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Walk Hard John C Reilly

Spoof Hard

10 Parody Songs That Totally Nailed It

Catch Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures/Everett Collection

As long as there’s been music, someone has been making fun of it. German composer Jakob Paix wrote a “parody mass” all the way back in 1587, and if I know anything about 16th century church music, it must have been hilarious. Still, it wasn’t until the last few decades that song spoofs became as much a part of our culture as the hits that spawn them. Whether you’re making fun of a radio hit that you can’t stop humming, or a whole genre of music that leaves you scratching your head, these joke songs give us a way to laugh at the music industry’s self-importance, while still loving them for it. Before you catch Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story this month on IFC, check out some funny songs that totally nailed the whole spoof thing.

10. “L.A. Deli,” Kroll Show

Comedian Nick Kroll is an expert at parodying the clusterf*ck we call pop culture these days, where no two-bit celebrity will ever be forgotten as long as they have their own reality show. That’s how we meet hair metal superstar Nash Rickey, fronting a show about his quest to get the old band back together. And what song propelled him to these middling heights of fading fame in the first place? None other than “L.A. Deli,” a pitch perfect spoof of the David Lee Roth era of music videos. Seedy ’80s L.A. nightlife? Check. Slice-of-life footage that shows some “boys will be boys” goofiness? Check. A perfectly coiffed lead singer sexualizing everything from matzo ball soup to pickles? Checkmate. This song is both funny and could easily have been a hit in 1987.


9.”A Mighty Wind is Blowin’,” A Mighty Wind

Christopher Guest is a master at lovingly sending up different genres of music, and A Mighty Wind shows his appreciation for the mellow eccentrics in the folk music scene. There are a number of great songs in the film, from “Never Did No Wanderin‘” to “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” but none straddle the chasm between parody and legit hit better than the title track, which has the complex harmonies and sprawling geographical lyrics of the best folk music from the 1960s. The movie’s soundtrack scored a Grammy back in 2004, further blurring the line between spoof and the genuine article.


8. “Straight Outta Locash,” CB4

Chris Rock got to play rap star in the 1993 cult hit CB4, sending up the gangster rap that had taken over the genre at the time. Rock played “MC Gusto,” a regular guy who takes on the hard persona of a felon to get ahead in the industry. That is never more evident than in “Straight Outta Locash,” a NSFW play on “Straight Out of Compton” where the “Cell Block 4” gang sings about their hard life on the streets from the safety of a soundstage.


7. “Catalina Breeze,” The Blue Jean Committee

Fred Armisen is a master of the musical homage, having created fake bands ranging from punk legends Ian Rubbish and the Bizzarros to the monsters of soft rock in the Blue Jean Committee. First introduced back on SNL, the band’s rise and fall was chronicled on the IFC series Documentary Now!. Fred and fellow BJC member Bill Hader actually released a music video for the song “Catalina Breeze” and a EP of tunes on the Drag City label. Put back a watered down wine cooler, light a schwaggy doobie, and give this one a super mellow listen.


6. “I’m on a Boat,” The Lonely Island

Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer have made a career out of creating hilarious songs and music videos that poke fun at hip hop tropes. One of their earliest SNL successes was this tribute to rappers and their obsession with hanging out on boats.


5. “Walk Hard,” Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

The music biopic, taking our Top 40 heroes through the rocky road of fame, is a movie staple these days. Walk Hard, coming hot on the heals of the one-two punch of Ray and Walk The Line, was a perfect spoof of the genre at a perfect time. John C. Reilly’s rendition of the title track nailed all the formulaic nonsense these movies celebrate, and it’s a catchy number to boot.


4. “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” 30 Rock

Tracy Morgan got a lifelong anthem with this little ditty, poking fun at the “Monster Mash”-style novelty songs that became hits in the early ’60s. Here, Morgan gets to sing about boys becoming men, and men becoming wolves. Really, this song serves as an important reminder that wolfing out is all the more complicated when you also have Torah studies to get to. As the song progresses, it starts to fold in on itself, fully aware of its own absurdity. No matter how much the producer calls wrap, the lyrics just keep coming, refusing to end. It doesn’t matter if the song’s premise can sustain itself, Tracy Jordan has more singing to do.


3. “Abracadabralifornia,” The Pepper Men 

Back in 2014, a new Red Hot Chili Peppers track started blowing up the Internet. Reactions were mixed, but no one doubted that this was the work of the funky, punky California rock band. Well, no one but fans of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast, because the song was actually the work of RHCP superfans Zach Galifianakis and Jon Daly, and their tribute band The Pepper Men. First released on the podcast, the spot-on Peppers parody seeped out into the larger world thanks to the ironic tweeting of some influential comedy friends. The brilliance of writing a song that makes fun of a band’s style, while also passing for it, lands this spoof high on the list.


2.  “Tacky,” Weird Al

And then we come to the master. No one has done more with the song parody form than musical genius and Comedy Bang! Bang!’s new band leader Weird Al. He is the king. There are any number of his hit songs to choose from, but the one we still can’t get out of our heads is “Tacky,” his spin on the 2014 Pharrell Williams hit “Happy.” Be sure to check out the new season of IFC’s Comedy Bang! Bang!, to see what else Al has in store for us.


1. “Big Bottoms,” This Is Spinal Tap

Spinal Tap changed the game when it came to music parody. With their loving look at the absurdities of metal, stars and cowriters Christopher Guest, Harry Shearer and Michael McKean found the perfect balance between spoofing overblown rock egos while also penning legit hits. Perhaps their most famous single, “Big Bottoms,” covered the beauty of the female posterior years before Sir-Mix-A-Lot was even knighted. Bands will forever be indebted to this movie for teaching them how to turn it up to eleven.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.