from Hamilton, Canadawell actually i think anyone could relate to this song..you know...its sortof weird but it totally puts your life right there
  • Andy from Hamilton, Canadathe videos great, i beleive its budget was at $300
  • Joey from Nowhere Land, Cathis song is *bleeping* awsome...my brother put it on my iTunes and made me listen to it, and I loved it!!
  • James from WhangareiThe remix to this song by Fatboy slim is one of my favourites.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScTo second everyone else, Beck is awesome.
  • Whitney from Hazelhurst, GaI luv Beck!!! He is awesome:)
  • Whitney from Hazelhurst, GaThis song is like the soundtrack to boredom(and my life). I love it.
  • Sammy from New York, NyAgreed. Beck is awesome. 'My time is a piece of wax falling on a termite that's choking on the splinters.' Who comes up with that? Listen to his lyrics, people. He is still one of the best lyricists out today. Not only that, but he is also an accomplished musician who blends musical styles with ease and creativity. May he continue to make wonderful music for years to come.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThat makes sense that the chorus would say that. I know a little Spanish.
  • Ashley from Moncton, CanadaOh, that's what the chorus says!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScHaha, this song is cool! I remember listening to it when I was um six or so. I was born in 1988, and the song came out in 1994, so I was probably five or six years old.
  • Adam from Pickering, CanadaThis song was used as theme music by ECW/indy wrestler Mikey Whipwreck. Anyone familiar with Mikey knows that the little guy could take a serious beating, and the song fit him perfectly.
  • Luis from Arlington, TxActually "Soy un perdedor" translates to "I'm a loser."
    Soy = I am Un = a Perdedor = loser

    "I am the one who loses" translates to "yo soy el que pierde."

    yo = I soy = am el = the one que = who
    pierde = loses
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhOdd that Beck became popular by singing about how uncool he was. Beck is about ten times as cool any rapper attempts to be.
  • Axel Titus from Lake Forest, CaThis was Beck's only Top 40 hit.
  • Zach from Kerrville, Txthe song loser I like a lot because I like the word loser and It doesn't make any sense and i dont either and beck in the music lookes like this cool kid I know called Mark I also like beck's song called E-pro even though i only understand one word
  • Kaylene from Moore, Orthis song TOTALLY relates to me.. the first line saying that 'in the time of chimpanzees i was a monkey' is basically saying that when one thing was in he was out... i absoultly love the lyrics in this song they're so different from any other songs out there
  • Sylvia from Dddddd, Mdi am the one who loses = yo soy el que pierde. :)
  • AndrÃ?s from Baton Rouge, LaActually, the words "soy un perdedor" means "I am the one who loses" but it is close enough.
  • Magoo from Chicago, Ilthe part that goes "i'm a driver. i'm a winner. things are goin' change, i can feel it" is not from bush's campaign but the movie "kill the moonlight" done by beck's friend (which he also did the soundtrack for)
see more comments

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