No Shelter

Last updated

"No Shelter"
Single by Rage Against the Machine
from the album Godzilla: The Album
Released12 February 1998
Format CD, 7", 12"
Songwriter(s) Tim Commerford, Zack de la Rocha, Tom Morello, Brad Wilk
Rage Against the Machine singles chronology
"No Shelter"
"Guerrilla Radio"

"No Shelter" is a song by Rage Against the Machine, released in 1998 on the Godzilla soundtrack. It can also be found as a bonus track on the Australian, Japanese and European release of The Battle of Los Angeles in 1999. The song is about how the mass media distracts the public from more important issues in the world and manipulates people's minds.

Rage Against the Machine American rock band

Rage Against the Machine is an American rock band from Los Angeles, California. Formed in 1991, the group consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello, and drummer Brad Wilk. Their songs express revolutionary political views. As of 2010, they had sold over 16 million records worldwide.

<i>Godzilla</i> (1998 film) 1998 film by Roland Emmerich

Godzilla is a 1998 American monster film directed and co-written by Roland Emmerich. The film is a reimagining of Toho's Godzilla franchise and is the 23rd film in the franchise and the first Godzilla film to be completely produced by a Hollywood studio. The film stars Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Maria Pitillo, Hank Azaria, Kevin Dunn, Michael Lerner, and Harry Shearer. The film is dedicated to Tomoyuki Tanaka, the co-creator and producer of various Godzilla films, who died in April 1997.

<i>The Battle of Los Angeles</i> (album) 1999 studio album by Rage Against the Machine

The Battle of Los Angeles is the third studio album by American rock band Rage Against the Machine, released on November 2, 1999 by Epic Records. The album was nominated at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album. The album was recognized by both Time and Rolling Stone magazines as the best album of 1999.


Lyric content

The song discusses consumerism and criticizes the feigned rebelliousness of teenaged consumerism, mentioning Nike and Coca-Cola particularly. Its central theme, however, is media control over public sentiment. In particular it attacks the historical inaccuracy of Steven Spielberg’s film Amistad .

Nike, Inc. American athletic equipment company

Nike, Inc. is an American multinational corporation that is engaged in the design, development, manufacturing, and worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, apparel, equipment, accessories, and services. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, in the Portland metropolitan area. It is the world's largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment, with revenue in excess of US$24.1 billion in its fiscal year 2012. As of 2012, it employed more than 44,000 people worldwide. In 2014 the brand alone was valued at $19 billion, making it the most valuable brand among sports businesses. As of 2017, the Nike brand is valued at $29.6 billion. Nike ranked No. 89 in the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue.

Coca-Cola Carbonated soft drink

Coca-Cola, or Coke, is a carbonated soft drink manufactured by The Coca-Cola Company. Originally intended as a patent medicine, it was invented in the late 19th century by John Stith Pemberton and was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler, whose marketing tactics led Coca-Cola to its dominance of the world soft-drink market throughout the 20th century. The drink's name refers to two of its original ingredients: coca leaves, and kola nuts. The current formula of Coca-Cola remains a trade secret, although a variety of reported recipes and experimental recreations have been published.

Steven Spielberg American film director & screenwriter

Steven Allan Spielberg is an American filmmaker. He is considered one of the founding pioneers of the New Hollywood era and one of the most popular directors and producers in film history.

Despite appearing on the Godzilla soundtrack, the song contains the following line:

Godzilla, pure motherfucking filler; to get your eyes off the real killer.

"No Shelter" made its live debut on January 28, 1999, at the Continental Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. That show was a benefit show for Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Mumia Abu-Jamal is a political activist and journalist who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He became widely known while on death row for his writings and commentary on the criminal justice system in the United States. After numerous appeals, his death penalty sentence was overturned by a Federal court. In 2011, the prosecution agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. He entered the general prison population early the following year.

Critical response

Released "during the lull between Evil Empire and The Battle of Los Angeles" the band's critics held that the song's placement "in one of the biggest summer movies of 1998...reeked of selling out and hopping in bed with the enemy." [1] In response, guitarist Tom Morello told an interviewer for Kerrang! "A lot of times a soundtrack is an opportunity to collaborate with musicians you admire. It's an opportunity to work outside of your band, or exercise -- you know, to flex your musical abilities when Rage has downtime. Out of Godzilla, we happened to get a great song in No Shelter." [1]

Woodstock 1999

Appearing at Woodstock 1999 the band opened with the song. In a piece recalling his attendance at the performance journalist David Samuels noted "The cultural contradictions involved in [RATM's] playing agitprop to a $150-a-ticket crowd are evident from the band's first song, "No Shelter," a Marcusian anthem and also the bands contribution to the soundtrack for the movie Godzilla. It is at once an angry grad-student rant, denouncing the cultural myth that "buyin' is rebellin'," and also proof of the near-infinite capacity of that culture to absorb any criticism as long as it features kick-ass guitars." [2]

Herbert Marcuse German philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist

Herbert Marcuse was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist, associated with the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory. Born in Berlin, Marcuse studied at the Humboldt University of Berlin and then at Freiburg, where he received his PhD. He was a prominent figure in the Frankfurt-based Institute for Social Research – what later became known as the Frankfurt School. He was married to Sophie Wertheim (1924–1951), Inge Neumann (1955–1973), and Erica Sherover (1976–1979). In his written works, he criticized capitalism, modern technology, historical materialism and entertainment culture, arguing that they represent new forms of social control.

Contextual irony

In the Journal Studies in Popular Culture, scholar Jeffrey A. Hall examined the song in his essay "No Shelter in Popular Music: Irony and Appropriation in the Lyrical Criticism of Rage against the Machine". [3] Hall noted "Lead vocalist Zack de la Rocha attacks the entertainment industry and Hollywood films like Rambo and Amistad, yet the most potent lyric clearly addresses the motion picture Godzilla, the film the soundtrack was to promote. ..Clearly not a typical motion picture promotion. Textual analysis of the raw and rapid-fire lyrics of No Shelter reveals a leftist political attack consistent with positions RATM advanced in concerts, lyrics, and their well maintained website. A careful reading of the lyrics will reveal potent political attacks on the entertainment industry, the entirety of their rhetorical strategy is realized in the presence of this song on the soundtrack of Godzilla. Rage lyrically appropriates the soundtrack and utilizes the streamlined functioning of the corporate promotion to advance a criticism of Godzilla and Hollywood's consumption of audiences and their cultural identity. ...The presence of Burkean irony and refraction in No Shelter demonstrates that the band acknowledges its role the circular relationship between the text and its commercial context: the song is set forth as a promotion of the film and its soundtrack, and yet it returns as an assault on that very context. Their politically and commercially savvy attack on Godzilla creates the possibility of the very mechanisms that could stifle the impact of their leftist stance to be used to magnify and refract Rage's message throughout the chain of commercial promotion." [3]

Kenneth Burke American philosopher

Kenneth Duva Burke was an American literary theorist, as well as poet, essayist, and novelist, who wrote on 20th-century philosophy, aesthetics, criticism, and rhetorical theory. As a literary theorist, Burke was best known for his analyses based on the nature of knowledge. Furthermore, he was one of the first individuals to stray away from more traditional rhetoric and view literature as "symbolic action."


Billboard reviewed the song positively stating "Zack de la Rocha's word-heavy verses share the song's spotlight equally with the driving guitars, which at times pleasantly and distinctly evoke the concept--of Hendrix. The band's calculated ethos is juxtaposed with unbridled instrumental interludes that make you think that perhaps, for a moment, it could let down its guard. But tension is the act's trademark, and on No Shelter, it comes through once again." [4]

Music video

This video has a retro, 1920s "Golden Age" theme. It resembles the Industrial Revolution with scenes of workers in assembly lines, while company owners oversee the operations. The band plays throughout the video in a room that seems to be part of an abandoned building or factory. In the "board room", executives and developers plot out a sort of "helmet" with a video screen that covers the face. They experiment by putting the helmet on a teenager who is perturbed and upset. The video screen displays a mouth smiling. The executives declare the helmet a success, and shake hands. They take the teenager away in a van, and kill him in a remote area. Because the song was released for the 1998 film Godzilla , satirical "spoofs" of the movie's phrase "Size does matter" appear on billboards in the city scenes. They are:

Interspersed throughout is a montage depicting the Scottsboro Boys and the impending execution and death by electric chair of Sacco and Vanzetti, both historical examples of unfair trials. Tom Morello's Fender Telecaster guitar can be seen sporting communist references such as the Peruvian 'Sendero Luminoso' or Shining Path in Spanish.

The song contains multiple references to popular culture, criticizing corporate advertising and capitalism. It mentions numerous products, films, brands, and other topics. Among them are Steven Spielberg, Amistad , the VCR, Fourth Reich, Americana, Coca-Cola, Rambo , Nike, and the aforementioned Godzilla series.

Song appearances

Related Research Articles

<i>Rage Against the Machine</i> (album) 1992 studio album by Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine is the eponymous debut studio album by American rock band Rage Against the Machine, released on November 3, 1992 by Epic Records. The album peaked at number 1 on the US Billboard Heatseekers chart and number 45 on the US Billboard 200.

Tom Morello American guitarist and singer-songwriter

Thomas Baptiste Morello is an American musician, singer, songwriter, actor and political activist. He is best known for his tenure with the band Rage Against the Machine and then with Audioslave. As of 2019, Morello is a member of the supergroup Prophets of Rage. Morello was also a touring musician with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. He is also known for his acoustic solo act, the Nightwatchman, and Street Sweeper Social Club. Morello also co-founded Axis of Justice, which airs a monthly program on Pacifica Radio station KPFK in Los Angeles.

<i>Evil Empire</i> (album) 1996 studio album by Rage Against the Machine

Evil Empire is the second studio album by American rock band Rage Against the Machine, released on April 16, 1996 by Epic Records. Its title refers to a term used in the early 1980s by President Ronald Reagan and many American conservatives to describe the former Soviet Union.

Zack de la Rocha American musician, poet rapper and activist best known as the vocalist and lyricist of rap metal band Rage Against the Machine

Zacharias Manuel de la Rocha is an American musician and activist. He is best known as the vocalist and lyricist of rock band Rage Against the Machine. With former Mars Volta drummer Jon Theodore, de la Rocha also co-founded One Day as a Lion in 2008.

Tim Commerford American musician

Timothy Robert Commerford is an American musician, best known as the bassist and backing vocalist for the American rock band Rage Against the Machine, supergroups Audioslave and Prophets of Rage (2016–present). Since 2013 and 2015, he has also been the lead singer and bassist of the bands Future User and WAKRAT.

Brad Wilk American musician

Bradley J. Wilk is an American musician, actor, and activist. He is best known as the drummer of the rock bands Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage (2016–present).

Killing in the Name single

"Killing in the Name" is a song by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine, featured on their self-titled debut album, and was released as the lead single from the album in November 1992.

Guerrilla Radio 1999 single by Rage Against the Machine

"Guerrilla Radio" is the second track from the 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles by the band Rage Against the Machine. The band won the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for this song. "Guerrilla Radio" was also featured on the soundtracks for video games such as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, Madden NFL 10 and Guitar Hero Live, as well as being a downloadable track for the Rock Band series.

Bulls on Parade 1996 single by Rage Against the Machine

"Bulls on Parade" is a song by American rap metal band Rage Against the Machine from their 1996 album Evil Empire.

Sleep Now in the Fire 1999 single by Rage Against the Machine

"Sleep Now in the Fire" is the fifth track from the 1999 album The Battle of Los Angeles by the band Rage Against the Machine. It was released as a single in 1999. The song contains lyrics about greed, such as the conquest of Native Americans, Christopher Columbus' voyage by Niña, the Pinta, and Santa Maria and U.S. slavery in the 19th century as well as criticism of actions taken by the U.S. government in wartime, including the bombing of Hiroshima and the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.

Calm Like a Bomb single

"Calm Like a Bomb" is a song by American band Rage Against the Machine, off their third album The Battle of Los Angeles. Like their song "Tire Me" from the 1996 album Evil Empire, "Calm Like A Bomb" never had a music video or was released on any media formats. It did however, receive enough radio airplay to become an album favorite.

Vietnow 1997 single by Rage Against the Machine

"Vietnow" was the final single for Rage Against the Machine's Evil Empire album. Officially it is only the third single from the album, as "Down Rodeo" was a promo release only.

As an enduring and iconic symbol of post-World War II cinematic history, Godzilla, the King of the Monsters, has been referenced and parodied numerous times in popular culture. Godzilla and other atomic monsters have appeared in a variety of mediums, including cartoons, film, literature, television, and video games.

<i>Rage Against the Machine</i> (demo album) 1991 demo album by Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine is the original demo tape by American rock band Rage Against the Machine, released in December 1991. The 12-track tape was recorded at Sunbirth Studio in Los Angeles, California after drummer Brad Wilk joined the band, but before they had played their first live show. When the band began performing live shows they sold the tape for $5, eventually selling approximately 5,000 copies. Shortly thereafter, the band was signed to a record deal with Epic Records on the strength of the demo's success.

Rage Against the Machine reunion tour

The Rage Against the Machine Reunion Tour was a concert tour by Rage Against the Machine from 2007 to 2011. It was the first tour for the band since they broke up in 2000.

<i>Godzilla: The Album</i> soundtrack album

Godzilla: The Album is the soundtrack to the 1998 film, Godzilla. It was released on May 19, 1998 through Epic Records and mainly consists of alternative rock songs. The soundtrack was a success, peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and reaching platinum certification. The album was commercially successful in both the United States and Japan, being certified platinum by the RIAJ and RIAA in June and July 1998, respectively.

Political views and activism of Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine is a Grammy Award-winning rap metal band, formed in 1991 in Los Angeles, California, United States. The band's line-up consists of vocalist Zack de la Rocha, bassist and backing vocalist Tim Commerford, guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Brad Wilk. Critics have noted Rage Against the Machine for its "fiercely polemical music, which brewed sloganeering leftist rants against corporate America, cultural imperialism, and government oppression into a Molotov cocktail of punk, hip-hop, and thrash." Their lack of want for authority often relates to anarchism.

Prophets of Rage Rap metal supergroup

Prophets of Rage is an American rap rock supergroup. Formed in 2016, the group consists of three members of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, two members of Public Enemy, and rapper B-Real of Cypress Hill.


  1. 1 2 Colin Devenish (2001). Rage Against The Machine. St Martin's Press.
  2. David Samuels (November 1999). "Rock is Dead". Harpers Magazine.
  3. 1 2 Jeffrey A. Hall (2004). "Studies in Popular Culture". 26. Popular Culture Association in the South: 77–89.
  4. "Billboard". Howard Lander. June 27, 1998: 25.
  5. Nick Turse (2008). The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives. Metropolitan Books. p. 116.