Does humour belong in music? Yes, obviously. Only dogmatists and fundamentalists don’t believe in humour. Does humour belong in today’s music or society? I’m not that sure. Too many people too serious of what they are or belong to. First thing those people kill is humour. Such a shame. For all of you who do like humour, in particular humour in music, here’s a short list of personal favourites. Feel free to add.
Frank Zappa is not only responsible for the title of this post, but also for hilarious songs like ‘Dancing Fool‘, ‘Don’t eat the yellow snow‘ and this little gem. Not bad for a guy who considered lyrics (and songs with lyrics) a distraction from his more serious, instrumental work. Some people even consider this the perfect Donald Trump presidential campaign song. Not surprising with lines like these:
‘Oh, god I am the American dream
I do not think I’m too extreme
And I’m a handsome son of a bitch,
I’m gonna get a good job and be real rich!
Gene and Dean Ween are the masters of black humour. Chocolate and Cheese (1994) is not only their best album but also contains some of their funniest songs, such as ‘Buenos tardes, amigo’, a beautiful Spaghetti Western pastiche with a surprising lyrical twist.
Monty Python equals humour. Full stop. Period. No debate. I had a hard time choosing between ‘Every sperm is sacred‘ and ‘the Lumberjack song’. I think The Lumberjack song is just a bit more surprising, but it was a photo finish. I will not give away its punch line, just watch.
Ok, not everyone will agree that this is a funny song. Nick cave doesn’t even have the reputation of being funny. But…this story about a criminal on death row going through his last days, upholding his innocence (till the very last minute) always makes me smile. I think it’s because the various, cleverly constructed lies he tells the listener. Not one for laughing, just for a grim smile
Another fine example of intellectual humour. Clever heartbreaking story of a guy being in love with a sex doll:
I blew up your body
But you blew my mind’
This is political satire. Only proves that not all political statements need to be utterly serious. Having said that, there are actually (a lot of) people who take this song at face value and claim that Randy Newman really tells us that ‘short people have no reason to live’. It only shows that (self-)relativism is one of the cornerstones of humour.
Flight of the Conchords was one of the most musical sitcoms ever on air. It’s about two musicians from New Zealand trying to make it in the US. In every episode Jemaine and Bret, the main characters, break into a song. This is one is about David Bowie. I believe they actually wanted him in the video, but he declined. Too bad Flight of the Conchords only lasted for two seasons.
No introduction or explanation needed. Brilliant song, brilliant video, hilarious and a guaranteed hit on every dance floor. Need I say more?