Brought Back from the Dead | “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Daniel Schoenherr, Writer/Volunteer

Looking back ten years to the dawn of widespread internet culture, you may recall a number of songs that were propelled into stardom — for the first time, or resurrected from obscurity. Rick Astley hadn’t touched the charts for decades until his infamous hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” won MTV Europe’s award for Best Act Ever in 2008 thanks to online voting, and Psy’s Gangnam Style was shared and reposted so many times that its music video reached over four billion views on YouTube. 

Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is one of those songs, starting as a small catchy track and being given new life by the internet years later. 

The song came out in 2009 as a single from the band’s chaotic third album, It’s Blitz!. Its disco beat, reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, briefly brought the song to No. 89 on the charts.

 The chorus quotes the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, haunting the listener and leaping out at sporadic intervals:


“Off, off with your head / 

Dance, dance ‘til you’re dead /

Heads will roll, heads will roll /

Heads will roll /

On the floor.”


The Yeah Yeah Yeahs created a modern classic for Halloween party playlists, and it received a number of remixes over the years. A-Trak, Passion Pit and dozens more would reshape “Heads Will Roll” into something new. The most influential, however, would come from Soundcloud user JVH-C over five years after the single’s initial release. The remix would become the backing track for a number of videos across Vine, YouTube and other platforms. 

Practically overnight, the track was brought back from the dead. Its trend gathered hundreds of millions of views, where it was completely redefined and engrained into an entire generation. 

“Heads Will Roll” died as nothing more than a creative mix of retro synthesizer and ghostly lyrics. The song came back, and today it is a ten-hour video of a dog dancing to it.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are active today, and you can listen to their latest album, Cool It Down, for more ghostly rock.