After just finishing Season Two of Ted Lasso on AppleTV, I was struck by several things; One, the show was incredible. Two, after each episode I felt good. Three, I was emotionally invested in a comedy, something I haven’t had since maybe, The Wonder Years(the original). It was a show that once you started watching, you were drawn to the characters and except for one, loved them all. Very few shows make you feel good watching them and to put it in context, Succession on HBO is the exact opposite, you loath every character and wish them ill. Sure it grabs you but I am not sure that is what we need right now. We need more Ted Lasso’s.
Sort of in this vein I would like to explore some music that you feel good listening to. Music that has an infectious beat or fun lyrics. Songs that allow a reprieve from such disturbing times.
Let’s start with an underrated band that produced some of greatest music of the 60’s and early 70’s, The Kinks. Ray Davies and to a lesser extent, his brother Dave, wrote some of the catchiest songs of the era and their songs were usually a little more subversive than you would expect for the time. Their catalog is loaded with potential inclusions for this list but I am going to go with “Apeman” Not only are the lyrics hysterical, the music is catchy in a way that it doesn’t leave you. This song has as much relevance now as it did back then. A big up yours to the establishment by one of Englands most popular bands.
Next is Archie Bell and the Drells from Houston, Texas, who don’t only sing but dance as good as they want, doing the “Tighten Up”. This is just a very catchy song that has no political meaning what so ever but you just can’t help loving when the bass player “Tightens Up”. The recording sounds like it was done in a basement studio and done in one take but who cares, it’s a fun song that you just have to smile while listening.
Going in a different direction and just based on the lyrics I would have to say that AC/DC’s “Big Balls” would be another song that will just make you smile. The double entendres work and being AC/DC you know its going to rock and feel a little dirty. Hey, it’s about enjoying the music and not thinking all that deep right?
Another song that may not be so happy go lucky but is still too funny is Guns N Roses “I Used To Love Her”. If that isn’t a song to make your mate sleep with one eye open I don’t know what is. This is another song that seems like the band just had some lyrics and and an idea of what the music would sound like and let the tape go.
Here is another hard rocker and I am not really reaching very far into the archives but “Ice Cream Man” by Van Halen is another fun, simple rocking song. You can talk about Eddie Van Halen’s guitar skills all you want, he was also an incredible songwriter and along with David Lee Roth, they could turn a Funeral march into a good time. They were party boys first, musicians second and there were a lot of songs to chose from but at the end of the day, I love this song and it always makes me smile.
Digging a little deeper, I want to add “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House” by LCD Soundsystem. I will be honest, I had never heard of the group until one day I heard on one of my Sirius Channels that the group was calling it quits after 15 years. Huh? They were a Brooklyn band that I had never even heard of (guess I am not as in touch as I thought) and they had this very cool song and I was the last to hear it. Anyway, give it a listen and you can just see the Frat parties and local kids all gearing up for some beer fest after the first verse. I do know of Daft Punk so I am not that lost.
Keeping in that alternative vain, Soul Coughing’s “Super Bon Bon” is an infectious song that makes absolutely no sense but I guarantee you will play it and replay it over and over again. The video is weirdly fun and like the song, makes no sense but it is also something you you will watch repeatedly. I am sure if I actually dissected this song I would understand it but why bother?
Want some head-banging? Revisit the Pat Traver’s Band”s version of “Boom Boom”. Hard driving and slightly misogynistic this song is five minutes of hard driving boogie woogie.
Speaking of Boogie Woogie, get the long version of Long John Baldry’s version of “Don't Try To Lay No Boogie-Woogie On The King of Rock & Roll”. It’s exhausting as well as fun. It’s is a Baldry short story put to music. The narrative has nothing on the song.
Like the Kinks, The B-52s wrote some of the most innovative lyrics of the late 70’2 and 80’s. I could mention at least six songs that you can listen to time and time again and smile, but, I have to pick one and I love “Legal Tender”. It doesn’t rank up there with the other successful songs but listen to the lyrics and I am sure you will get a kick out of it. Kate Pierson and her friends are “In the basement learning to print”.
Putting on my overalls and getting a piece of straw, I head down South and there are a ton of songs that could fit my criteria but the thing about my lists, I try to reopen doors that may have closed a long time ago. I was never a big fan of this band but this song was just a wild romp and I thought it would be fun to mention it. Black Oak Arkansas’s “Jim Dandy”.
As is my tendency, I try to pull a song or two out of that black hole of music, the early 80’s and one that sticks out is “Lies” from the Thompson Twins. It’s very catchy, and has these little interludes of regionality throughout the song. The Thompson twins were the epitome of that era, big hair, danceable tracks but they did produce a couple of interesting songs and I just can’t leave any genre out.
Alright, here is another one from that era, loosely. Blur’s “Girls and Boys” might not be everyones favorite because trying to figure out if it’s a straight song about gays, or a gay song about straights or neither. It’s just very catchy and you have to smile listening to it.
This song probably doesn’t fit into the vein of this Substack but I have listened to it enough to know that every time I have listened to it I know I always come away smiling. You can call me on it. Cheap Trick’s “Gonna Raise Hell” is a nine minute power song with some sort of vague message about secrets and clues and the singer knows something. Who cares? It’s one of Cheap Trick best songs and is rarely ever mentioned or heard, so here it is.
Reeling it back a few decades I could probably pick any number of songs by The Who and include them here. Like the Kinks they had a typical British sense of humor and Pete Townsend is probably one of the best songwriters alive today. I picked “Going Mobile” from Who’s Next not because it is the funniest song they have ever written or the bounciest but because given it’s placement on Who’s Next (Which as you know is one of the greatest rock albums ever) shows the bands understanding that there needed to be something more stripped down and fun. You could argue that “Pure and Easy” may fit that role better but seriously, any song that describes the singer as “an air conditioned gypsy” has to be included.
Bitch and moan about this list all you want. I know there are hundreds of songs out there that could be included and I would love to hear from you on what you think I missed. The song I will leave you with is a little ditty I dressed in drag and danced to at one of my daughters recitals with six other fathers. Not only does this song bring back incredible memories it also is just fun to listen to. Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy”, is literally one of the funniest songs ever recorded and the music just wants to make you get on stage and dress as Marlyn Monroe and dance.