Hollywood Freaks
By: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Written by: Beck Hansen, John King, Mike Simpson

Alternate Titles:

a.k.a. Jockin' My Mercedes

Versions:
  1. Hollywood Freaks (3:57)
    Available on Midnite Vultures.
    Credits
    Justin Meldal-Johnsen: Bass
    Beck Hansen: Bass Synthesizer, Mix, Producer, Vocals
    The Dust Brothers: Engineer, Producer, Programming, Scratching
    Roger Joseph Manning Jr.: Keyboard / Synthesizer
    Michael Patterson: Mix
    Tony Hoffer: Programming
    Arnold McCuller: Vocals (Background)
    Valerie Pinkton: Vocals (Background)
    Arroyo Bombers: Vocals (Gang)
Unofficial Versions: [show/hide]
  1. Diamond (Hollywood) District (Freaks)
    Available on Aphids On The Lettuce.
    Credits
    Beck Hansen: Mashed (Hollywood Freaks)
    Kool Keith: Mashed (Diamond District)
    Panzah Sandahz: Remix (Mashup)
 
 
Lyrics:
Hollywood Freaks [Version (a)]:

What? Say what? He my nun!
Hot milk, mm, tweak my nipple, Champagne and Ripple
Shamans go cripple, my sales go triple
We drop lobotomy beats, evaporated meats
On high-tech streets, we go solo
Dance floors and talk shows, hot dogs, No-Doz
Hot sex in back rows, heh-heh

I wanna know what makes you scream
Be your twenty-million dollar fantasy
Treat you real good, expensive jeans
Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scene

Touch it real good if you want a piece (he my nun!)
Party people know I'm that type of freak

People look so snooty, take pills, make them moody
Automatic bzooty, zero to tutti frutti
Sex in the halls, Niagara Falls
Local shopping malls receive anonymous calls
Hot like a cheetah, neon mamacita
Eat at Tacoria, pop lockin' beats from Korea
Looking like jailbait, selling lots of real estate
Looking like a hot date, banging like an 808

I wanna know what makes you scream
Be your twenty-million dollar fantasy
Treat you real good, expensive jeans
Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scene

Touch it real good if you want a piece
Party people know I'm that type of freak
Do you want to feel this? Do you want to feel this?

Norman Schwartzkoff, something tells me you want to go home
Champagne, bibles, custom clothes you own
Calling up from special area codes
Hollywood nuns with the Hollywood phones
I got nothing to do, nowhere to go
I'll tell you what you want if you want to know
Satin sheets, tropical oils
Turn up the heat 'til the swimming pool boils
Let all the neighbors read it in the papers
Making all those gentlemen cry realistic tears

Do you like that? Yeah, one more time.
I wanna know what makes you scream
Be your twenty-million dollar fantasy (he my nun!)
Treat you real good, expensive jeans
Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scene

Touch it real good if you want a piece (he my nun!)
Party people know I'm that type of freak

Jockin' my Mercedes! Probably have my baby!
Shop at Old Navy! He wish he was a lady!
Do you want to feel this?
Do you want to feel this?
Do you want to feel this?
Do you want to feel this?
Do you really want to feel this?
Do you want to ???


Dance floors, on all the talk shows
Hot dogs, No-Doz, hot sex in back rows
You know, Hyundais tricked out
In Christmas in July
6.2%, yeah, you fill in the blanks
It's tricky, tutti frutti, automatic bzooty
We are mixing bizness with leather
 
The Song:

In June 1998, Beck had just finished recording Mutations and went out on tour. I believe he started Vultures a few months later, and some of the song ideas seem to have been born as on-stage adlibs/jokes during the 1998 shows. For instance, in one 9-minute "Debra" jam, Beck started singing about making gentlemen cry realistic tears.

So then a bit later, Beck went to create Vultures and used that line again in a song then called "Jockin' My Mercedes." This was performed during a couple of festival sets during some of the brief Mutations promotion gigs. The song did change a little from then, but it was basically the same as what you know now, just under a different name.

"Hollywood Freaks" might be the most typical Midnite Vultures track. As the perfect example of the Vultures mood, "Hollywood Freaks" would have been Beck's first choice as a single for the album. "That's the one I would choose because this is what I would wanna hear if I was in a club...you know, on a Thursday night, feeling mildly excited." The song is a catchy and melodic, but at the same time, a bit of a goof, as proved by all the laughing and silly references.

Beck's a master at finding the right words to match the right attitude of the music (and vice versa). There are so many pop references, it's hard to begin! (See below.) Basically, as the title conveys, the song is just full-on freakiness: neon ladies, tropical oils, twenty-million dollar fantasies, custom clothes, hot dates banging pop lockin' beats. But as Beck put it, it's a riff on all "the pervasive R&B entrepreneurial superstar star-maker man-male '90s machines." (And Norman Schwartzkoff.)

Beck explains his love/hate relationship with Los Angeles, which comes out subtly in "Hollywood Freaks." "I love L.A., but there's certain elements that are repelling to me, but at the same time I enjoy it. I love to hate it. As a musician or somebody who works creatively, you tend to take things from your environment that bug you or disturb you and try to reassemble them the way you see fit. That's one of the licenses you acquire when you start writing songs or making movies. You're able to do odd things and rework the world as you see it. So I took the liberty to do it with Hollywood because it's taken liberty with me. It's a two-way relationship."

Often "Hollywood Freaks" is considered a spoof (as is much of Midnite Vultures), but Beck takes issue with that. He explains, "I don't think of that song as a parody at all. There is a fine line there but it isn't parody. I love the new stuff and the old school. That song to me is just my aesthetic. In my fantasy world that is the kind of hip hop song you would hear on the radio, hear Puff Daddy rapping."
 
Live:

Played live 88 times:
Earliest known live version: June 2, 1998
Latest known live version: July 14, 2014

1998-1999 pre-Vultures

Some of the earliest attempts at "Hollywood Freaks" were during the Mutations promo gigs, when the song was still called "Jockin' My Mercedes." There wasn't a full tour, but there were many festival appearances, radio shows, corporate gigs, etc. where Beck went out rocking. (The song would have been out of place on the short, proper Mutations tour.) Beck was halfway through Vultures recording when he had to go promote Mutations, and it's not really known when he recorded "Hollywood Freaks" (before or after these appearances). Nonetheless, the live version from October 1998, is remarkably similar, except it feels a lot less polished, and a little bit more aggressive. All of the lines and the arrangement are mostly there, but it's not as melodic as it would come to be, and there's even a cheesy xylophone sound mimicking the chorus ("I wanna know what makes you scream..."). Beck and the band do seem to be having an absolute blast playing this new song for an audience, especially when they got to the "Jockin' my Mercedes!" singalong.

Perhaps the first real hint at the song for many fans was on Beck's Mutations performance on KCRW on the morning of November 24 1998. He brought along his full band, and they performed 8 songs from Mutations. The fun came at the end of "Tropicalia," surprisingly enough. It ended in a long jam, where Beck dropped a bunch of Midnite Vultures references (which they were all in the midst of recording at the time). The lyrics of the outro, sung over the "Tropicalia" rhythm:
Mm, haha, I wanna defy the logic of all sexx laws
Negotiate, hypothesize my flaws
?? girlfriends with six-pointed financing
Liquidated properties, actresses with MSG erections
Norman Schwartzkopf, looks like you wanna go home
Champagne bottles, custom clothes you own
Calling up from special area codes
The Hollywood nuns calling up on the Hollywood phones
I got nothing to do, nowhere to go
I'll tell you what you want, if you want to know
Tropical heat, satin sheets
Turn up the heat 'til the swimming pool boils
Let all the neighbors read it in the papers
Making all the gentlemen cry realistic tears
'Cause I wanna know what makes you scream
Be your twenty-million-dollar fantasy
Treat you real good, expensive jeans
Hollywood freaks on the Hollywood scenes
And all the children cried on Blackberry Lane!


Combining it with "Tropicalia," even spontaneously, was inspired and may be my favorite version of the song ever.

2000-2001 Vultures tours

Naturally, "Hollywood Freaks" was performed throughout the Midnite Vultures tour. With the new female background singers, the song performed live has a new feel, and allows Beck to ad-lib a bit during choruses. The Brass Menagerie and DJ Swamp shine during the song, as well.

Later Vultures tour versions varied greatly. The May 21 2000, version from Fukuoka was a strange orgy with "Loser." After a short version of "Loser," a short bridge quickly turned into a seductive version of "Hollywood Freaks." It's a bizarre, but entertaining, combination. Over time however, "Hollywood Freaks" sort of dwindled out of the setlist. Perhaps they got tired of it, I don't know. But by the final leg of the Vultures tour, it was played at just 4 of 21 shows

The song did return for the summer of 2001 tour of Europe and Japan. One version, from June 29, ended up incorporating the "High 5" jam about jeans into it.

2002-2003 Sea Change tours

On some of Beck's solo Sea Change gigs in 2002, he dropped little bits of "Hollywood Freaks" in medleys a couple of times. But mostly, he stayed away from the song until the summer of 2003, when a more rock show was brought back.

After not playing the song for about two years, Beck returned to it with his new band on May 31 2003. They stuck with it fairly regularly for the rest of the summer.

2005-2007 Guero/Info tours

During the Guero and Information tours of 2005-2007, there are a number of "Hollywood Freaks." Never a main song in the set, there were around 15 performances. Some were little bits in medleys, a few were full.

2008-2009 Modern Guilt tours

The song was not played on the Modern Guilt tours, except once near the end of the tour in Japan, Beck adlibbed some of it during "Ghettochip Malfunction."

2014 Morning Phase tours

Similarly, the only other time Beck referenced the song since 2007 was again in "Ghettochip Malfunction," 5 years later at a show in Nashville (July 2014).



 
Notes:


There are a million allusions in this song: