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MONKEY…MON-KAYEE | Shocking MTV viewers
When Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” video hit heavy MTV rotation upon its release in 1982, I remember everyone being mesmerized by it. I know I was. Every artist back then was interested in breaking new ground on the fledgling channel devoted to music videos, but Gabriel, the former lead singer for Genesis, was in a league of his own with this piece of work.
It’s hard to think of this song without imagining the video. The other day I heard someone ask whether they even showed videos on MTV these days. I honestly have no idea, but if they do, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything as original as this was in 1982. If your music tastes are stuck in the 80s, like mine, compare this video to something like Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love.” Palmer had success similar to Gabriel in the 80s, but there was a marked difference in their approach. There are artists, like Palmer, then there are artistes.
According to Wikipedia this song is “frequently assumed to be either an animal rights song or a reference to the famous experiments by Stanley Milgram described in his book Obedience to Authority. It is neither, although another Gabriel song, ‘We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37),’ from his 1986 album ‘So,’ does deal directly with Milgram. Gabriel himself has described ‘Shock the Monkey’ as ‘a love song’ that examines how jealousy can release one’s baser instincts; the monkey is not a literal monkey, but a metaphor for one’s feelings of jealousy.”
You could have fooled me. I had no idea…it’s just a cool video that turned a so-so song into a major hit. Videos for his other songs, including “Sledghammer” and “Big Time,” were also pretty good.
In the lyrics:
Fox the fox
Rat the rat
You can ape the ape
I know about that
There is one thing you must be sure of
I can’t take any more
Darling, don’t you monkey with the monkey
Monkey, monkey, monkey
Don’t you know you’re going to shock the monkey
Song: “Shock the Monkey”
Artist: Peter Gabriel
Where I heard it: XM Channel 08