In 1980, when Devo released its signature hit, “Whip It,” the band considered the galloping new wave tune to be a message of encouragement to embattled U.S. president Jimmy Carter. “Everybody was totally freaked out by American politics and American foreign policy,” co-writer Mark Mothersbaugh is quoted as saying. “At the time, Jimmy Carter was in charge. I thought of ‘Whip It’ as kind of a Dale Carnegie, ‘You Can Do It’ song for Jimmy Carter.” Ultimately, it didn’t work. The song was released on August 13, 1980, and Carter was voted out of office just three months later. But the Devo song reached the Billboard Top 20 anyway and remains a pop-culture staple to this day. Recently, comedy music artist Bonecage and his collaborator, Mr. Gee, repurposed the song as a message of encouragement for one of the most stressed-out, harried characters in television: zombie apocalypse survivor and former police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Although he’s fictional, Rick routinely faces obstacles that even President Carter couldn’t fathom. In his darkest moments, he could certainly use an upbeat, go-get-’em anthem like “Rick It!”
“Just love The Walking Dead and wanted to do a song about it,” Bonecage tells The A.V. Club. “Mr. Gee is a super solid dude, and he’s always game to collaborate, so we just made it happen.” The resulting song posits Rick Grimes as an all-purpose man of action, a sort of johnny-on-the-spot for all the worst-case scenarios of life. The human survivors of The Walking Dead don’t have much time for pep rallies, but if they did, this is exactly the kind of thing that would get them fired up: “Now Rick it! / Grow a beard! / Grab an ax! / Make it weird!” See, things are starting to look a little brighter already.