Song Name: Through Being Cool

Artist: DEVO

Appears On:

Run Time: 3:14 (Album/Single Version)

Year Written:

Year Recorded: 1981

Year Released: 1981

Years Performed: 1981-1982

Writing Credits: Bob Mothersbaugh/Gerald V. Casale/Mark Mothersbaugh

Sung By: Gerald V. Casale (Co-Lead)/Mark Mothersbaugh (Co-Lead)

Alternate Versions:
"Through Being Cool" - DEV2.0 version - with altered lyrics

Demo Versions:

Song Connections:
“Hobknob with the Snobs” - title and lyrics addresses arrogant and ignorant people and the ninnies and the twits.
"Through Being Cool (Intro Music)" -(formerly on BBB release D002, and later included on an Ultimate Unreleased Demos & Outtakes Collection.)

Trivia / Info:[]

  •  TBC includes a simulated, synthesized sound of a descending mortar or bomb.
  • Performed on the 1981 to 1982 New Traditonalists Tour supporting the NT album, preceded in the setlist by "Going Under" and followed by "Jerkin' Back 'N' Forth".
  • The Virgin 7" single releases paired "Through Being Cool" with "Race Of Doom"
  • The WB 7" promo[1]and single[2] releases listed a 3:08 "Dance Velocity" version but were pressed with the album version.
    A fan-made "Dance Velocity" version is on Booji Boy's Basement release Make Me Dance [A Collection of DEVO Remixes].
  • During the "Taarna" segment of the animated film Heavy Metal, an edit of the album version is used as background music, played by a four-piece bar band. (One member of that band looks similar to Booji Boy.)
  • Devo re-recorded TBC for its inclusion in Rock Band 3.
  • The “Through Being Cool" music video included extensive choreography and film effects.[3]
  • DEVO's recording of "Somewhere" also referenced West Side Story.

Onstage Behavior:[]

Arrayed on the spotlit stage from left to right are Alan, GVC, Mark, Bob 1, and Bob 2, wearing the Nu-Tra Pomp and uniform. Alan drums, GVC and Mark dance and sing into microphones, Bob 1 plays guitar, and Bob 2 plays an array of synths. Mark plays the synth solos.
GVC, Mark, and Bob1 perform near and on long treadmills leading into the stylized facade of a classical Greek temple. Stylized pictograph illustrations and international symbol signsref are rear-projected onto three large screens hung between the temple pillars.

Lyrics: "Through Being Cool" -- LyricWikia


Music Video[]
Appears on We're All DEVO, The Complete Truth About De-Evolution
Through Being Cool (legendado) YouTube
See: Through Being Cool (outfits)

The music video begins after a video effect transitioning from a We’re All DEVO scene displaying Mark's thoughts during a deprogramming session at Lifeforms Unlimited.

On a city street with brick buildings, a youth beats percussion on a garbage can lid in time with the LinnDrum blast at the beginning of the song. He kicks over the can and joins his two rowdy friends.
They run together in time with the music and gesture along with the lyrics.
The three point a finger gun at the lyric “eliminate.” The youth with light colored hair first displays a throat cutting gesture.
They lift their forearms and gesture with the back of the hand at the lyric “twits.”
A dark haired youth grabs the head of the other dark haired youth and he bangs their heads together.
The light haired youth beats their butts with a jumping double kick.
All three pound their fist in their open palm at the lyric “what’s what.”
As the synth line plays all extend their hand forward and twist their head, then turn right and exit the frame.
They display their allegiance with a full color Nu-tra Man emblem on their left sleeve.

1981 De-Evolutionary Army personnel are on active duty working at Club DEVO.
DEVO distribute harmless spud guns along with standard issue Nu-Tra Pomps and long white padded "Action Vests" to Smart Patrol[4] recruits, who wear them over their black and white uniform of dark tees, dark pants and white footwear.
DEVO are dressed in the standard issue outerwear seen in the Nu-Tra concert tour and near identical to the WB album cover photo.

A dark haired youth slaps the counter in time with the beat, ending with one hand open and facing upwards.
Mark - wearing a black digital wristwatch - places a spud gun in the open palm of the recruit.

The light haired youth pulls the elastic strap of another recruit, who turns around and stands on the locker room bench with the two others who are already dressed.
The three shorter recruits push away the pain who tries to drive them nuts.

Jerry issues a Nu-Tra Pomp and an Action Vest to a recruit.
Bob 1 stands by a table of merchandise and tosses a spud gun to Jerry, who also issues it to the recruit and initiates a non-contact high five on his side of the chain link distribution window.

The three shorter Smart Patrol members do some more choreography in time with the song while mouthing the lyrics.

Bob 2 lifts a box of merchandise with a shifting center of gravity.
Alan sweeps up with a hand broom and dustpan while staying alert.

In full gear, the Smart Patrol crouch in unison, extend their arm and point and sweep their spud guns.

Bob 2 opens a door inwards. DEVO speed the Smart Patrol on their way – they raise their hand and wave in a single crisp move, ending with a static angled open palm.
Jerry first raises his right hand to his temple in a hand salute before transitioning to the farewell wave.

The Smart Patrol step in close formation in time with the beat.
One shoe has the top point of the “swoosh” logo whited out.
They all frolic in the loading bay.[5]

Next the Smart Patrol go out and encounter successive groups of arrogant and ignorant people who represent undesired thinking which is then metaphorically eliminated.

Live Video[]
DEVO. "Through Being Cool". (Live in Denver '81) Waveform: Rock Video. Colorado PBS TV.[6]
DEVO. "I Saw Jesus / Through Being Cool". Live on Fridays. (1981).[7]


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Gerald V. Casale. "Devo: a video history". Optic Music. (1984, August).

    “...We were shooting three songs in a single week’s production time. ‘Through Being Cool’ was the most complex and suffered from ‘ideas bigger than your budget’ syndrome.
    It was to be a devolved dance piece mutated from a West Side Story scene mixed with a Mousketeer’s version of A Clockwork Orange. DEVO expedites the action dispensing the gear (plastic pomp hairpieces, t-shirts, action vests and spudguns) from Club DEVO to the new traditionalist youths.
    They dance their way through keyed cityscape backgrounds matched to the action and joyfully eliminate ‘ninnies and twits’ with roto-scoped rays shot from spudguns.
    An absentee choreographer and a ticking clock forced me to attempt most of the choreography myself while being closely scrutinized by three or four sets of parents watching their budding stars and starlets ‘eliminating’ a middle-aged couple in a 1981 Cadillac Seville. That scene alone required four layers of keys to make it work...”

  4. "Through Being Cool" commentary track, The Complete Truth About De-Evolution

  5. Club DEVO is shown having a merchandise warehouse, a check in / distribution window, a locker room and a large room suitable for recreation, equipped with a 2x4 railing staircase, wooden pallets and metal 50 gallon drums.

  6. "Devo - [Live in Denver '81] - Through Being Cool". Uploaded to YouTube by electronictomato.
    (From a Colorado PBS TV show produced by Michael Drumm.)

  7. "Devo - I Saw Jesus/Through Being Cool (Live on Fridays 1981) {HIGH QUALITY}". Uploaded to YouTube by Violet Skowronski.
    (From Fridays, episode 40.) Available from SHOUT! Factory.

External Links:[]

Through Being Cool (7" Single)(Master Release) -- Discogs
"Through Being Cool b/w Race Of Doom" (Virgin Single) -- 45cat
"Jerkin' Back'N' Forth (Saltando adelante y atrás) b/w Through Being Cool" (Virgin Promo Single, Spain) -- Devo-Obsesso
Through Being Cool (Releases) Album Version - (US/UK)(Japan), Live Version -- MusicBrainz
Through Being Cool (Overview) -- AllMusic

New Traditionalists: Singles -- Wikipedia

Mark Mothersbaugh | Gerry Casale | Bob Mothersbaugh
Bob Lewis | Bob Casale | Jim Mothersbaugh | Alan Myers
David Kendrick | Josh Freese
Jeff Friedl | Josh Hager
Record Labels / Publishers
Booji Boy Records | Warner Brothers | Enigma | Devo, Inc. 
Stiff | Virgin | Rykodisk | Infinite Zero | Restless | Discovery | Rhino 
MVD Audio | The Orchard | Superior Viaduct | Futurismo
Brian Eno | Ken Scott | Robert Margouleff | Roy Thomas Baker | DEVO 
The Teddybears | Greg Kurstin | Santi White | John King | John Hill | Mark Nishita 
Official Studio Albums
Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! (1978) | Duty Now For The Future (1979) | Freedom of Choice (1980) | New Traditionalists (1981) | oh, no! it's Devo (1982) | Shout (1984) | Total Devo (1988) | SmoothNoodleMaps (1990) | Something for Everybody   (2010)
Other Albums
Be Stiff EP (1978) | E-Z Listening Disc (1987) | Now It Can Be Told: DEVO at the Palace (1989) | Hardcore DEVO Vol. 1 74-77 (1990) | Hardcore DEVO Vol. 2 1974-1977 (1991) | DEVO Live: The Mongoloid Years (1992) | DEV-O Live (1999) | Recombo DNA (2000) | Live In Central Park (2004) | DEVO Live 1980 (2005) | New Traditionalists: Live 1981 Seattle (2012) | Something ELSE for Everybody  (2013) | Miracle Witness Hour  (2014) | Live at Max's Kansas City - November 15, 1977  (2014) | Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig  (2014) | Hardcore DEVO Live!  (2015) | Art Devo 1973-1977  (2023)
In The Beginning Was The End: The Truth About De-Evolution (1976) | The Men Who Make The Music (1981) | Human Highway (1982) | We're All DEVO (1984) | The Complete Truth About De-Evolution (1993) | DEVO Live (2004) | DEVO Live In The Land Of The Rising Sun (2004) | DEVO Live 1980 (2005) | Butch Devo and the Sundance Gig  (2014) | Hardcore DEVO Live!  (2015)
Related Articles
History | Bootlegs | Booji Boy | Devolution | Influence | The Wipeouters | Jihad Jerry & The Evildoers | Devo 2.0 | Akron, Ohio | Kent, Ohio | Music Videos | Cover Versions | Outfits