Top Ten Musical Ironies


  1. U2, “Pop” – Pop is, of course, short for “popular”, yet this was U2’s worst-selling and most critically disappointing album ever.
  2. The Beatles, With A Little Help From My Friends. The song is sung by Ringo Starr, who is a fine drummer but a crappy singer. (Actually, he’s not even that great a drummer – John Lennon was once asked if he thought Ringo Starr was the best drummer in the world. John replied “He’s not even the best drummer in the band“, referring to Paul McCartney. But I digress.) He would never have been famous without a lot of help from his friends John, Paul, and George. The real irony is the first line of the song: Ringo sings “What would you think if I sang out of tune?”.
  3. Alanis Morrisette – Ironic – A song called Ironic containing no irony is itself ironic.
  4. Nirvana, Come As You Are – Kurt Cobain singing “I swear that I don’t have a gun” was the inspiration for this list.
  5. Various, Jingle Bell Rock and Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree. They use the word “Rock” in the title, but they are not rock. Not even close. As I’ve said once before, if Rrrrrandy Travis can sing Jingle Bell Rock without changing either his style or the song’s style, it’s not rock.
  6. Five for Fighting. The band name implies strength and toughness (dare I say truculence?), but all of their songs (that I’ve heard) can only be described as “soft rock” – in other words, wimpy and lame. More like two for unsportsmanlike diving.
  7. Yoko Ono. She doesn’t play any instrument – I’ve seen video of her pretending to play the keyboard (finger-syncing?) at a John Lennon concert as well as playing an electric keyboard that was not plugged in. Her singing makes Ringo Starr sound like Freddie Mercury. Yet she was married to one of the most talented musicians and songwriters of the rock era. And he thought she was supremely talented.
  8. John Mellencamp, Pop Singer. Apparently John “never wanted to be no pop singer, never wanted to write no pop song” but he is and he has. Several of them. Incidentally, if you ever get the chance to see Mellencamp live, do it. I’ve seen him a few times (and missed another concert a couple of years ago), and he always puts on a great show.
  9. Extreme, More Than Words. Sounds like a slow romantic ballad about true love (performed by a hair metal band, although that’s not the ironic part). This was even a popular wedding song in the early-mid 90’s. The irony is that is you listen to the lyrics, the idea of the song is not “I love you so much that I don’t have to say the words“, but “If you love me, you’d show me by having sex with me instead of saying the words.” Songwriters Nuno Bettencourt and Gary Cherone (aside: as soon as this article, containing that name, is posted to the internet, long-time Van Halen fans around the world will shudder and not know why) have admitted that the song is about sex. Likely not the kind of message you’d want to give at your wedding.
  10. Linda Ronstadt. She has certainly been successful for a long time, with Grammys and gold records and such, but at one point in the early 70’s, her backing band consisted of four guys named Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon. They went on to form The Eagles, who became far more popular than Ronstadt ever was.
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