Tribute (song)

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Single by Tenacious D
from the album Tenacious D
ReleasedJuly 16, 2002
StudioThe Boat (Silver Lake, Los Angeles)
GenreHard rock, comedy rock, comedy metal[1]
Songwriter(s)Jack Black, Kyle Gass
Producer(s)The Dust Brothers
Tenacious D singles chronology
Audio sample

"Tribute" is the first single of Tenacious D's self-titled debut album, released on July 16, 2002. The song is a tribute to what Kyle Gass and Jack Black refer to as "The Best Song in the World" (often confused as the song's title).

Upon its release, "Tribute" failed to make a commercial impact in the United States, but it became a hit in Australia and New Zealand, peaking at number four on the Australian Singles Chart and number nine on the New Zealand Singles Chart. In Europe, the single charted in the Netherlands, reaching number 25 on the Dutch Top 40, and in the United Kingdom, where it peaked at number 84 in May 2012. The song is certified Platinum in Australia and Gold in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.


"Tribute" was the first song Black and Gass played live as Tenacious D.[2] The song, like many other songs that were recorded on Tenacious D, was originally performed on their short-lived HBO TV series.[3] During earlier performances of this song Kyle Gass played the opening to "Stairway to Heaven".[4] The two songs are both in A minor and have very similar chord progressions, and critics have said the songs sound alike.[5][6][7]


The song chronicles the band members' encounter with a demon who demands the duo play "the best song in the world" or have their souls eaten. Having nothing to lose from trying, they play "the first thing that came to [their] heads", which "just so happened to be the best song in the world."

Given the "Stairway to Heaven" interlude in the original TV series version, along with the similarity of the chord progression in both songs, "Tribute" at first implies that the best song in the world is indeed that song. However, the lyrics make clear that "Tribute" sounds nothing like the song they came up with to please the demon; as Black describes: "And the peculiar thing is this, my friends: The song we sang on that fateful night — it didn't actually sound anything like this song."

In an interview, the band claimed that the inspiration from the song came after Jack Black played Metallica's "One" for Kyle Gass, describing it as "the best song in the world",[8][9] leading to a failed attempt to themselves write an even better song, and a discussion of the meaninglessness of labeling any song that way. "Tribute" was written as a paean to the impossibility of reaching musical perfection, making the claim that the greatest song in the world had in fact been theirs, but that they had forgotten it.

In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, it is implied that the climax of the movie, a rock-off challenge between Satan and Tenacious D told through the song "Beelzeboss (The Final Showdown)", is the incident chronicled in "Tribute", and that the portion of "Beelzeboss" performed by Tenacious D is the song receiving tribute. After defeating Satan, Jack and Kyle recall the incident once more, describing it as, "the greatest song in the world". Unfortunately, they are unable to remember how it went. Also in the song "Beelzeboss", they mention that they know the demon's weakness, referred to as their "Rock-It Sauce", which is what they use in their HBO television series to defeat the demon. However, unlike the demon in the television episode, Satan says they are "Fuckin' lame" and tries to take Kyle Gass to hell after all, while the demon asks if they are angels. However, considering that they do not remember the song, they may have forgotten this as well. This was confirmed in a commentary with Jack Black for the movie.

Music video[edit]

Jack Black and Kyle Gass in "Tribute" video.

The music video for "Tribute", directed and edited by Liam Lynch, features Jack Black and Kyle Gass, in a cheap shopping mall karaoke booth, rewired to record their song.

As they sing, the video cuts between footage of the pair walking down the "long, lonesome road" and the encounter with the demon played by Dave Grohl. The demon also performs the electric guitar solo in the music video. After the solo, Black and Gass jump out of the booth and start shouting the lyrics at mall shoppers and dancing flamboyantly. Passersby include cameos from Lynch and Ben Stiller. While most pay no attention, an old lady, played by Linda Porter, assaults Black with her purse after he grabs her while singing. A policeman, played by JR Reed, who played "Lee" in the band's television series, takes Black and Gass away. At the end, the same old lady who was frightened by the duo picks up the now-recorded CD, eyes glowing red, and cackles demonically.[10]

Although the video had huge success on UK television, the song was never actually released there as a single. "Tribute" was nominated for two Music Video Production Association Awards: "Alternative Video of the Year" and "Directorial Debut of the Year".[11] In addition, it was a nominee for best video in the 2002 Kerrang! Awards.[12]


Some critics described the plot of the song as being similar to the song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band.[5][6][13]

Track listings[edit]




Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[25] Platinum 70,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[26] Gold 5,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[27] Gold 400,000double-dagger

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Other versions[edit]

Polish heavy metal band Nocny Kochanek has recorded a Polish version of the song in 2018, called Tribjut[28] (English word "tribute" as heard in Polish language). The story revolves around two members of the band strolling around Warsaw in the night until they meet the Devil lying down on a street. They all go binge drinking in the capital of Poland, culminating with the Devil passing out.

In popular culture[edit]

"Tribute" was released as a downloadable track for Rock Band in addition to appearing as a playable track for Guitar Hero Live.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hill, Stephen (June 10, 2015). "The Top 10 best comedy metal songs". Retrieved December 19, 2020 – via Tenacious D – Jack Black and Kyle Gass – are certainly the most successful parody outfit in rock, or metal if you believe The Grammy Awards. They’ve built a sizeable career from their love of heavy metal clichés and potty-mouthed flights of fancy. This is their biggest anthem, and also their best
  2. ^ Kaiser, Lindsey (November 21, 2006). "'Pick'ing out their Hollywood destiny". Retrieved March 23, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Scott Thurlow, James Caverly (May 22, 2003). "HBOwesome". Retrieved March 23, 2008.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ Scott, Aaron. "Tenacious D". Slant Magazine. Archived from the original on December 16, 2008. Retrieved July 4, 2008.
  5. ^ a b Strauss, Neil (August 20, 2001). "Foraging for Music in the Digital Jungle". The New York Times. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Price, Simon (December 24, 2006). "Iron Maiden, Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle". The Independent. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  7. ^ Anderson, Eric (October 4, 2001). "The 'D' drops". Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  8. ^ Emily Watson and Lauren Thompson (November 22, 2006). "The D contemplates rock-off for soul and the perfect groupie". The Daily Texan. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  9. ^ JimmyO (November 22, 2006). "INT: Tenacious D!". Archived from the original on December 6, 2006. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
  10. ^ Video on YouTube
  11. ^ "News Archive". Archived from the original on March 15, 2008. Retrieved January 24, 2007.
  12. ^ "The Kerrang! Awards 2002". Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  13. ^ Waldman, Dave (September 27, 2001). "Tenacious D makes move into music". Archived from the original on February 9, 2009. Retrieved March 23, 2008.
  14. ^ Tribute (US promo CD liner notes). Tenacious D. Epic Records. 2002. ESK 56731.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  15. ^ Tribute (European CD single liner notes). Tenacious D. Epic Records. 2003. EPC 673519 1.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  16. ^ Tribute (European enhanced maxi-single liner notes). Tenacious D. Epic Records. 2003. EPC 673519 2.CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  17. ^ a b " – Tenacious D – Tribute". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  18. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 8, 2003" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  19. ^ " – Tenacious D – Tribute" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  20. ^ " – Tenacious D – Tribute". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  21. ^ "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  22. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  23. ^ "Official Rock & Metal Singles Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  24. ^ "2002 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  25. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 2020-08-19. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  26. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Tenacious D – Tribute". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved September 6, 2019.
  27. ^ "British single certifications – Tenacious D – Tribute". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  28. ^ "Nocny Kochanek w hołdzie dla fanów publikuje w sieci klip do utworu "Tribjut"" (in Polish). June 21, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2018.

External links[edit]