Created By: murlough23 on September 8, 2011

Trope Justifying Song

A song specifically written to justify a trope that it relies on.

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Ever hear a song that's just so reliant on a trope that you find it distracting, and find it difficult to take seriously? And then, on closer inspection of the lyrics, you find that the entire song seems to be about justifying its use of said trope? You've just discovered a Trope Justifying Song.

This usually happens for one of two reasons. Either the songwriter was aware that the audience wouldn't be happy with a slower/heavier/more cliched/more bizarre song than the songwriter is usually known for, and they attempted to work their explanation for doing so into the lyrics. Or else, they just realized the audience's potential reaction and decided to play it for laughs. This only counts if the song is pointing out something that it does itself - attempts to seriously justify or to parody other songs in the artist's repertoire, or just the artist in general, don't count.

This could just be a Lampshade Hanging. Plenty of examples on that trope's music page mention songs where a few key lines will make reference to some aspect of the song itself, but not all of them are cases where the lampshade is actually the main subject of the song. So perhaps it's a sub-trope of Lampshade Hanging?

Could also be expanded to other forms of media, such as a Trope Justifying Film or Trope Justifying Episode, etc. "Trope Justifying Work" just sounded too vague.

One example that brought this potential new trope to mind is My Morning Jacket's "Slow Slow Tune", which is all about how slow the song is, how it's probably not the mood their listeners are looking for, and how it doesn't matter because the song is for the writer's son.
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • September 10, 2011
  • September 10, 2011
    I like Lampshade Singing as a name.
  • September 11, 2011
    never mind
  • September 11, 2011
    not sure if it counts as an Inversion, but Justin Timberlake once sung "I'm not gonna sing tonight" at SNL which lampshaded all of his typical musical/stage mannerisms, except he was singing about not doing it

    " I'm not gonna sing, No I'm not gonna do that. Just here to do the comedy thing. And, I'm not gonna sing tonight. Not gonna do that thing where my voice goes high! Even though people love it. Not gonna make the beat drop out. Then bring it back in 'cause I'm not gonna sing tonight." (and so on)
  • September 11, 2011
    Needs More Examples. I have a feeling that this may be Too Rare To Trope.
  • October 19, 2011
    Lampshade Singing is a beautiful name indeed, if it needs to remain a music-specific trope. Which may make it too narrow, but I feel like I've heard this one a lot. Maybe it's just me, though.
  • October 19, 2011
    • "Hook" by Blues Traveler sounds, at first like a typical blues-pop song with a catchy chorus. When you listen more closely, the verses are all about how though the song's own lyrics mean nothing, the inflection of the singer's voice give the illusion of meaning. This culminates in a bridge of pure gibberish.
  • October 20, 2011
    • Employed by Eminem often. In fact, "My First Single" is entirely based on this trope.
      This was supposed to be my first single
      But, I just fucked that up, so
      Fuck it, let's all get along, let's mingle
  • April 17, 2012
    • "Title of the Song" by Da Vinci's Notebook.
      Title of the song
      Naive expression of love
      Reluctance to accept that you are gone
      Request to turn back time
      And rectify my wrongs
      Repetition of the title of the song
  • April 17, 2012
    I think this is more common than people realize. However, if it's lampshade singing waaay more things will fit.

    Would 'Sad Songs and Waltzes' by Willie Nelson and covered by Cake count? i'm writing a song all about you. a true song as real as my tears. but you've no need to fear it cause no one will hear it. sad songs and waltzes aren't selling this year.

    It doesn't so much justify as it lampshades. If this makes that shift, i can think of a few other songs. There's a Dresden Dolls songs with lyrics stating 'don't tell me not to reference my songs within my songs', and some other similar examples.