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I get the feeling that the whole song is about Anonymous, that group of childish tyrants masquerading as freedom fighters. Of course there's the first line, with Banksy leaving them a note of posting. I think it would be a better line if it were just "anonymous", uncapitalized: Written things are usually from "anonymous", and it's a nice twist to have it be to "anonymous". Plus, Banksy himself is anonymous. Maybe all this is already intended, and capitalizing it just adds an additional meaning.

Another line that seems to be tied with this meaning: "Perpetrators of invisible crimes". Crimes on the Internet can seem like they're invisible. Further, "The secret smile of security guards" sounds like an interpretation of the name "Lulz Security", which is sort of an offshoot of Anonymous that hacks people to sate their sociopathic need for amusement. They're kind of like the late News Of The World but less profitable.

It's interesting to note that on Twitter, among the 103 accounts followed by @tmbg are @kanyewest, @DalaiLama, and @LulzSec. This confuses me. Even though Flansburgh mostly maintains the account, it's a group account so I don't think he uses it to read the accounts they're following. Therefore it seems like when they follow an account they do so to endorse it, and I don't know why TMBG would want to endorse LulzSec. This whole branch of groups that like to break stuff stems from 4chan, which as far as I can tell is a celebration of hatred and cruelty, and that's pretty much the opposite of TMBG (not to mention the Dalai Lama). Well, maybe they don't know about its history and only see its stated purpose of "we'll hurt you if we think it's funny" (not a direct quote)... which doesn't seem very TMBG either.

I sure went off on a tangent there. Sorry. Anyway, it's those three lines that seem related to Anonymous. I don't know what the rest of the lines are about so maybe that's what they're about too.--Mandaliet 21:45, 19 July 2011 (EDT)

Holy crap, you might be right about this[edit]

It doesn't seem like their kind of thing in the least, but it makes a weird amount of sense. In regards to the tangent, I used to know some people who went to 4chan, so I've kept a bit of a curious eye on it for a while now. You're pretty much right about the hatred and cruelty thing. These people pretty much define themselves by mocking others, and end up without personalities on the internet and in person.

Furthering the above "anonymous" idea...[edit]

I see that Banksy left a Post-it note for Anonymous, for Anonymous

This, I'm sure, is just affirming the idea that the song deals with anonymous. I'm not sure what Banksy has to do with them, though.

Celebration You're a little bit better and ready for some Celebration Some time to get louder and not by yourself

I think this deals with how any success of anonymous is considered a great victory and triumph. Also, I think the section "Some time to get louder and not by yourself" refers to anonymous' famous line "We are legion", indicating that there are masses upon masses of members.

I see that someone left their cheat sheet by this microphone, by this microphone

Getting a bit ludicrous here, but this could be saying that anonymous only says and does the things they do because of pressure or something being shown to them (on a cheat sheet)

I think the rock 'n roll girls in this world want apologies, want apologies

Quite simply, the people anonymous attack want reconciliation

I read this stuff, but I don't believe it I'd change it 'round, but I don't know how

Once again referring to the idea that anonymous don't actually believe or understand why or what they are doing.

Perpetrators of invisible crimes

Crimes on the internet are invisible, and its so easy to go unnoticed on here

Our only magistrate sits in our minds

It's up to us to decide whether or not anonymous are good or bad

The audience cheers as some people attack

All the DDOSing and whatnot we see gives us a bit of a laugh and a bit of thrill (unless you're the one getting attacked)/alternatively this could mean the split off of LulzSec from Anonymous

The secret smile of security guards

Definitely "Lulz" "Security"

You hear the cataclysmic discharge of the optimist, of the optimist

These groups act like they're doing the world good (optimist), but in fact they're causing more harm than good with their actions

And the unlikely crowd assembled here's like Hieronymus, Bosch Hieronymus idea

It's hard to see from this elevation But looking up, you can set it off

Once again, this is difficult to understand, but perhaps its referring to how as more people look up to these groups, more sh*t's going to happen


Anyway, that's what I think. Props to the guy above me for making me look at this from this perspective. {{User:JohnSquared/sig}} 01:35, 20 July 2011 (EDT)

More About Anonymous[edit]

Just a handful of little things to add on to the current discussion

"Someone left their cheat sheet by this microphone" When anonymous latches onto an idea, it tends to get repeated. A lot. The original posting gets cycled around, thus the "microphone"

"I read this stuff, but I don't believe it I'd change it 'round, but I don't know how" This seems to reference the fact that whatever Anonymous latches onto is unpredictable and really uncontrollable- it seems to be more up to luck than anything, whether it's fighting scientology (arguably justified) or ordering someone 10000 pizzas (arguably awful). The idealists can try and direct Anonymous but it rarely works.

I think this also what the opening bit is about- the first two steps are normal, but then the arbitrariness of the second two steps are just 'what?' (almost kind of like the meme { 1. Do x. 2. Do y. 3. ??????? 4. Profit }

The Hieronymous line is about the artist- read about it on Wikipedia if you want. Essentially, his paintings all depicted lessons in morality. This seems to me to be about the media/voices that report on Anonymous; they are all very polarized. Either Anonymous is a group of Freedom Fighters working for the greater good, or (more commonly) they are awful terrorist hackers that hate America or some such stuff, when the truth is that Anonymous & Lulzsec are pretty aggressive in the fact that their morality is deliberately grey.

Cheatsheet by the Microphone[edit]

I can't find it now, but there was a recent interview in which Flans mentions the experience of an interviewer finding a TMBG setlist backstage at a show, and being very disappointed that the band uses a setlist.

It seems like, "I see that someone left their cheat sheet By this microphone… I think the rock and roll girls in this world Want apologies" reflects this story pretty well.


This is a wonderful song, but it doesn't seem abstract in the least. Must have been fun getting an invite to the Grammys. Some giant fan needs to start an ironic campaign to get next year's Grammys broadcast to use this in a hokey video montage of the rock n' roll girls and boys on the red carpet.


Pure 80's Electronic Pop Music[edit]

I believe the lyrics are just passengers on a musical trip that sounds like a perfect eighties new wave electronic pop song. I think the lyrics could just as well have come from randomly opening books and singing the first words seen. This song could be a tribute to the music TMBG were listening to, when they started recording 3 decades ago.

It is meant to be a throwback sound, but to me, it's more more of a disco/funk sound like Kool & The Gang and similar groups, judging by elements such as a bass line and the verse Flansburgh sings with a high voice. Perspixx 15:31, 22 August 2011 (EDT)

The celebration of Ochlocracy?[edit]

Perpetrators of invisible crimes.- Kind of self explanatory, when the topic is anonymous.
Our only magistrate sits in our minds. - No need for a judge or jury.
The audience cheers as some people attack. - Passion over powers reason/logic or rule of law.
The secret smile of security guards. - The authorities are proud of themselves.
You hear the cataclysmic discharge of the optimist, of the optimist. - The masses are pleased with the outcome.

And the unlikely crowd assembled here's like Hieronymus, Bosch Hieronymus - This one requires more explanation.

There is one piece by Hieronymus in particular that this line seems to be based on, entitled carrying the cross. [1] <- Click for image.

My thought is that the entire song be a reference to the celebration of mob mentality, particularly in cases of punishment of those who have been deemed guilty by the media/government/masses. Anonymous and Banksy serve as modern day examples of the "criminals" whose biggest crime is upsetting the powers that be. Banksy with his anti-consumerism/anti-police state vandalism, and anonymous with their anti-censorship/pro-privacy agenda.

The masks Anonymous wear are of course Guy Fawkes masks. Guy Fawkes was publicly executed after attempting the blow up parliament. That said there may also be a little V for Vendetta thrown in the mix.

"It's hard to see from this elevation. But looking up, you can set it off." Reminds me of the scene in which V sets off the explosions at the start of the film, or perhaps the end of the film in which explosions are set off from below parliament. Banksy is a known fan of the film. In 2008 he even did an exhibit in the tunnels of Waterloo station, where scenes from the film were shot.

Not sure how it all ties together with the cheat-sheet microphone lines.

Personally, I don't think this song had anything to do with "Anonymous"[edit]

The word anonymous is actually a reference to Banksy. He was a graffiti artist in Britain who was famous for being anonymous. From the Wikipedia article about him:

"On 21 May 2007 Banksy gained the award for Art's Greatest living Briton. Banksy, as expected, did not turn up to collect his award and continued with his notoriously anonymous status."

I think this line in the song is just some typical TMBG cleverness. Instead of an anonymous note left by Banksy, we hear that Banksy left a note for anonymous. It's silly, it's ridiculous, and it has nothing to do with the hacker group.

This song may have even been written before "Anonymous" became notable, and if not, it's still not TMBG's style to reference current fleeting events. I believe that all the lyrics are about the works of Banksy, although I do admit they are just as applicable to other anonymous groups that stand for similar things. Perhaps TMBG was trying to remind us that being outspoken yet anonymous isn't something new. It's an important tradition, and is sometimes needed to change government that would arrest the artist(s).

The Garden of Earthly Delights[edit]

The reference to Hieronymus Bosch: look up his most famous painting, "The Garden of Earthly Delights". Then picture that scene as the crowd at a concert. Pretty amusing, right? I think this is somehow about a band and a singer getting ready to play a long-anticipated show. The fans are in a frenzy and everybody's talking.

The first verse is preparations and anticipation with the word on the afterparty getting spread around in secret by Anonymous and Banksy. The second verse seems to contain some philosophizing about the singer and the words he sings, or the things he's expected to say (or not say). The third verse is the crowd cheering as the band steps up -- which would indeed be optimistic, cheering for the band before they play -- and the energy of the crowd ready to explode.

But there's a sinister note in the bridge. It could be this singer wants to start a riot. He wants to rile up the crowd and turn them into a mob. Perhaps it's just the satisfaction of knowing he could, if he chose to "set it off". Or maybe he's about to inadvertently stir up the crowd into rage and unleash something ugly, because he thinks he's just having a lark and doesn't recognize the power he exerts over them.

That throws a different cast on the chorus, too: "It's time to get louder, and not by yourself", which suggests a band getting louder, but perhaps the band aren't by themselves either...

I don't think the song has much to do with Anonymous. It serves a small narrative purpose and makes a damn clever rhyming pair, but that's about it.

Soundwise, anyone else put in mind of the harmonies that the band Squeeze were well known for? For example, Take Me I'm Yours?

Nope, not about Anonymous[edit]

This song is just a general musing on subjects like art and rock 'n' roll, and how they relate. The titular celebration is a rock concert, and most of the song takes place at a show, recounted from various perspectives onstage and off.

The first verse -- especially the great and memorable line about Banksy and Anonymous -- is, within the context of the lyric, just a throwaway joke. It describes a humorous scenario in which notoriously mysterious public figures communicate via post-it notes and throw after parties. I think it's a funny juxtaposition, especially contrasted with the world of music.

The heart of the song is actually the final verse, in which the singer at the show delivers a triumphant, optimistic message to a diverse and possibly terrifying (have you seen Bosch's work?) crowd.

Flansburgh describes the song as "impressionistic." That -- along with it being a TMBG song -- should clue you in that the people/places/things it mentions by name are NOT what's about. I mean, come on gang, is it ever so straightforward?

Activism in General[edit]

Contrary to the hyper focus on Anonymous being mentioned, I think the song is about activism in general, and possibly about people having to take it more seriously. Anonymous and Banksy are just popular examples, because they have more show to their actions, rather than a political activist, which may be more obscure. I also say this based on the idea that TMBG has a more positive view of Anonymous than most of the commenters.

"It seems the after-party has been moved to your house, to your house" presents the idea that YOU must now take this situation seriously, as it is in your home. Being "a little bit better" and not celebrating alone are the result of getting involved, making new connections with people, and making what little progress can be made through social activism. The cheatsheet and microphone line could be suggesting a new format for activism, in contrast to the "rock n roll girls" being an older sort of rebellion. "I read this stuff, but I don't believe it I'd change it 'round, but I don't know how" is accepting that there are dark truths in this world and we don't know how to handle them, so we're doing what we can.

I agree with the early discussion on the perpetrators of invisible crimes and magistrate in our minds lines, though think it extends to online activism in general, not just Anonymous. The audience cheering though may have more to do with how people take pleasure and entertainment in the actions, even if in times that they should be taken seriously. I like what thought on the security guard line, but I feel like it may extend that we cannot trust our existing magistrate, the current justice system, as they take pleasure in the uproar as well.

The last section is tricky, mostly because of Hieronymus, but I feel like it suggests an evolution in activism, where it stops being as obscure and becomes more common, to the point where those supporting it seem surprising, as their morals seem to have changed, or they are unaware how their morals conflict. Its the idea of the activists winning over the society, and being able to celebrate with everyone. That the little successes will eventually change the whole world. - Matthew N. ~11:30 (CNT) 7 Feb 2015

Connection to "I Am Not Allowed To Think"[edit]

The narrator character of most TMBG songs sees the topic of the song through a funhouse mirror. The topic of changing the world is no exception. "Purple Toupee" portrayed an out-of-touch older man who wants to be seen as influential on the world stage, but barely understands events of the mid-twentieth century. "I Should Be Allowed To Think" switched to the perspective of a powerless college-aged revolutionary, referencing "Howl" by Allen Ginsburg, a poem from 1956, and gluing posters to telephone poles.

"Celebration" is the spiritual successor of those songs, modernized for the attitude of the internet era. The connection will become clear to you if you listen to "Celebration" after watching the Portlandia sketch "Change The World One Party At A Time", skewering the tendency for youth activism to take the form of a dance rave in which to get really f****d up.

Little Note[edit]

"cataclysmic discharge of the optimist" could be related to electricity.

Its about the drums[edit]

its all about the drums. just listen. its about the drums. sorry but its about the drums