Give The People What They Want

Album: Give The People What They Want (1981)

Songfacts®:

  • The title track to The Kinks 1981 album, "Give The People What They Want" was written by their frontman Ray Davies in response to what he saw on American TV when he was writing songs for their previous album, Low Budget. He noticed that TV was getting more and more sensational, and that viewers were fascinated with violence and tragedy - similar to how Romans watched Christians get fed to the lions.

    It was a very prescient song, as TV became even more overwrought with spectacle in later years. Davis explained in a 1981 interview with Creem: "What happens is the consumer is being used to entertain, to get high ratings, to sell products to consumers. It was going around in a circle. That's a real con. And good shows were being dropped from TV. I've just written an outline, and I hope we're going to get some money from RCA to do a videodisc because it’s a media-based album."

    One show Davies watched was That's Incredible, where regular people performed dangerous stunts.
  • Ray Davies said that he took out the following verse:

    The French Revolution was a crazy scene
    All those aristocrats getting guillotined
    The promoters cleaned up
    The expenses were low
    An execution costs nothing
    It's a wonderful show
  • Taken at face value with just the title for reference, this song can appear to be about The Kinks making an effort to please their audience by delivering a hit. That interpretation is way off, however, as the song is much more a social commentary on those who pander to the masses.
  • The Kinks went for a monster drum sound on this one in an effort to make it arena-friendly. To get his sound, they placed corrugated iron around the walls of Konk Studios in London, where they recorded the album.

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