It has been clarified that they REALLY ARE might be giants.
Could this eponymous song be a New York reference? They Might be Giants. True, but then again They Might be Jets.
No, it's a reference to a line from Man of La Mancha, in which a romantic is described as someone who looks at windmills, and says They Might Be Giants.
Something that immediatly caught my attention was the fact that these people haven't the faintest clue what they heck They are. Sure, They might be giants, but They also might be rain, brain, frying up a stalk of wheat, we honestly don't know! But, because there's a chance in a million that They might be giants, everyone should most definitely get their hopes up and assume that They ARE giants!
The people proclaiming They to might be giants now control everyone. They can't be silent, because they have to spout the "truth:" They might be giants! Of course, what's gonna happen if They're NOT giants? There's a good chance that these preachers are gonna find themselves lynched. So, what indeed are they going to do unless they are? They've locked themselves down into their own lie, because now, unless it's true, they're in big trouble. Hold on tight as that merri-go-round of lies spins, boys, or else you'll be devoured by the wolves that are the people you've been baiting for so long.
"Tabloid footprints in your hair, tabloid footprints everywhere." But in the end, it's these lying fellas that'll have the last laugh. Even if they're killed, the people they've preached to will never be able to trust anything to ever be what it seems. They've all become paranoid, and can probably cook up ideas as crazy as some of the ones in tabloids. It's a lose-lose situation.
So, I suppose the theme of this song is that lying hurts everybody.
COuld the stalk of wheat they are frying up (maybe) be the same stalk of wheat in... "Stalk Of Wheat?"
Maybe it's the athiest in me speaking, but it sounds to me like religion. "To make the merry-go-round go faster/so that everyone needs to hang on tighter/just to keep from being thrown to the wolves" sounds to me like religions upping the ante on damnation and salvation and all that "tithe more, or Satan's gonna get you!" (for another wolf/Satan metaphor, see this: http://bestiary.ca/beasts/beast180.htm). "What are we going to do unless they are?" refers, then, to the risk of worshipping the wrong god and annoying the real one.
Now for me this song is just John's philosophy on the band itself. "They might be snow, they might be something else in the snow." I think this line means they might just blend in with all the other bands "snow" out there, but they could be ground-breaking and new and completely stand out (for me they are something else in the snow). Just think of the band's name, They Might Be Giants, yes the name is a reference to a movie about Don Quixote, who thought windmills were giants. Let's pretend the movie didn't exist and that the name was a philosophy. They Might Be Giants, they could be huge! Probably just reading too much into things though.
This song is an indictment of news media and tabloids specifically. The phrase "They Might be Giants" refers to a band, probably TMBG themselves, and a skyrocketing popularity. The news media then covers them, and says "what are we gonna do if they aren't" Giants. The merry-go-round then keeps spinning, and they have to stay on the story and stick to their guns, lest they be thrown to the wolves for blowing a story. The tabloids leave footprints everywhere, too. This is the coverage of TMBG turning into a huge phenomenon.
Not really an interpretation, but the lines about the merry-go-round and being thrown to the wolves remind me of a part in Ender's Game where Ender is playing the fantasy game and he goes to the playground where the children turn into the wolves.
Personally, what I got from the song is that it's about a sensationalist News Group. The song says "They Might Be Giants", not referring to themselves, or the band, but to, well, anything that the news has chosen to arbitrarily focus on. They could be anything, but the news focuses on the possibility of them being big terrible giants, of which you should be afraid. "To make the merry-go round go faster, so that everyone needs to hang on tighter, just to keep from being thrown to the wolves" lines and the other "Hang on tight" bits could be several things. They could be from the point of view of an outsider, something the news is saying to the public, or what the news is saying to themselves, but I feel that it very clearly indicates them making the story seem more exciting and urgent, really stirring up the public and their viewership more and more.
Another part of the song that I feel supports this is towards the end, it suggests that they might be fake, they might be lies, and that they might be big big big fake fake lies. This seems to further indicate the News making a huge story out of absolutely nothing, and probably doesn't hold any truth.
The Tabloid footprints line is self explanatory, and then we get to my favorite line from the song. "We can't be silent, 'Cause they might be giants! And what are we going to do unless they are?" To me, this seems like the News' basic philosophy and excuse as to how they can get away with publishing these stories. They have to report these stories of them being big terrible giants, because there's a slim chance that they are. Sure they COULD be anything else, but they also COULD be giants, and what would happen if they didn't report the to be giants, and it turns out that they are? The line "And what are we going to do unless they are?" I find really interesting. It sounds at first like "What are we going to do if they are?", which falls in with what I just said, but the line is "unless" they are. To me, this is the News saying "What are we going to do if there's nothing big and terrible like giants to report on." The news needs for there to be big terrible things to report on, or at least the possibility of them, 'cause what is the News going to do if there aren't?
Does anyone know where the sample, "We're about to make the merry go round go faster . . . " originated from?