Friday, January 16, 2015

The Beast of America

This song is one you might recognize if you've even seen the trailers for Bioshock Infinite. "Beast" by Nico Vega is a particularly powerful song off of the band's first EP chooseyourwordspoorly, filled to the brim with raw emotion, dual meaning, and political commentary.

Poetry is the most condensed form of literature, and I think this song captures that pretty well. In just three distinct stanzas (that go on to be repeated) Nico Vega makes a statement about the government as it stands and how it's up for the citizens to stand up for themselves.

In the first verse, the lyrics say "Stand tall for the beast of America", personifying the country as a great 'beast', both the designated bad guy of the song, and a representation of the strong willed nature of American citizens. The first stanza goes:

Stand tall for the beast of America.
Lay down like a naked dead body,
keep it real for the people workin' overtime,
they can't stay living off the governments dime.

In the second line they sing "lay down like a naked dead body" providing fairly gruesome imagery that paints a fairly gruesome picture of trench warfare and other tactics having to do with passed soldiers. This re-purposing of the dead is a rather uncomfortable thought that further builds the song's divide between the beast and the people. They say the hardworking people of America "can't stay living off the governments dime", that the country alone isn't able to support the people in the way they deserve.

Stand tall for the people of America.
Stand tall for the man next door,
we are free in the land of America,
we ain't goin' down like this.

Repetition of the first line stresses again the power of her worlds. I think it's an important distinction that Nico Vega isn't saying we should stand up for American, but only "the people of America", making this song a bit about supporting those around you. Since "we are free in the land of America" we should not let the "beasts" and the worst parts of our government bully us into submission, as "we ain't going down like this".

This song is a battle cry, encouraging citizens to stand up for what they believe in, even when the government might say otherwise. The band offers "together we can stand up to the beast" and that "suppression is a prison/ So I hand you the key to your cell/ you've got to love your neighbor.../and let your neighbor love you back." These lines make me think that the meaning of this song isn't just "stand up for your country", in fact, it might not be that at all. The beast may not be the villain here at all: Nico Vega may be alluding to the feeling almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives, that of being an outcast. But if we stand tall together and let ourselves be helped and let ourselves learn to "love your neighbor", we all have the capacity to conquer the beast within.

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