Oh, it's THAT song!
April 25, 2011 8:30 AM   Subscribe

What are some melodies or samples that everyone recognizes but most people don't know the origin of?

This recent FPP about Raymond Scott's "Powerhouse" got me thinking -- there must be hundreds of these immediately recognizable ditties that show up everywhere but whose sources aren't well-known. I think it's cool to hear these things in their original context, and the next time it shows up somewhere I can smile and think "hey, it's that thing!" Some other examples: the Amen break, "The Streets of Cairo" AKA the stereotypical Arabian / snake charmer song, and the beep boop riff from "Genius of Love," although in that case the original song is reasonably well-known.
posted by theodolite to Media & Arts (35 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Not sure if this is what you're after, but the "Yeah!.... Woo!" from this has been used in countless dance tracks, and I'm not sure who used it first.
posted by xedrik at 8:37 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funky Drummer (NYT article) - "a 1970 single by James Brown whose 20-second drum solo [by Clyde Stubblefield] has become, by most counts, the most sampled of all beats"
posted by John Cohen at 8:37 AM on April 25, 2011


Previous MeFi post: Kon + Amir Present the 50 Greatest hip-hop samples.
posted by Gilbert at 8:40 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]




"Take Me Out to The Ball Game" Most people don't know they are just singing the chorus.
posted by Gungho at 8:50 AM on April 25, 2011


Maybe not exactly what you're thinking, but: Korobeiniki, the Tetris Song.

Also, here is one of my favorite earlier Toothpaste for Dinner comics on the subject.
posted by dismas at 8:51 AM on April 25, 2011


Not sure if this is exactly what you were looking for, but the "Beef: it's what's for dinner" commercials used the Hoe-Down from Copland's ballet Rodeo.
posted by SymphonyNumberNine at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2011


It surprises people all the time when I play "Straight To Hell" from the Clash's Combat Rock and people discover that it's the sample behind MIA's Paper Planes. It's not that it's obscure; it's just that most people haven't really listened very closely to Combat Rock.
posted by General Malaise at 8:57 AM on April 25, 2011


Oh, and I'm sure the origin of Carmina Burana is a lot less known than the song itself (which is used everywhere).
posted by General Malaise at 9:01 AM on April 25, 2011


Standard Snippet on tvtropes has a good list of these.
posted by alikins at 9:18 AM on April 25, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ask previously. Lot of answers in that question. What Is That Song They Always Use...? You know the one. I can't think of its name. It's the one they always use... when the vikings are killing everyone in slow motion - O Fortuna From Carmina Burana by Carl Orff. When the other vikings are killing everyone in slow motion - Wagner - Die Walk├╝re: "The Ride of the Valkyries". When Howard Stern wants to stereotype Italians. Tarantella Napolitana. So what are the songs I missed? And what are some other songs? You know the ones. They're the ones they always play...
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:25 AM on April 25, 2011


Not sure if this is what you're after, but the "Yeah!.... Woo!" from this has been used in countless dance tracks, and I'm not sure who used it first.

Note that the source there ("It Takes Two" by MC Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock - 1988) samples the "whoo/yeah" from the 1972 Lyn Collins recording "Think (About It)". Here's a wikipedia article about it.
posted by ManInSuit at 9:48 AM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about "The Streets of Cairo" by Sol Bloom? ...Of course, you may know it as "The Snake Charmer Song" or you may sing lyrics about the ladies in France dancing without underpants or you may have heard it in every Bugs Bunny cartoon where they had a belly dancer or snake charmer. (You know. "Dee-dee deee, deee, deee, dee-dee deedeedeedee deee....")

Or "The Aladdin Quick Step", from the 1847 show "The Wonderful Lamp"? You may know it as "that thing they play in cartoons whenever a Chinese person shows up" ("deedeedeedeedee dee, dee, doo, doo, dee....")
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on April 25, 2011


The "clown song" (you know, do do do-dee do-dee do do do dee) is actually "Entrance of the Gladiators", a Czech march from the turn of the last century.
posted by Aquaman at 10:57 AM on April 25, 2011


Oh, just thought of one!

There are many people alive today who would look at you blankly if you asked them if they'd heard "The Liberty Bell March" by John Philip Sousa -- but if you played it, they'd say, "oh, you mean the Monty Python theme song!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:08 AM on April 25, 2011


Song of the Volga Boatmen
And The Band Played On was used by ice-cream trucks where I grew up
Lastly, the "sleeping song" from cartoons
posted by rhizome at 11:08 AM on April 25, 2011


The minor motive. It always mean impending danger. It goes:

Duh duh duh duh DUHHHHH duhduhduhduh.

As far as I can tell, nobody knows the source of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on April 25, 2011


People, the "duh doo DEE" thing doesn't work when only you know the tune you're thinking of.
posted by rhizome at 12:06 PM on April 25, 2011 [7 favorites]


I tried to find a link but couldn't. Maybe this well help:

Dum dum dum dum DUMMMMM! Dumdumdumdum.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:45 PM on April 25, 2011


People, the "duh doo DEE" thing doesn't work when only you know the tune you're thinking of.

For my part (since I sort of started it), the snips themselves are so familiar that the spoken rhythm alone would probably prompt recollection.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:48 PM on April 25, 2011


But, for the record, here are the two I was talking about:

Aladdin Quick Step.

The Streets of Cairo.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:51 PM on April 25, 2011


I wasn't going to say anything the first time, but "The Streets of Cairo" is in the OP's question.
posted by rhizome at 1:24 PM on April 25, 2011


Duh duh duh duh DUHHHHH duhduhduhduh.

As far as I can tell, nobody knows the source of it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on April 25 [+] [!]
This?
posted by rhizome at 1:33 PM on April 25, 2011


The ballroom scene from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet. I've had several people in completely different settings hum it to me and ask what it is because they want to get a copy of it.
posted by tel3path at 1:36 PM on April 25, 2011


I think Astro Zombie is referencing The Villain's Theme by Al Weber (playable link on the Amazon page, the song has a ten second intro before hitting the main theme). Used with old-timey vaudeville bad guys twirling their mustaches and sneaking around.

If I'm right, credit goes to this previous question.
posted by castlebravo at 1:50 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't going to say anything the first time, but "The Streets of Cairo" is in the OP's question.

....Ah. Then I deserve the full weight of everyone's scorn.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on April 25, 2011


That's it. The Villains Theme.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:16 PM on April 25, 2011


"Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits"
posted by johnofjack at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2011


"Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits"
Earliest known usage: At A Darktown Cakewalk (1899)
posted by rhizome at 6:23 PM on April 25, 2011


Alison Moyet's laugh from Yaz's "Situation" has been sampled all over the place.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:33 PM on April 25, 2011


Many people call it "The Looney Tunes Theme," but the name of the song is The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down.

Baby Elephant Walk.

A MeFi favorite: Yakety Sax ("Benny Hill").

Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin (familiar bit starts at 26 seconds in).

Swan Lake, First Theme.
posted by tzikeh at 8:58 PM on April 25, 2011


One more:

Spanish Flea, by Herb Alpert (those of us old enough to remember The Dating Game will say "Hey, that's the theme to The Dating Game!).
posted by tzikeh at 9:00 PM on April 25, 2011


General Malaise: "Oh, and I'm sure the origin of Carmina Burana is a lot less known than the song itself (which is used everywhere)."

I think you might be referring to "O Fortuna," which is the famous piece from Carmina Burana. Nothing else from Burana is generally known.
posted by tzikeh at 9:07 PM on April 25, 2011


Many people cite The Girl From Ipanema as an example of elevator music, but another common one is Summer Samba.
posted by Dirk Squarejaw at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2011


Monty Python's Flying Circus theme is actually The Liberty Bell March by John Phillip Souza
posted by Gungho at 1:03 PM on April 28, 2011


« Older Extended low grade fever - when is it doctor time?   |   Best iPhone apps Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.