Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2003 / 28 Teves, 5763
Farewell to novelty
I don't know how I missed it, but another international sensation has
passed me by. "The Ketchup Song, Hey Hah" performed by three Spanish
Sisters called "Las Ketchup" apparently burned up the dance charts all
over Europe, and even tried to become the new Macarena here, with little
success, I suspect. At least I don't see five and six year olds doing
the ketchup on the playgrounds, a surefire novelty song hit harbinger.
Of course we have just passed Christmas season, when the airwaves are
filled with novelty songs-"Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer," "All I
want for Christmas are my two front teeth," "Frosty the Snowman," etc.
And they tend to suck all the air out of the novelty song room, but
still, I wonder, is the novelty song an endangered species?
Sure there was "Who Let the Dogs Out?" from a few years back, but was
that woof woof answering chorus actually the death rattle of the novelty
single? Say, that's pretty good writing. Let's repeat that. Was that
woof woof answering chorus actually the death rattle of the novelty single?
Nowadays, a novelty song doesn't have a prayer unless it can be
incorporated into sporting events-"Who Let the Dogs Out," "We are the
Champions," "We are Family," and so forth.
But there was a time when willfully silly songs would appear on the top
ten charts every other month, tunes like "Polka Dot Bikini," "Purple
People Eater," "They're Coming to Take Me Away (Ha Ha)," "I'm My own
Grandpa," "Monster Mash," "How Much is That Doggy in the Window," and
"Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy's Chowder."
There are no willfully silly songs any more, just inadvertently silly
ones, like "The Thong Song." .
And even the neo-bubble gum silliness of the past few years has gone
away-no more Back Street Boys, or N Synch. There's a Britney backlash.
Believe me, Avril Lavigne will never fill those shoes. Besides, she's
I miss the oddities radio used to offer. I miss "Ballad of the Green
Berets," "Ode to Billie Joe," "Convoy," "Ringo"- anything by Alvin and
the Chipmunks really. You have to listen to Disney Radio to hear any of
this stuff any more, and they re-do all the lyrics so they're about
Disney characters. It's creepy, rather cult-like.
I guess I'm feeling kind of wistful. You know what America needs?
America needs a goofball in bib overalls and a banjo singing songs in a
fake Swedish accent about teepeeing outhouses. That's what America
Oh, yeah, we gotta find Bin Laden too, I guess.
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JWR contributor Ian Shoales is the author of, among others, Not Wet Yet: An Anthology of Commentary. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Ian Shoales