Awesome Music: Horrible Histories
The Horrible Histories
live-action adaptation owes a good deal of its massive popularity to its music. Each episode matches historical figures to the appropriate modern genre to create a truly unique comic music video. A good many are also flat-out brilliant parodies
of the genre or performer in question, and all of them are Earworms
. A representative sample of the best are listed below:
- The 4 Georges: Born 2 Rule. The song that started it all: the four, erm, colourful founders of the British House of Hanover perform in the style of a modern boyband.
- The Wives of Henry VIII: Divorced, Beheaded, Died. "Some might say I ruined their lives..." The iconic much-married monarch must use a catchy mnemonic to keep track of each woman's fate.
- Spartan High School Musical. The proud little future casualties of 300 put on their own High School Musical... complete with squeaky little American accents. "Everyone's a jock here, there are no Spartan nerds/The weedy kids were left to die as breakfast for the birds!"
- Literally (The Viking Song). The presumed ancient ancestors of Spinal Tap belt out an authentically passionate power ballad dedicated to their love... of burning and pillaging English monasteries.
- Charles II: King of Bling. As far as the Merry Monarch was concerned, in this sweetly-sophisticated, souffle-light hip-hop romp, the Restoration was all about letting the good times roll once again. "I'm the King... who brought back partying!"
- George IV: Couldn't Stand My Wife. In which performer Jim Howick almost single-handedly turns a lite-FM take on Georgian self-pity into a soaring, hilarious classic.
- Boudicca. The legendary warrior queen matches her rage against the Roman Empire to the driving beat of alternative rock.
- Do the Pachacuti. The fearsome Incan warlord fronts this chipper little summer novelty song, all about how viciously he mutilated enemy corpses' bodies. Bonus: little bouncy skulls following the onscreen lyrics.
- Dick Turpin, Highwayman. The show somehow decides that the best way to debunk Turpin's Draco in Leather Pants reputation would be to dress up Mathew Baynton (aka Charles II) in lush Georgian cape and guyliner and have him perform a brilliant satire of Adam and the Ants' "Stand and Deliver". Somehow, this instead resulted in easily the most adult performance ever recorded for children's TV.
- Ra Ra Cleopatra. What could the iconic (Fashion) Queen of the Nile and pop-rock royalty Lady Gaga possibly have in common? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
- The Truth About Richard III. Jim Howick's ability to wring the last drop of woobie-ness out of maliciously maligned royal figures strikes again, with even more spectacular soft-rock results. Notable for possibly the best single rhyming couplet in the show's history: "Can you imagine it / I'm the last Plantagenet..."
- William Wallace, Scottish Rebel. Dubious authenticity of the costuming aside, the real story of the Braveheart hero still makes for one uniquely kickass hard-rock vocal. No, really.
- Celtic Boast Battle. Ancient rhyming (and occasionally beatboxing) warriors boast of their courage, their cunning, their bling... oh yes, "and I paint myself blue! / That is way, way cooler than you!"
- The Aztec Priests' Song (Ain't Stayin' Alive). Easily the weirdest tune ever in series history — but hey, faced with defining a cruelly decadent culture fascinated with shiny things, what other musical genre you gonna call except old-school disco?
- The Kings and Queens Song. Pretty much exactly what it says on the tin: a five-minute, multi-performer cumulative epic that literally lists off all the British monarchs from William the Conqueror. Written as a memorization challenge for the show's young audience, after the producers noticed them memorizing previous songs.
- Death's Favourite Things is a wonderful anthem for Nightmare Fetishists everywhere, sung by Horrible Histories' very own Death.
- The Few (RAF Pilots). Douglas Bader and his fellow dashing flyboy heroes of the Battle of Britain sing of their extraordinary feats of derring-do... also, they dance. Because this is another boyband parody. "Take That, Hitler!"
- Charles Darwin: Natural Selection. The founding father of modern biology recast as an eccentric old professor straight out of classic children's literature... complete with drumming gorilla sidekick... explaining his theories via an elegant parody of David Bowie's "Changes". What's not to love?
- Hey Hey, We're the Thinkers. Using the Monkees and the Beatles—with just a dash of Monty Python—to celebrate the equally quirky, iconoclastic ancient forebears of intellectual revolution results in an almost unbearably charming fusion of fun and philosophy.
- Mary Seacole. Move over, Beyoncé, this single lady's got business to take care of — specifically, breaking down racial barriers and curing constipation as the forgotten other nursing heroine of the Crimean War.
- Flame (Olympic song). The Olympic flame of athletic sportsmanship and social idealism will burn forever... but not without some memorable hitches along the way.
- Rosa Parks: I Sat on a Bus. The first lady of the American civil rights movement takes to the Motown stage to explain how one small act had the power to make history.
- Charles Dickens. The great man of English literature borrows from several great Smiths songs to relate the tumultuous relationship between his real life and fiction — complete with the swinging gladioli flowers.
- Marcus Licinius Crassus: Minted. The forgotten decadent aristocrat of the Ancient Roman pantheon explains — via grime rap (and pretty obvious Suspiciously Similar Song version of Dizzee Rascal's "Bonkers"), of course — why he couldn't care less about the fame, so long as he had the fortune. "You can't call yourself loaded 'til you can buy an army..."
- Vikingland. Aka Vikings and Garfunkel: in which the Nordic invaders make the case for the surprisingly extensive number of reasonable, peaceful improvements they made to English culture once they arrived... while wearing wigs that really do need to be seen to be believed.
- Henry VII: The Original Tu-Tu-Tudor. The dynasty's dour founder takes on his rather dull reputation in 70's Glam Rock style, complete with killer falsetto.
- We're History (Finale). Every era the show ever featured is revisited by nearly every character the show ever created in an epic finale that borrows its format from "We Are the World"-style charity singles... and despite it all is guaranteed to raise a lump in your throat. "We're history... and we made it Horrible!"