Hey there! Welcome to Teatro Triste del Clown.
This site started out as something else and then a few years ago, we got it into our head that we were going to write about every song in our music collection. Memo and I have been doing this for years – I’m going forward in the alphabet and just recently started on the letter J and Memo, as it happens, is also on the letter J. As of this writing. It might be a while before I update this pinned announcement again, so, well, yeah.
For a brief overview of my limitations as a music writer, click here. Memo writes with considerably more intelligence than I!
Our Webmaster, Christoph, joins us from time to time.
The Index of what we’ve done so far keeps growing.
If you’re interested in joining us, drop me a line.
Word sync video:
Coulton plays with a bunch of different styles during Thing a Week. “Drive” sounds like his attempt at an electronic dance track. Coulton has stated that its his least favorite song of this entire collection. Its not necessarily awful, but its hardly memorable.
The folksy, silly “Furry Old Lobster” was inspired by Coulton’s friend (and well loved comedian) John Hodgman. Hodgman apparently wrote a funny thing claiming that the original lobsters were furry otter-like creatures that were wiped out by the hardshell variety we now know. It really does sound like an authentic folk tune, though the title also sounds like it might be a dirty joke.
It is not.
World of Warcraft video:
Coulton is allegedly joined by four prominent podcast hosts on “Podsafe Christmas Song.” Apparently, people who run podcasts are often looking for music that isn’t under copyright to include in their broadcasts. This kind of music is referred to as podsafe. In 2006, Coulton was asked to create a podsafe Christmas song and this Alvin and the Chipmunks parody is the result.
Coulton goes much more into depth about podsafe music and how this became a way for him to get more exposure for his songs at his blog.
This is a charming little parody and one that has gotten completely stuck in my head even though its July. Its not the most festive tune, but the phrase “we don’t want to get sued by the thugs at the RIAA” warms the cockles of my heart.
Fan video with misspelled title:
On the one hand, “The Town Crotch” sort of captures a Hold Steady-esque picture of townie life, albeit with a more soft rock melody. There’s a sense of melancholy and nostalgia as the narrator of the song looks back on his youthful days of partying and his encounter with the titular loose woman. The “I remember the town crotch” refrain suggests that, despite her reputation, she stands out in his mind – in this case for being kind to him (in what seems to be a non-sexual way) one night.
On the other hand, something about the song makes me feel a little uncomfortable – specifically the identification of the heroine as “The Town Crotch.” While it turns out that name is more reputation than reality, its still a pretty uncomfortable way to characterize a woman. As if all she is is her crotch.
Fortunately, the song doesn’t end with her living up to that reputation, so there’s a sense of irony to it. I’m starting to learn that there are a whole lot of people out there incapable of recognizing irony, though, and using songs like this as “yeah bro!” anthems. Not Coulton’s fault – you can’t control what happens to a song (including how its interpreted) when its released into the wild.
“Sibling Rivalry” is a song built from samples from a competitive reality TV show voice over. Well, at least that’s how it sounds.
Coulton writes extensively about his process for “Sibling Rivalry.” According to him, he created this despite a lack of time, energy or ideas more or less because he had to finish something to stay on task with his project.
As somebody who occasionally writes using that technique, I can state with some certainty that you can really produce some amazing and some awful things doing that. “Sibling Rivalry” has some interesting ideas and moments, though I agree with Coulton that it will never be a “beloved favorite.”
I love the Devo-like guitar riff that opens and supports “Brand New Sucker.” Coulton writes that this song had been composed and recorded earlier but that he’d been unsatisfied with the lyrics and, thus, took this opportunity to re-record the songs.
It sounds like he feels he was cheating or at least changing the rules by not writing a new song every week, but it was his project so he had the right to do whatever he wanted with it. Recording a song every week is just as daunting as writing one, so I would never hold this against me.
Coulton breaks out his banjo for “Someone Is Crazy,” a piss and vinegar verbal attack on an ex-girlfriend, possibly fictional. The lyrics are a mean delight and the song is punk rock in the best way in its economy and performance (it feels like he’s barely keeping it together to me, but he does keep it together).
Its fascinating reading some of Coulton’s blog entries on his project. You get a real sense of his process in general and how the success of “Baby Got Back” hampered with his composition of this tune in specific. Neat!
For week #5 of Thing A Week, Coulton decided to compose a new melody for “Baby Got Back” and promptly broke the Internet. Coulton’s folksy version of this pop classic got linked everywhere and brought a ton of attention to Coulton and his project right at the project’s start. Well played, sir!
Coulton amusingly blogs about the impact covering this song had on his career. It sounds like he went from no web traffic to traffic and back to no web traffic in about a week. That’s the 21st century, people.
This song also ended up being the subject of a bit of controversy regarding the TV show Glee – The Onion A/V Club touches on this here and you can check out the information on this situation at some of the earlier links, too. It basically sounds like the Glee people were a bunch of douches.
I’m 50/50 on this song. I remember well when it came out. I feel like it kicked off a wave of ironic covers of songs which swiftly grew tiresome. On the other hand, Coulton really composed a pretty convincing soft rock melody and the backing vocals are sublime.
Kinetic Type Video:
“Shop Vac” was the first of Coulton’s songs that really caught my imagination. Its a genuinely fantastic song. Not only is it catchy as hell, but the lyrics manage to walk the line between funny and heartbreaking. The song is in essence about a family that moves into a nice little neighborhood and slowly realizes the emptiness of their existence and that they’re trapped in it forever. The only solace the husband has is being down in his shop drowning out the sadness of his existence with his shop vac.
This sounds like a real downer, but Coulton mixes a significant amount of humor into the piece and, as I mentioned, its catchy as all get out.
Reading his blog entry, I learn that the guitar solo was by a fan. When he first released it, it was without the solo and he asked his readers to submit 8-bars worth of solo. I love it – that’s a really nice solo.
This was week number 4 of his project and he’d already produced this little classic. And then, as Coulton points out on his blog, week number 5 happened…
“W’s Duty” takes samples of lines for speeches by then-President George W. Bush (mostly of him saying the word “duty” in such a way that it sounds like “doodee”) and sets them to a rock beat. Before I see what Coulton thinks of it, let me say that I think its a very effective sample-based song.
Now, venturing over to Coulton’s redux blog entry on this song and I’m delighted to learn the song is actually meant to be about poo. This makes it easily one of my top three favorite fecal tunes.