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Come up and make me smile…

Is music supposed to be funny? Well, here are a few songs that make me smile, mildly amuse me, or even make me laugh out loud:

Ben Folds – Rockin” The Suburbs (live).mp3 (left click)
Mr Folds doesn’t like the “belly-aching rock stars” who go on and on about their pain. “Rockin‘ The Suburbs” was aimed at the Limp Bizkits and Kid Rocks who set the emo template. In this live version, from the Songs For Goldfish EP, Mr Folds launches into a Fred Durst imitation that just ro-aw-aw-aw-aw-aw-cks.

Barenaked Ladies – If I Had $1000000.mp3 (left click)
The music may be ho-hum at times, but lyrically Barenaked Ladies come up with lovely little turns and twists of phrases. This song has a succession of them: why would a green dress be cruel?

Paul Anka – Smells Like Teen Spirit.mp3
Paul Anka – Jump.mp3

The legendary crooner certainly wasn’t the first to do lounge versions of rock hits, but his 2005 album Rock Swings was one of the finest efforts in the genre. Unlike Richard Cheese (below), Anka took the songs very seriously, giving them a big band treatment that sometimes worked, and sometimes didn’t. On the Nirvana song, Anka walked a tightrope. When I first heard it I almost fainted with laughter as I finger-clicked to Anka“s jaunty, non-emoting phrasing of “With the lights out, it’s less dangerous…” On “Jump”, on the other hand, Anka shows why the Van Halen hit is really a swing number.

Richard Cheese – Sunday, Bloody Sunday.mp3
Richard Cheese – Yellow.mp3
Richard Cheese – She Hates Me.mp3

Where Anka is doing the swinging rock sincerely, Richard Cheese (not his real name, you”ll be pleased to learn) takes the piss by way of sometimes startlingly brilliant lounge jazz renditions of rock, pop and hip hop songs. He even perks up Joy Division. In Cheese”s rhumba-ing hands, U2″s earnest “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” now contains the immortal line, “Tonight we fiesta, while tomorrow they die”. Heh! His version of “Yellow” is not just a novelty record; he turns Coldplay“s snivelling song of whine into a hell of a good swing standard.

The Gourds – Gin And Juice.mp3 Link fixed.
A bluegrass version of the Snoop song. The Gourds play it straight, hinting at no irony “” which, of course, is there in bundles. Not 5 minutes of LOL, one is more likely to admire this version as inventive and actually pretty cool.

Jens Lekman – A Man Walks Into A Bar.mp3
Not a funny song at all. Jokes without punchlines set the scene for nostalgic reminiscences. A wonderful song. Download it!

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