"Two Tribes" is a 1984 single by pop/rock band Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Along with Relax, it is one of the two most famous songs by the group. When I bought it out of a bin of 45 RPM singles for a quarter, I knew nothing about the song. To be honest, I bought it and listened to it because I thought it would be a cheesy piece of 80s nostalgia.

The song is more than that. As the title might suggest, this is a song about war, influenced by the heightened tensions of the cold war at the time. And rather than the new wave/dance pop I was expecting, the song has a frenetic, punk rock sound. Over a driving beat, the lyric

"When two tribes go to war..."
repeats. Oh, and that is a bad thing about the song. The lyrics, in true punk rock fashion, are yowelled so quickly that I couldn't make much sense of them, even after repeated listenings. The next line is supposedly
"points are all that you can score"
but I heard
"money is all that you can score"
There is a saying that "no one has made a good anti-war movie", because the imagery glorifies what it is attempting to criticize. I could say the same thing about this song: its energy feels violent, even if the indecipherable lyrics say elsewise.

Still, given the time it was released, I found this song compelling and much less sugary than it could have been. (And, indeed, the B-Side of the single, spliced interviews with the band members, has them disclaiming resemblance to Duran Duran). So while its lyrical contribution to world peace is minimal, I appreciate the music.

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