Today the AV Club has a feature up on enjoyable novelty songs that namechecks (among others) the sitcom-created boyband 2ge+her, the musical works of Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and Barnes & Barnes’ seminal “Fish Heads,” not to mention good old “Weird Al” Yankovic. Any discussion of novelty songs in the context of the New York metro area, though, takes me back to the first decade or so of the top-40 powerhouse Z100, where the Scott Shannon-led Morning Zoo would keep things moving by sprinkling in funny tracks among the Madonna, Prince, and George Michael. (They would also play not-as-humorous novelty songs like “Dear Mr. Jesus” when things Got Serious, but that’s another topic for another blog post.) After the jump, a few that I can still sing along with today.
Benny Bell, “Shaving Cream”
The most FCC-flouting song played on Z100 was this old-timey ode to nearly stepping in it, which was penned in 1946 and which sounded pretty much nothing like anything else on the station’s playlist at the time. (The Squirrel Nut Zippers’ heyday wouldn’t come until 10 years later.)
Shawn Brown, “Rappin’ Duke”
Will “old white people rapping” ever not be seen as funny by a certain segment of the population? Maybe not until Eminem hits 70. (See also: “Honeymooners Rap.”) For a while I thought the “Ponderosa” referenced here was the steakhouse chain, because I was, you know, eight.
Jump N’ The Saddle, “The Curly Shuffle”
This ode to the Three Stooges was particularly popular in 1986, when it became something of a rallying cry for Mets fans; why the team didn’t have it on the list of eighth-inning singalongs during that promotion that wound up Rickrolling the team a couple of years back is anyone’s guess, although God knows that’s sort of low on the totem pole of bad decisions by the offices in Flushing in recent years. Z100 also produced a Mets-centric version that seems to have disappeared from the Internet entirely, which is a shame, because it at least makes a nice counterpart to the butt-rockin’, gear-shift-key-changin’ “Let’s Go Mets.”
Rick Dees, “Eat My Shorts”
This extended kiss-off, which Z100 and other adopters of the “morning zoo” format would use to soundtrack people telling others to “choke on the cotton,” is not a good song at all; it’s a gloppy ballad chronicling a relationship’s particularly drawn-out, middle-finger-festooned end.
Bob Rivers, “The 12 Pains Of Christmas”
Christmas novelty songs sprung up like radio kudzu back in the first blush of the top-40 era thanks to stunts like Z100’s “24 Hours Of Christmas”; songs like “New Kids Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” “Rusty Chevrolet” and so on were tailor-made to provide a bit of levity among the oh-so-solemn performances of “The Little Drummer Boy.” But my favorite has to be this reworking of “The 12 Days Of Christmas,” which even now has me in splits by the time they get to the kid who wants a Transformer. (Some themes are just timeless, you know?)
(True story: I was barred from listening to morning drive-time Z100 for a portion of my youth because of their Dirty Joke Of The Day, about which my mother wrote a sternly worded letter to the station. The station responded with a package, addressed to me, filled with Z100-branded swag. It was not, as you might expect, kindly received by my mother, although I thought it was kind of awesome.)