10 Awesome Songs Inspired by ‘A Clockwork Orange’
Come, me droogies, and viddy this list on the horrorshow book and cine, A Clockwork Orange. There’s something about this anarchistic dystopian work that transcends generations and particularly speaks to the art and music communities. Perhaps it’s not only because of the socio-political commentary that tackles corrupt politics, ethics, psychology, and martyrdom, to name a few, but because music is also an essential theme within the controversial body of work.
Along with ultra-violence and sex, the compositions of the “glorious Ludwig Van” is one of the few true pleasures that the villainous Alex de Large takes in life. Perhaps the average mind might think that a typical psychopath listens to Huey Lewis and the News or maybe even Slayer. However, in Conversations with Anthony Burgess, it is revealed that his use of Beethoven is inspired by writer George Steiner’s lack of understanding of “two kinds of good.”
“I’ve always been worried about the tendency of people writing in English to confuse the two kinds of good,” he explained. “George Steiner, the biggest bloody fool who ever lived, a man in a responsible situation, a man miraculously equipped with languages and learning, who is so foolish as to wonder why Nazis, why a concentration camp officer could listen to Schubert and at the same time send Jews to the gas.”
He continued, “There are two different kinds of good. This is a horrible thing. A bad man listening to Beethoven. The man is going to kill his dog in a few minutes. It’s impossible, but this is the romantic heresy, the assumption that a work of art has some sort of moral content.”
Meanwhile, Kubrick adds his own personal touch to the film, utilizing Gene Kelly's “I'm Singing in the Rain” to accentuate Alex’s sociopathy during a particularly sick act of ultra-violence, which nicely compliments Burgess’ intended purpose of the musical symbolism.
Be it the novel or the cine, countless musicians have been inspired by A Clockwork Orange. From lyrics to costumes to artwork, these artists have found a way to take a timeless masterpiece and turn it into their own work of art. Below, you can find ten rock songs that have been influenced by A Clockwork Orange, as well as tons of spoilers for those who have not yet viddied or read it, so proceed with caution!
“Great Music, it said, and Great Poetry would like quieten Modern Youth down and make Modern Youth more Civilized. Civilized my syphilised yarbles.”
― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange
Now, take a look (and listen) below at 10 Songs Inspired by 'A Clockwork Orange' and take it with you by following our Spotify playlist.
Carcass - “Room 101” While the title “Room 101” is surely a reference to Emmanuel Goldstein's torture room in George Orwell's 1984, the song also makes reference to A Clockwork Orange with the lyrics “No Clockwork Orange / The doom watch ticks.” When the effects of Alex’s “horrible killing sickness” is being showcased to a room of onlookers in Burgess’ novel, he blurts out, “Me, me, me. How about me? Where do I come into all this? Am I like just some animal or dog? Am I just to be like a clockwork orange?” While we earlier learn that Alex derives the phrase “a clockwork orange” from the title of one of his victim’s manuscripts, it is finally given context during this chapter. Alex associates being “a clockwork orange” with being a lab rat or a circus monkey. Carcass uses this clever lyric to tie together the torture themes of both of the aforementioned novels.
David Bowie - “Suffragette City” During Bowie’s infamous Ziggy Stardust period, he heavily paid homage to Clockwork. Drawing inspiration from the film’s wardrobe for his own costumes, the Starman also opened his performances with our humble narrator’s beloved Ludwig Van’s “Ninth Symphony.” Also, “Suffragette City’s” lyric, “say droogie don’t crash here,” references Alex’s slang for his cronies.
Sepultura - “Moloko Mesto” How does one even narrow a song down on Sepultura’s Clockwork concept album, A-Lex? The whole record is based entirely around the Burgess book. Each song on the album has a touch of Nadsat slang in the lyrics and just like the book, the album is broken down into different parts (note: the novel only had three parts whereas A-Lex has four). On the surface, this song is about Moloko, a designer drug ladden milk consumed frequently by Alex and his three doogies. However, Sepultura cleverly asserted the term “mesto,” which refers to sad sounding music, tying into one of the many prominent themes of A Clockwork Orange.
Cavalera Conspiracy - “Ultra-Violent” A bit of the old ultra-violence is one of the staples of Alex’s twisted psyche. The delinquent activities that Alex and his droogs engage in could rival even the sickest Cannibal Corpse lyrics, which is likely a large part of why metal artists tend to channel Clockwork in their music. In this track from Cavalera Conspiracy’s debut album, which was written by Max Cavalera and Gojira’s Joe Duplantier, the lyrics evoke Alex’s penchant for brutality as the lyrical narrator deeply wants to cause bloodshed.
Jello Biafra with The Melvins - “Plethysmograph” The controversial Ludovico technique used on Alex to condition him to become physically ill while thinking sexual and violent thoughts is referenced in this 2004 collaboration. “Flash you pictures Clockwork Orange style” references the contraption used to force Alex to watch violent films during his treatment. However, in this song, the narrator’s “therapy” is much more sadistic than what Alex endured. The “patient” (or is it victim?) in this song is delivered electric shocks to his or her genitalia. Yikes, maybe Alex didn’t suffer so badly after all. Speaking of the Ludovico technique, Guns N Roses also pay homage to this in their music video for “Welcome to the Jungle.”
Agoraphobic Nosebleed - “A Clockwork Sodom” The cover of this Agoraphobic Nosebleed EP is a zombified rendering of the cover of Kubrick’s film adaptation. Ultraviolence seems like an understatement when describing the vicious lyrical onslaught on this title track, which is actually about the brutality in concentration camps, which leads one to wonder if they were inspired by Burgess’ sentiments on the previously mentioned George Steiner remark.
Butcher Babies - “Korova” While the lyrics in this song don’t necessarily reflect any obvious themes in Clockwork, the title means “cow” in Nadsat and is likely a nod to the Korova Milk Bar, where Alex and his droogies would hang out and drink the aforementioned Moloko cocktails.
Rancid - “A Clockwork Orange” The title of this punk rock jam speaks for itself in its blatancy. The song is narrated from the perspective of someone who is going on a crime binge with Alex. The song even references a Durango ‘95 which is the anachronistic vehicle that Alex and his droogies steal at early on in the book.
Beastie Boys - “Looking Down The Barrel of a Gun” Depicting someone on a gun-fueled rampage, the line “I am like Clockwork Orange, going off on the town” drives home just how violent and chaotic said rampage is. And of course, the guys make reference to “Ultraviolence running through my head.” A few years after its release, Anthrax made the song their own for the Japanese bonus edition of Sound of White Noise.
Within the Ruins - “Clockwork” The reference in this song is a little more subtle. While it doesn’t explicitly depict anything specific from Clockwork, the song is set in a city that has “run amuck” with “sex, scum, politics, and whores,” much like the setting in Burgess’ futuristic dystopia. While some might argue as to whether or not justice was ever truly served to Alex, Within the Ruins heavily pontificate justice in this tune.
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