Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Comedian Randy Liedtke on why “Young Folks” is Swedish brainwashing music

Illustration for article titled Comedian Randy Liedtke on why “Young Folks” is Swedish brainwashing music

In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.


The hater: Randy Liedtke has appeared on Maron, IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, and Adventure Time, though after this weekend he’ll be best known for his very own Comedy Central release, I’m On A Roll. He tours frequently, and can be heard regularly on The Bone Zone podcast, which he co-hosts with Brendon Walsh.

The hated: Peter Bjorn And John, “Young Folks” (2006)

The A.V. Club: Why did you pick this song?

Randy Liedtke: It’s a weird reason. I was trying to come up with a song that I hated, and it took me a while. I’ve never purposely listened to this song, but it makes me feel really uncomfortable. It makes me feel uneasy like there’s some kind of mind control going on. Places I’ve worked over the years, the song would come on and I would just sort of freeze and feel like something more was happening. Like they were trying to control me to like the song or join a cult or make me kill someone. I just didn’t like it.


AVC: Is it the whistling? Is it the tone of the song? They are Swedish, so it could be a socialist Ikea thing.

RL: To get ready for this interview, I’ve had to go back and experience it, so I listened to multiple songs on the album and they’re all the same. They all have a repetitive, high-pitched, unique sounding thing that locks you in. Their singing is so casual and lazy and droning. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s very hypnotic and it makes me uneasy.


I know “Young Folks” is catchy and there are certain parts of their songs that I really like, but then I start to think, “Is that just their mind control?” Are they brainwashing me into liking it the more I listen to it? Because I have found myself listening to more songs on the album and then I found myself listening to songs I really like and I’m like, “Do I like this, or is it because I’ve listened to the last four songs that now they’ve got me locked in?’


AVC: What were you doing in 2006 that you heard this song a lot? It was in a lot of commercials and in every TV show.

RL: 2006 was two years before I moved to L.A. so I was probably in one of my last years of college, but I remember it more from being in L.A., because it got a lot of radio play.


AVC: It did have an unusually long life for a single.

RL: I was a cook in coffee shops and people were always playing it and every time it came on, I was like, “I don’t know if I should be listening to this. It makes me feel real weird.”


And, again, I appreciate the music. I don’t think they’re bad musicians, but there’s something about it. I don’t want to be that guy that’s like, “Fuck their music.” I like their music, but this one there’s something else going on and it really has affected me.

AVC: What kind of mind control do you think they’re doing?

RL: I feel like they, maybe, want me to join some cult. Don’t know, I’ve never been to Sweden. Maybe that’s where they want me to go, because in some of the songs you can hear their accents a little bit, and I think that adds to the mysterious aspects of what’s going on. Either that or they want me to kill for them or something.


AVC: They want you to be very physically fit and perfect looking and Swedish.

RL: Yeah. And never make eye contact and look at the ground and don’t say your words at full volume. That’s what I picture, and I don’t even know what they look like. And I heard they’re nice guys; I heard they’re great. I just picture them lazily and barely getting their lyrics out because maybe they’re under some head honcho’s control and maybe that’s why they have this band to do what they’re doing. Maybe they want me to join their band or start a new band. I don’t know.


AVC: Maybe they’re so content that they don’t need to have any sense of urgency. That seems very Scandinavian.

RL: Like they know the meaning of everything and aren’t in a hurry.

Another thing I noticed—and I noticed it today while listening to the song on repeat because that’s what this interview made me do—is that I can’t differentiate if it’s just one of them singing or they’re all singing. And there’s a girl on this song, too.


It kind of sounds like the Animaniacs. You know the Animaniacs?

AVC: Of course.

RL: I listened to multiple songs of theirs and they sound like the Animaniacs when they’re singing. So maybe they’re using that as a gateway.


I don’t want these guys to hear me say that I hate their song and think it’s because their music is not good. I think their music is probably good and they’re probably not trying to brainwash me and I’m not an irrational guy. If you were to be like, “Tell me about this song,” I wouldn’t normally have a story about how it’s trying to brainwash me, but every time I’ve heard this song the last eight years, I’m like, “Okay, something is up. This song is striking a weird nerve with me.” Maybe I’ve got some unfinished business with it, but it’s striking a weird nerve.

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