I spent a ridiculous amount of time this morning trying to figure out how the Kaiser Chiefs ended up on my radar screen. I thought for sure they were featured in a video game I used to play, but I think I was confusing them with The Streets, whose “Fit But You Know It” was on FIFA 2005.* In the end, I couldn’t recall. I assume the first song I heard was “I Predict a Riot,” which only hit #34 on the U.S. alternative chart, but probably got heavy rotation on Portland’s alternative radio station in 2005.
What I do know is that I bought their first album, Employment, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Kaiser Chiefs hail from Leeds in the UK. Their name is a play on a South African soccer team, Kaizer Chiefs, where, Wikipedia tells me, a famous ex Leeds United (soccer) captain used to play. I’m sure it made sense to a bunch of 20-something guys 12+ years ago.
What I’ve always loved about Kaiser Chiefs is that their music is fun. It has great energy. When I listen to their earlier albums, they’re simply enjoyable from start to finish. In addition to being fun, they've got great lyrics. Their songs tell a story. They frequently use words and phrases you’ll never hear in other people’s music, and they’re irreverent. (A personal favorite from “Oh My God,” also on Employment, “Knock me down, I get right back up again. I come back stronger than a powered-up Pac-Man.”)
My two favorite KC albums are Employment (2005) and Off with Their Heads (2008). It was hard to choose just one song from one of these to feature here. I eventually went with “Saturday Night” for two reasons: the joyful music, which captures perfectly the feeling of what it’s like to be young and heading out for a night with your friends, and the lyrics, which include another of my all-time favorite utterances in song: “P-p-p-pneumothorax is a word that is long. They’re just trying to put some ‘punk’ back into punctured lung” (note: pneumothorax is a collapsed lung), followed by, “P-p-p-panic over, party off, party on. ‘Cause we are birds of a feather and you can be the fat one.”
Both of these lines crack me up because, first of all, who the hell uses “pneumothorax” in song? Kaiser Chiefs, apparently. Second of all, “we’re birds of a feather and you can be the fat one”? Gee, thanks a lot, pal. It’s silly but it’s also clever. I love a song that can make me laugh.
The next time you’re getting ready to go out for the night, crank this up. It will definitely get you in the mood to party.
*”Saturday Night” was on NHL 2006 but I never played that game.