Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Odelay Music Poster Image
Inventive alternative album breaks down musical boundaries.

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age 2+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

With his genre-crossing album Odelay, which fuses rap, folk, electronica, and rock, Beck let a world of musicians and listeners know that musical inventiveness knows no boundaries.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Beck has been an inspiration to other musicians because of the way he breaks down barriers between genres, incorporating styles and sounds from numerous influences into his music.


There are some disturbing images in Beck's songs, but nothing that would seem terribly violent or frightening to teens. "The Devil's Haircut" has the lines "Heads are hanging from the garbage can trees" and "Hitching a ride with the bleeding noses." In "High 5," Beck sings, "Want a slap in the face I love the taste" and "Watch me die in my suicide high." In "Hotwax," there's "Wishing I was living like a hit man."


Odelay includes almost no sexual or romantic content, but "Devil's Haircut" mentions "stealing kisses."


"High 5" includes the line "Turn that s--t off, man!" And "Hotwax" uses a term: "flashdance ass pants." In "Minus," Beck sings, "The last survivor of a boiled crap." There's also a song called "Jack Ass," but the word "ass" isn't in the lyrics.


The song "High 5" includes references to older commercials for Sasoon, Sergio Valente, and Jordache designer jeans. "Novacane" mentions Drano.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

"High 5" mentions beers. "Diskobox" includes the line "Sippin' whiskey in the midnight shade." In "Hotwax," there's the lyric "In the chainsmoke Kansas flashdance ass pants." "The New Pollution" has a line about cigarettes, but in the context of a song about pollution, smoking is hardly glorified. "Lord Only Knows" has the humorous lyric, "Don't call us when the new age gets old enough to drink."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Beck's Odelay won two Grammy Awards (for Best Alternative Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for "Where It's At"), and it appears on "Best Of" lists from Spin magazine, Rolling Stone, and others. The album is revered for its inventive fusion of eclectic styles, sounds, and samples. The lyrics on Odelay are always poetic and often obtuse -- there's little in the way of straight narrative. By the same token, there's little to offend, except for a couple of curse words ("s--t" and "ass"), a couple mentions of alcohol (whiskey and beers), and two references to cigarette smoking. 

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What's the story?

Beck's 1996 album ODELAY won two Grammy Awards -- for Best Alternative Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song \"Where It's At.\" Revered for the inventive ways the artist and his producers, the Dust Brothers, crossed boundaries and genres, the album appeared on \"Best Of\" lists from Rolling Stone, Spin, the Village Voice, and others. The album, which peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart, combines elements of electronica, punk, folk, country, rock, and rap styles.

Is it any good?

On Odelay, Beck and his producers, the Dust Brothers, seamlessly combine many and various musical genres, samples, and sounds -- processed and straight -- to invent what still feels like a unique approach to music making. Beck is also a talented lyricist; there's little in the way of straight narrative in his songs, but there's loads of evocative imagery that's just as unique as the sonics. Listeners who look for strong personal, emotional impact in their music won't find it here, but the creativity is undeniable on these diverse, original tracks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the ways Beck and his producers break down boundaries between musical genres and styles. Do you like finding folk, rap, electronica, rock, etc. all on the same album, or even in the same song?

  • Can you think of newer artists who may have been inspired by Beck?

  • What song samples can you recognize on the album?

Music details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the '90s

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