Patter in 90s Alt-rock
June 2, 2012 11:30 AM   Subscribe

Looking for more examples of 90s alt-rock songs making heavy use of patter / spoken sections.

I recently notice that a couple of popular alt-rock songs from the 90s, including some radio hits, feature substantial spoken or patter sections. The ones that I can list off the top of my head:

Nada Surf - Popular
Beck - Loser
Butthole Surfers - Pepper
Pavement - Conduit for Sale
Barenaked Ladies - One Week

Are there any other examples of this style? Why does it seem to have become less common since the 90s?
posted by LSK to Media & Arts (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Rollins Band - Low Self Opinion
posted by flex at 11:34 AM on June 2, 2012

Sleater-Kinney - Get Up (1999)
Garbage - Shut Your Mouth (2002)
posted by yellowbinder at 11:44 AM on June 2, 2012

Weezer — Undone (The Sweater Song)

Dink — Green Mind

There was a recent thread about this kind of thing. It wasn't specific to the '90s, but some of the answers are '90s songs.

Why does it seem to have become less common since the 90s?

Because it was so common in the '90s. Anytime there's a trend in music, later generations always react against it.
posted by John Cohen at 11:45 AM on June 2, 2012

Liz Phair - Flower (1993, NSFW)
posted by yellowbinder at 11:48 AM on June 2, 2012

"All I know, is that there were rumors he was into field hockey players..."

Pixies, "I'm Amazed"

"Don stepped outside..."

Slint, "Don, A Man"

"... I'm sorry. And I miss you."

Slint, "Good Morning, Captain"

(And though it predates the 90s, certainly one of the most influential spoken/sung songs HAS to be "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies. And we can go back further: "The Gift" by Velvet Underground, a ton of songs by Patti Smith, same for Laurie Anderson, and "Take 5, D.", a Minutemen song wherein Mike Watt reads a roommate's passive-aggressive note about not keeping the bathtub properly caulked.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:29 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

How about The Distance by Cake?
posted by sigmagalator at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2012

Ha, we just had a whole round of these at trivia. I think most of the ones there have been covered. Let me see if I can remember what they were...

Pepper - Butthole Surfers
Cake - The Distance
Weezer - Undone
Primus - some song I wasn't familiar with
That damned "Wear Sunscreen" song, you don't actually want that one.
Nada Surf - Popular
King Missle - Detachable Penis
and....shoot. The one we got wrong. Early rap.

Anyway, I think anything Cake is in the direction you might like - especially check out the albums Comfortable Eagle and Fashion Nugget.

Also: Parklife by Blur, Susan's House by the Eels, Da Da Da by Elastica (though it's half in German).
posted by maryr at 12:36 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

"Candy" by Iggy Pop?
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:00 PM on June 2, 2012

I can't believe no one has mentioned Green Jello/Jelly, "The Three Little Pigs."
posted by drlith at 1:04 PM on June 2, 2012

Hey pretty.
posted by empath at 1:04 PM on June 2, 2012

Heads up, there are two versions of Hey Pretty (by Poe) out there - some have the monologue (from her brother's book, House of Leaves), some don't.
posted by maryr at 1:12 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tubthumping by Chumbawamba (1997)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2012

King Missile - Detachable Penis
posted by Jawn at 1:59 PM on June 2, 2012

Aw, listed already.
posted by Jawn at 2:00 PM on June 2, 2012

"Oh, Gladys, girl, I love you but oh! GET A LIFE!"
posted by maryr at 2:19 PM on June 2, 2012

King Missile - "I Wish"
posted by Marky at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2012

"Rush," by B.A.D. II, just in there at 1991.

"Hmm, I wish I could sing like that."
"Not everything's singing, you know. The only important thing these days is rhythm and melody. Rhythm and melody."

Apparently sampled from an old Peter Sellers record.
posted by escabeche at 2:47 PM on June 2, 2012

Almost everything by Ween.
posted by macrowave at 3:04 PM on June 2, 2012

And a ton of Velvet Underground songs: The Gift, Heroin, I'm Waiting for the Man, Rock & Roll, Sister Ray...
posted by macrowave at 3:09 PM on June 2, 2012

REM- Belong
posted by kimdog at 4:18 PM on June 2, 2012

Shawn Mullins - Lullaby is all talk during the verse.
posted by AloneOssifer at 4:55 PM on June 2, 2012

Third Eye Blind- I think they do this in multiple songs, but Semicharmed Kind of Life comes to mind as a definite example.
posted by alygator at 5:04 PM on June 2, 2012

Meryn Cadell's "The Sweater"
posted by brujita at 5:33 PM on June 2, 2012

Soul Coughing does this.
posted by umbú at 7:12 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Soul Coughing every song every album pretty much.
posted by TheRedArmy at 8:07 PM on June 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hal Lovejoy Circus - Hotpants. Fun and funny.
posted by Askr at 8:15 PM on June 2, 2012

Sugarcubes, Hit about two minutes in.
posted by wobh at 8:46 PM on June 2, 2012

King Missile, Gay/Not Gay.
posted by theperfectcrime at 8:55 PM on June 2, 2012

The Sugarcubes again, Walkabout, this time at the end of the song.

Thank you for asking this question. As soon as you asked it I thought of these two songs, but couldn't remember them and have been racking my brain for hours to remember them well enough to even search for them. But, as soon as I found the first one, I knew I'd find the other. Frustrating, but worth it. Thank you.
posted by wobh at 9:10 PM on June 2, 2012

Steal My Sunshine - Len
Citysong - Luscious Jackson

Primus did this in a lot of their songs.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:43 PM on June 2, 2012

Tool - Bottom
posted by saladin at 4:49 AM on June 3, 2012

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