Pop Songs that had no reason to exist

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Michelle

How about Chacarron?  I'd post the lyrics, but there aren't any, except for "Chacarron Macarone".

But it's catchy!  And funny!

Caissa

And I love Whiter Shade of Pale.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

M. Spector wrote:
I would like to make the case for the primacy of the music over the lyrics. Many popular songs have inventive and catchy musical qualities that have contributed to the musical development of the genre despite their lyrical shortcomings, and some have even become iconic, if not downright anthemic. Submitted for your consideration: Little Darlin' by the Diamonds, I'm Henry the 8th by Herman's Hermits, Sh-Boom by the Crewcuts, Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs, and Louie, Louie by The Kingsmen. All of these songs have plenty of "justification" for their existence - and their popularity - despite their banal or unintelligible lyrics.

I agree that nonsensical lyrics should not nominate a song for this list, but I would argue that the songs you've listed, and others that fit the description, are not great in spite of their nonsensical lyrics, but because of them. "Louie, Louie", for example, the great garage rock punk song, has a rawness in both the filthy three chord structure and the inarticulate growl of a simple chorus. Lou Reed, I think, had an unsurpassed talent for inserting a 'yeah' or a handclap at precisely the right moment that would make all the difference in a pop song.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Michelle wrote:

How about Chacarron?  I'd post the lyrics, but there aren't any, except for "Chacarron Macarone".

But it's catchy!  And funny!

Then again, there's the early 70's song "Hot Buttered", that has no lyrics at all, only a synthesizer imitiating the sound of popcorn being popped.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Catchfire wrote:

I agree that nonsensical lyrics should not nominate a song for this list, but I would argue that the songs you've listed, and others that fit the description, are not great in spite of their nonsensical lyrics, but because of them.

Well, only in part because of the lyrics, I would say. In my opinion, a great song has to have at least something original or memorable about the music - whether it be the rhythm, the harmony, a memorable melodic cadence, an unusual instrumental sound, a vocal trick or gimmick, or in the arrangement.

That's why I think tunes like The Macarena, Sukiyaki, or Incense & Peppermints, with meaningless or unintelligible lyrics, do not belong on the list - they are great in spite of their lyrics.

P.S. We should compare notes on barbershop some time.

Unionist

M. Spector wrote:

That said, there are other pop tunes that we could truly say have no redeeming social or musical value, and thus lack "justification". To that list, I would add: A Whiter Shade of Pale by Procol Harum;

I heartily agree. And here's the latest [url=http://www.cbc.ca/arts/music/story/2009/07/30/whiter-shade.html][=r... news[/color][/url] on that story:

Quote:

A former keyboardist with Procol Harum has been awarded a portion of the royalties from A Whiter Shade of Pale by Britain's highest court.

The decision, handed down Thursday by the House of Lords, means Matthew Fisher will get part of future royalties from the chart-topping song.

A Whiter Shade of Pale, recorded in 1967, featured a memorable organ accompaniment between its mystifying lyrics.

Fisher, now 62, claimed in court that he wrote, as well as performed, the Bach-inspired melody.

He left Procol Harum in 1969, and it was 2005 before he launched legal action to claim part of the royalties from the song, which has sold 10 million copies.

His lawsuit was opposed by band members Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, who "strongly denied" Fisher's version of events, saying they had written A Whiter Shade of Pale before he joined Procol Harum.

And you'll really like this one:

Quote:
Fisher said he was delighted with the ruling. He said the case was not about the money, but about getting credit for his work.

Surely, in this case, the money is worth more than the credit.

 

al-Qa'bong

Ken Burch wrote:

 

Then again, there's the early 70's song "Hot Buttered", that has no lyrics at all, only a synthesizer imitiating the sound of popcorn being popped.

 

I'm no expert, but technically, isn't it required of a song that it can be sung?

Tommy_Paine

Oh, Cassia, you didn't dis "In-A-Godda-Da-Vida" did you?  Did you know the guy playing lead guitar in that song was only 17 at the time?  It was cutting edge then-- even if it enjoyed more radio air time than it  should have because, like Macarthur Park, it provided washroom breaks for D.J.'s  *Sigh*.  D.J.'s or "Disc Jockeys" used to be actual people,  instead of the automated "D.J. 3000" we listen to today.  They'd actually choose the content, and put a record on...*sigh*...a record was this flat black thing made out of vinyl......

Anyway, Like M. Spector said, I was confused about the deffinition of the tuneage to be disparaged.

A more literal approach would be pop songs that got a lot of air play due to "payolla".  That is, songs nobody really liked, but got pushed by D.J's as a "hit" because the record company paid them to say so, in order to influence kids who didn't know better to go out and buy crap.  Or, White covers of black artists back when radio was segregated.  For example, anything by  Pat Boone.

 

Or Nickleback. 

C'mon, payolla is the only rational explanation there.

Unionist

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

 

Then again, there's the early 70's song "Hot Buttered", that has no lyrics at all, only a synthesizer imitiating the sound of popcorn being popped.

 

I'm no expert, but technically, isn't it required of a song that it can be sung?

No, the only requirement is that it can be sold.

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

A requirement that, for reasons science still has not discovered, "Popcorn" fit perfectly well.

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