Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hochhauser, Sharon. “Take Me Down to the Parodies City: How Heavy Metal Swings.” Journal of Popular Music Studies 30 (March 2018): 61-78.

Reflexive parody is a genre of musical comedy that can, through the musical and comedic devices it employs, both honor and satirize an artist or genre of music. Comedy in music often employs musical borrowing, either in small-scale interjections or in large-scale musical structures like quodlibets, medleys, and parodies. Reflexive parodies are distinct in that they re-examine genre conventions by transposing song into a disconnected musical genre. Heavy metal and rat pack swing are two genres often paired together in reflexive parody, creating a vehicle for comedic points about virtue, vice, and masculinity. Richard Cheese (created by Mark Jonathan Davis) and Bud E. Luv (created by Robert Vickers) are two characters that perform “swankified” heavy metal music with an exaggerated rat pack lounge singer persona. In doing so, they strip away the imagery of hegemonic masculinity inherent to heavy metal and replace it with another form of exaggerated masculine imagery associate with 1950s swing. By poking holes in the self-seriousness of heavy metal, Davis and Vickers uncover the underlying musical quality of heavy metal. Humor is created in their acts in several ways. Recognition of the source material is treated as part of the joke, as are interjections of other familiar tunes. Lyrics are not usually altered, as the dissonance of a clean-cut lounge singer voicing brazen profanity is also comedic, but occasional in-character changes are made. Musical quotations from genres beyond heavy metal or swing can also heighten the comedic absurdity. For example, Richard Cheese’s version of Closer by Nine Inch Nails includes snippets of the theme to Sesame Street, Linus and Lucy, and Old MacDonald Had a Farm. Reflexive parody is different from genre reinterpretations in that it relies on the comedic mediator or buffer of the comedian’s persona. Self-reflexive humor, along with the interpretive space it opens up, emerges from the sum of its musical parts.

Works: Beatallica: Sandman (63); “Weird Al” Yankovic: Angry White Boy Polka (63); Tom Lehrer: The Elements (63); Tim Minchin: Beelz (64), Rock and Roll Nerd (64); Barenaked Ladies: Grade 9 (64); Robert Vickers (as Bud E. Luv): Iron Man (70), Paranoid (70), Whole Lotta Love/Free Bird (70); Mark Jonathan Davis (as Richard Cheese): I’m Only Happy When It Rains (70), Enter Sandman (70), Bust A Move (70), People Equals Shit (70-71), Welcome to the Jungle (71), Girls, Girls, Girls (71), Closer (71-72); Lee Presson and the Nails: Mr. Crowley (71).

Sources: The Beatles: Taxman (63); Metallica: Enter Sandman (63, 70); System of a Down: Chop Suey (63); Disturbed: Down With the Sickness (63); Arthur Sullivan (composer), W. S. Gilbert (lyricist): I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General from The Pirates of Penzance (63); Charlie Daniels: The Devil Went Down to Georgia (64); Rush: Tom Sawyer (64); Led Zeppelin: Stairway to Heaven (64); Garbage: I’m Only Happy When It Rains (70); Nacio Herb Brown (composer) and Arthur Freed (lyricist): Singing in the Rain (70); Pat Ballard: Mr. Sandman (70); Slipknot: People Equals Shit (70-71); Guns N’ Roses: Welcome to the Jungle (71); Solomon Linda: The Lion Sleeps Tonight (71); Mötley Crüe: Girls, Girls, Girls (71); Van Morrison: Brown Eyed Girl (71); Ozzy Osbourne Mr. Crowley (71); Europe: The Final Countdown (71); Nine Inch Nails: Closer (71-72); Joe Raposo (composer), Jon Stone, Bruce Hart, and Joe Raposo (lyricists): Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street (71-72); Vince Guaraldi: Linus and Lucy (71-72); Thomas d’Urfey (composer), Frederick Thomas Nettlingham (lyricist): Old MacDonald Had a Farm (71-72).

Index Classifications: 1900s, 2000s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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