Is it cheerfully apocalyptic or apocalyptically cheerful? However. More?
May 6, 2016 6:32 AM   Subscribe

So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is so cheerful yet apocalyptic and dark. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is another good example of a song that seems cheerful but is dark at it's core (as are many other Monty Python songs). I'm looking for many more examples.

The songs could be pop, country, folk, metal, or any other genre and certainly need not be from TV or movies and could even be serious yet have a good dance beat. You tell me.

What have you?
posted by brokeaspoke to Media & Arts (55 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
Is That All There Is?
posted by ND¢ at 6:38 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, fun tag suggestions for this question would be appreciated.
posted by brokeaspoke at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2016


Blondie, Island of Lost Souls, fits the bill imo
posted by runincircles at 6:40 AM on May 6, 2016


The Kingston Trio - Merry Minuet
Tom Lehrer - We Will All Go Together When We Go
posted by misteraitch at 6:42 AM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Also! Prince - 1999.
posted by misteraitch at 6:43 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


and could even be serious yet have a good dance beat. You tell me.

I think the entire genre of Ska fits the bill here.
One of the great lesser-appreciated bands would be The Selecter. For example Murder or Everyday (Things are getting hard) or the classic Too Much Pressure. All with a good dance beat.
posted by vacapinta at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2016


"Don't get around much anymore" (Jazz standard) - I always think the tune is quite cheerful, and I have a lot of fun singing it, but it's basically about having so much grief and depression over a lost relationship that one doesn't do anything fun ever.
posted by amtho at 6:48 AM on May 6, 2016


You probably though of this already, but 99 Luftballoons is a peppy dance number about nuclear armageddon (the English version isn't quite as dark).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 6:49 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


REM "End of the World"
Weird Al Christmas At Ground Zero
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:50 AM on May 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oooooh Talking Heads: "(Nothing But) Flowers" - one of my favorites for summer.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 6:50 AM on May 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


How about Chemical by Start Trouble?
posted by FireFountain at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2016


Bob Dylan's "Death Is Not the End" could be read as a hymn about hope and faith, but it lists tragedies great and small, then reminds us that they continue even beyond the grave. Nick Cave's cover plays up the grim irony.
posted by milk white peacock at 7:00 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Passion Pit, Take a Walk
posted by WesterbergHigh at 7:14 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure"
posted by hollyholly at 7:15 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Foster the People, Pumped Up Kicks
posted by WesterbergHigh at 7:19 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sound of Silence sounds sweet and calm but is not
Born in the USA sounds patriotic but is not (exactly)
posted by jessamyn at 7:21 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


No Way To Stop It is a very cheerful-sounding and deeply cynical song from the stage version of of The Sound of Music, in which Captain von Trapp's friend and fiancée try to convince him to be friendly to the Nazis as they take over Austria.

Turn If Off from The Book of Mormon is a chipper song about not feeling bad feelings.

In Summer in Ohio from The Last Five Years, the singer claims that everything is fine.

Musicals are full of these, especially if you also consider the happy-seeming songs that are dark and sad because of their context.
posted by earth by april at 7:24 AM on May 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


My favourite jaunty song also happens to be about depression - Dog by Andy Bull ft. Lisa Mitchell
posted by h00py at 7:29 AM on May 6, 2016


Nuclear War by Sun Ra or the worthy covers by Yo La Tengo.
posted by vunder at 7:30 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Belle and Sebastian: "Nice Day for a Sulk" and "I don't Love Anyone"
posted by Dressed to Kill at 7:35 AM on May 6, 2016


Twisted
posted by winterportage at 7:44 AM on May 6, 2016


Tom Lehrer - We Will All Go Together When We Go

In fact, almost everything by Tom Lehrer, especially the songs from That Was The Week That Was
posted by briank at 7:53 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


DEVO - Beautiful World
posted by SansPoint at 8:09 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Elvis Costello - Good Year for the Roses
Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again Naturally
posted by Billiken at 8:13 AM on May 6, 2016


Here's a similar question I asked a while ago that had some great suggestions!
posted by h00py at 8:28 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


You Are My Sunshine is an almost canonical song of this type.

There's some controversy over exactly what it's about, but Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones at least hints at raping slaves.

Oasis by Amanda Palmer got a lot of grief when it came out for being a perky sounding song about being raped and getting an abortion. For that matter, pretty much any happy sounding Dresden Dolls song is going to be something dark. Coin Operated Boy is pretty happy with a dark edge underneath.

The Book of Mormon was mentioned earlier - Hasa Diga Eebowai is pretty apocalyptic environment set to a upbeat singalong.

The Boy In The Bubble starts with a terrorist explosion over a Zydeco beat.

We Both Go Down Together sounds pretty happy but is about a couple committing suicide (or possibly a murder-suicide) with maybe a touch of date rape.

Tim Minchin might have something as well, but I can't name something off the top of my head. Same with the Beach Boys.

No Children by The Mountain Goats.
posted by Candleman at 8:40 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Everything is Awesome! Lego movie. Everything is awesome, IF you're part of a team...
posted by Jacen at 8:53 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just about every Steely Dan song has a sinister subtext. For example, "Peg" sounds peppy but it's about blackmail.
posted by neckro23 at 8:56 AM on May 6, 2016


Though not in an "apocalyptic" way, Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind certainly has much darker lyrics than its happy sound would suggest.
posted by Seeking Direction at 8:58 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seconding Everything Is Awesome!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:08 AM on May 6, 2016


The first thing that came to mind for me was "Hell" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers
posted by mcmile at 9:33 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Along the lines of Semi-Charmed Life, Mr Brightside by the Killers.
posted by freezer cake at 10:20 AM on May 6, 2016


This exact thing is a throughline of They Might Be Giants' entire catalog.
posted by clavicle at 10:28 AM on May 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pinch Me by the Barenaked Ladies was my upbeat-tempo-suburban-despair jam for a long time.
posted by The demon that lives in the air at 11:14 AM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Stone Roses - Elizabeth My Dear
posted by rhizome at 11:16 AM on May 6, 2016


+1 for all things They Might Be Giants, especially Don't Let's Start, which includes the cheery chorus "I don't want to live in this world anymore / I don't want to live in this world" and this verse:
No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful
Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful

posted by Flannery Culp at 11:51 AM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Cococabanna by Barry Manilow
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 12:51 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


You Are My Sunshine is an almost canonical song of this type.

Indeed, as evidenced by the first verse that almost nobody ever sings:

The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
But when I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.


Just rips your heart out.

Also "The Suburbs" by Arcade Fire.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:30 PM on May 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Maybe not quite what you have in mind, but Sting's Spread A Little Happiness is lyrically innocuous until you connect it to the character you just watched him play throughout the movie Brimstone and Treacle.
posted by wittgenstein at 2:48 PM on May 6, 2016


I would describe Radical Face as more gentle than cheerful, but his songs are almost all extremely dark.

There are a number of articles and threads about this on music-focused sites and on Reddit.
posted by cnc at 2:53 PM on May 6, 2016


I Can't Stop Killing You is a very jaunty song about domestic violence and murder.
posted by interplanetjanet at 3:04 PM on May 6, 2016


Get Happy is a very cheerful song about death:

Shout hallelujah
Come on get happy
Get ready for the judgment day

The sun is shining
Come on get happy
The lord is waiting to take your hand
Shout hallelujah
Come on get happy
We're going to the promised land

We're heading across the river
Wash your sins away in the tide
It's all so peaceful on the other side

posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:08 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


A few more from musicals, very different out of context:
Cabaret is sung by Sally right after her abortion.
Everybody's Got the Right from Assassins, where all the assassins and potential assasins get together and sing that everybody's got the right to their dreams.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 3:14 PM on May 6, 2016


Fake Palindromes is delightfully catchy pop until you notice you're idly singing some lonely night we can get together / and I'm gonna tie your wrists with leather / and drill a tiny hole into your head to yourself in public.
posted by egregious theorem at 3:30 PM on May 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Soft Boys - I Wanna Destroy You
posted by rhizome at 3:31 PM on May 6, 2016


Warren Zevon, Excitable Boy
posted by evilmomlady at 3:38 PM on May 6, 2016


The Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer
posted by thebots at 3:46 PM on May 6, 2016


"Just Like Heaven" - The Cure
"Karma Chameleon" - Culture Club
posted by SisterHavana at 4:44 PM on May 6, 2016




"Happy Together" - The Turtles
"There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" - The Smiths
"Que Sera MI Vida" - Gibson Brothers
"I Got You" - Split Enz
posted by SisterHavana at 5:03 PM on May 6, 2016


Definitely dark, definitely cheerful sounding, definitely NSFW: Terrence and Phillip - Uncle Fucker
posted by MexicanYenta at 5:26 PM on May 6, 2016


I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself from an early Elton John album.
posted by she's not there at 12:08 AM on May 7, 2016


The Beautiful South made this genre their own - British indie pop, beautiful vocals, dark lyrics. Try "Woman In The Wall" for starters. (Nothing like sitting in traffic bouncing in your seat and singing along with a smile on your face to lyrics like "But all of his new life was sent a-spinning, when the rotting wall began to drip" to make you question whether you're a good person...)

vacapinta referenced ska - good call - I'll add "Peter Mac" by Australian ska band Area 7 (an upbeat song about skin cancer is bound to make you feel good, right? Note - Peter Mac refers to the Peter Maccallum hospital in Melbourne that has a renowned skin cancer treatment center).
posted by finding.perdita at 12:49 AM on May 7, 2016 [1 favorite]




I was recently reminded of this one: MMMBop - Hanson.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:05 PM on May 12, 2016


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