I need a perfect way to make the girls go crazy.
July 16, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for music that has "pop" mass appeal and lyrics that are ironic/post-modern. In other words, intelligent, but not intelligent at first glance. Some acts that I've found which fit this criteria are: Steely Dan, Scritti Politti, and Beck. Any other recommendations?
posted by matkline to Media & Arts (46 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Police.
posted by bricoleur at 11:59 AM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: Electric Six.
posted by svolix at 12:01 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by Oriole Adams at 12:07 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was going to say Barenaked Ladies, but those might be intelligent at first glance. David Bowie has some choice selections. Very popular and singable, but you might not appreciate the lyrics until you really look at them.
posted by kookoobirdz at 12:10 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by turaho at 12:12 PM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: Prefab Sprout
The Clash
Warren Zevon

I know, lots of oldies, but it's what comes to mind.
posted by rhizome at 12:18 PM on July 16, 2008

Best answer: Momus
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2008

Elvis Costello, Randy Newman.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:19 PM on July 16, 2008

You'll struggle to find a better lyricist than Jarvis Cocker

Different Class was a critical and commercial success here, for just about the same reasons you give.

Check out anything else by Pulp and you can't go far wrong.

"...When you raise your pencil skirt like a veil before my eyes
Like the look upon his face as he's zipping up his flies.
Oh I know that you're engaged to him.
Oh but I know that you want something to play with baby.
I'll be around when he's not in town, I'll show you how you're doing it wrong
I really love it when you tell me to stop.
Oh it's turning me on.... "

Pencil Skirt from Different Class
posted by Blacksun at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2008

They Might Be Giants?
posted by piedmont at 12:20 PM on July 16, 2008

Lupe Fiasco?
posted by gnutron at 12:27 PM on July 16, 2008

Regina Spektor's songs are incredibly catchy & also intelligent.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:36 PM on July 16, 2008

The Human League - "Seconds" from the album "Dare"
Fluke - "Atom Bomb" from the album "Risotto"

As KSU grad, I have to nth DEVO and The Numbers band.
posted by vkxmai at 12:39 PM on July 16, 2008

Gnarls Barkley.
Ben Folds.
Natasha Bedingfield. No, I'm not kidding.
posted by nicwolff at 12:47 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by Roach at 12:48 PM on July 16, 2008

Fountains of Wayne
posted by dzot at 12:48 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:51 PM on July 16, 2008

Joe Jackson
posted by Kloryne at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2008

Modest Mouse.
posted by diogenes at 1:08 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by newmoistness at 1:14 PM on July 16, 2008

The Magnetic Fields have very pop song styles, but are recorded in a pretty lo-fi/indie way. The lyrics are pretty inventive, but almost more for what they get to rhyme rather than their "meaning". For example, one song rhymes "Ferdinand de Saussure" with "bulldozer".

Or this string from "I Don't Want to Get Over You":
cause I don't want to get over love
I could listen to my therapist,
pretend you don't exist,
and not have to dream of
what I dream of
I could listen to all my friends
and go out again
and pretend it's enough
or I could make a career of being blue
I could dress in black and read Camus
smoke clove cigarettes and drink vermouth
like I was 17
that would be a scream
but I don't want to get over you

Both songs on 69 Love Songs.
posted by LionIndex at 1:20 PM on July 16, 2008

The Beautiful South were conceived of, created, and flawlessly executed as a pitch-perfect all-surface pop band that starts to fracture and splinter into brilliantly twisted whorls of songwriting when you take a closer look.

Their predecessors, the Housemartins, were similarly brilliant, sounding like jangly British guitar-pop but flying a rather radical agenda behind it; the Housemartins also gave birth to Norman "Fatboy Slim" Cook, who one could argue has done a pretty interesting job of subverting dance music.
posted by Shepherd at 1:25 PM on July 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Fatal Flaw - my fave is "The Great Indoors"
posted by rosebengal at 1:31 PM on July 16, 2008


Nthing Beautiful South and Mekons
posted by desuetude at 1:40 PM on July 16, 2008

nth because mere seconding is not enough
posted by desuetude at 1:40 PM on July 16, 2008

Darren Hayes, though don't look at Spin because that's not really his most intelligent work.
posted by divabat at 1:53 PM on July 16, 2008

Just coming in to propose The Beautiful South... Shepherd nails it.
posted by BobFrapples at 3:01 PM on July 16, 2008

Maxi Jazz is a poet, and very cle ver. "You dont need eyes to see, you need vision."
posted by BadMiker at 3:21 PM on July 16, 2008

posted by chrchr at 3:29 PM on July 16, 2008

Seconding Fountains of Wayne.
posted by hippugeek at 3:39 PM on July 16, 2008

Talking Heads.
Doug Bennett of Doug and the Slugs.
posted by jet_silver at 3:55 PM on July 16, 2008

I'm not entirely sure what you're describing, but it makes me think of...

Weezer (although they've sort of devolved into dumb at first AND second glance)
Ben Kweller
Magnetic Fields
Frank Zappa
Del tha Funkee Homosapien
Fountains Of Wayne
posted by rooftop secrets at 4:15 PM on July 16, 2008

Roxy Music
posted by maloon at 4:55 PM on July 16, 2008

of Montreal
posted by punchdrunkhistory at 5:39 PM on July 16, 2008

Crowded House
posted by kirkaracha at 7:22 PM on July 16, 2008

Magnetic Fields is a good suggestion. The approach you seem to be looking for is one of the hallmarks of the indie-pop genre, I think. Also check out Love is All, Cats on Fire, Jens Lekman. Basically Scandinavian people is what I'm saying.
posted by ludwig_van at 8:40 PM on July 16, 2008

The Long Blondes.
posted by indienial at 2:25 AM on July 17, 2008

Pet Shop Boys
posted by dowcrag at 4:35 AM on July 17, 2008

posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:32 AM on July 17, 2008

If Fountains of Wayne fits your criteria (I'm not quite sure I "get it", what you're looking for), then you might also be into the Push Stars and their front man Chris Trapper's solo work.
posted by knile at 6:49 AM on July 17, 2008

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:24 AM on July 17, 2008

Seconding Modest Mouse and Of Montreal, but they may not work if you're looking for something that people recognize instantly (i.e. if you equate "pop" with top 40).

Honestly I think you can put late Beatles in this category.


New Pornographers
The Shins
Okkervil River
The Hold Steady

Some songs from the above artists may fall into the "first glance" intelligent category, but there are plenty that just sound fun until you get to the lyrics - "Black" by Okkervil River is a perfect example.
posted by slo at 10:32 AM on July 17, 2008

The Gleaming Spires. Are You Ready for the Sex Girls? seems like a straightforward, utopian, adolescent fantasy: The wild ride, fast ride pony girls who can talk about love because they know where it goes. They have time on their hands and skin like seals. They play pool in your house and take off all their clothes. THEY ARE WOMEN WITHOUT ANY FAULTS.

Sounds pretty good, eh? One comes over, then they all come over, then they party all around your house.

But then they just keep coming, they're going crazy in the bedroom. If you can't talk love, you better get out. There's a knock on the door, they've come back AGAIN! The party never ends.

And, as it turns out, they are simply too much. Are you ready for the sex girls?


(In about 2000, I actually bought a new copy of the original vinyl pressing of their first record from 1981, which hadn't ever sold out and was still available on Posh Boy records. Checking their store now, it seems that sometime in the intervening years they managed to sell the rest of the copies.)
posted by snofoam at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2008

Robyn. But only her last album onwards.
posted by saturnine at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2008

XTC (last.fm link)
posted by shannonm at 5:42 PM on July 17, 2008

Frank Zappa

Zappa evolved a compositional approach, which he called "conceptual continuity." The idea was that any project or album was part of a larger project. Everything was connected, and musical themes and lyrics would reappear in different form on later albums. Conceptual continuity clues are found throughout Zappa's entire Ĺ“uvre.
posted by jne1813 at 12:57 AM on July 18, 2008

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