“Chop Suey!” (originally, and sometimes still mistakenly called “Suicide”) is the first single from Armenian-American heavy metal band System of a Down’s second album Toxicity. The single was released in August 2001 and earned the band its first Grammy nomination in 2002 for Best Metal Performance. Loudwire included the song in its list of The Best Hard Rock Songs Of The 21st Century, where it was ranked at number one.”Chop Suey!” is often seen as the band’s signature song.
In an interview,Daron Malakian explained, “The song is about how we are regarded differently depending on how we pass. Everyone deserves to die. Like, if I were now to die from drug abuse, they might say I deserved it because I abused dangerous drugs. Hence the line, ‘I cry when angels deserve to die’. The lyric passages ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit’ and ‘why have you forsaken me?’ are a reference to Jesus’ death on the cross, as, according to the Gospels, it was one of the seven things Jesus said while dying.”
The music video was the band’s first collaboration with the acclaimed director Marcos Siega, and is set in the car park of the Oak Tree Inn motel in Los Angeles, hometown of the band. The members are performing the song on stage, surrounded by approximately 1,500 fans. Editing devices are used to create the effect of the band members “walking through” one another and teleporting on and off the stage, an effect similar to one used in the Red Hot Chili Peppers video “Around the World”. One scene briefly shows Tankian eating chop suey with some fans, the only reference to the title dish in either the song or the video. The video makes use of the SnorriCam technique, in which an actor will have a camera attached to them with a harness, making it appear as though the background is moving and the actor is stationary. In the middle of the video the Soviet Armenia flag can be seen. As of September 2019, the video has more than 890 million views on YouTube and more than 4.3 million likes.
The song was originally titled “Self-Righteous Suicide” but Columbia Records forced the band to change it to avoid controversy. The song title is therefore a wordplay from Self-righteous suicide to “Self-right-Chop Suey-cide” that replaces provocation by absurdity. The band members claim this change was not caused by pressure from their record company. Remarkably, certain pressings of the album include an intro to the track where the comment We’re rolling ‘Suicide’ can still be heard faintly before the guitar starts.