More Confusing Song Titles

Treble ClefOriginally Published 20 November 2004

Some time ago we ran a Good/Bad/Ugly article called Confusing Song Titles, which naturally rated songs that have titles that don’t make sense, songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35.” As it happens only six such songs were rated in that article. That’s more items than the typical G/B/U rating includes, but in this case, it’s not nearly enough. There are so many more misnamed songs out there just waiting for the G/B/U treatment. It’s time for more.

“Song 2” by Blur: You probably know this better as “Whoohoo” which is of course a terrible name for a song. Not to say that “Song 2” is any better, actually, but that is the actual title. The biggest hit ever for Blur, and possibly the most memorable song of the mid-90s British Incursion, it was later used to sell everything from cars to beer, and has become a staple on the roster of post-goal hockey celebration songs. What is most amusing about this song is that it is actually a parody of grunge music, only played with more skill than most grunge bands could ever muster. That is the result when a band consists of musicians that are actually Good.

“Bizarre Love Triangle” by New Order: New Order was one of those bands that liked using unlikely names for songs. Not being an expert on New Order, or even a what could be called a fan of New Order, I can’t say whether they wrote songs and just put on titles that sounded neat, or if they went for a title that they felt was fitting for the mood or subject of the song, while making sure that none of the words in the title were actually in the song. With some of their songs, the latter seems to be a feasible explanation. Not so much with this one. This song should really be called “Every time I see you falling I get down on my knees and pray.” That’s way too long, so “Every time I see you falling,” would be a good choice. Or maybe “Every time” or “Falling.” But no, they went with “Bizarre Love Triangle.” Now that it’s called that, it’s hard to imagine it called anything else, so maybe it’s a Good name after all.

“1979” by The Smashing Pumpkins: I never was a fan of the Pumpkins, but with the amount of play this song was given, I heard it as much as anyone, and never understood why it was called 1979. Of course, I don’t understand why most of the songs here are called what they are (In fact, that’s the main reason that these songs are listed in this article). Naming songs in an unconventional manner is one of the strong points of the Smashing Pumpkins, as anyone who knows that “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” isn’t called “Rat in a Cage” will tell you. “1979”, though, really takes this to a new level, a level only previously attained by Bob Dylan with “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” and by Fiona Apple when she used 92 words to name an album, which everyone just abbreviated to “When the Pawn” because 92 words is just ridiculous. Ridiculous and Bad.

“Baba O’Reilly” by The Who: You’ve heard this song lately, but you probably don’t realize it. Have you seen CSI: New York? Yes, yes, it’s not as good as the other two CSI shows, but have you seen it? More importantly, have you seen the opening credits? The requisite Who song for this latest edition of TVs hottest show is “Baba O’Reilly.” No, it’s not called “Teenage Wasteland” because that would be a terrible name for a song. That said, “Baba O’Reilly” is not much better. And who thought that a song that starts with “Out here in the fields” was a good choice for CSI: New York? They should have saved it for CSI: Omaha. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great song, but the title is way, way too inside. A little research leads me to believe that it comes from two names put together, namely Pete Townshend’s spiritual guru Meher Baba, and Terry Riley, an electronic music composer. That’s just wonderful. It’s fortunate that more musicians don’t name songs after people that may have in some way inspired them to write the songs. By this logic, “American Pie” could have been called “Holly Kennedy.” Yeah, that would be pretty Bad.

“Key West Intermezzo” by John Mellencamp: Sometimes a song comes along from an established artist with an extensive body of work that doesn’t really sound much like his previous work. Sometimes a song of this nature can be brilliant. This is not one of these times. This song, which is better known as “I Saw You First” is actually pretty awful. It invokes an image of the singer half-sloshed and hanging out in a bar in Key West, noticing an attractive woman, and then complaining because she’s with someone else. Yes, this is a new high for the man who wrote such songs as “Jack and Diane,” “Small Town” and “Pink Houses.”
Let’s ignore the content of the song itself, and let’s ignore the first two words of the title. This leaves us with Intermezzo. An intermezzo is a short musical segment between two more significant parts, such as what might go between two acts of a drama or opera. So what does this song go between? Well, not owning the album, I have no idea, but a few years ago it was a fairly well used staple on light rock radio, so you could probably find it between Michael Bolton and the three day forecast. That’s Ugly all around.