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“I Don’t Like Mondays” is a pop song inspired by a psychopath

The Boomtown Rats at Knott's Berry Farm in 1981 (via Orange County Archives)

In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week, we’re picking songs about the day of the week the story runs.

There are a lot—a lot, I say—of songs about Mondays, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s only one really perfect anti-Monday jam, and that’s The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t Like Mondays.” Call it a cliché choice, because it is, but “I Don’t Like Mondays” captures the Garfield-esque world weariness inspired by the return to the nine to five grind with the weirdness of late ’70s U.K. pop. Or, at least that’s what I used to think it was about.


I’ve loved “I Don’t Like Mondays” for a long time, but it wasn’t until I started researching this piece that I realized the track was actually inspired by an especially brutal San Diego school shooting committed by a particularly psychopathic shooter with a total lack of remorse. (Full disclosure: I’m not always the best at paying attention to lyrics.) 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer inspired Bob Geldof to pen the track after she opened fire on the Cleveland Elementary School playground, only to claim after that she had no real reason to do it other than hating Mondays and looking for something to liven the week up. Spencer thusly became the unnamed subject of Geldof’s opus, the girl whose “silicon chip… gets switched to overload” shortly before she decides “to shoot the whole day down.”

While the situation that inspired Geldof and the Rats was certainly macabre, learning the story behind the song only makes me like it more. The flat affect of Geldof’s voice was always appealing to me, but now it makes perfect sense. The school-themed video, obviously, certainly rings even truer. And the Broadway musical-tinged call and response bits make the song nearly as dramatic as the perfectly odd event that it inspired.

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