Music Video Meaning


All the things you don't know about rock music videos and more

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Chop Suey! by System of a Down, best song of the century

Almost 20 years have passed since the release of Chop Suey! by System Of A Down and the video on YouTube has exceeded 925 million views with 4.6 million likes. The official video dates back to 2009. Do you know why many videos on YouTube have 2009 as their upload date? That is the release date of VEVO, the intermediary platform for the main record labels. More than a competitor to YouTube, VEVO is a streaming site, with features and services that are also very different from YouTube. This is why you can also see the VEVO videos on YouTube with the name VEVO.

What is chop suey

But let’s go back to Chop Suey! by System Of A Down. Maybe to understand their song you don’t need to know what chop suey is but I will explain it to you anyway. It is an American and Chinese style dish. To prepare it you have to use small pieces of meat together with soy, onions, mushrooms and vegetables. All seasoned with soy sauce, rice and various sauces.

This dish was born a little by chance: legend has it that one day a Chinese chef in America was running out of ideas and even of ingredients. So he made a mix of what was left in the kitchen and called it “tsa sui”. In Mandarin Chinese this word means “broken pieces”. The Americans read the name as “chop suey”.

Originally the title of the song of System Of A Down was “Self-Righteous Suicide” but the band changed the title to avoid the reference to suicide. The word “chop suey” comes out of that original title by assonance “Self-right-Chop Suey-cide”.
Even if the Chinese dish has nothing to do with the lyrics, you can see in the video of the song the singer of System Of A Down, Serj Tankian, who eats chop suey together with some fans.

The lyrics have a very specific meaning. According to guitarist Daron Malakian the lyrics speaks of the way a person dies, which influences the point of view from which people consider him.
A bit like the ancients said: “Do not define a happy man until he is dead”, that is, you have to wait to see how he dies to tell if he has passed a happy existence or not.

If a person died of drug abuse, people will say that he deserved it and that he committed suicide, because he hurt himself. People do not consider what the deceased has done during his life, they only see that moment when he died and this is very reductive.

The video Chop Suey! by System Of A Down

The director of the music video is Marcos Siega. This producer also works for TV and cinema. He directed the episodes of famous series such as Veronica Mars, Cold Case, True Blood, Dexter and The Vampire Diaries. In the field of music he collaborated with Weezer, Blink-182, P.O.D., Papa Roach and others.

In the video Chop Suey! by System Of A Down you see two overlapping concerts, with the band members taking turns on stage performing the song.

The location is the outside of the Oak Tree Inn motel in Los Angeles. This is the band’s hometown. System Of A Down play on stage, surrounded by over a thousand wild fans.

The director used several image editing effects. In certain scenes the band members seem to walk one on top of the other and disappear. In other scenes you can see the snorricam technique: an actor moves with a camera attached to him, therefore he seems to be standing still and the environment is moving.

The reasons for success

But why has this song been so successful? Perhaps it is thanks to Loudwire, an American online magazine that deals with hard rock and heavy metal music. In 2012 it included the song on his list “The Best Hard Rock Songs Of The 21st Century” and placed it in first place!

Perhaps it is also thanks to the quotes from the Bible in the lyrics, such as “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” and “Why have you forsaken me?”, pronounced by Jesus before he died.
The song itself alternates pieces of hard rock metal with a sad and melancholy melody, almost a funeral litany.

The song was released in August 2001 and, as you will remember, in September there was the tragedy of the Twin Towers. Many radios preferred not to air the song again for the reference to “just suicide”. However, this complaint does not seem to have affected the success of this song.

Finally here are two curiosities. During the video you will have noticed the flag of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, which has not existed since 1991, since the dissolution of the USSR. The band members are originally from those areas.

The guitarist Daron Malakian has a tattoo that covers the whole bust. It is actually a washable tattoo, because in the photos after that video the tattoo is not there.

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