Friday, September 4, 2009

The glory of Niche...

The last few of my posts have been rather ... heavy-handed. I am determined to alter that, especially because I myself am no longer feeling heavy-handed. It's amazing what temporary employment and airplane tickets can do ...

This morning, my beautiful, intelligent girlfriend with impeccable taste posted a simple little lyric as her facebook status:

her name was Lola ...

This four word phrase launched a panoply of responses (most of them from me), everything from continuing the lyrics to this little Barry Manilow gem, to some discussion over the lyrics of Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London, to a discussion about cabbage. You know, this really defies explanation. I'll just post an excerpt [this is entirely true, btw ... I copy and pasted everything - the original names are reduced to protect the victims]:


and while she tried to be a star, Tony always tended bar...

no....just wishful thinking....hoping that if i introduced that one, everyone would forget about barry manilow, aka boring marshmallow...

but they didn't meet in a bar in old Soho

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain

was his hair perfect?

What is wrong with you two? Oooohhh, the humanity.... PS: Please stop.

It was! I'd like to meet his tailor...

"His hair was PERFECT?" I always thought it was "His hair was PURPLE."

T!! Just like you thought the Dylan song had "Rosemary fixed her hair & took a CABBAGE into town"!!!

Dates with cabbages can be very formal. Perhaps doing your hair is a wise thing to do

unless you don't like cabbage ...

Who would take a carriage on a date? They're terrible conversationalists and you always have to pick up the tab!

but carriages have horses, and girls like horses, ergo, carriages are very romantic.

That's Barry Manilow for you; bringing people together for random Friday insanity. But the song (Copacabana) made me think a little bit. It's really a niche song, right? It's a song about how a showgirl goes insane because her boyfriend, the bartender, is shot and killed by a member of the mob. Not exactly your every-day, run of the mill song of personal expression. I mean, Barry Manilow isn't exactly Elliott Smith, now, is he? But we all have niche songs that we love, right? As evidenced above, I'm a big fan of Werewolves of London - a song in which depicts a cool, hip werewolf terrorizing various parts of London, while looking for Lee Ho Fook's Beef Chow Mein dish. Awesome.

Let's define "Niche" first, shall we? As defined by the Merriam-Webster's Dictionary:

Niche: a specialized market

What I mean by saying "niche" in regard to these songs, is that while music (like theatre, film, books, etc) has many different genres of style, the content of the individual song is so specific, it can't be categorized as generically thematic song like, "love song" or "break-up song" or "life song;" in short, songs that are based on emotions (which, arguably, most are). Rather, niche songs tell a story - like the epic songs of old Viking Halls, or Medieval troubadours at courts. It's a style that's greatly gone out of fashion in the past 100+ years ... and while niche songs can be emotional, the point of them is not the emotion. (I can take anything slightly cool and make it really nerdy ... it's a special talent.)

And, let's face it. Post-modern niche songs are just a little weird.

But the beauty of niche songs is that weird absurdity. It's unifying! Don't want to listen to songs about suicide, excessive drug abuse, or a massively broken heart? Then niche songs are for you! I myself am a big fan of incredibly obscure niche songs, like this little Leonard Nimoy ditty:

Yes, that is, in fact, Leonard Nimoy. Singing about Hobbits. My college roommate, Leah, played me this song during my junior year, when it was REALLY obscure - this was before youtube ... so imagine my delight at realizing that there was an accompanying video!!

Sadly, not everyone shares my taste for wonderful obscurity. But let's look at some other more well known anthems:

Mr. Roboto (Close your eyes, Monkey!) - a song about a man hiding inside of a robot. [little known fact: the song, Mr. Roboto was written for Styx's concept album/rock opera Kilroy Was Here]

Stairway to Heaven - a song that not even the band can explain. A lady buys a stairway to heaven ... and "something about a bustle in the hedgegrow" ... I'd say it classifies as Niche. (in the intro to this video, Plant says, "I think this is a song of hope." Yeah ... okay.)

Bohemian Rhapsody - another song that the band can't (or won't) explain. But we know it's about a dude, who killed a man, and goes on the run. With a Scaramouch, doing the Fandango...

Now ... I defy anyone to tell me that these last three songs - Mr. Roboto, Stairway to Heaven, and Bohemian Rhapsody - are not sung at the tops of karaoke patron's lungs ... and I mean the whole bloody bar is up, singing like the asylum patients in Marat/Sade. EVERYONE knows these songs, and 99% of people love them.

The other 1% is reserved for people like my girlfriend, who hates Mr. Roboto with the ire of Beelzebub.

If anyone has any awesomely obscure songs, send them my way!
This blog post was brought to you by:

Rubio's Baja Grill
Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Leonard Nimoy


Phoenix said...

This randomness is so fantastic...I've noticed that Tenacious D tends to bring people together too. Particularly "Fuck her Gently."