Nothing is more quintessential to System of a Down‘s sound than their 2001 sophomore album Toxicity. This era-defining record included a myriad of hits but none more than ‘Chop Suey!‘ The song has continued to stand the test of time and over the weekend hit a milestone shared with some major names like: AC/DC, Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, and Linkin Park – 1 billion views on Youtube.
That’s a lot of zeros. In fact, that’s a lot of plays, “over 6,000 years of playing Chop Suey non-stop” amount of plays, and that’s not even including the half-billion streams the song has a Spotify or the millions of plays over the radio since its release nearly 20 years ago.
The iconic acoustic intro swelling and suddenly crashing into chaos is a hard one to forget. So is lead singer Serj Tankian‘s abrupt command to “Wake up!” The incredible dynamics of the song, undulating violently between rock ballad and nu-metal riffs, defines this iconic ear-worm.
The video itself was shot in the parking lot of the Oak Tree Inn motel in Los Angeles, the hometown of the group, where 1,500 fans showed up to watch them perform.
The song title also garnered a lot of attention as almost nonsensical, but the original title of the song was meant to be ‘Suicide.’ Seemingly named for the chorus line “I don’t think you trust In my self-righteous suicide,” but label reps made the band pick something less controversial so, the band chopped sui. However, the band claims they weren’t pressured on the subjected and decided it was not a battle worth fighting. You can even faintly hear Serj say, “we’re rolling ‘Suicide'” at the very beginning of the track.
“We had to pick and choose our battles we couldn’t battle everything,” bassist Shavo Odadjian told Loudwire in a September interview. “We made it something cool. It wasn’t like we didn’t want to name it that. We named it something that has a story behind it and now you’re asking me about it 19 years later, 20 years later.”
Odadjian was also asked months before this milestone about how he felt about it. The bassist was cavalier about the accomplishment but probably because it’s the second time around for the song according to him.
“Second time around,” he corrected. “When they told us I even have the meme that says ‘1 billion’ and it was years ago, 5 years ago maybe.”
The current official video for the song was uploaded by the band’s Youtube account in 2009. This is only 4 years after the inception of the platform and at the time even the highest viewed videos were barely breaking 100 million. It’s unlikely that the band had two versions of the Chop Suey video but the song and record have been certified multi-Platinum years ago so it’s possible, combined with Spotify and other streaming numbers, that the song itself reached a collective billion years ago before it did so on Youtube.
However, Odadjian does not elaborate further so we’ll just enjoy this billion as it is still quite an accomplishment.