Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

We are both deeply confused and offended by this soft-rock anthem about police brutality

Johnossi's Blood Jungle cover art

Please allow us to introduce you to Johnossi, an early contender for the worst band of 2017. Before we start, it’s imperative that you gaze upon the face of evil. This, dear reader, is the photo accompanying the press release for the duo’s new song, “Hands”:


Okay. We may begin.

Johnossi hails from Sweden, where it is apparently fine to dress like a human lava lamp. The duo deals in straight-up soft-rock, the type of music that would be heard in a commercial for a Carnival cruise, or faintly in the background during a dentist’s appointment. The band’s name is a portmanteau of its members’ names, as guitarist-vocalist John Engelbert and drummer Oskar “Ossi” Bonde need it to be known this is the product of these two men and their unending connection. They drive it home with this photo, taken from Johnossi’s Facebook page:

Today, the two-headed beast released “Hands,” a track from its upcoming album which is titled—we shit you not—Blood Jungle. At the start, nothing about the song seems out of the ordinary. It opens with a simple acoustic guitar jangle and a light electric guitar lead but, out of nowhere, Englebert unleashes a line so unsettling it’ll stop you dead: “Spread your legs and shut your mouth / Put your hands where I can see ’em.” This is how the band introduces its song about police brutality. From the perspective of the police officer. Listen below:

As the press release notes, Englebert “addresses police brutality from both the victim and the perpetrator’s perspective,” which is already pretty dicey territory. But what comes next isn’t any better, as he opines, “It’s people like you who deserve to be beaten by me.” When the narrative eventually shifts to the victim, it’s not much better, as Englebert begins bargaining with the officer—who, may I remind you, is also him—that he’s a “family man” and that he “don’t want no trouble.” This part is punctuated by whoas, because nothing says “this is a serious social issue” like a good “ah-whoa-oh.”


The next verse goes harder on the racially charged language as Englebert, against all good judgment, sings, “Boy, how dare you act so innocent and juvenile / I’m sick and tired of you people doing drugs at night.” This time, the sentiment is punctuated by some ascending “Hey, hey”s, because sure, why the fuck not. It raises the question as to how none of the people in the Johnossi camp—be it the song’s producers, the band’s friends and family, a person with a brain cell passing by the studio—didn’t take them aside and say, “Hey guys, cool song. Uhh, maybe don’t sing about police brutality in a way that makes it unclear what side of the issue you’re on? Also, maybe don’t sing from the perspective of a marginalized person when you are two white, Swedish guys? Seriously though, cool shirt.” But since that very plausible scene did not play out, we have “Hands,” a song that attempts to drive home the following:

  1. Comply with police, as they know best.
  2. Fuck authority, but maybe not, who’s to say?
  3. Drugs at night are bad, drugs during other times are probably fine.
  4. Fuck.

May God have mercy on us all.


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