Do you ever listen to a song and have the wrong words go through your head? Do your kids substitute different words to Achy Breaky Heart? If you think that’s funny, you or your kids may enjoy listening to ‘novelty music,’ or a parody band. Parody bands take popular songs and twist the words to make a new song, or they may write original songs that are amusing but not your average “commercial” material. Many people may familiar with the vocal antics of Spike Jones, or songs like “The Purple People Eater,” “The Monster Mash,” Kip Addotta’s fish tale “Wet Dream,” or the “Chipmunk’s Christmas Song” – all once popular radio plays. The TV show Chicago Hope made frequent use of Tom Lehrer’s song “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” If you listened to WHCN in the ’80’s, they often played Barnes & Barnes’ “Fish Heads.” (Trivia fact: Barnes & Barnes is the band name of actor Bill Mumy and his best friend. Bill is best known as the young Will Robinson in Lost in Space, or Lennier on Babylon 5.)
Perhaps the most popular parody musician is three-time Grammy winner Al Yankovic. Yankovic boasts such hits as “White and Nerdy,” “Eat It,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and other ear-catching twisted tunes. Like many parody musicians, Yankovic got his first airtime on the Dr. Demento radio show, which has been running sinc e1974. Dr. Demento plays parody and comic songs that may or may not make it into popular culture. Yankovic’s “Yoda,” a parody of The Kinks’ “Lola,” was first played as a basement tape on Dr. Demento, as was “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” (Personally, I like the basement tapes better than the commercials versions.). The aforementioned Fish Heads remains the number one requested song on his program. Dr. Demento is no longer in syndication, but can still be found streaming on the internet.
If you like songs that are a little off kilter, you might try some filk music. Filk? Don’t you mean folk? Filk is a term that came from a typo sometime before 1955, and it refers to fandom – usually but not always science fiction or fantasy – folkmusic. If you like a book series or a movie or a TV show, chances are someone somewhere has written a song about it. A song about Game of Thrones? Oh yes. Batman? Him, too. Want to hear Homer’s Odyssey encapsulated to fit the tune from Gilligan’s Island? The Boogie Knights have got you covered. Filk music is serious business, with several large conventions in the U.S., Canada, Germany, and England, resulting in the Pegasus Award for Excellence given at the Ohio Valley Filk Fest every year. For a sampling, check out The Brobdignagian Bards “Memories of Middle Earth,” filed among CPL’s folk music, or their Fairy Tales, for their awesome Jedi Drinking Song.
Our music selections include a wide variety of creative music you won’t find on the beaten path, including Yankovic, Lehrer, Dr. Demento, Brobdingnagian Bards, The Chromatics (excellent a capella performed by real rocket scientists), Monty Python, Harry and the Potters, and more.
Eat them up, Yum!