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"Holiday in Cambodia"
Single by Dead Kennedys
from the album Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables
B-side "Police Truck"
Released May 1980
Format 7"
Genre Hardcore punk
Length 4:38 (album version)
3:43 (single version)
Label Cherry Red / Alternative Tentacles
Writer(s) Jello Biafra/John Greenway
Producer Dead Kennedys
Dead Kennedys singles chronology
"California Über Alles"
"Holiday in Cambodia"
"Police Truck"

"Holiday in Cambodia" was the second single by the American punk band Dead Kennedys. The record was released in May 1980 on Alternative Tentacles with "Police Truck" as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band's first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980), and the version that appeared on this single, as well as the single's b-side, are available on the rarities album Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death (1987). The cover picture of the single is taken from the 6 October 1976 Massacre in Thailand, and depicts a member of the rightist crowd beating the corpse of a student protester with a metal chair.

The song attacks both Eastern totalitarianism, Western complacency and the direct relation between the two through American military intervention. The song's lyrics offer a satirical view of young, self-righteous Americans (So you been to school/For a year or two/And you know you’ve seen it all/In daddy’s car/Thinkin’ you’ll go far...) and contrast such a lifestyle with a brutal depiction of the Pol Pot regime of Cambodia (Well you’ll work harder/With a gun in your back/For a bowl of rice a day/Slave for soldiers/Till you starve/Then your head is skewered on a stake).

The version of this song that appears on Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is slightly different from the single version, being fifty-five seconds longer and featuring an extended guitar noise intro as well as an extended psychedelic solo.

In October 1998, Jello Biafra was sued by former members of the Dead Kennedys. According to Biafra, the suit was a result of his refusal to allow "Holiday in Cambodia" to be used in a commercial for Levi's Dockers; Biafra opposes Levi's due to what he believes are their unfair business practices and sweatshop labor. However, the other members claimed that their royalties had been defrauded. "The record industry has been skimming royalties owed artists since the beginning," according to Dead Kennedys guitarist East Bay Ray. "This case is no different from blues musicians being taken advantage of in the twenties and thirties. Many people doubted the claims we made against our former record label back in 1998 but with this announcement there is no denying we were the victims here." Record Label Drops Legal Action

The song was covered by straight edge hardcore/metal band Earth Crisis on their 2001 covers album The Last of the Sane. It was previously covered by the California-based thrash metal band Lääz Rockit, appearing on their 1989 album Annihilation Principle. Also, the band Boysetsfire has covered it on their 1998 album, In Chrysalis.

It has also been parodied by spoof lounge artist Richard Cheese, who croons Biafra's angry, cutting lyrics in a Frank Sinatra-like voice. An instrumental version of "Holiday in Cambodia" also appears on Bay Area pianist DJ Lebowitz's Beware of the Piano.[1] The disc Tercer asalto by the Spanish group Def Con Dos features Veraneo en Puerto Hurraco including the line ¿Vacaciones en Camboya? ¡y una polla! ("Holidays in Cambodia? Fuck off!").

At the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, on September 9, the Foo Fighters, along with Serj Tankian (on vocals) covered the song in The Palms Casino Hotel, in one of the Fantasy Suites. Tankian and the Foo Fighters have played the song whilst Tankian supported the Foo Fighters on their UK tour. Tankian has also played it whilst touring solo, and the Foo Fighters also released it as a b-side to their "Long Road to Ruin" single.

The album version of the song is covered in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. where the words "niggers and "bitch" are re-dubbed to say "brothers" and "snitch", for the Guitar Hero rating standards. The master track is available as downloadable content for the video game Rock Band on November 18, 2008, although the offensive terms were muted out due to content reasons.[2]

While the original performance includes the satirically quoted word "niggers", subsequent performances by the reformed Dead Kennedys, and other artists listed here have substituted the word "brothers" in its place.

The song was featured in Leos Carax's 1984 film Boy Meets Girl.


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[1]-2007 Cover Performance


  1. ^ Einhart, Nancy (2002-04-03), "The Keys to Success", SF Weekly,  
  2. ^ "11/18 DLC: Dead Kennedys, Mission Of Burma, Century Media Girls of Metal, Crooked X - Page 16 - Rock Band Forums". 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2008-11-14.  

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