I’ve got very vivid memories of how I was introduced to System Of A Down. I recall first seeing a classmate of mine with the album art for Toxicity plastered onto one of his schoolbooks, while a couple of years later I heard the group’s track ‘Boom!‘ on TV, promoting the band’s appearance at that year’s Big Day Out festival. However, it took me far too many years to actually fully appreciate what I believe to be the group’s magnum opus, Toxicity.
Released in 2001 as the group’s second album, it was their commercial breakthrough. Thanks to the success of singles such as ‘Chop Suey!‘, ‘Toxicity‘, and ‘Aerials‘, it saw the group enter the mainstream as one of the leading groups in the alternative metal genre. However, it was likely the last album of System Of A Down’s that I actually appreciated.
In early 2005, I had been hearing more and more of the group’s tracks, and upon getting into a conversation with a friend of mine of the school bus, he gave me a USB drive which featured the group’s discography. I later replaced that with hard copies of their work since I enjoyed their music so much, but it gave me an opportunity to discover their work at my own pace at first. Considering their popularity in that time thanks to albums such as Mezmerize and Hypnotize, I ventured into their later work first, completely ignoring Toxicity, since I felt it was too ‘metal-sounding’. Seriously, what did I expect?
When I finally experienced the album properly, I loved every second of it, and in fact, one of the song’s that resonated with me most was the track ‘Bounce’. While on face value, it seems completely comical and almost somewhat of a joke song, in my mind, it completely epitomises the group’s apporach to making music.
Throughout the song’s one minute and fifty-four second runtime, it encompasses the story of a character going to an orgy, in which he fornicates with the other participants. However, the lyrical delivery and content are so absurd in their composition that one could almost feel a disorienting effect taking place. With the group’s lyrics frequently seeing aspects of Dadaism, the absurd, surreal nature is almost to be expected. However, does one ever expect to be hearing a song start with the words “Jump, bounce, down, up,” only to have it followed by the words “I went out on a date with a girl, a bit late, she had so many friends. I brought my pogo stick just to show her a trick“?
Obviously, the song’s lyrics are overtly sexual once its meaning is clear, however, folks like me could spend years believing it to be a ridiculous song about a pogo stick. Personally, I’ve just always felt that this song perfectly captures the surreal nature of System Of A Down’s lyrical output. While many other tracks are able to capture their political nature, ‘Bounce’ is the epitome of their Dadaist influences, mixing with their penchant for having a sense of humour about what they make. Plus, the track has a great vibe and absolutely kills when played live.