Friday, January 04, 2008

Weekend Listomania (Special Alvin!!!!! Video Edition)

Well, it's Friday and you know what that means. Yes, my Oriental manservant Hop-Sing and I are off to Iowa for a post-Caucus seminar on "The Role of the Bloodthirsty Sadist in the Contemporary Republican Party." I dunno, it's got something to do with some Mormon guy not executing enough rapists or something. Whatever. In any case, posting by moi will necessarily be sporadic for a few days.

But in my absence, here's a fun project for you all to contemplate:

You know -- the funniest, the silliest, the one that best punctures somebody's pomposity, or however you define it.

[Author's Note: It occurs to me that I may have posted a similar list in the dim, dank past, i.e, early last year when I was just a baby blogger. If so, in my defense I'm sure I didn't include video clips then, and I'm also willing to bet the choices were at least somewhat different. In any case, it's been a long holiday season and I'm still recovering, so cut me some slack already.]

Okay, here's my top of my head Top Ten:

10. Klaus Nomi -- Lightning Strikes

Words fail me.

9. Little Roger and the Goosebumps -- Stairway to Gilligan

Led Zep's management got this record banned back in the day, but in 2000 Robert Plant decided it was funny, so it's now on CD.

8. Bob and Doug McKenzie -- Take Off

Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas meet Geddy Lee, and then they all go out for a Molson.

7. Steve Martin -- King Tut

It's rarely said, but nonetheless true -- Steve Martin is a great dancer.

6. Weird Al Yankovic -- Dare to Be Stupid

A Devo parody that's actually better than the real Devo. "Mashed potatoes can be your friend." Indeed.

5. Napoleon XIV -- They're Coming to Take Me Away (Ha-Ha!)

An obvious choice, I know, but hey -- me and some friends can be heard yelling in the background on this one. True story -- buy me a drink sometime, and I'll tell it to you....

4. The Diamonds -- Little Darlin'

These guys were actually a bunch of jazzbo snobs who thought the song (previously a minor doowop hit written by Maurice Williams, of "Stay" fame) was moronic crap and were goofing all over it. It is one of the great ironies of our time that the result is simultaneously one of the most exciting rock records ever AND an outsiders parody of the genre.

3. Buchanan and Goodman -- The Flying Saucer

The original break-in record, and an amazing technological feat in the days before sampling.

2. King Missile -- Detatchable Penis

90s alt-rock hepster irony, but I think it holds up.

And my all-time fave novelty song is.....

1. Linda Laurie -- Ambrose (Part 5)

This record haunted my childhood and at the time I assumed it was a monster national hit. Later, of course, I discovered it was probably only a local phenom -- I've never run into anybody who remembers it who wasn't also from the Tri-State Metropolitan Area. Perhaps not such a surprise, given Ms. Laurie's proto Jewish American Princess delivery and the single's subterranean subway milieu.....

Okay -- so what are your faves?

[Postscript: How the hell did I forget this one?


Kid Charlemagne said...

Two off the top of me head:

Radio Birdman - "Aloha Steve and Danno"

Spizzenergi - "Where's Captain Kirk?

steve simels said...

I love that Radio Birdman song....

Slig said...

"Jeannie's Diner" by Marilyn E Whitelaw & Mark Davis

Ripley said...

Probably one of the more interesting novelty songs I've heard is Down with the Ship by Scatterbrain. The music after every vocal line is a hook from a classic rock song.

Also, Rock n Roll Is Bitchin' by Reel Big Fish is kind of fun, in a tongue in cheek way.

Brooklyn Girl said...

There was a whole spate of really silly ones during the late 50s and early 60s --- Monster Mash, Flying Purple People-Eater, Witch Doctor --- but I have a soft spot for Weird Al's "Eat It" (which may be why I have a soft spot ... or two ... )

half glass full said...

Anything by Big Daddy, with the possible exception of "Cutting Their Own Groove" which was weak, should be on this list. Highlights from their first album, for those who may not be familiar with it, include the Star Wars Theme performed in the Shadows' style and the Bette Midler hit The Rose retooled a la Eddie Cochran. I considered including the latter in the "Fav Guitar Solo" list a few weeks ago.

A couple of years later they redid the entire Sgt Pepper's album in a Fifties-style. Their version of A Day In The Life done as a homage to Buddy Holly was actual quite touching. "I read the news today, oh boy," indeed.


Anonymous said...

MadTV's spoof of ,to quote Steve, "that fricking umbrealla crap," particularly pertinent this morning after the Caucus

another one from MadTV-Moulin Rouge/Lady Marmalade cover

RuPaul's Little Drummer Boy -the video is really the best part-keep an eye on those wise men.

Cardigans: Iron Man
(perhaps not a parody but something more than cover)

finally, Lesbian "folk" singer Phranc did an entire stage show a few years back entitled Hot August Phranc in which she impersonated/deconstructed Neil Diamond-the song covers were pretty inspired.

Anonymous said...

Not a parody but I can't resist sharing with Steve:

imho, an inspired cover:

The Grizzly Bears taking He Hit Me and it Felt Like a Kiss into a whole nother direction:

Anonymous said...

ummm, just Grizzly Bear, not The Grizzly Bears.....

(I am old)

CoolSchool said...

Surfin Bird-The Trashman

steves said...

I think I'm entitled to that No-Prize award, buddy. While I'm waiting for it to arrive in the no-post mail, I'll recast my vote for Weird Al's "Bob."

peter spencer said...




Kid Charlemagne said...

BTW, that Linda Laurie thing was creepy. Was there a pt. 1-4?

TMink said...

Bedrock Anthem by the weird Al slays me.

I also heard an acapella boy's choir sing some early Sabbath. It was a trip! I heard that on the Coverville podcast, which I heartily recommend to you all.


Vambo said...

The Fools "Psycho Chicken".

Splodge "Overdramatic Songs In Very Low Voices"

Blotto "The Now-tones"

The Toy Dolls "Nellie The Elephant"

and great call on the Spizz Energi track.

return of the plumber said...

Tonio K's: "Funky Western Civilization" & "Hatred"

Godfrey Daniel's: "Purple Haze"

The Guess Who's: "One Man Army"

The Residents': "Satisfaction"

JK in PA said...

Does anyone remember the Temple City Kazoo Orchestra version of "Whole Lotta Love"? The middle section is totally hilarious.

BTW, one of the group members was involved with starting Rhino Records.

TJWood said...

Do either of the albums XTC did as Dukes of Stratosphear count in this category? If so, it's a tossup between "25 O'Clock" (Electric Prunes) and "Vanishing Girl" (Hollies) for my vote. Otherwise, I'll go with the Merseybeat takeoff of "Stairway To Heaven" from the Stairways to Heaven album from the last decade.

NYMary said...

Some powerpoppy ones:

"We Are the NowTones" was noted above, but I Wanna Be a Lifeguard is equally silly.

Does "I'm Henry the Eighth I Am" count?

And before he was a film soundtrack guy, Oingo Boingo was pretty goofy.

Culture of TrÜth said...

Remember when Paul McCartney was in that band that spoofed the Monkees?

I loved that.

dave™© said...

The great San Francisco deejay Terry McGovern did a little ditty back in the 70s called "Beam Me Up, Scotty" that I was fond of... I believe Dr. Demento has it on one of this collections.

But my all-time favorite novelty song has to be "Please Mr. Custer" by Larry Verne:

"Somebody yelled 'attack!'
And there I stood with an arrow in my back!"

That and "It's a Gas" by Alfred E. Newman!

The Kenosha Kid said...

Ouch! by The Rutles

"Big Bottoms" by Spinal Tap

"Jet Boy Jet Girl" The Damned

Richard said...

Meryn Cadell - The Sweater

Shaving Your Balls for Jesus

Anonymous said...

A bit of a Canadian theme going here...

Does Moxy Fruvous' King of Spain count for silly?

Barenaked Ladies' "If I Had A Million Dollars" was pretty good, especially with the patter but this video by Fluff & Such takes the cake.

Another classic silly/parody for the whole 60's protest genre is from Arrogant Worms: Carrot Juice is Murder.

Anonymous said...

Does "The Gift" by the Velvet Underground count as a novelty?

Freaked-Out Canadian said...

Carl Douglas: Kung-Fu Fighting

Anonymous said...

A few more...

Ren & Stimpy's The Royal Canadian Yaksmen

Ming Tea's BBC

And of course, I'm surprised no one's mentioned the music video for All the Small Things by Blink 182. The song on its own is not a parody but the video definitely is with some of the victims being Green Day, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Christina Aguilera, and Britney Spears.

sdf (Stu) said...

Not sure entirely how to define novelty, but, first thing that comes to mind is Replacements, Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out

JeffCO said...

My current favorite: Pupkulies & Rebecca Some Gin.

Freaked-Out Canadian said...

OMG....DustPuppy mentioned "a bit of a Canadian theme"...
I almost forgot Radio Free Vestibule's utterly transcendent, psychotic and perfectly apt...

I Don't Want To Go To Toronto

Here's more Radio Free Vestibule's brilliance including The Ballad Of Marshall McLuhan.

You might have to wait for geocities to free up, alas. In the meantime... the lyrics!

Anonymous said...

Well, there's Pink Shoe Laces ( from the late 1950's and the hilarious "Beep-Beep". (
Alas, I remember them when they were hits!

Michael said...

It might have been Little Roger and the Goosebumps, or not, but the Neil Young parody "I wanna live with a Kennedy Girl..." was great.

Anonymous said...

How could I have forgotten Robin Sparkles (from How I Met Your Mother) and her eat-your-heart-out-Debbie-Gibson Let's Go To the Mall. The creators of the show mentioned that they "meticulously studied Debbie Gibson's 'Electric Youth' video".

The original Debbie Gibson Electric Youth video for comparison.

Freaked-Out Canadian said...

Google to the rescue! The Vestibule's site and a free listen to 'Beethoven Backing Up His Truck'.

Elmer, PHD said...

Hubba Hubba Zoot Zoot!

Also too, from the distant pre-video past, Andy & the Manhattans, Double Mirror Wraparound Shades
Jimmy Buffett, God's Own Drunk.

Mr Blifil said...

My fave is probably The Nightmares classic "Baseball Altamont" though they had a dozen songs that were as good or better. That was the only one that made it to wax. The idiots in Yo La Tengo supposedly recorded a cover, but the original is genius, and live it was incendiary.

Also I love "Prettiest Girl" by The Neighborhoods. And "Television Screen" by the Radiators from Space.

Anonymous said...

Back in the 70s I bought Little Roger & the Goosebumps other record, A Day In The Life of Green Acres . I could kick myself, because the record store also had Stairway to Gilligan

KC45s said...

"Clap for the Wolfman" by the Guess Who. Bafflingly successful Canadians do early-'60s tribute highlighted by real spoken-word jive (TM) by Wolfman Jack. Good synergy with American Grafitti fad of the time.

Runner up: "My Way" by Sid Vicious.

Tlazolteotl said...

There was a little-known local Seattle band in the 80s called the Center for Disease Control Boys. There is a description of them here. And yeah, you might be surprised at a couple of the names of those involved. I have the single (looks like it might be a collector's item now), and I love the CDC Boys' Theme Song. The chorus went:

We're the Center for Disease Control Boys
Every night we sit around and make this kind of noise
We're just ordinary fellers
Fightin' poxes and rubellas
If you've got some strange disease, come on and phone us if you please
And if you don't know where you got it from don't tell us

And the verses were even better... a lot of the 'research' described would be more likely found at the FDA than the CDC, but that would be nitpicking.

And "Who We Hatin' Now, Mr. Reagan" was also a sing-along favorite at their shows. The couple of times I saw them, they wore lab coats over their overalls, and the drummer was a huge diesel dyke.

Good times.

Jim, Collieresque said...

Seeing King Tut up there, and knowing what a Patti Smith fan Mr Simels is, I'm flashing back to Gilda Radner's Candy Slice. Gimme Mick and the other song I can't recall the title of.....

(And Gilda Radner had a couple in her concert film "Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals" and "Saccharine", by the sixties girl group from Lawn Guyland)

steve simels said...

I have to admit -- the fact that the overwhelming number or comments here has Canadian content I find really interesting.

Tlazolteotl said...

Okay, funnier yet, I do a little lookie on the intertoobz, and it turned out that Chris Cornell was part of the CDC Boys (at least on the record) too. How hilarious.

Anonymous said...

"Marvin, I Love You."

Here's the YouTube link:

Tlazolteotl said...

I'm also surprised no one has mentioned this one by Electric Six:

Gay Bar

Anonymous said...

Not exactly songs but both classic Bugs Bunny episodes of What's Opera Doc and Rabbit of Seville definitely send up opera.

Tlazolteotl said...

One more. I always did find this one funny:

Afroman "Because I Got High

Anonymous said...

One time (novelty?) performance by Trekkie Monster, from London's cast of Avenue Q, of Love Changes Everything (NSFW), originally from Aspects of Love.

A bit more Canadian content, eh? =>

Does Alanis Morissette's cover of Fergie's My Humps somehow adds pomposity but still is a parody.

Mike said...

Weirdest one I've ever heard is Stickball by P.Vert. Not for those with sensitive ears.

My favorite record as a kid was probably Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron, by the Royal Guardsmen. I still have the 45 that's been in my family for years.

Other favorites:

My Boomerang Won't Come Back - Charlie Drake

I Love Onions - Susan Christie

Delicious! - Jim Backus & Friend

D.I.V.O.R.C.E. - Billy Connolly

Crazy Downtown - Allan Sherman

Poisoning Pigeons In The Park - Tom Lehrer

Stairway To Heaven - The Beatnix

Shaving Cream - Benny Bell

The Ballad Of Irving - Frank Gallop

rollotomasi said...

More Canadian influence:

Blues Brothers - Rubber Biscuit

Ray Radlein said...

I think this is a remake of the single that I still own from that brief period before it was descended upon by lawyers back in 1978 or so, but "Sit On My Face, Stevie Nicks" by The Rotters.

And a song which I am immensely grateful to YouTube for allowing me to track down, "Rappin' Duke" by Shaun Brown.

Oh, and a song which is actually a milestone in musical history, "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel", which rearranged my world when I heard it back in the day.

Ray Radlein said...

Also, and I think these qualify, three great mashups:

"Love Will Freak Us" by dsico (that no-talent hack), "A Stroke of Genius" by Freelance Hellraiser, and "Boulevard of Broken Songs" by Dean Gray

Ray Radlein said...

Oh, geez; am I going to keep thinking of new entries the moment I hit "Publish"? The latest:

"Beyond the Valley of A Day in the Life" by The Residents

The loop of the drum solo from "The End" with the bass line from "Hey Bulldog" over it, and the vocal snippets from the Beatles Christmas Fan Club records (along with John's "Don't believe in Beatles") make for one of the spookiest and most moving, for want of a better word, "novelty" records ever.

Mnemosyne said...

New, but still a favorite: "Business Time" - Flight of the Conchords

They're my third -- or fourth -- favorite novelty act of all time.

Craig C Clarke said...

My favorite novelty song was actually an entire album.
"Mumph?: Ludwig and the Klassics" a 1966 Imperial LP.

Never on CD. Someday I'm gonna rip my vinyl copy.

MBowen said...

If you're a fan of British folk music, there's a fellow named Les Barker who writes parodies of folk club staples. "Hard Times of Old England" becomes "Hard Cheese of Old England. "My Husband's Got No Courage In Him" becomes a lament sung by Mama Bear after Goldilocks' home invasion: "My Husband's Got No Porridge In Him". And Richard Thompson's "Down Where The Drunkards Roll" becomes a protest against bad pub food: "Down With The Sausage Roll".

Realist said...

I think my all-time favorite is this little goodie featuring Tony Hendra ripping the late great John Lennon a new one.

upyernoz said...

i wanna be a cowboy-boys don't cry.

return of the plumber said...

I think we should stop here, "realist" said it all with Tony Hendra's Magical Misery Tour!

Pure evil genius!?!

steve simels said...

I'm with the plumber. I can't believe somebody made a video out of that Tony Hendra track....

That whole National Lampoon's Radio Dinner, from whence it comes, is one of the funniest, cruelest albums ever made BTW. I wonder if there's a YouTube of "Deteriorata"....

Uncle Smokes said...

I wouldn't call these "all-time best," but they are some favorites:

Marijuana Motherfucker - D.O.A.
Asshole - Denis Leary

Know Your Chicken - Cibo Matto
Peaches - The Presidents Of The USA

Chewbacca - Supernova
Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult

Pop Culture Cess Pool!
Valley Girl - Frank Zappa
Mentally Dull (Think Tank Mix) - Vitro

JenJen said...

Whatta post!! :-)

For me...

"Mexican Radio" by Wall of Voodoo!

Emily said...

In about 1968 I heard Joan Baez do "Little Darlin'" all by herself. It was pretty funny.

Brooklyn Girl said...

And then there's:

Hello Muddah, hello Fadduh.
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining.

I went hiking with Joe Spivy.
He developed poison ivy.
You remember Leonard Skinner...
He got ptomain poisoning last night after dinner.

All the counselors hate the waiters,
And the lake has alligators,
And the head coach wants no sissies,
So he reads to us from something called "Ulysses".

Anonymous said...

"Green Haze" by Elvis Hitler - the words from the Green Acres Theme sung to the music of Purple Haze, if you can find it, check it out!

Also liked the Lenny and Squiggy Album very much (never released on CD). Tunes are done in 50's style with funny banter between them between songs. Sounds like it was recorded live in a club somewhere.

HoneyBearKelly said...

Late I know.

Hawthorne Wingnut said...

"Wunderbar" by Tenpole Tudor

elloellay said...

I hate to quibble, (except that I actually love to quibble), but I submit for discussion the proposition that the Sid Vicious "My Way" is neither parody nor novelty, any more than the work of the Ramones is principally parody or novelty.

Just to complicate the argument, I'm also submitting "(I Live for) Cars and Girls*," by the Dictators for contention.

Can't find a whole version online, but there's a partial one on YouTube, which tragically omits the "cars, girls, surfing, beer/nothing else matters here" rhythm break.

*Also a candidate for the songs-with-parentheses-in-the-title list, and the songs-with-stuttering list!

elloellay said...

Plus "Make a Circuit With Me," Polecats.*, **, ***

*Also neither parody nor novelty, by my personal criteria.

**But a delightful song nonetheless, and (maybe? I hope?) within the consensus criteria.

*** Stuttering!

elloellay said...

On the other hand, I had no idea that this was not only novelty but also parody until, like, thirty years after its release:

And the Brinsley Schwarz "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding"* was originally intended as a parody. So what do I, or even the artists themselves, know?

*Parens in title!

Guy Forget said...

Basketball Jones - Cheech and Chong

Freaked-Out Canadian said...

steve simels said...
I have to admit -- the fact that the overwhelming number or comments here has Canadian content I find really interesting.
:-) 1/04/2008 11:47 PM

And although it isn't mentioned in the post, the Diamonds were Canadian too.

Otis Twelve said...

The All-Time Dr. Demento hit - reinterpreted at Birdland - It's Ogden Edsl's "Dead Puppies"

Link: ><

return of the plumber said...

I agree with "elloellay" about the Ramones not being a parody act and it always scared me. I always thought the Ramones were a brilliant concept but ONLY if it was a goof! Otherwise I get IT, but is that all IT is?

I feel people who are passionate about the Ramones are folks who dipped their toes into punk no further then the Ramones. The same folks who 10 years earlier became rock & roll fans by getting into the Beatles' "Rubber Soul" as their first rock and roll album.

And between "Rubber Soul" and the Ramones they were into James Taylor and Joni Mitchell.

Steve, is this the topic with the most comments? Sure does seem so.

Kid Charlemagne said...

YouTube is the shit.

I haven't heard these song since grade school:

Jimmy Castor Bunch - Troglodyte

Jimmy Castor Bunch - Bertha Butt Boogie Parts 1 & 2

Great stuff.

Anonymous said...