Self-Descriptive Song Titles

I totally enjoyed the recent essay by Chris Molanphy (a friend of Rule Forty-Two) about Taylor Swift’s “Blank Spaces,” part of his excellent ongoing series for Slate on the songs that top the pop charts. This sentence jumped out at me:

It’s rare that a chart-topping hit’s title actually alludes to what the song itself sounds like—imagine if “When Doves Cry” were titled “Bass-less Confessional” or “Faith” called “Stuttering Rockabilly.”

This is more fun than imagining a world with no possessions! Restricting myself to #1 singles from the ’80s, I suggest Peter Gabriel’s “Recycled Otis Redding Riff” (originally “Sledgehammer”),  Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Bloopy Synthesizer” (formerly “Wishing Well”) and UB40’s “Leaden Reggae” (né “Red Red Wine”). (In a perfect world, I would be a Photoshop wizard who could remake the single sleeves with their new titles. But I am not.)

So how would you rename other singles?

posted 4 December 2014 in Links and tagged , . 3 comments

3 Comments on Self-Descriptive Song Titles

  1. Chris Molanphy Says:

    Well we should probably start with Kurt Cobain’s own description of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” as “That Pixies Song.”

  2. Chris Molanphy Says:

    Sticking to No. 1 hits of the ’80s…I covered two of the 10 Billboard Hot 100 songs of the year (“Doves” is tops for ’84, “Faith” for ’88); so here are suggestions for the others:

    “Call Me” (1980): “Coke-Fueled Electro”
    “Bette Davis Eyes” (1981): “Shimmering Sultriness”
    “Physical” (1982): “Perky Workout”
    “Every Breath You Take” (1983): “Moody Surveillance”
    “Careless Whisper” (1985): “Saxy Regretfulness”
    “That’s What Friends Are For” (1986): “Supportiveness Lite”
    “Walk Like an Egyptian” (1987): “Quirky Strut”
    “Look Away” (1989): “Faceless Midtemo Ballad”

  3. Gavin Says:

    Love these! For some reason, I find it easier to come up with names that reflect their role in society: e.g., the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” should be renamed “Future Scorsese Staple.”

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