I loved being sincerely welcomed to the jungle.
December 7, 2007 8:02 PM   Subscribe

I want to hear songs that are ironic reimaginings of other, more popular songs. This is hard to explain; examples inside.

This morning I heard They Might Be Giants' "Welcome to the Jungle" (which amiably welcomes a number of people to the jungle and invites them to enjoy the various wonders they will encounter). I pretty much died of delight. Since then I've been thinking about how I could find other songs like that - songs that seem like they'd be covers, based on their titles or some other fundamental thing about them, but then they turn out to be different in a completely hilarious way. I already love the Residents and think they've kind of made a career of doing this kind of goofy stuff, so don't bother.

So I guess what I'm looking for is maybe songs that are covers but changed in such a way that they're ironic (like the Residents' cover of Jailhouse Rock in which the singer sounds criminally deranged, or of Satisfaction in which the singer sounds, um, extremely unsatisfied), but much better would be songs that use the name of more popular songs but interpret the names in a different way that is vastly goofier/more clever/both.

If you have ANY songs that come close to fitting the bill, you are awesome. I would also appreciate being told whether this is a proper use of the adjective "ironic"; I'm always nervous about misusing it.
posted by crinklebat to Media & Arts (75 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
You have heard of Weird Al, haven't you?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 8:07 PM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: Weird Al is a parodist. I mean, if he'd written a song called Ridin' Dirty that was about, I don't know, riding on the bus while being extremely dirty (this would be a huge hit, I think), that would be what I was looking for. Instead he wrote White and Nerdy, which is a parody of Ridin' Dirty that uses the tune of a popular song. I want him to use the title more than the tune.

If there are examples of Weird Al doing that first type of parody, that's one thing, but I can't think offhand of any. Hopefully this clarifies my question a little bit?
posted by crinklebat at 8:11 PM on December 7, 2007

Would Richard Cheese fit the bill? His version of "Insane in the Brain" kills me.
posted by timetoevolve at 8:20 PM on December 7, 2007

TMBG also has the following:

Why Must I Be Sad? - "I understand the words that Alice said." A healthy chunk of the lyrics are titles to Alice Cooper songs.

Cage And Aquarium - Contains the line "This is the spawning of the Cage and Aquarium" in the chorus; a skewed match to the song "Age of Aquarius" which contains the line "This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius" in its chorus. Age of Aquarius is originally from the 60's musical "Hair", but is a well-known oldies song in its own right.

Those are just the top three I think fit off this page.

I Hope That I Get Old Before I Die - c.f. "Hope I die before I get old" in The Who's My Generation
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:21 PM on December 7, 2007

You're looking for Richard Cheese. Or Jaymz Bee's Cocktail. Or Allanis Morisette's version of My Humps, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:24 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Cardigans' lilting version of the Black Sabbath classic, "Ironman," sure spiffs up the dark imagery.
posted by GPF at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2007

Oooh, Oooh, Steve and Eydie's Black Hole Sun!
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:29 PM on December 7, 2007

Best answer: Listen to basically everything by the Australian band This Is Serious Mum, or TISM. "My Generation" begins with the lines "What do you do when you truly think/The younger generation are generally wrong?/When you think your parents are pretty keen/It's hard to write a good teen rebellion song."

They've also got a bunch of parodies of famous songs as song titles ("While My Catarrh Gently Weeps" and so forth). They were briefly famous internationally for "Everyone Else Has Had More Sex Than Me" but I suspect that you'd more enjoy their album stuff where they basically just take the piss out of the music industry in general.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:31 PM on December 7, 2007

The Barenaked Ladies version of "Fight the Power"? "Buddy Ebsen was a hero to most..."
posted by gingerbeer at 8:36 PM on December 7, 2007

There's a whole cottage industry of dorky white people doing lame covers of rap songs. Here are some standouts:

Bloodhound Gang - Fire, Water, Burn

Dynamite Hack - Boyz In The Hood

Nina Gordon - Straight Outta Compton

The Gourds - Gin & Juice
posted by burnmp3s at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2007

Satisfaction in which the singer sounds, um, extremely unsatisfied

Cat Power's cover of "Satisfaction" might work ... though perhaps it would be too subtle for your purposes.
posted by grabbingsand at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2007

First thing that popped into my head: chococat's stalkerish reimagining of "Hopelessly Devoted to You" via music.metafilter.
posted by micketymoc at 8:43 PM on December 7, 2007

The Dismemberment Plan's cover of Crush by Jennifer Page might work.

The original was a one hit wonder cheesy pop song about a crush, the cover turns it into something creepy and stalkery. I'm not sure if this is quite what you're going for though.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 8:44 PM on December 7, 2007

Frente did an acoustic cover of New Order's Bizarre Love Triangle. It's rather poignant.

Devo's cover of the Rolling Stone's Satifaction isn't about dissatisfaction with commercialism as much as it is an outright rejection of it.
posted by MCTDavid at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2007

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes. Maybe not perfect but close. Mandy Moore also does a very, very sincere cover of Umbrella, which maybe will fit the bill.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:47 PM on December 7, 2007

Fleming and John do a cover of Winter Wonderland to the tune of Misty Mountain Hop, you can hear/DL it here. Merry Christmas!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:54 PM on December 7, 2007

What Medieval Maven said, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.

I Will Survive by Cake?
posted by SassHat at 8:58 PM on December 7, 2007

Response by poster: I don't know, guys, I'm enjoying the funny covers but people like Richard Cheese or Me First & the Gimme Gimmes kind of don't work because they (in my experience anyway) pretty much treat every song the same (lounge cover, pop-punk cover). If they were customizing their funny covers based on the subject matter of the original song, that would be more along the lines I want.
posted by crinklebat at 9:01 PM on December 7, 2007

I don't know how "ironic" they're being, but you should absolutely check out Nouvelle Vague (here's a link to their wiki page). They cover an amazing range of post punk and new wave classics, and do so with a bossa nova twist. They're awesome!

You can find the following covers on this page:

• Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)
• The Guns of Brixton (The Clash)
• A Forest (The Cure)
• The Killing Moon (Echo & The Bunnymen)
• Heart of Glass (Blondie)
• Fade to Grey (Visage)

I discovered them while on a date at a sushi restaurant (so random!). I was super excited that a band would cover some of my favorite songs! Incidentally, the date ended really well that night. :)
posted by numinous at 9:02 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you don't immediately wince when I say this, Adam Sandler does a bit of this. For instance, check out the lyrics to Listenin' to the Radio.
posted by Ugh at 9:07 PM on December 7, 2007

I'm not sure this would exactly fit your criteria, but Brave Combo and Tiny Tim's album Girl has a jazzy hipsterish cover of "Stairway to Heaven" and a bossa nova styled "Hey Jude" that always cheer me up. I know the pairing sounds like the lamest novelty act ever, but it's actually a really charming record- scroll down for musical samples.
posted by maryh at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2007

A song that seems like this to me is the Pet Shop Boys' cover of The Village People's Go West. They somehow manage to re-create it as a catchy pop dance tune that also brings out the yearning in the song--every time I hear it, it seems to me to perfectly capture what it was like to be young and queer in the midwest in the 80s. The tension between the pop and the pathos is very satisfying to me.
posted by not that girl at 9:23 PM on December 7, 2007

An odd suggestion from my youth: Allan Sherman. His style was lounge music, but it had the kind of feel to it that you're talking about.

For instance, "Camp Grenada" (to the music of "Dance of the Hours"):

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda
Here I am at Camp Granada
Camp is very entertaining
And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining

I went hiking with Joe Spivey
He developed poison ivy
You remember Leonard Skinner
He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner

All the counselors, hate the waiters
And the lake has alligators
And the head coach, wants no sissys
So he reads to us from something called Ullyses

Now I don't want, this should scare ya
But my bunkmate has malaria
You remember, Jeffrey Hardy
They're about to organize a searching party

Take me home, oh Mudda Fadda
Take me home, I hate Granada
Don't leave me out in the forest here
I might get eaten by a bear

Take me home, I promise I will not make noise
Or mess the house with other boys
Oh please don't make me stay
I've been here one whole day

Dearest Fadda, darling Mudda
How's my precious, little brudda
Let me come home, if you miss me
I would even let Aunt Bertha hug and kiss me

Wait a minute, it stopped hailing
Guys are swimming, guys are sailing
Playing baseball, gee that's betta
Mudda, fadda, kindly disregard this letta

(Allan Sherman was the voice of the "Cat in the Hat" before he died.)
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:24 PM on December 7, 2007

Emm Gryner's Girl Versions is a set of ironically sincere reinterpretations of 80's metal in the vein of the aforementioned Cardigan's cover of Ironman -- check out her take on Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me."
posted by ellanea at 9:35 PM on December 7, 2007

None of these are covers, but If I understand the question you really aren't looking for covers, per se.

Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend is based upon Jefferson Airplane's Somebody To Love.

Camper Van Beethoven's We Love You Draws Heavily from Charlie Daniel's Devil Went Down To Georgia.

Perhaps the most ironic would be Frank Zappa's Flower Punk which makes fun of hippies while ripping off Hendrix's Hey Joe.
posted by sourwookie at 9:35 PM on December 7, 2007

How about "You Were Right" by Built to Spill?

You were wrong when you said
Everything's gonna be alright
You were right when you said
All that glitters isn't gold
You were right when you said
All we are is dust in the wind
You were right when you said
We are all just bricks in the wall
And when you said manic depression's a frustrating mess
You were right when you said
You can't always get what you want
You were right when you said
It's a hard rain's gonna fall
You were right when you said
We're still running against the wind
And life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone
You were right when you said
This is the end
Do you ever think about it?
posted by peep at 9:58 PM on December 7, 2007

The Guitar by (again) They Might be Giants is a brilliant remaking of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." (In the context of the their 2001-themed album, it fits perfectly).
posted by McLir at 10:58 PM on December 7, 2007

Also TMBG riffs on MacArthur Park in It's Not My Birthday.
posted by McLir at 11:15 PM on December 7, 2007

Jonathan Coulton's Baby Got Back cover isn't literally about infants, but he's got a sincere and deadpan delivery that may be up your alley...

"Actually, when it comes to females, Cosmo does not have very much to do at all with my selection..."
posted by erlkonig at 11:26 PM on December 7, 2007

XTC's pseudonymous alter-egos, The Dukes of Stratosphear, created awesome homages to psychedelic rock. Their second album, "Psonic Psunspot," also works as a guess-which-song-this-is-based-upon game. All the Dukes stuff is available on "Chips from the Chocolate Fireball."
(SPOILER: Answers range from The Beach Boys to The Move to The Cyrkle.)
posted by McLir at 11:28 PM on December 7, 2007

check out Johnny Cash's last album American 4. He turned NIN's "Hurt" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" into hymns.
posted by jrishel at 11:54 PM on December 7, 2007

This (sadly not on DVD) is a send up of this (starts at 3:55).

Big Daddy also did tons of covers.
posted by brujita at 12:48 AM on December 8, 2007

Young Knives (British indie rock band who appears to like cardigans a lot) do a cover of Kids In America by Kim Wilde which is hilariously impassioned. It's on a sampler of their record label (Transgressive) that came with the NME about a year ago but if you want it I can help.

Arab Strap (a band not known for their sense of humour) did two covers on their Shy Retirer EP of Why Can't This Be Love by Van Halen and You Shook Me All Night Long by AC/DC which are delightfully incongruous.

Tom McRae did a cover of Wonderful Christmastime by Paul McCartney on this CD with an acoustic guitar and cello as backing and he actually manages to make it sound unsettling.
posted by terrynutkins at 12:52 AM on December 8, 2007

The Beatnix, "Stairway to heaven", with the lyrics from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to heaven" but the music à la The Beatles' "I want to hold your hand" and "Twist and shout".

Robyne Dunn, "Stairway to heaven", has the lyrics and music from "Stairway to heaven", but mixed and arranged to sound like "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" by The Beatles.

Both from the early 90s Australian TV-show "The money or the gun": "(...) the most notable facet of this satirical comedy was that each week a guest would perform their own version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". Versions would occasionally tie in with the theme of the episode ("Guns - the Musical" had a Broadway-style version by Jodie Gilles as the conclusion, while the episode on Australian Comedy had the Doug Anthony All Stars performing it with the assistance of Barry Crocker) but the most surprising of all was the version by Rolf Harris which eventually reached number 7 on the UK singles chart."
posted by iviken at 1:38 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Sounds like Half Man Half Biscuit might fit the bill, though the jokes might not all work if you're not British or thereabouts. "Much of their humour relies on an absurdist clash of references and non sequiturs, and they are saved from whimsy by a strong undercurrent of venom," it sez 'ere.
posted by Abiezer at 2:26 AM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: Sid Vicious - My Way
posted by melorama at 3:07 AM on December 8, 2007

Dead Kennedys - I Fought The Law

back story, from Wikipedia:
The Dead Kennedys...wrote and recorded a different version as a comment on Dan White's 1978 murder of San Francisco mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, and White's subsequent use of the "Twinkie defense" to influence the court to convict him of the lesser charge of manslaughter. The song, sung from the perspective of White and replacing the line "I fought the law and the law won" with "I fought the law and I won"

posted by melorama at 3:35 AM on December 8, 2007

Alanis Morrisette's version of My Humps is a vast improvement on the original.
posted by flabdablet at 3:54 AM on December 8, 2007

How about Evan Dando of The Lemonheads doing "Skull" by the Misfits? This page has a couple of other ones but I know that one fits your criteria
posted by ShawnString at 4:27 AM on December 8, 2007

Robbie Fulks does a lovely and pleasantly non-smirky version of Abba's "Dancing Queen".
posted by catesbie at 4:34 AM on December 8, 2007

The Spooky Men's Chorale do a delightfully earnest cover of Kasey Chambers' little-girl-lost Not Pretty Enough. Fifteen middle-aged men singing in close-part harmony about how they never get a date to the prom? Bizarrely hilarious :)

Their Don't Stand Between a Man and his Tool also contains a lovely homage to the Beatles' Help which made me chuckle.
posted by aihal at 4:52 AM on December 8, 2007

Seconding Alan Sherman. He's more known as a comedy singer, but to answer the question of song titles with unexpected contents...not so much. His titles tell you what you're getting. There are a few exceptions.
posted by Gungho at 5:25 AM on December 8, 2007

Petra Haden does an acapella cover of Don't Stop Believing.
posted by phrontist at 5:52 AM on December 8, 2007

The original Istanbul (not Constantinople) was covered by They Might be Giants in a straight up but playful style. Later Tom Waits gets it all properly messy and twisted in Telephone Call from Istanbul.

All night long on the broken glass
livin in a medicine chest
mediteromanian hotel back
sprawled across a roll top desk
the monkey rode the blade on an overhead fan
they paint the donkey blue if you pay
I got a telephone call from Istanbul
my baby coming home today

posted by Meatbomb at 5:53 AM on December 8, 2007

Most of the Devo covers, Satisfaction, Secret Agent Man.

Soft Cell's version of Tainted Love. If you have a hard time seeing that as ironic, you need to watch the ancient Roman music video.
posted by RobotHero at 6:35 AM on December 8, 2007

Laibach is probably best known for their covers, most famously redoing the whole of the Beatles Let It Be. It's very much in the vein of The Residents twisted reimaginings, particularly the cover of Get Back which is downright martial. Here's their video for Across The Universe.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:41 AM on December 8, 2007

Arab Strap's cover of "sweet child o mine".
Dave Grohls cover of "Tiny dancer" from SNL
Any Tori Amos cover of anything, ever.
posted by softlord at 6:58 AM on December 8, 2007

sparklehorse made an incredibly depressing remake of "its a wonderful life"
posted by atom128 at 8:29 AM on December 8, 2007

More Camper Van Beethoven: they covered "Tusk" in entirety.
posted by andreap at 8:36 AM on December 8, 2007

It's a cover, but Warren Zevon's version of "Back in the High Life Again" turned the original Winwood song on its head.
posted by dilettante at 8:37 AM on December 8, 2007

You might consider the Clipse's version of NWA's 'Dopeman.' Basically, they remove all the moral ambiquity.
posted by box at 8:51 AM on December 8, 2007

Luna also do a swell cover of GNR's "Sweet Child O' Mine."

Dirty Projectors recently released a radical revamp of Black Flag's Damaged, entitled Rise Above.
posted by porn in the woods at 8:59 AM on December 8, 2007

Cat Power's "Satisfaction" was mentioned earlier, and it comes off of her album "Covers" which has other cover songs in the same style that may fit what you're looking for, especially "Sea of Love." She also has a concert available for free on the NPR All Songs Considered section of iTunes that closes with a cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy."

If you're into G'N(F'n)R, Luna has a good cover of "Sweet Child of Mine."
Johnny Cash's "Hurt" is a lot different than Nine Inch Nails' version.
posted by Frank Grimes at 9:01 AM on December 8, 2007

One more favorite: Mark Eitzel's Music for Courage and Confidence, which tackles MOR chestnuts such as "Move On Up," "Help Me Make it Through the Night," and Culture Club's "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?"
posted by porn in the woods at 9:02 AM on December 8, 2007

Aztec Camera covered Van Halen's Jump in the manner you are talking about.

posted by ericthegardener at 9:35 AM on December 8, 2007

The Beatles' "Back in the USSR" is a riff on the Beach Boys' "California Girls".

Like Allan Sherman, there are other novelty acts and song parodists that riff on popular songs while keeping the original title:

Spike Jones - "Cocktails for Two" and "Ghost Riders in the Sky"
Homer & Jethro - "Baby It's Cold Outside" (with June Carter) and "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

See also:
Bongwater - "Dazed & Chinese"
posted by hydrophonic at 9:58 AM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: At first I thought you were looking for just very ironic, unexpected cover songs but on re-reading, it sounds like you are looking for not-exactly-a-cover but a song that harkens to another song and reimagines it in a totally different way, am I right?

Seems to me the all time champion of this is Patti Smith's version of Gloria. Also, Negativland's U2 album.

If it's just ironic covers, I would suggest the album Cocktail: Shakin' and Stirred, Paul Anka's Rock Swings, or Luna's version of Sweet Child of Mine.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:50 AM on December 8, 2007

Oh yeah, Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon have an album called Prairie Home Invasion which includes the song Will The Fetus be Aborted, sung to the tune of Will the Circle Be Unbroken.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:54 AM on December 8, 2007

Nine Inch Richard's "Closer to Hogs" is a literal reimagining on on NIN's Closer to God.

"I want to fuck you like an animal..." Baaaaa!
posted by yeti at 11:06 AM on December 8, 2007

Paging cortex.....
posted by brujita at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2007

"Gik" with a soft g.
posted by brujita at 12:11 PM on December 8, 2007

Ben Fold's "Bitches Ain't Shit". Covers Dr. Dre in a sentimental way.
posted by inactivist at 12:38 PM on December 8, 2007

Cover lovers: check out Coverville.
posted by king walnut at 1:12 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

I also recommend Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Cake.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 1:18 PM on December 8, 2007

Cake's Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town, Sad Songs and Waltzes, Mahna Mahna, Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
The Flaming Lips' Can't Get You out of My Head
Weird Al's Bohemian Polka
posted by oaf at 2:48 PM on December 8, 2007

I think I have a reasonably good grasp on the kind of kind of songs you're looking for, but the category is really hard to articulate. If some of these suggestions are misfires, sorry.

They Might Be Giants are definitely the band that would inspire you to come up with this question. Songs of theirs not yet mentioned, but appropriate:

Why Does The Sun Shine?

Twistin' : Standard twist style, but with lyrics about a guy hanging himself, twisting in the wind.

Man, It's So Loud in Here: This is the best one. Poppy techno-y dance music -- kinda Pet Shop Boys sounding -- with lyrics about how the music is too loud.

Also: Sissy Bar's cover of Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice, Travis's cover of Britney's Hit Me Baby, Talking Heads's (Nothing But) Flowers (which is a response to Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi), David Byrne's Miss America.
posted by painquale at 3:20 PM on December 8, 2007

My dad was in a Christmas Play last night called "The Reindeer Monologues" (He played donner, fwiw) and the songs they played between monologues were christmas sort of remixes of AC/DC songs, they were AWESOME. All with bells and xylophones...but AC/DC none the less. It took us a while to figure it out. No words, all instrumental, but seriously awesome.
posted by TomMelee at 3:33 PM on December 8, 2007

The Rutles.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:07 PM on December 8, 2007

Like Billy Joel, Eminem has a song called "Say Goodbye to Hollywood."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:08 PM on December 8, 2007

Gloria is a good call, and yes yes yes Rutles. You also need to be aware of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.
posted by flabdablet at 7:04 PM on December 8, 2007

Oh, what about Frank Sidebottom? He sings a lot of medleys (Everybody Sings Queen and a great indie medley that combines parts of Love Will Tear Us Apart Again, some Morrissey/Smiths songs, and even How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'. Oh, and he redid The Smiths' Panic as Panic on the Streets of Timperley, which is the town from from which Frank hails.) The songs aren't spoofing in a 'to the tune of..' tradition (a la Weird Al). Frank uses the tune and a lot of the words, but adds his own lyrics, as well. If you search YouTube for Frank Sidebottom, you'll get find his takes on Joy Division, The Sex Pistols, Morrissey/The Smiths, Grease, and even the Arctic Monkeys. If you're at all interested in reading more about his music by someone who can actually write (ie. not me), check out this article about Frank's music on Trouser Press.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:56 PM on December 8, 2007

This is not available online but I stronly recommend "Jailhouse Rock" by the Jim Yoshi Pileup.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2007

My very favorite cover like this is Travis' cover of Britney's (Hit Me) Baby One More Time, which has been mentioned, but here's the YouTube link.
posted by AlisonM at 1:12 PM on December 9, 2007

Seals & Croft's Summer breeze, covered by metal band Type O Negative gets my vote.
posted by Orb2069 at 10:53 PM on January 12, 2008

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