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Courtesy of Columbia Records

February 3, 2017

Spinning Singles: Depeche Mode, “Where’s the Revolution”

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Everything is chaotic right now, and not just in America. The whole world is spinning endlessly into an abyss of terror and uncertainty. Does anyone know what’s going on anymore? What can we do and how? How much time do we have left? I constantly feel myself being sucked into a spiral of anxieties and questions as I look around me and wonder how we got here.

We are living in a world full of noise: alternative facts, fake news, the media, conspiracies, secrets, dictators and unrest. Perhaps this is why after four years, Depeche Mode is making a comeback with their newest single, “Where’s the Revolution”. Every political injustice comes with repercussions: protests, violence, revolution and what essentially  becomes the people’s “anthem.” During 1968 protests, The Beatles’ Revolution drove and inspired the people, and now Depeche Mode’s newest single may prove to be its parallel if enough people understand the empowering message behind it.

Where’s the Revolution,” Depeche Mode’s single from their upcoming album Spirit, features a steady, military rhythm fit for an army or protesters to march to. The opening of the track features a haunting silence and lead singer Dave Gahan’s voice presenting crude, repressed truths such as “You’ve been kept down, you’ve been pushed ‘round, you’ve been lied to, you’ve been fed truths.” He is sketching the dystopic scene we are living in and shading it with the questions “Who’s making your decisions? You or your religion?”  This opening of the song is what you listen to when you’re in bed staring at the ceiling, thinking about things nobody wants to think about, such as a malfunctioning government and all the power it holds over the entire country. As the music builds up to the chorus, you realize just how corrupt everything around you is and ask yourself, “Where is the revolution?” just as Dave Gahan sings it.

After the cathartic first chorus, I knew that the song was going to keep stating truths and posing questions to the same steady rhythm, urging listeners to get up and carry out said revolution. This was not your classic love song like “Enjoy the Silence”. Depeche Mode seems to have other plans in store for Spirit. Even the title implies a step back from the overused, tired themes of love and suffering found in previous albums such as Playing the Angel and Delta Machine, almost as if the band has gone from being angsty teenagers in the ‘80s to wise, activist parents. The powerful message that “Where’s the Revolution” conveys goes to show that in such times, music becomes more important than ever. There’s a soundtrack to everything, and Depeche Mode has just given us our soundtrack to late night thoughts of revolt against political injustices. The title of the song is not a question, but a statement, which implies that we will rise up and revolt rather than continues to doubt ourselves and question our actions while we fight each other. The lyrics “The train is coming so get on board” tell us that now is the perfect time to act, else it will be too late and we will go back to repression and lies.

Regardless of the new theme that Depeche Mode seems to be exploring, their signature popping, rhythmic synth sounds can be heard throughout the track, giving it its classic ‘80s vibe they have kept constant regardless of changing times. Even if anything past their 1990 album Violator takes getting used to, their style remains true to its time, a quality that is getting harder and harder to find in music. Overall, “Where’s the Revolution” left me hoping for a better tomorrow brought on by us, rather than relying on our increasingly dysfunctional government to change.

Viri Garcia is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at vg235@cornell.edu