B is for Brutus – Decoding the Anthem of Ambition and Betrayal

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for The Hives's B is for Brutus at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. A Ladder to Success or a Cliffside of Regret?
  5. Redefining the Value Equation: Lot Versus Little
  6. The ‘Good’ Paradox: Questioning Moral Compromise
  7. The Enigmatic Riddle of Identity Lost in Pursuit
  8. B for Betrayal: The Unexpected Role We Play


Hear them saying that a lot is a lot
You think it’s all that matters
You’ve done your math well
You checked the figures

You’ve done your math tell
Who is the bigger
Man can’t explain it but you got a hunch
Well, that’s always something

Climb up the ladder
Step up a notch
Climb up the ladder then
See what you got

But if you do it, do it good, Brutus
Real good!
Like a little man should!
Did your homework and you worked the mob

Because it’s all you can do
Tried for a lot still you have a little
What happened mister you couldn’t figure
Out of the rut you still can’t get it right

Can’t get a lot for a little?
You keep on trying and you end up in the middle
Had an enigma ended up with a riddle
But if you do it, do it good, Brutus

Like a little man SHOULD
Rewind and look at what you got
Had ambition but you lost the plot

Judas Brutus Quisling time has come to do
What’s expected of you

Full Lyrics

The Hives, notorious for their infectious energy and garage-rock prowess, often craft songs that are more than just auditory assaults – they’re narratives steeped in commentary. ‘B is for Brutus,’ a track from their acclaimed album ‘Tyrannosaurus Hives,’ is no exception. On the surface, it’s a rebellious, foot-stomping anthem, but peeled back layer by layer, the song reveals the complexities of ambition, loyalty, and identity.

Through a cascade of raucous guitar riffs and Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist’s staccato vocals, the song compels listeners to decode its seemingly cryptic title and lyrics. What emerges is not merely an earworm, but a thoughtful exploration of the human condition and the perils of sacrificing one’s morals on the altar of success.

A Ladder to Success or a Cliffside of Regret?

The draw of progression, elevated status, and achievement is a timeless allure, with ‘the ladder’ often symbolizing one’s journey towards these goals. However, ‘B is for Brutus’ paints a picture where climbing becomes an obsessive act, potentially leading to a plateau of dissatisfaction. The notion of ‘seeing what you got’ after each climb implies a relentless quest that perhaps promises more than it delivers.

In the scheme of things, The Hives suggest that relentless ambition could be a fruitless endeavor. The song urges listeners to analyze the true worth of what they aim for, indirectly questioning if the end justifies the means.

Redefining the Value Equation: Lot Versus Little

Examining the juxtaposition of ‘a lot’ and ‘a little’ within the song summons a discussion on subjective value and the inefficacy of measuring life in material benchmarks alone. The line, ‘Tried for a lot still you have a little,’ is emblematic of an existential gamble, where effort doesn’t always equate to expected outcomes.

The motif underscores the disparity between desire and actuality, positing that sometimes, the chase results in only a mirage of gratification. The Hives stir a conversation on contentment and the psychological toil of chasing shadows under the guise of aspirations.

The ‘Good’ Paradox: Questioning Moral Compromise

When the lyrics iterate, ‘But if you do it, do it good, Brutus,’ there’s an apparent interjection of irony. The reference to Brutus, notorious for his betrayal of Julius Caesar, is no casual name-drop. It’s a call to examine the convoluted notions of doing ‘good’ and the consequential tarnishing of one’s character.

In this relentless pursuit, The Hives challenge the archetype of the ‘little man’ doing good in spite of the pressures of a convoluted societal structure. The repeated emphasis on being ‘real good’ seems less a celebration and more a satirical observation of how personal ambition can lead to moral dissonance.

The Enigmatic Riddle of Identity Lost in Pursuit

Identity crisis acts as a subtext in ‘B is for Brutus,’ where the protagonist’s ambition morphs into an enigmatic riddle. The line, ‘Had an enigma ended up with a riddle,’ serves as a cautionary tale of losing oneself in the process of self-discovery and ambition.

This descent into existential confusion is punctuated by the idea of a compromised identity. It’s not merely about failing to achieve one’s goal but about the crisis that ensues when objectives become so consuming that they erase individuality and moral certainty.

B for Betrayal: The Unexpected Role We Play

The climax of the song, hinted by the line ‘Judas Brutus Quisling time has come to do what’s expected of you,’ is a trifecta of historical betrayal. It draws together the imagery of Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Vidkun Quisling – figures emblematic of betrayal. The song insinuates that in the pursuit of ambition, there’s a point where expectation may force one into a role of betrayal, whether of others or of oneself.

The syntax suggests that roles are not always chosen; sometimes they are thrusted upon us through societal norms or the crushing weight of our own aspirations. The ‘time has come’ isn’t just a call to action but a piercing revelation that sometimes the betrayal is not only inevitable but a predestined result of our endeavors.

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