Incubus’ “Idiot Box” Lyrics Meaning

The term television, if you were to break it down to its two base components – tele and vision – is quite an interesting word. It implies that other people’s visions – that of writers, producers, directors and what have you – are being transmitted to us viewers. 

And it is along those lines that Incubus’ “Idiot Box” commences, with Brandon Boyd asserting that he is not keen on subjecting his mind to the thoughts of others. Or put more plainly, he is not fond of the type of socialization that is relayed via television. And leading into the chorus, it becomes apparent that this is in fact an anti-television song. In the eyes of the narrator, the TV, as revealed later in the bridge, is the titular “idiot box”. 

And what the first verse and chorus, when put together, sorta imply is that despite the multitude of channels at our disposal, the messages being sent via the television are pretty monotonous. And along those lines, shall we say the messages also tend to be based on materialism.

Forsake the Idiot Box

The second verse then proceeds to, in a very poetic way, forthrightly espouse the act of forsaking the idiot box. The vocalist idealizes witnessing a day when the masses will abandon the couch potato life, thus re-sparking the creativity that lies within us. And the subsequent bridge drives home the point that Brandon personally disdains one of the world’s favorite media tools.

“Idiot Box” was released at a time when the internet was just starting to go mainstream and relatively speaking well before the advent of the social media age. So maybe if this song were written now, circa 2021, the tone would be a bit different.

But people who have been traditionally under such a disposition – that we are being brainwashed by television, so to speak – tend to also hold on to those same types of views now, even with the proliferation of more-independent media like YouTube videos, blogs and what have you. 

Indeed, it isn’t as if the power structure of television news and entertainment has changed throughout the years, apparently being more concentrated now then it was back then. And even as far as social media goes, just a day prior to the writing of this post the EU moved ahead in its process to combat what is known as the Big Tech monopoly

So Boyd’s premise, from his perspective, would likely still be valid now, that we’re being force-fed, so to speak, certain content.

The Takeaway

The conclusive sentiment of this piece is that the ultimate power – that of the remote control and the keyboard, if you will – still lies in the hand of the consumer. And along those lines, Incubus is telling us to “plant a bomb in this idiot box”.

Incubus, "Idiot Box" Lyrics

Facts about “Idiot Box”

This track is from a project entitled “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.”. This project is Incubus’s second LP, which was put out by Epic Records. 

Incubus did go on to become a very successful music act. However, “Idiot Box”, which was introduced to the world on 9 September 1997, came out before they really blew up.

This is actually our first time researching Incubus. But by the looks of things, this is a band that has utilized some degree of comedy in their routine. For instance, not only is the title of this song comedic but also the cover art of the album it is featured on. 

Additionally the members of the band used codenames on this project, some of which are funny. These codenames are as follows:

  • Badmammajamma (Jose Pasillas)
  • Cornelius (Brandon Boyd)
  • Dirk Lance (Alex Katunich)
  • Jawa (Mike Einziger)
  • DJ Lyfe (Gavin Koppell) 

And out of the aforementioned musicians, lead singer Boyd, drummer Pasillas and guitarist Einziger are still down with Incubus as of the writing of this post.

The officially credited writers of this song are the five Incubus bandmates mentioned above. And the producer of “Idiot Box” is another musician who, like Incubus, traces his origins back to California, that being Jim Wirt.

Idiot Box

Was “Idiot Box” released as a single?

No. Despite not being a single, “Idiot Box” is among the popular tracks on the “S.C.I.E.N.C.E.” album. The following songs are the album’s official singles:

  • “New Skin”
  • “Redefine”
  • “A Certain Shade of Green”

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