My iPod #55: Queens of the Stone Age – Auto Pilot

Don’t let the song title fool you. It is not about being at the controls of a plane and deciding to press a few buttons so that it flies by itself. That’s what the band wants you to believe.

‘Rated R’ is the second album by Queens of the Stone Age, but was their first to be released on Interscope Records, the label with whom the band would go on to make ‘Songs for the Deaf’, ‘Lullabies to Paralyze’ and ‘Era Vulgaris’ under.

So in 2005, when there was nothing to do, my sister and I would buy music on CDs or through the use of MSN (remember that?) would receive mp3 files from our friends. One day, I saw this song called ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’ by Queens of the Stone Age. This is the opening track from the Rated R album. I had never heard of the song or the album, although I had watched the video for ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret‘ on the TV.

“Feel Good Hit of the Summer, huh?” I thought to myself, “I wonder why it’s called that, must have been a really popular song.”

You can probably say that it is. Not because it was a single or anything, but because of its subject matter.

That’s how I was introduced to ‘Rated R’. 2005 was the year that I took a particular interest in QotSA, for reasons I will explain another day.

However it was 4 years later in 2009, when I decided to download Rated R. I probably thought that it couldn’t get better than ‘Songs for the Deaf’, but I didn’t have another of their albums to compare it with.

I still don’t think that ‘Rated R’ is better than ‘Deaf’, but it can vary from person to person. That’s just my opinion.

One thing that most Queens fans probablu agree on is the significant contribution of former member Nick Oliveri. He is very controversial, and apparently Josh Homme doesn’t like him too much, but the songwriting partnership between the two produced the majority of the material that makes up, what are arguably, the band’s two most popular albums.

‘Auto Pilot’ is the fourth song listed on ‘Rated R’ and contains lead vocals by Oliveri and backing by Mark Lanegan and Josh Homme. It is the only one on ‘Rated’ with Oliveri at lead vocals, that does not have him screaming his vocals at the top of his lungs. Instead, he sings very smoothly with a little gravel under his voice. The song sets you in a very relaxing mood, you could just close your eyes and let it glide past you. The bridge where Josh sings, ‘Ahhhhhhhhh….. auto pilot, no control’, emphasises this even further.

The song is very ambiguous but the whole ‘getting high in a plane’ metaphor is not unusual to those who have listened to songs about taking drugs and the ‘joys’ of it.

Don’t let that spoil it though. Listen to the song. Don’t do drugs though.

Until next time.



Author: Jamie Kyei Manteaw

An English student at Coventry University who spends most days listening to music (old and new) and reading and writing about it, however informal it may be. And studying too, obviously.

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