by Luke O'Neil
Trying to figure out the most unintentionally funny songs of all time is no easy task, mostly because that category happens to include all music ever made now. (LOL @ music.) But that didn't stop me from trying. To aid me in my pursuit of the most haplessly accidental musical laugh tracks, I enlisted the aid of some of my favorite funny people on Twitter. Here are the results.
"Down With the Sickness" by Disturbed
I think I'll have to go with Disturbed's "Down With the Sickness," which is the only song I know of where I have to evaluate everyone's health in the room before I can press play. "Does anyone have a debilitating illness? Or their family? Wait, did anyone just recover from something, because maybe then it's kind of inspirational? Oh wait, Ted's an amputee. Is a missing foot a sickness? Hell with it, Ted makes more money than all of us and he has a desk job. OK, yeah, I'm putting this song on, but it's more of a fuck-you to Ted now. I hope the ooor-ah-ah-ah sound knocks off his other foot."
About a year ago I was particularly entranced by the video and began live-streaming myself watching it one evening as many successive times as I could. I honestly thought I'd go to sunrise at least, another nine hours away, but the monotony started getting its hooks in, and I decided to ultimately cap it watching the video 69 times. A whole lot of folks tuned in to watch my mood deteriorate as I drunkenly yelled at the screen. I suppose the absurdity of a cranky man watching this bad video all night long for no reason was a good enough hook, and we got through it after about six hours. Might do a 666-watch soon and go for what would undoubtedly be some kind of world record. I'd need better beer for that, though.
"The Downeaster 'Alexa'" by Billy Joel
"Space Oddity" at sea here starts off funny right from the title with the briny colloquialism of the term "downeaster," on to the fact that the name of the boat itself is in its own set quotes, so you know it's an important boat. Also the song is about a boat.
Almost anything related to Billy Joel is funny on its face, but picturing him driving around at sea, as in the persona he assumes in the song, probably all shit-faced and with discarded bottles of wine rolling back and forth across the bow is like a Russian nesting doll of Billy Joels within Billy Joels.
The lyrics here are just such an obvious attempt at really digging in deep and telling the story of the beleaguered working man in such a specifically literal, and obvious way; it's basically just a laundry list of things that are true about boats. You will in no way be surprised to know that Joel actually owns a boat named Alexa (also his daughter's name) and that he once got arrested in a protest trying to aid the brave, honorable seamen of Long Island in their noble pursuit of fishy, existentialist gloom. The song went all the way to No. 57 on the Billboard charts, by the way, which is somehow the funniest thing about the whole mess, aside from him playing the world's most earnest accordion take in the video.
Mostly this song is so hilarious because it's actually really, really sad, and if, like life in general, I didn't think of it as a big fucking joke, I'd want to kill myself.
"Around the World" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
In my opinion, Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Around the World" is the funniest song. The Peppers took a break from their usual routine of singing about just California to tell us about the rest of the globe. They do so with a series of place-name doggerel verses all on par with "My name is Kiedis and I'm here to say/Another place is Montego Bay."
The song can be summed up as: There are lots of places on earth, all of them have chicks there, I'm gonna marry one.
The music video is also a treat.
Kiedis tells us he's rompin' and a-stompin' cause he's in his prime, but he has a serious case of old-man torso. Everyone in the band is shirtless, and Flea has a skirt on for some reason.
Kiedis does robot karate chops throughout the video when he's not making out with a neon ghost chick (at 0:55, 1:06, 1:34). This goes beyond heavy petting, too. He's got some finger and tongue action going on with the silhouette of a babe someone painted in post-production.
But the best thing about this song happens at 2:44. Kiedis didn't have any rhymes prepared for China so they get a shout out in the form of "Ding dang dong dong deng deng dong doing ding dang."
All in all, the Peppers crew have cobbled together an excellent tribute to everywhere.
"Tekkno Wonderland" by Z:O.Ë.Ë.
Yes, a German happy hardcore record from 1995. It's definitely easy to laugh at dance music and, sure, there are thousands of records that go uns uns uns with cheesy vocals or silly samples made with varying levels of irony, but I guarantee you this is 100 percent earnest and 100 percent the most absurd. It features a children's choir singing modified rave themed lyrics to Elvis' "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You," while some guy vamps over them ("All the children sing!"), and then before the beat drops a single child's voice stutters in "C-c-c-c-come play with me." I just picture the producer in the studio, adjusting knobs and thinking "Yes, yes...perfect! I picture a few thousand ravers having a religious experience to this." It's just so, so overwrought.
"Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals
Funny voices get me every time -- especially ones that aren't meant to be funny. Scott Stapp, Neil Young, Bob Dylan (both phases), any of the Bee Gees, and that dude who sings for Paramore all tickle my funny bone. The RZA, who can't say his R's chose to call himself the RZA. That's the physical embodiment of chuckles come to karate kick you a new comedy asshole.
Which brings me to the funniest song ever, "Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals. Singer Roland Gift is indeed that which keeps on giving. You want to talk about a loaded haha gun that shoots depression-piercing humor bullets? He was named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People, taking the "ridiculous monster person included for irony" slot that was later filled by Seal.
Gift's singing voice is a special combination of a kid who got through school without seeing the corrective speech therapist and his version of falsetto that he developed after never hearing a falsetto. You can't understand what he's saying in the song except for "good thing," and you just want him to swallow or get a glass of water. If that's not risible enough, based on the video the song isn't about a woman, it's about a scooter. That's fruit by the foot, if you ask me.
My second choice is "Get Out of My Dreams (Get Into My Car)" by Billy Ocean because it's a song about rape that made it to No. 1. And these days Billy Ocean looks like Screwface from Marked for Death making it extra creepy when he sings it.
"Mother" by Danzig
Danzig's "Mother" is the perfect blend of "No you shut the fuck up, Dad"-metal, lounge vocals and a (possibly autobiographical?) narrative about a dark, intense force out to corrupt children...with the truth. The video is great too, beginning with a quote about Hell from an old book and ending with him ripping the head off a chicken or something over a babe's stomach. Then she draws an upside-down cross in the blood and tastes the blood; textbook effects of breaking out of society's lies and entering the world of the independent critical thinker.
"Chestnut Mare" by the Byrds
"Chestnut Mare" is basically a proto-Brony folk-rock ballad about a guy who loves a horse so much that he wants to marry and fuck it. It's way ahead of its time in the sense that if it were released today, it would undoubtedly become a Brony anthem.
"Amber" by 311
The funniest song ever is the 311 song where he says, "Amber is the color of your energy," because that is the stupidest lyric ever written.
"Butterfly" by Crazytown
The funniest song of all time, in my opinion, is "Butterfly" by Crazytown. This song is hilarious for several reasons: 1. It's really, really bad. 2. The lead singer's name is Shifty Shellshock. He chose that name, as an adult. He is a nipple piercing with legs. 3. It contains a ten-second record scratch. 4. At one point in the music video, Shifty Shellshock spreads his arms and his matching star tattoos fly off of his shoulders into the sky. 5. When I looked up the lyrics online, the most recent edits had been made by "eckochic4u," "yourlilangel02," "Net_Cupid" and "chikabiddy2002."
"Love the One You're With" by Stephen Stills
With its infectious pop hooks, dulcet harmonies and timeless message of settling for whichever willing fuck buddy happens to be around, Stephen Stills' 1970 hit, "Love the One You're With" never fails to put a smile on my face.
Does the one you're with have crabs? She's not the one you love, so who gives a shit? Shave your junk, boil your sheets and get freaky, because life's too short, man. One day you'll look back on all that time you wasted looking for some girl you cared about, and realize you could have spent that time with a dozen different girls whose birthdays you didn't have to remember and whose parents didn't even exist, as far as you were concerned.
Sure, "Afternoon Delight" is a delightfully gross celebration of lunchtime fuckfests, but the song's implicit monogamy makes it downright prudish next to the whimsical debauchery of "Love the One You're With," whomever that happens to be today.
-Michael Schwartz @SchwartzFlash