Though an occasional “Stacey’s Mom” or “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” makes its way into the mainstream, today’s novelty song market is decidedly small. That’s arguably (well, probably) a good thing, but listening to the Ultimate 50’s Rockin’ Sci-Fi Disc makes me wonder, nonetheless, when and why rock and roll stopped being fun.
It’s a shortsighted question based on mostly personal observations, but think about it: how many contemporary pop-rock bands can you think of that sound like they’re having any fun on record? Cutting loose, goofing off, writing songs about aliens? I’m not about to knock anyone for taking rock music seriously–hell, we here at THE GUTTER take video games and comics pretty seriously–but where’s all the youthful exuberance gone? The joy of creation, even unremittingly goofy creation?
This might sound like displaced 50’s nostalgia talking, but it’s not: the perennially goofy Foo Fighters’ most recent release is a completely stone-faced (and mostly terrible) double album, and Weezer’s Raditude is far too aware of its own tween pandering to remind anyone of The Blue Album. AC/DC acolytes like Jet and Wolfmother came close to rocking for rock’s sake in the early ’00’s, but missed the point by sounding genuinely stupid and self-serious, rather than joking about it. In the last bastion of radio rock, the pop-punk scene, Green Day has regained some of its Dookie-era popularity with a political concept album, and Blink-182 and MXPX have been replaced by Yellowcard and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Seriously, what’s with the attitude?
But I digress…
Thankfully, The Ultimate 50’s Rockin’ Sci-Fi Disc does not take itself at all seriously. Most of the songs on this collection have better counterparts that don’t have stupid lyrics, but then, that’s kind of the point. These songs are the lightest of the light, respites even from the youthful rebellion of early rock n’ roll–they’re just good, clean fun. The one truly memorable track of the bunch, Jimmy Lloyd’s “Rocket in My Pocket”, rises above the rest precicely because it’s not really a novelty song at all–the “rocket” in question suggests a sexual deviance that the rest of the tracks don’t even touch.
If that didn’t sound like a recommendation, it should have. The Sci-Fi Disc is fun to listen to, to have, and to share with other people. You might not have it on heavy rotation, or pour your soul into it, but you aren’t supposed to. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s all Science Fiction! Pick it up from the awesome roots rock mp3 blog Rockin’ Daddy.
I know there have to be more awesome Sci-Fi songs out there. What are your favorites? Post them in the comments! I feel a first-ever GUTTER playlist coming on… For my part, The Dream’s “Walking on the Moon” seems to fit the bill perfectly. It’s not sex-free, but it’s loose, goofy, and all about space. Listen for one of Kanye’s silliest verses ever near the halfway point:
[For bonus points, was my music rant completely off base? Too general to disagree with? THE GUTTER isn’t exactly a music blog, but let’s make an exception.]