Weirdify Playlist 10: Novel Steez

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Happy Friday, kids! What say we get the weekend started with a fresh Weirdify playlist? This week’s theme: novelty songs.

Now in a way, nearly everything we’ve ever posted on TWBITW is a novelty song. But more precisely, a novelty song is any tune that’s more about making the folks laugh than it is about making any lasting artistic impression. Whether it’s a one-off by an otherwise serious (or at least semi-serious) band, or one of many from a master of the form (Barnes & Barnes, we bow down), a good novelty song should exist in its own little universe, totally apart from any considerations of what’s hip or trendy or even in good taste.

Also—and this may be a totally arbitrary distinction, but it feels important to me—novelty songs and comedy songs are not quite the same thing. This goes back to the “own little universe” thing: Comedy songs are usually created in response to or in parody of something, but novelty songs stand on their own. Also, novelty is weirder than comedy, I think. So no Lonely Island, no “Weird Al,” no Flight of the Conchords, not even any Tom Lehrer, excellent though all those artists are. They just don’t quite fit with the rest of this playlist.

OK, Jake says I should shut up now and get on with the music. So fire up the ol’ Spotify and let’s get novel:

1. Lonzo and Oscar, “I’m My Own Grandpa.” I decided to class things up around here a little and start with one of the classics. Lonzo and Oscar were a jokey country duo who scored big in 1947 with this, their one and only hit. Side note: This song was performed on the first season of The Muppet Show in 1976. Even after the Civil Rights era, incest jokes and making fun of hillbillies were still considered good family entertainment.

2. Ween, “Piss Up a Rope.” Gene and Dean Ween mostly played it straight on their Nashville album, 12 Golden Country Greats, but fortunately they decided to have a little fun with this boot-scootin’ kiss-off to a woman who “takes all my money and leaves me no smokes.” Who needs that kind of ag?

3. The Tiger Lillies, “Piss on Your Grave.” While we’re on the subject of pissing…

4. Evelyn Evelyn, “Elephant Elephant.” Amanda Palmer, one half of this fake-Siamese-twin duo, just raised a million bucks on Kickstarter. That’ll buy a lot of elephant feed. Is there such a thing as elephant feed? Anyway, Palmer definitely ain’t singin’ the…

5. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy, “Credit Card Blues.” It’s an anthem for our times, really.

6. Red Shadow, the Economics Rock n Roll Band, “Gone, Gone, Gone.” As is this. Actually, this song is from the 1970s, when ripping off the Beach Boys was probably seen as “edgy.” Speaking truth to power was so much more adorable back then.

7. Wild Man Fischer, “Flaming Carrot Theme Song.” Did you know Frank Zappa’s semi-homeless protege once wrote a theme song for the Flaming Carrot comic book? Us neither, till we started researching this playlist. But we’re glad he did.

8. Klaus Nomi, “Rubber Band Laser.” Even by the bizarre standards of New Wave’s greatest counter-tenor, this track from his unfinished opera, Za Bakdaz, is pretty out there.

9. The Zambonis, “Zamboni Race in Outer Space.” It’s about drag racing ice-resurfacing machines—in space. Any questions? Too bad, we’re moving on anyway…

10. The Emotron, “Drink a Beer for Me.” A heartwarming song about one man’s love affair with beer.

11. Fred Schneider, “Monster.” Every time B-52’s frontman Schneider opens his mouth, it’s a novelty song. This one is especially silly though. Spoiler alert: It’s not actually about his penis.

12. Barnes & Barnes, “Boogie Woogie Amputee.” This duo is deservedly famous for their classic novelty tune, “Fish Heads.” But did you know they also recorded this totally awesome and slightly offensive ode to a girl who likes to go out dancing and “shake her stump”? Well, now you do. You’re welcome.

13. Twink, “Tiny Footsteps.” Toy pianos and squeeze toys gettin’ down with their bad selves. Fact: If you play this for dogs and/or babies, they will totally lose their shit.

14. Tiny Tim, “I Got You Babe.” If you hear the words “novelty song” and don’t immediately think of Tiny Tim, there might be something wrong with you.

15. Crispin Glover, “Clowny Clown Clown.” Yes, this creepiest actor this side of Gary Busey released an album in 1989—produced by Barnes & Barnes, no less. It’s called—let me make sure I’ve got this right—The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be. There was even once a phone number you could call if you thought you had figured out The Solution, but sadly, it’s been disconnected, along with Glover’s career. These things happen.

16. Jim’s Big Ego, “Bite Me (Hard).” Back when I lived in Boston, Jim Infantino and his band Jim’s Big Ego were one of the city’s most entertaining local acts. Most of his stuff is more clever than this, but for some reason that “Should I change my whole way of being?” line gets me every time.

17. The Upper Crust, “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” An AC/DC-style tribute to that really stupid children’s book your grandmother gave you for your eighth birthday. No? Just me? OK, moving on…

18. Schwarzenator, “Conan: The Destroyer.” An Iron Maiden-style tribute to the least necessary sequel of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s career. More unnecessary than Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, you ask? I say yes and I stand by that opinion. Bring it, film nerds.

19. Rasputina, “My Captivity by Savages.” A dramatic reading of a 19th century bodice ripper about a poor blonde settler girl enslaved by Injuns. See, kids? Your local library can be fun.

20. Slim Galliard, “Fuck Off (The Dirty Rooster).” A classic novelty platter from the man best-known for “Flat Foot Floogie (With the Floy-Floy)” and for making up a fake language called “vout” that mostly seems to have been a way to get dirty words past the radio censors. Another version of this song called “Chicken Rhythm” actually turned up on a compilation called Jazz for Kids. So yes, parents who play Jazz for Kids, you are subliminally telling your children to fuck off. Just thought you should know.

21. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “Constipation Blues.” Screamin’ Jay is, of course, the man behind “I Put a Spell on You.” But his other crowning gift to popular culture has to be this epic 1970 ode to taking a long, slow, painful dump. Stay with it till about the three-minute mark…that’s when he really start squeezing out greatness. (Shout-out to Bobo Golem Soylent-Greenberg for reminding us about this track and about the existence of Slim Galliard. You, Bobo, are a gentleman and a scholar!)

Hope you enjoyed this week’s playlist.

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Weirdify Playlist 5: Mental Metal

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What’s up, weirdos? Jake here, ready to melt your face off with our latest Spotify playlist. This week’s theme: Heavy metal, in all its skull-crushing, finger-tapping, demon-growling glory. Plus one sensitive grindcore piano ballad, because we know how those grindcore kids love the lighters-up moments.

Fire up your Spotify and strap in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.

1. Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, “Helpless Corpses Enactment.” I’m not letting you people off easy this week. I’m throwing you right into the deep end of weird metal with a track from this sadly defunct San Francisco outfit, who did things to heavy music only a pretentious bunch of Bay Area art freaks could do.

2. Demon Tool, “La Naissance du Mal.” I’ll be honest: I found this track when I was looking for something from Tool. But it turns out Tool has licensed exactly zero of its catalog to Spotify, so you’ll have to settle for this obscure band that just happens to have Tool in their name. Plus, they sing in French, which is kinda weird in this context. It’s hard to sound demonic when you’re growling in the language of love.

3. Mayhem, “Buried by Time and Dust.” The original and greatest Norwegian black metal band. This track is from their classic 1994 album, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, which means you’re hearing dead guitarist Euronymous playing alongside the man who murdered him, bassist Varg Vikernes. Creepy, huh?

4. Mr. Bungle, “Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead.” Even when Mike Patton isn’t breaking out his operatic banshee shrieks, Mr. Bungle’s spin on heavy rock is still pretty out there.

5. Goblin Cock, “Kegrah the Dragon Killer.” Goblin Cock is what happens when indie rock nerds try to do a stoner metal band—they shred, kinda, but in case the band name didn’t tip you off, the whole thing’s pretty tongue-in-cheek. The head indie rock nerd is this case is Rob Crow from Pinback. I also had to include a Goblin Cock track because I ripped off one of their totally awesome album covers as the lead image for this playlist. Hail Satan! And/or the well-endowed, Satan-like figure seen in most Goblin Cock artwork!

6. Powerglove, “Heffalumps and Woozles (Winnie the Pooh).” More nerd-metal, this time from a bunch of dudes from Boston who do heavy instrumental versions of songs from videogames and children’s cartoons. Yes, this really is based on the “Heffalumps” song from Winnie the Pooh—if you don’t believe me, here’s the original. Okay, it’s a loose interpretation, but still. Those Heffalumps will fuck your shit up.

7. Schwarzenator, “Predator.” This is slightly less nerdy than songs about Heffalumps and dragon killers, but not by much. Schwarzenator are one of three, count ’em, three metal bands whose songs are all based on Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. I would include tracks from ArnoCorps and Austrian Death Machine, too, but one Ahh-nuld-themed song per playlist is really my limit. Get to da choppuh!

8. Bang Camaro, “Swallow the Razor.” Pop-metal with a “dude choir” of about 15 singers. If more ’80s hair metal bands had employed dude choirs, maybe we’d all still be listening to Skid Row and Whitesnake to this day. Oh, wait, some of you are still listening to Skid Row and Whitesnake? Well, then maybe you wouldn’t be doing it in your parents’ basement.

9. Dir En Grey, “Lotus.” Japanese prog-metal. Any questions? No? Moving on…

10. Common Grackle, “At the Grindcore Show.” You know how some metal albums have a nice little ballad or acoustic interlude before they return to their regularly scheduled face-melting? This is sorta that track. It also nicely sets up our next few grindcore(ish) tracks.

11. Cattle Decapitation, “Gestation of Smegma.” Technically, I guess these San Diego dudes aren’t true grindcore, but a related genre called goregrind. Whatever. All I know is I’m really glad most of their songs are less than one minute long.

12. The Locust, “We Have Reached an Official Verdict: Nobody Gives a Shit.” Another San Diego band (featuring ex-Cattle Decap drummer Gabe Serbian), The Locust also aren’t technically grindcore, but an even more distantly related genre called powerviolence. And you thought the dance music kids liked to split hairs over genre distinctions.

13. Iwrestledabearonce, “Alaskan Flounder Basket.” Again, not really grindcore…they’re more screamo/experimental…oh, fuck it. Just prepare to be ear-raped.

14. Horse the Band, “A Million Exploding Suns.” I had to throw these guys in here because they play yet another obscure/bizarre subgenre called “nintendocore,” which is basically hardcore + videogame music. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried, people!

15. GWAR, “Black and Huge.” This one needs no introduction. It’s fucking GWAR! Bow down, human scum.

16. Super Geek League, “Naked Machine.” These Seattle freaks call their very GWAR-like funk-thrash-punk sound “soul metal.” I just call it my soundtrack for breaking stuff.

17. Apocalyptica, “Enter Sandman.” Metallica, played by cellos. This shit cracks me up every time I hear it, but I’m pretty sure they’re serious. They’re from Finland, so it’s hard to tell.

Hope you dug this week’s playlist. Tune in next week (or the week after, we’re not really on any set schedule with these things), when my partner Andy returns with Music for Pussies.

Schwarzenator

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Okay, this one really doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation. They’re a metal tribute band to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Any questions? Didn’t think so.

Mostly it’s a bunch of guys you probably never heard of, although they do lay claim to featuring Korn’s Shane “I replaced Head when he found Jesus” Gibson on guitar. Song titles include “Commando,” “End of Days” and my personal favorite, “Conan.” If they haven’t played this on The Tonight Show yet, then I’m sorry—O’Brien deserves to lose his job back to Leno.

Update: Thanks to our ever-vigilant readers, it has been brought to our attention that Schwarzenator are one of at least three Schwarzenegger-themed metal bands in existence. The others, if you’re curious, are ArnoCorps and Austrian Death Machine. We could spend all day debating which one is the best, which one merits a place on the Weird List, etc., etc., blah blah blah. We could even spend all day debating who came up with the idea first: Austrian Death Machine has been around since about 2006, Schwarzenator claim to have been at it since “the early 2000s,” ArnoCorps has been active since at least 2000—again, blah blah blah, what-fucking-ever.  At the end of the day, here’s the thing: Only one band has a video of themselves rockin’ out in matching Conan O’Brien masks, and it’s these guys. As far as we’re concerned, that’s game, set and match.

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