Monday, 1 April 2013

Metapost: comedy songs

I know it's well after midday, but it's still the 1st of April so I thought my latest in the monthly list posts should mark the day in some sense. So here's a partial (in both senses) list of 20 comedy tracks as they've appeared on the main series of Now! albums.
I gave myself some ground rules when looking for material here: mere novelty doesn't cut it (sorry, DJ Otzi), and neither does wit (sorry, Beautiful South et al). Nor would I include the knowingly ridiculous (Shaggy) or the unknowingly so (too many to count). I also excluded old records that were merely revived for their presumed humour value, so no room for Tony Christie or Phil Collins - and if 'Let's Get Ready To Rhumble' shows up on Now 85, that won't belong here either. But speaking of 85, that's the year when we really get started.

The Commentators 'N-N-Nineteen Not Out' (Now 5)
Though some tracks on the first four volumes in the series might seem funny now, I think it's safe to say that this number, tucked away at the end of Side Three, is the first one that was trying to.

Lovebug Starski 'Amityville (House On The Hill)' (Now 7)
Not a full-blown novelty or comedy track but still has enough jokes and silly voices to qualify.

Fat Boys With The Beach Boys 'Wipeout' (Now 10)
Comedy-rap again...

Morris Minor & The Majors 'Stutter Rap (No Sleep Till Bedtime)' (Now 11)
...And yet again. By this point they were threatening to outnumber more serious hip-hop hits.

The Timelords 'Doctorin' The Tardis' (Now 12)
Generally the KLF aren't quite jokey enough to qualify for this list, and this does flirt with mere novelty but on balance I've included it.

Bananarama and LaNaNeeNeeNooNoo 'Help!' (Now 14)
The first of the Comic Relief singles to appear, in which French And Saunders and Kathy Burke serve as backing singers to "The Bananas".

Hale & Pace and the Stonkers 'The Stonk' (Now 19)
And here's the second, with the comedians taking top billing for once, and jokey interjections throughout. It's not actually funny, but it's meant to be.

Vic Reeves and the Wonder Stuff 'Dizzy' (Now 20)
Joke cover versions are a borderline category for this list, I think, this one just about sneaks in even though it's not that funny either.

Monty Python 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' (Now 20)
And I suppose this one is funniest in its original context, but still identifiable as a comedy song, or at least as a parody, outside that.

Dr Spin 'Tetris' (Now 23)
Also on the border of novelty, but I've decided it's an unfunny joke song. The next track on Now 23 was 'Supermarioland', which I have arbitrarily decided is just a novelty record.

Bjorn Again 'A Little Respect' (Now 23)
And again we're in silly cover territory, but as an answer record to Erasure's Abba covers, this qualifies as a joke by its very existence. Now 23 is clearly one of the sillier albums in the series, they even attempt a joke in the sequencing with Heaven 17 next to East 17.

The BC-52s '(Meet) The Flintstones' (Now 28)
Back to covers, I suppose, but between the fact that this is from a comedy film and the jokey pseudonym, it counts.

Absolutely Fabulous 'Absolutely Fabulous' (Now 28)
Another Comic Relief track, unusually issued in an even-numbered year (we don't get the Right Said Fred song from 1993) and a return for Jennifer Saunders in her Edina guise, backed by a pseudonymous Pet Shop Boys.

Precocious Brats featuring Kevin & Perry 'Big Girl' (Now 45)
And here in the year 2000 is the return of Kathy Burke, alongside Harry Enfield with the title song from their little-remembered (but apparently profitable) movie Kevin And Perry Go Large.

The Cuban Boys 'C vs. I' (Now 45)
Ending the late-90s drought of comedy on Now albums, this finally say commercial release in December 1999 after months of exposure of John Peel's show. The Cubans lean towards KLF-style art pranksterism, but their one hit, based on a website that had done what we'd now call "going viral", fits among the comedy songs.

David Hasselhof 'Jump In My Car' (Now 65)
About as funny as genocide, I know, but it's supposed to be ironic.

The Proclaimers featuring Brian Potter and Andy Pipkin 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)' (Now 66)
The return of comedy-led Comic Relief singles, albeit in tandem with pop-star releases. And the debut of an audible Peter Kay, as he's not really on 'Amarillo'.

Geraldine 'The Winner's Song' (Now 71)
And here's Kay again, with a reality-show parody that some were apparently surprised wasn't for charity. Written by Gary Barlow, in the days before he became an X-Factor judge.

Vanessa Jenkins & Bryn West featuring Tom Jones & Robin Gibb '(Barry) Islands In The Stream' (Now 72)
Comic Relief again, and a rare example (here) of established musicians appearing on a comedy song under their own names.

Comic Relief presents Susan Boyle and Geraldine McQueen 'I Know Him So Well' (Now 78)
One last song from the bi-annual fundraiser (getting direct billing for the first time) and one last appearance from Peter Kay as well. He hasn't added to that in 2013, merely helping 'Sit Down' by James back to the Top 75. See you in 2015 then?

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