To me, one of the most fun parts about music is noticing trends in your own listening habits. For instance, I’ve often found that I’m willing to make lyrical concessions if the melody is particularly good. I can think of no better examples of this than the mix I’m about to present to you. The following songs all contain great uses of nonsense syllables, ranging from la las to uh ohs. Some might be a bit silly, but I can promise you that you’ll find at least one to sing along to. Special thanks to my good buddy Austin for helping me put this together.
You Aint No Picasso Mix: Nonsense Syllables
MP3: Elf Power – Hot Love (la la)
The last two minutes and thirty-six seconds of this song consist only of “la la” and the occasional “ooh.” Let that sink in for a second. You know you’ve written a great melody when over half the song can be nothing but nonsense. Crank up the volume and force this cover of a T Rex classic upon your neighbors. Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.
MP3: Talking Heads – Pulled Up (oh oh)
It was a toss up between this song and “Psycho Killer” for the best use of oh ohs by David Byrne.
MP3: Thunderbirds Are Now – Make History (ba da)
The main portion of this song is among the best that TAN! have ever written. But where it separates itself from the rest of their songs is the outro. The last minute contains one of the most catchy nonsense melodies that I’ve ever heard.
MP3: Suburban Kids With Biblical Names – Rent a Wreck (ba ba)
Is this not the cutest intro ever? The “ba da ba” melody perfectly kicks this song off and sets the tone quite nicely. Also, there’s a great contrast between the opening, quiet ba das and then the explosive second time through.
MP3: Oh No! Oh My! – Walk in the Park (bap da bop)
While they serve more as a nice transition between verses, the ba da bops in this song couldn’t be left off the list.
MP3: The 5 6 7 8s – Woo Hoo (woo hoo)
While I originally heard and fell in love with this song through Kill Bill, I can’t hear it now without thinking Vonage. Even so, it has literally no words in it, giving it the highest nonsense rating of all these songs.
MP3: XTC – Too Many Cooks (ba ba ba)
I’m not sure that there’s a better way to start off a song than to kick it off with with some great nonsense lyrics. Thanks to XTC for practically writing the book on melody and nonsense.
MP3: Parlour Boys – Lovers (uh oh)
Much like TAN!’s “Make History,” this song really won me over with the outro. Hearing the ‘uh oh’ bit done live is always a blast as well.
MP3: Belle and Sebastian – We Are The Sleepyheads (ba ta da)
While the rest of this song might be fairly lame by B&S standards, the use of ba ta das keep it from being a complete let down.
MP3: Pavement – Cut Your Hair (ooh ooh ooh)
If you know me in real life, there’s a startlingly good chance that you’ve heard me do an off-key rendition of the intro to this song. I haven’t got the range of Malkmus, but it’s okay. No one can write ’em like he does anyway.
So now that you’ve read it, feel free to tell me what songs you think should have been included on the list.