In an attempt to save you (not to mention ourselves) from the general Monday-morning awfulness that tends to follow a lovely spring weekend, Flavorwire has compiled a playlist of indie/rock/generally guitar-based songs that are genuinely funny. These are 20 of the flat-out wittiest and most amusing songs we know — and we guarantee that at least one of them will make you chuckle. (Note: we’re discounting actual comedy songs here, so no Lonely Island/Flight of the Conchords/etc.) Keep the hilarity going by adding to our list in the comments.
Johnny Cash — “A Boy Named Sue”
It’s surprisingly serious in its own way, but still, this song also retains the power to elicit a hearty guffaw or two, nearly half a century after it was recorded. Its conclusion is one of the great lyrical payoffs of all time, and Cash delivers the key lines with impeccable comedic timing.
Best bit: “Bill! Or George! Or anything but Sue!”
LCD Soundsystem — “Losing My Edge”
Smart, self-deprecating, funny, witty… Ah, James Murphy, the music world isn’t quite the same without you.
Best bit: “I hear you’re buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yazz record!”
Tiny Tim — “Santa Claus Has Got the Aids This Year”
So wrong. So, so, so wrong. And yet so undeniably hilarious.
Best bit: “Each season is full of pep and vim/ But now the aids has got the best of him”
Jens Lekman — “The Cold Swedish Winter”
You could pick plenty of Lekman songs here — his desert-dry sense of humor is one of the most appealing features of his songwriting. Still, it’s hard to beat this track off When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog, which manages to poke fun at people’s perceptions of Sweden while still functioning as a rather poignant love song.
Best bit: “When people think of Sweden, I think they have the wrong idea/ Like Cliff Richard, who thought it was just porn and gonorrhea”
Frank Zappa — “Bobby Brown Goes Down”
Ditto Frank Zappa, perhaps the only man in history to combine bona fide musical genius with the sort of warped sense of humor that gave us songs like “Titties and Beer” and “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow.” His finest comedic moment, however, was this evisceration of American frat-boy types (it’s got nothing to do with the rapper Bobby Brown, who was only ten when this song was released).
Best bit: “I can take about an hour on the tower of power/ As long as I get a little golden shower”
Two Nice Girls — “I Spent My Last $10 (On Birth Control and Beer)”
An upbeat country ditty about the woes of exchanging exuberant lesbianism for “the love of a strong hairy man.” Of course it’s funny.
Best bit: “There’s certain thrills that lesbian love simply cannot supply/ Like paying for abortions from sperm gone awry!”
The Mountain Goats — “Cubs in Five”
Aww. Only John Darnielle could turn a meditation on the ineptitude of the Chicago Cubs into a love song, and make it funny and touching to boot. “Cubs in Five” also features a mention for the joys of crossword puzzles, which gives it another big tick in our book.
Best bit: “And the Phillips corporation will admit that they’ve made an awful mistake/ And Bill Gates will single-handedly spearhead the Heaven 17 revival”
The Smiths — “Frankly Mr. Shankly”
Morrissey dismantles a shitty boss and a shitty job in supremely bitchy fashion. An early hint of what his interviews were going to be like for the next two decades or so.
Best bit: “Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask/ You are a flatulent pain in the arse”
Amy Winehouse — “Fuck Me Pumps”
Speaking of “supremely bitchy,” here’s Amy Winehouse’s immortal evisceration of scenester girls. One of the saddest aspects of Winehouse’s decline into tabloid infamy was the fact that her genuinely witty nature was just another part of her that was overlooked by those seeking to construct her as nothing more than a drug-addled train wreck. This song, along with many others, stands as testament to the fact that she was both whip-smart and funny.
Best bit: “Like the news, everyday you get pressed”
Jarvis Cocker — “Leftovers”
In which Jarvis embraces the joys of the grandpa joke and milks a series of gloriously lame puns for all they’re worth. In another pair of hands, this could have been mildly embarrassing; Cocker, however, plays it perfectly, arching his eyebrow just enough to make the whole thing work a treat.
Best bit: “I met her in the museum of paleontology/ And I make no bones about it”
Ween — “Buenas Tardes, Amigo”
A seven-minute-long murder mystery that falls somewhere between Spaghetti Westerns and the “I don’t have to show you any stinking badges!” guy from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre? Sure, why not? And funnily enough, for all its absurd charms, this somehow manages to be genuinely involving and even a little moving.
Best bit: “Maybe I’d sell you a chicken/ With poison interlaced in the meat”
L7 — “Shitlist”
This song is clearly all kinds of awesome, and its sheer vitriol — along with the maniacal glee with which Donita Sparks delivers the lyrics — make it as funny as it is confronting. Unless you’re the one on the “shitlist,” of course.
Best bit: “YOU’VE MADE MY! SHITLIST!”
Funkadelic — “The Electric Spanking of War Babies”
In fairness, this had something of an anti-war message — but come on, for god’s sake, it’s called “The Electric Spanking of War Babies,” and it came with a giant penis-shaped spaceship on its cover. It’s hilarious.
Best bit: “Oh, it’s shocking to find/ That your mind/ And your behind/ Will get a spanking in due time”
Peaches — “Mommy Complex”
Peaches is very serious about what she does — she once unleashed on your correspondent for asking something about whether people “get the joke” — but that doesn’t mean that her songs don’t have some measure of amusement value. Especially when, y’know, they’re dealing with dudes who like to dress up as babies (and also poking fun at their author’s age in an endearingly self-deprecating way).
Best bit: “Mommy wants to ride the top/ Nipple to the bottle/ You satisfied?”
The Monkees — “Cuddly Toy”
A sort of Anglophone equivalent to Serge Gainsbourg’s immortally subversive “Les Sucettes,” this song found Harry Nilsson (he of “Everybody’s Talking” fame) furnishing The Monkees with a hit that was ostensibly about cuddly toys, but actually about group sex. Oops. Its depiction of ye olde gang bang was not particularly pleasant, either, but it’s definitely worthy of a sly giggle or two.
Best bit: “You’re not the only cuddly toy/ That was ever enjoyed by any boy”
TISM — “The Mystery of the Artist Explained”
Much-lamented Australian band TISM (an acronym for “This Is Serious, Mum”) boasted a discography whose song titles included “Martin Scorsese Is Really Quite a Jovial Fellow” and “I Might Be a Cunt, But I’m Not a Fucking Cunt.” This song is taken from an album called Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance.
Best bit: The official list of people who TISM think are fucked in the head. There’s some assumed knowledge of ’80s Australian cultural figures there, but hey, you get the idea.
Beck — “Satan Gave Me a Taco”
Frankly, this song is enough to put you off Mexican food for quite some time.
Best bit: “There was aphids on the lettuce/ And I ate every one/ And after I was done/ The salsa melted off my tongue”
Magnetic Fields — “How Fucking Romantic”
Unsurprisingly, given its author (and its title), this falls firmly into the “bitterly funny” camp.
Best bit: “How fucking romantic/ Must we really waltz?/ Drag another cliché/ Howling from the vaults…”
Jeffrey Lewis — “The Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror”
Lewis is another artist who’d happily warrant multiple entries here — his Yiddish reinterpretation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” is the stuff of genuine comedic genius — but if we’re only choosing one track, it’s hard to go past this tale of having an existential crisis about art and getting sexually assaulted by a Will Oldham lookalike on the L train. It’s funnier than it sounds.
Best bit: “Our mothers like our music but our friends come to our shows/ And if our friends become successful, we’ll consider them our foes”
Chuck Berry — “My Ding-A-Ling”
Yes, yes, we know — this song is basically the Farrelly Brothers of rock ‘n’ roll. Still, Berry’s audaciousness in releasing this in the first place, let alone the fact that he got away with it, merits a schoolboy giggle.
Best bit: “Those of you who will not sing/ You must be playin’ with your own ding-a-ling!”