Confusing Song Titles

Treble ClefOriginally posted 11 April 2001

It should have been decreed at the advent of pop music back in the 50s that songs would have titles that made sense, but apparently this was never done. Granted, most songs do have logical titles, usually being the most repeated lyric in the song, or a word that is used in the song a lot, or someone’s name that the song is about. Most songs when you hear them for the first time you can listen and have a fairly good idea what the title is. This rule doesn’t apply to instrumental stuff (you just have to remember that it’s called “Classical Gas”) but if it has lyrics, the title should be fairly obvious. But that’s not always the case. Today I’m rating the titles of some songs that don’t comply with this convention. Note that I’m not rating the songs themselves, just the titles and their appropriateness. Are we clear on that?

Rainy Day Women #12 and 35by Bob Dylan: Let’s start with the worst offender. You might know this song as “Everybody Must Get Stoned” but it’s not a drug song. It’s not about drugs, okay? That aside, this title is so far from the song that I can’t imagine how Dylan convinced record label execs to let him name the song this. I could see maybe getting away with simply “Rainy Day Women” but no one but Bob Dylan could get away with calling a song “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” Well, maybe Beck. Not that it matters, this is one Ugly title.

“Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba: I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never going to make me write a good song title. Well, maybe not never, as Chumbawamba’s second song which never really made it as a hit “Amnesia” actually had stuff to say about memory loss, but I digress. As far as the meaning, apparently to tubthump means to vigorously and loudly support something, or possibly to jump on a bandwagon. So in context of the lyrics, it sorta makes a bit of sense, although it’s still a pretty Bad title.

Rockafeller Skankby Fatboy Slim: Hi, I’m Fatboy Slim’s “Rockafeller Skank” but you might remember me as “Funk Soul Brother” or “Right About Now.” I’m willing to bet that most people out there are scratching their heads and saying “No, that song really is called “Funk Soul Brother” because I went to my Napster replacement of choice and put that in and found 50 copies of the song in three seconds, so you’re wrong on this one, Marko.” Well, you’re forgotting the number one unwritten rule of this site, which I can forgive you for, since it’s not been written down before, which is Marko is always right.  So stop scratching your head and repeat after me: Marko is right, the song is really called Rockafeller Skank. Okay, everyone done that? No? Go back and do it. Say it out loud. And you wonder why I once named this place After all that hassle, I’m going to give this one a thumbs up, because let’s face it, “Rockafeller Skank” is a cool title, and therefore Good. For the record, “Funk Soul Brother” would also be a good title, if only the song were called that.

Santa Monicaby Everclear: AKA “Watch the World Die,” this was Everclear’s first of several radio hits. Not bad for a band named after an alcoholic beverage. Matthew’s Southern Comfort only had one hit that I can think of, and it was a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock.” Now, personally I think that “Watch the World Die” is a perfectly good song title, although it’s a bit of a downer. Actually it’s a big downer. Watching the world die doesn’t sound fun at all. In fact it sounds Bad.

Astounded” by Bran Van 3000: I’m willing to bet that everyone has heard this on the radio and has no idea that it’s not called “All I Wanna Do Is Love You.” Or at least everyone who isn’t a fan of Bran Van 3000, which might be just about the silliest name for a band this side of Russell Crowe’s 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, which of course no one would have ever heard of if Russell Crowe hadn’t risen to the top of the Hollywood A List faster than a beach ball dragged to the bottom of the deep end of a swimming pool and then released. But I’m digressing in the middle of my digression, and nested digress might be a bit much, no? Anyway, “Astounded” is a cool song with a completely unrelated title. The full album version is a lot better than the radio version, which is often the case, because someone decided that six minutes was far too long to play on the abomination which is “lite rock” radio. Editing down good songs for the radio annoys me. I think it’s downright Ugly.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen: It’s the late ‘70s, and you’re a big fan of Queen. Would you want to listen to a song called “Nothing Really Matters” or perhaps “Any Way the Wind Blows” or something similar? Maybe if you were into folk music (remember, grunge and angst pop hadn’t been invented by the late ‘70s), but probably not. But “Bohemian Rhapsody” is an intriguing name for a song, and when compared to “Any Way the Wind Blows” it’s a lot better. I’d have to say it’s Good.

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