[artist id="2584573"]Vampire Weekend[/artist]‘s “Holiday” is a rather cutting assessment of capitalism and colonialism and the special sort of cocoon both those things help create. With lyrical nods to republics on the beach, the tea trade and a girl who decides to protest the war by going vegetarian (as opposed to, you know, doing anything that may actually help), it’s the kind of whip-smart pop that’s in short supply these days — a cranky and clever tweaking of hideous Americans abroad, and equally hideous Americans at home.
Needless to say, “Holiday” probably won’t be burning up the nation’s airwaves anytime soon, but that hasn’t stopped VW from releasing it as the third single off their surprisingly successful Contra album. And you can sort of understand why. After scoring a #1 album and a pair of unlikely rock-radio hits, they’re playing with house money at this point anyway.
To accompany their odd choice for a single, the band has delivered an equally odd video, a delightfully low-budget clip (no Jake Gyllenhaal here) that sees the Vampire guys parading around Southern California dressed as dandy, European gentlemen of leisure. Powdered wigs, waistcoats, breeches, stockings and a whole lot of ruffled accoutrements — it’s all there.
And while it may be hilarious to watch them prance around SoCal, order In-N-Out Burger (at least, I think it’s In-N-Out Burgers) and pound on surfers down by the beach, there’s probably a deeper message here: These are exactly the same kind of out-of-touch, entitled intellectuals frontman Ezra Koenig is singing about in the song — only from about 300 years ago. These powdered ponces conquered, enslaved and trampled those less fortunate than them, and did so for centuries, before they were eventually overthrown (and mostly beheaded) by the same folks they’d been subjugating.
I’ll let you draw the comparisons to, say, the last 50 years of U.S. foreign policy or the creeping advance of capitalism on the undeveloped world … and what may very well be waiting around the corner for us one day if we keep it up. Or, you know, you could just laugh at the dudes in the funny wigs. It kind of works either way.
And that’s sort of the brilliance of Vampire Weekend. “Holiday” might not be the same kind of hit as “Cousins” or “Giving Up the Gun,” but that’s hardly the point. Just by getting this one out there, they’ve already won, even if it’s just a tiny victory. Don’t let the boat shoes and pique polo shirts fool you — Vampire Weekend are downright dangerous dudes. That you can dance to, of course.
Do you think “Holiday” will be another Vampire Weekend hit? Let us know in the comments.