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Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.



Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Bloody Awful Song Titles: #1 in a Series

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This is far from a definitive list (the "in a series" part probably gave that away). It could never be truly definitive, anyway, because I'm leaving out novelty songs and country songs with wacky titles like "I Bought the Shoes that Just Walked Out on Me" and "There Ain't Enough Room in My Fruit Of The Looms to Hold All My Lovin' For You". (Good gosh, that's romantic).

A series of posts about great song titles is forthcoming. Songs by R.E.M., The The, Echo and the Bunnymen, Mental As Anything, Minus the Bear, and Squirrel Nut Zippers are among those on the first "good" list.

As for this "other" list: that there may be titles I dislike more, or that are "worse" titles, should not take a thing away from these titles. They still deserve to be singled out for their varying degrees of yuckiness.

The worst possible outcome when naming a song is perhaps to wind up with a title that's downright offensive (and lacking in any humourous interpretation). There's only one example of that on this list, though it's far from the only song (or song title) with a bad message. Short of that, from our point of view, bad titles may annoy and/or confuse us a bit. And a really bad title can effectively make us plug our ears... turn us away from a song altogether. Some great songs lurk behind lousy titles, so that can be a bummer... Some artists not only are willing to assume the risk of alienating listeners, but enjoy taking that risk. Unusual or provacative titles are a pretty easy, cheap, and probably fun way to seek attention and/or shock people. Creative song-naming is a chancy endeavor, though, even among especially clever people. Others might want want to proceed with caution.

This list is dedicated to "Your Body is a Wonderland". I wanted to mention it in my 100th post, and wrote something that evolved into this post instead. A lot of people like the song. My opinion isn't better than theirs; it's just different. I sure do dislike that title (and song), though. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

In no order: Bloody Awful Song Titles, part 1

1) "Your Body is a Wonderland" - John Mayer. Hate the title, hate the euphemism "wonderland", hate the song. It's somehow less sexy than that picture of Neil Diamond. (Did anyone really just click to go see the picture of Neil Diamond? If so, I feel vaguely proud of you, even though I probably don't know you, and I don't know why I feel a sense of pride. I guess I admire your curiousity, or bravery... your plucky sense of adventure! Although perhaps you're a bit of a sadist, in which case I'm not proud of you, but I do feel for ya, and you should probably seek help. Good luck and please don't write to me requesting more pictures of soft rock singers from the 70s).

2) Hotel Womb - The Church - You really have to feel for the maids at that place. Good song, but that title is a bit odd...

mp3:The Church - Hotel Womb

3) Every Day Is a Child With Teeth - The Liars - The Liars... so every day isn't a child with teeth? Every day is a child without teeth? Some days are a child with teeth? The Liars have several other bad titles. "They Took 14 for the Rest of Our Lives"

4) We Eat Your Children - Camper Van Beethoven - It's an instrumental.

5) Aphid Manure Heist - Beck - While "Satan Gave Me A Taco" has arguable comic value, I don't think this title has any redeeming qualities.

6) S-E-X-X-Y - They Might Be Giants - It's hard to make a title work when an artist pulls wacky capital letter tricks. Add something else... abbreviation, spelling, whatever, and I will likely get annoyed. Make the title "sexy", put it in all-caps, and misspell it? Definitely annoying. It's supposed to be funny... and yet it's not. At least the title serves as a sort of warning; I think the song is awful too.

mp3:They Might Be Giants - S-E-X-X-Y

7) He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss) - The Crystals - For more serious reasons, what a lame-ass title, and the lyrics are as bad as you'd imagine from the title.

He hit me and I knew he loved me
Cause if he didn't care for me
I could have never made him mad
He hit me and I was glad


Ugh. The song is from 1962, and according to at least one member of the group, Phil Spector "cajoled" them into recording the song, which none of them liked. Radio stations and the public disliked it too, so good on them. A few artists have covered it, most notably The Motels and Hole. They would likely say the idea was to make a "statement" about the song. Sometimes, even when a song sucks (for whatever reason), an artist can make a great cover of it. A legitimate case can perhaps be made for covering an offensive song to bring attention to it. However, the covers bring attention to a song that perhaps deserves to fade into obscurity*. In this case, for instance, the covers, also run the risk of having people embrace the covers for the song's original, offensive message rather than any new anti-violence message. Still, I don't think bands are done covering this song.

*And so does this post, but I still think these are interesting questions.

An intermission...

Picking on Celine Dion seems too easy, but I did consider it. I went to peruse through some of her albums at Amazon, and experienced a moment of sheer terror when I accidentally clicked on "Listen" instead of on one of her album titles. My jaw dropped a little and my eyes widened. I rushed to click "back screen" as quickly as possible to avoid hearing any of her music. "It's a message," I thought. Leave Celine alone.

But seriously, look at this.

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Why is she holding her neck and head like that? Should we be concerned? I'm concerned. Just because I don't want to listen to her music doesn't mean I want her to suffer!

End of the Intermission... hope you went to the lobby and got yourself a treat

8) You Spin Me 'Round (Like a Record) - Dead or Alive - I liked this song. Cheesy, but fun. The title looks like it was translated using one of those online translation tools that doesn't always quite capture the original meaning... the parenthetical aside looks so silly in the title. You spin me round, darling... (like a record, you see... is what I mean...) This is kind of a bad-good title, but bad, nonetheless.

mp3:Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

mp3:Dead or Alive - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) (Metro Edit)

mp3:Orgy - You Spin Me 'Round (Like A Record) (especially because I exploited the good name of Orgy in my 100th Post-post)

mp3:Gigi D'Agostino - You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)

9) I Wanna Do More Than Whistle - Lawrence Welk - I'm sure he did, but I don't want to think about it.

10) The Clouds Begin To Veil The Hemisphere... - Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Handel Aria) - Do clouds really "veil" all that often? Do we need the word "hemisphere" in song titles? You want an aria title? (You do? How did you end up at this blog? I mean: welcome!) From the same album (Lorraine Hunt Lieberson: Handel Arias): "She's Gone, Disdaining Liberty And Life..." - add another dozen words and you have a Sufjan Stevens title. "Ah! Whither Should We Fly..." has a certain charm too. My tastes don't really generally extend to arias, but dammit it's about time someone criticicized their most lackluster titles! Someone(s) might already have done so, and if that's the case, kudos to them!

11) What's Up With Youth - Corey Feldman - I know, Corey. I'll explain if you tell me what's up with that title, and this album cover, and if both answers impress me.

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12) The Horizon Bleeds And Sucks Its Thumb - This Mortal Coil - Another instrumental. I think "As I Watch the Sun Fuck the Ocean" is a funny title (that one's by Boy Hits Car). This one's just silly.

13) You & Eye - David Byrne - The cutesy spelling is annoying and silly. The lyrics refer to "you and I" so the title might as well have too (or should I say "2"? No. No, I shouldn't).

5 Comments:

Blogger metaeducat10n said...

SEXXY is not my favorite They Might Be Giants song by any stretch. But I believe the title is a reference to the idea that the character being sung about has an extra X chromosome:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klinefelters_Syndrome

This is a "controversial" interpretation in that the artists have not come out and said that's what it's about. But it was my initial belief, and despite this "debate" I'm pretty much convinced:

http://www.tmbw.net/wiki/index.php/Interpretations:S-E-X-X-Y

P.S. bizarre free show tonight at Knitting Factory: http://www.myspace.com/thefantanas

3:26 PM  
Blogger Gunnar said...

Great idea with the song-titles! You have a nice blog here :)

3:55 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

What about that song from another 70s soft rock band, Bread titled "Baby I'm-a want You" What the hell does that mean? What's with the hyphen and the bad grammar?

8:17 PM  
Blogger McBoozo the Clown said...

Dear God, tell me you just didn't really mention Lawrence Welk in a blog post...oh, the absolute horror!!! LOL
Nice original post, love your site! Keep up the great work.

6:49 AM  
Blogger trill42 said...

Thanks, guys! Nice comments to return to, especially after being without net access for a while... (thereby being deprived at a chance at seeing Jasmine Trias, and more importantly the Fantanas).

meta, that's awesome stuff about S-E-X-X-Y. That makes perfect sense. I's like to use that in the next bad title post and of course credit you with it...

Jason, don't be coy. You know what "Baby I'm-A Want You" means. I don't think their "Make It With You" is that great either. I'm looking their expressions on their best-of album and they really do look like they-a want us. Too much perhaps to think of silly things like grammar. I have no other theories...

gunnar, thanks for the kind words... I have a "thing" for song titles (I suspect a lot of people do). Also for band names, and best/worst band name posts are in the works.

mcbozo, I haven't heard Lawrence Welk in a long time, but I think even if I had I'd think mentioning John Mayer is "worse" than mentioning the Welkster. ;-)

3:31 PM  

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