The Offspring

Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated)

Song Review by

Built around a catchy, Middle Eastern-tinged guitar lick and an anthemic, shout-along chorus, "Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated)" brought the Offspring multi-platinum success, sending their second album Smash to sales of over five million copies. The song hit the airwaves (without ever being officially released as a single) shortly after Green Day had brought California punk-pop into the mainstream with their breakthrough album Dookie, and together the two bands dominated radio and MTV during the summer of 1994 (Green Day with the similarly inescapable single "Basket Case," which followed "Come Out and Play" to the top of the modern rock charts). The song was simple and catchy, with several short, distinct sections often separated by pauses and abrupt restarts: the three-chord main riff, the aforementioned guitar lick, the chugging verses, the more melodic pre-chorus, and the fist-pumping chorus. Lyrically, though, the Offspring were more serious than Green Day (at least comparing those big 1994 singles). "Come Out and Play" was an ironic title, contrasting the supposed innocence of childhood with lyrics about what the group described as "the latest fashion" of urban gang violence between kids not yet old enough to vote (or be tried as adults). There's an eerie foreshadowing, too, in the first verse's lines "The kids are strappin' on their way to the classroom/Getting weapons with the greatest of ease"; although the song is about inner-city gangs, this verse is equally applicable to the rash of school shootings that took place later in the decade. Granted, the overall catchiness of the song tended to belie its darker subject matter, and the fact that the lyrics didn't seem to come from an insider's perspective certainly exacerbated the fact that on a purely musical level, "Come Out and Play" sounded more like a party tune. However, the discrepancy didn't really bother listeners accustomed to the brooding, rigorous introspection of grunge, and the song became a monster hit, proving that Green Day was no fluke and that '90s punk-pop as a style was poised to make its influence felt on nearly every local music scene in the country.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Smash 1994 Epitaph 3:17