Interpretations:Replicant

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Very dark[edit]

This one's pretty obvious. The replicant killed the person he was modelled after and tries to dispose of the corpse, but fails at fully covering up the killing. His owner (?) doesn't seem to worry too much about the replicant killing a human, sounding rather optimistic in the creepy chorus. Now, when I googled "Replicant", I found out that the term usually refers to an android in the Blade Runner movie, which I have never watched (shame on me). I suppose it's a reference to the movie but the song's meaning is pretty clear anyway, so I don't really care about that. What I'm wondering about far more is whether Nanobots is some kind of dark concept album. A lot of songs on here are really gloomy, plus there's that robot/zombie/artificiality theme all over the album. This one unites the robot theme with the gloominess. Anyone else who noticed that too? Freakiosis 17:36, 5 March 2013 (EST)

I think, similar to the theme of Nanobots, this is about a father whose son reminds him of himself. And gets into a pretty hairy situation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.167.158.194 (talk) 20:15, March 5, 2013

Not obvious enough, I guess[edit]

There's no robotic replicant here. Like Nanobots, this song looks at children through a kind of sci-fi lens. The singer is the mother and the "replicant" is the child who shares many genetic traits with the father. The kid reminds her so much of her husband that she refers to it as the replicant. Each verse is a different part of life. The first is early childhood, with the kid getting junk in his hair and playing in the dirt. The second is an older child who is starting to show a pattern of bad behavior and is currently in trouble for being mean to another kid. The third is likely a teenager who has gotten into real trouble. It's not completely clear, but I'd say the parent found drugs in the replicant's room. The parent is angry, but he helps the kid out with the police. After all, the kid may be a screw-up, but he's still her husband's replicant. --75.173.230.109 13:25, 6 March 2013 (EST)

I agree with this 100%, particularly the part about the verses going through the stages of childhood. As a parent of three kids under 10, I can say that I've asked each of the questions posed in the first verse. :)
--Salt-Man Z 11:14, 12 March 2013 (EDT)
Hm... The relationship between the singer and the replicant seems like one of a parent and child, yeah... and of course there's that reproductive connotation of "replicant" (unlike similar terms such as "android" or "robot"), plus Linnell's comment on Nanobots (Song). But then again, there is something creepy and menacing about the chorus (maybe it's just me, I really get that weird feeling from it), almost like I Palindrome I: Some day mother will die and I'll get the money... - The verses, to me, seem like one straight story line, with the replicant acting strange since he's got something grim to hide. As I said, maybe it's just me. I'm kinda surprised now that my interpretation doesn't seem to be all that obvious. Hmm. --Freakiosis 15:58, 6 March 2013 (EST)
The line "All that he has, all this will be yours" is certainly not quite normal. Yeah, he's going to inherit his parents' belongings someday, I guess, but a replicant is more likely to assume direct control over it. Neither is the fact that the replicant's speech is just weird electronic buzzing particularly human, though one could easily say it's the Charlie Brown effect. Obviously, the ambiguity is intentional. --75.173.230.109 23:25, 11 March, 2013 (EST)
I just wanted to touch on the "all that he has, all this will be yours" line as it relates to children. I do think it's kind of grim, but not limited to belongings. It reminds me strongly of Neil Hughes in the documentary 28 UP. Hughes suffers from mental illness, and when asked whether he wants children he responds...
"I always told myself that I would never have children... because - because - well, because children inherit something from their parents. And even if my future wife were the most high-spirited and ordinary and normal of people, the child would still stand a very fair chance of being not totally full of happiness because of what he or she will have inherited from me." --JDG 14:20, March 12, 2013
Agreed. It's a delightfully creepy exposition of parenthood.
"All that he has...will be yours" doesn't seem that grim, really. Parents often joke about spending their kids' inheritance; likewise, children ask if they can have certain of their parents' possessions when said parents die. Can't offer any insightful sci-fi comparisons, but as a mother, this just sounds like run of the mill parental dialogue (well, monologue, really, given Replicant's unintelligible responses). Granted, telling your child to elude police is an extreme example, but protecting your child is a requirement of parenting: some encourage resisting arrest, and others simply remove the fork before it enters the wall outlet. --CallMeMommyMarshmello

Mother, Father and Son[edit]

My interpretation takes the ideas of a Mother and Son and murder and combines them. Funny, since I hadn't read either of these existing interpretations before coming up with this one.

The singer is a mother and her son is very similar to his father, in more ways than appearance. The father was known for getting in trouble with the law, and now the son is too. The similarities are so pronounced that the mother refers to the son as a replicant of his father (a reference to Blade Runner, where the replicants were murderous outlaws).

The song picks up when the son has just murdered his father and is trying to bury him and his mother comes across this scene. Witnesses and the police are after the son, but the mother decides to help him escape just like she had to help the father escape many times before. --NoodleGuy

That sounds plausible to me! I thought the father-child interpretation missed out on some details, but now everything links together. --Freakiosis 15:51, 7 March 2013 (EST)
"Someday, son, all this will be yours" is a sort of movie-cliche thing for a rich father, or the owner of a family business, to say to his firstborn son. --76.127.220.32 09:09, 26 March 2013 (EDT)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers[edit]

It's been a really long time since my first and ONLY (thus far) viewing this 1956 classic but upon the first listen of this song (or close to it) this movie came to mind. I understand that most of the time, They Might Be Giants lyrics appear to have a deeper meaning behind the inspiration but having said that, I'm sure this movie must have been said inspiration! --Propman 17:41, 7 March 2013 (EST)

Musical interpretation[edit]

God alone knows what this is about. So detached is the lyric it's easy to dismiss, but it hooks you in. Another Resident influenced track with bits of Berlin era Bowie thrown in. One could imagine Bowie singing it. A real grower this one!

After much thought I agree with the children interpretation above. The Blade Runner metaphor shows the influence of Flans as it's quite a modern cultural reference. Linnell is usually more fixated on the 60s and 70s. Saying that there was 80s rapper Kurtis Blow on Where your Eyes don't go. I also hear a Radiohead influence again, like a few tracks I think you can here a production influence from their last album King of Limbs.

(Mr Tuck) 13:46, March 12, 2013

Drug use[edit]

The song could be about drug abuse and/or delinquency in children from a parent's point of view. The "repicant" looks just like the child, but is despondent and behaves oddly. He is no longer himself. He get in fights, hide things from their parents, and break the law. The parent makes unsuccessful plees to find out what is wrong, and when the cops finally show up, they have the stereotypical parent response of covering for what the child has done. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 97.82.35.175 (talk) 20:39, March 29, 2013

TL;DR: Needlessly Depressing Interpretation[edit]

While I agree somewhat with the interpretation of a parent-child relationship, I don't think of it as a traditional role (but maybe that's just me being a sucker for sci-fi melodrama). For sure, I think the replicant is under the care of the singer, but I always got the feeling from the chorus that the replicant was of someone the singer loved. Initially I wasn't sure if the line was "All that he had/all this will be yours" or "All that he has/all this will be yours" All that he had would be more obvious in my opinion- someone they cared about has died and this is their replicant. However, upon listening closer and figuring out the word was "has", I was actually struck with a greater level of catharsis. It leads me to the question- why would you need a replicant if they were still alive?

My overall interpretation is that the replicant is of someone the singer loved a great deal and they can no longer be around or love for whatever reason. It is clear that the singer feels very protective of the replicant, forgiving mistakes endlessly and even saying in a tired voice that they'll deal with the cops as if it is no problem at all, simply something they have to do (sidenote, that line is so ridiculously open-ended that it sends out a hundred reeling possibilities at what it could mean). My apologies for this rather long, rambling, and pretty much entirely false interpretation. I do not want to incite any angry internet-goers, so I'll console anyone this enrages by pointing out that I am nautical miles away from any semblance of a reasonable interpretation here. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 72.222.190.250 (talk) 04:04, April 17, 2013

Oedipus[edit]

I've only skimmed through these, but I think the parent-child interpretation gets an added dimension from the chorus line "All that he has, all this will be yours." I think this indicates some kind of Oedipal complex. Perhaps what the narrator (mother) finds in the room is the dead father and he's going to take his place. --Dave 13:36, May 31, 2013

Replacement Child[edit]

Starting from a previous Verse 1 interpretation, the replicant has murdered its "copy" (the human), who was the child of the parent (the singer).

You've got his eyes/Same exact smile/All that he has/All this will be yours

I interpret these lines as: the parent is unable to cope with the death of his/her child and is going to allow the replicant to replace the dead child. Same eyes/smile is because the replicant was a copy made to look like the child. The "inheritance" is becoming a part of the family.

The next 2 verses deal with the replicant getting into trouble. It isn't clear whether the replicant is responsible for these actions or the original child. It is more likely that the replicant is continuing its criminal ways, but the "stuff in your room" could have been there before the replacement.

In verse 3, the parent is so desperate to have the child-replicant in their life (in order to cope) that they will "deal with the cops" just to keep it around. They are even trying to parent it - "you've got some explaining to do" - so that it can become more like the original child. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.29.144.69 (talk) 19:04, May 31, 2013

Opening verse[edit]

The opening verse echos Eric Carle's early-reader title Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?. --Nehushtan (talk) 23:36, 7 December 2013 (EST)

Agree with all above, and then it of course leaves open the Oedipus thing for interpretation[edit]

like , in a most grim interpretation; like the scene in waynes' world where the woman is telling garth about her terrible husband and offering a gun.

It is definitely about a son that grows up to be like his father, and 'all that he has, will soon be yours', is about him becoming an adult / a man (and taking on the characteristic of his father, in general (good and bad)… BUT WITH SOME DEFINITE OEDIPUS THING THAT IS DEVELOPING THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SONG, UNTIL THE FINAL SCENE: when, 'all that he has will soon be yours' takes on a very, very dark and different meaning. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 216.26.113.176 (talk) 19:28, December 12, 2013

Snarky imitation[edit]

It occurred to me that the bouncy little synths after each verse in the first stanza could be the replicant "talking back to" or imitating the parent. The narrator asks, "Where have you been?" and the replicant responds with the robotic equivalent of "Nyah!" or "blah blah blah". I imagine the replicant sticking its tongue out derisively as the parent continues the inquiry. By the second stanza, it's stopped listening entirely (or is ignoring the parent), which explains the absence of the synth responses. --MisterMe (talk) 09:19, 15 July 2014 (EDT)