Second Song – TV on the Radio

Brooklyn indie band TV on the Radio were formed in 2001. They’re effectively a rock band, but their music is overlaid with loops and samples, and topped off by the vocals of Tunde Adebimpe. The R&B in his voice tops off a band that’s extremely eclectic, even within the context of the melting pot of post-modern popular music.

TV on the Radio’s fourth studio album, 2011’s Nine Types of Light, didn’t enjoy the same acclaim as their earlier work. But I’ve always found the lead-off track, the confusingly titled ‘Second Song’, to be one of their most powerful and accessible songs.

It’s a great showcase for Adebimpe’s vocals, going through a tense verse, a hooky, wordless pre-chorus, and a soaring chorus which utilises his falsetto. And it’s a superb arrangement with the driving bass line, rich piano, and the brass samples that rise from the background to dominate the song’s ending.

After the tragic story of Judee Sill last week, today’s post might seem drama free. But TV on the Radio’s bass player Gerard Smith died from lung cancer nine days after the release of Nine Types of Light; the song ‘Killer Crane’ from the album is about the band coming to terms with Smith’s impending death.


  1. Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes is on the 1001 list – I like the sounds of this.
    Blur’s song 2 was conveniently song 2 in the running order, second song as an opener is a curious choice!

    • I always end up spending the most time with the Return to Cookie Mountain album, and this song. I need to spend more time with some of their other stuff; like lots of indie bands, their early stuff tends to be favoured – it’s the hipster “I liked them before they were big” mentality.

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