A common feature of The Musical is the Patter Song, a light and rapid melody sung by a Motormouth character – less commonly, more than one. This will often take the form of a Long List, resulting in a List Song. Very commonly the song will involve tongue-twisters that test the singer’s ability to pronounce the lyrics clearly, and occasionally the ability is tested even further by raising the tempo of the song little by little until it goes at a frighteningly fast pace.
The Major General Song is a common example.
You will find that as a rule in ev'ry Broadway presentation (Or perhaps the London West End, if that should be the location), That at some point in the drama, all the action turns to stasis― (Because, after all, how many shows make plotting their main basis?) And a Motormouth or three will more or less expressly chatter In a light and rapid melody—more technic'ly, a patter. Since a Long List is a structure that no writer can resist long, You will ofttimes find the Patter overlapping with the List Song. Though it uses terms so recherchés, the singers' tongues are twisted, Each author still will use the trope, as here on this page, thisdid— But because to try explaining what the trope entails quite tramples On our Tropers' little patience, let us on to the examples:
There is yet another patter song in Pirates of Penzance: "How Beautifully Blue the Sky" has the entire women's chorus singing the patter part in 2/4 time while the romantic leads sing a duet in 3/4 time—at the same time.
"Love Unrequited" (sometimes titled "The Nightmare Song") from Iolanthe
With "My Eyes Are Fully Open" from Ruddigore, Gilbert and Sullivan lampshaded their own notoriety for patter songs (and the difficulty in understanding them when sung). As the song says,
"This particularly rapid, unintelligible patter / Isn't generally heard, and if it is it doesn't matter!"
"I've Got A Little List" from The Mikado lists people who would not be missed if they were to be executed. Modern productions of The Mikado invariably rewrite this one to incorporate topical and local events, especially as the original lyrics explicitly invite the performer (or producer) to add their own lines:
"The task of filling up the blanks I rather leave to you, but it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list, 'cause they'd none of them be missed, they'd none of them be missed."
Also the ending of "I Am So Proud" from The Mikado. It begins with each character singing their part, then leads to counterpoint, and totally skips that format at the end with the trio singing a patter.
One famous instances of a Gilbert and Sullivan-inspired patter song is "The Elements Song" by Tom Lehrer; he rhymed all the chemical element names from the Periodic Table (at least, all the ones that were known at the time; several more have been discovered since note Lehrer knew this was going to happen - the last words of the song are "These are the only [elements] of which the news has come to Harvard, and there may be many others but they haven't been discahvered".) and set them to the tune of "I am the very model of a modern major general."
"Contini Submits" and Necrophorus' part in "Folies Bergeres" from Nine.
"Rock Island" from The Music Man is a rare example involving many people. It also can hardly be considered a song, and it lost its musical accompaniment when the pianist was unavailable. The authors performed it a cappella, and it worked so well that they kept it that way.
Oh, and, of course, "Trouble" from the same score is possibly the most well-known American patter song.
Mr. Graydon's dictation test/interview of Mille in Thoroughly Modern Millie gradually becomes this as they move through the verses. The tune uses "My Eyes Are Fully Open" from Ruddigore. In this case, the music starts off as PAINSTAKINGLY SLOW, and then little by little turns RIDICULOUSLY FAST.
A song that Jim Steinman wrote for the never produced Batman musical was a patter song. It was written for the Joker character, was entitled "Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?" (Steinman likes long titles) and it goes a little something like this...
Most of the song "The Brain" from the musical version of Young Frankenstein ("His Medulla Oblongata / tells his brain stem that it’s gotta / send an impulse full of data / which creates a lot of pain"… etc).
"Strike That, Reverse It" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has fun with this trope: Willy Wonka is singing so quickly that he keeps accidentally switching words around (Internal Homage to the 1971 film adaptation of this story), and in the final stretch he promises "The next time I'll rehearse it". As he presses the parents of the Golden Ticket finders to sign a contract before proceeding, Mr. Salt complains "This tempo is preposterous!"
In Albert Herring, the Mayor delivers his speech chanting out words at a very fast clip, slowing down only for coloratura cadences, after each of which he takes a big breath.
"A Wolf at the Door" by Radiohead is unusually dark in tone for a Patter Song, but no less rapid-fire (though it has longer-than-usual spaces between the pattery verses). However, the choruses are slightly slower.
"88 Lines about 44 Women" by The Nails.
"Johnny Tulloch", by The Rankin Family, featuring rapid fire lists of people piled in a wagon for a dance in Glencoe, and a story about the dance. Towards the end of the song, there's even scat singing from the women in the group while the male singer lists the names of those in the wagon.
"It's The End of the World as We Know It" by R.E.M..
"Hardware Store" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, which is also partially a List Song when Al starts rattling off things the hardware store in question sells.
It's one song Al refuses to perform live because he doesn't think he can do it again.
"Your Horoscope for Today" isn't fast enough for the whole song to count, but the bridge does, when he says all this in about twenty seconds:
Now you may find it inconceivable or at the Very least a bit unlikely that the relative position Of the planets and the stars could have some special deep significance Or meaning that exclusively applies to only you But let me give you my assurance that these forecasts and predictions Are all based on solid scientific documented evidence So you would have to be some kind of moron not to realize That every single one of them is absolutely true Where was I?
Virginia-based Carbon Leaf revived a traditional song from the U.K. (opinions vary as to whether it's Scottish or Irish) called "Mary Mac". Their official recorded version may be heard here. Be sure to check out a few of their live versions, as well. Note that any tropers who wish to upload their own versions should try to increase the tempo at every verse *and* every repetition of the chorus, to show off just how good they are.
"Goin' Down" by The Monkees is a fast-paced, upbeat song... about a guy having second thoughts after trying to drown himself.
Kirby Krackle's "Who Watches the Watcher," which is used as the theme song of Marvel's online news show "The Watcher," features a major section that rattles off a list of Marvel characters who watch the Watcher.
The song "I've Been Everywhere" was originally written by Geoff Mack and popularized by Lucky Starr (both Australian) and featured a rapid-fire list of Australian cities the author had visited. It was later famously rewritten by Hank Snow to feature cities from the USA and recorded in that form by many, many other artists including Lynn Anderson, Asleep At The Wheel, and Johnny Cash.
Many of Jimmy Durante's songs were these, due to his idosyncratic singing style. Three prime examples are "Inka-dinka-doo", "Chibodee-chobodee-chibodee" and "Durante, The Patron of the Arts."
Barbra Streisand's "Minute Waltz" and "Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking," which is also a List Song of said supermarket's more notable merchandise.
I am the very model of a scientist salarian I've studied species turian, asari, and batarian I'm quite good at genetics (as a subset of biology) because I am an expert (which I know is a tautology) My xenoscience studies range from urban to agrarian I am the very model of a scientist salarian!
He also did The Pirates of Penzance in Mass Effect 3 with a Krogan theme. And if that wasn't enough, he did a song about molecular biology to the tune of John Brown's Body as well.
"I Really Don't Hate Christmas" from Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation is a song in which Dr. Doofenshmirtz sings about how much it bugs him that he can't work up more than "an intense, burning indifference" towards a holiday he, as an evil genius, feels obliged to hate, while rattling off a number of holidays and other things that he unambiguously hates.
You see, Valentine's is torture, and my birthday is a mess New Year's is a lot of noise, and Arbor Day's a pest Halloween's a horror, but I guess I must confess That I really don't hate Christmas!