We are excited about the arrival of the new Future of the Left record, which is out this week and — despite what you might read elsewhere — is pretty great and thoroughly worth hearing. Among other things, it includes a song called “Robocop 4 — Fuck Off Robocop,” which goes straight into the pantheon of Great Song Titles of Our Time. It’ll find a home there amongst several other Falkous compositions — he’s been responsible for some killers over the years, both with Future of the Left and their predecessors mclusky. We do love the art of a good song title, and we’ve always been partial to bands who can adorn their songs with names that make us giggle, so here’s a selection of some of our other favorites. What are yours?
mclusky/Future of the Left
Best moment: “Without MSG I Am Nothing”
You could giggle at Andy Falkous’s facility for the English language without ever hearing one of his songs — this is a man whose first release with mclusky was called My Pain and Sadness Is More Sad and Painful Than Yours, and whose blog and Twitter feed are both constant sources of delight. And then, of course, there’s his song titles, which are all kinds of genius — both his extended efforts (“You Need Satan More Than He Needs You,” “Your Children Are Waiting for You to Die”) and their more concise cousins (“Fuck This Band,” “Undress for Success”).
Best moment: “Variations on the Secret Carlos Santana Chord Progression”
The man who pioneered the whole idea of the long, amusing, and often offensive song title, Zappa’s inimitable sense of humor still elicits giggles decades after he first started unleashing tracks with names like “My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama” and “Baby, Take Your Teeth Out.”
Best moment: “The World is Full of Crashing Bores”
“Morrissey writes wonderful song titles,” Elvis Costello once observed, “but sadly he often forgets to write the song.” Whether or not you agree with the second half of Costello’s statement, the first is definitely true — Morrissey’s provided some of rock’s most memorable song titles with his endearingly morose extended sentences about how miserable he is. Who else could get away with a song called “My Life Is a Succession of People Saying Goodbye”?
Best moments: “My Dad Has a Theory That the Internet Is the Roman Coliseum of Our Times”
The sadly defunct Double Dagger are probably the only band who can compete with mclusky in the hilariously surreal non sequitur stakes. As you might expect from a band who took their name from a typography symbol, their titles (and lyrics) are both intelligent and wryly amusing — sadly, punk bands with song titles like “Punk Rock vs. Swiss Modernism” or “Surrealist Composition with Your Face” are few and far between.
Best moments: “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant with My Two-Headed Love Child”
This rather speaks for itself, no? Also, yes, that is Winona Ryder in the video.
Best moments: “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver”
And while we’re speaking of Winona… Primus generally eschewed the long song title for the short and snappy slice of surrealism, and are often all the more memorable for doing so. The characters who populate Les Claypool’s songs — most of whom sound like minor Mighty Boosh characters — feature heavily, as do plenty of other strange and surreal images.
Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
Best moments: “A Normal, Suburban Lifestyle Is a Near Impossibility Once You’ve Fallen in Love With an International Spy”
Owen Ashworth’s wryly observed, narrative-driven songs were a delight for the decade or so when he went by the moniker Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, and so were his idiosyncratic song titles. We’re always partial to bands who use their own name in titles (cf. “Casiotone for the Painfully Alone in a Yellow T-Shirt,” “Casiotone for the Painfully Alone Joins the Foreign Legion”), although his finest moment is certainly the track you’ll find embedded above.
Best moments: “(Spinal Meningitis) Got Me Down”
Ween’s unique sense of humor was just as evident in their song titles as it was in the songs themselves. We’re pretty sure that no one else has ever written a song with the phrase “Spinal Meningitis” in the title, if nothing else.
Best moments: “Martin Scorsese Is Really Quite a Jovial Fellow”
TISM are perhaps best known on this side of the Pacific for upsetting Flea with their song “(He’ll Never Be an) Old Man River” (a song whose point, it has to be said, Señor Balzary missed rather spectacularly). Their facility for being both hilarious (“The Ballad of John Bonham’s Coke Roadie”) and hilariously offensive (“If You’re Creative, Get Stuffed”) was rivaled only by their facility for being, y’know, plain old offensive (“I Might Be a Cunt, But I’m Not a Fucking Cunt”). Bless.
Best moments: “Stealing People’s Mail”
Pro tip: titles like “Chickenshit Conformist” or “Kinky Sex Makes the World Go Round” are even better if you read them aloud in a whiny Jello Biafra voice.