(310)555-2817. No, wait...
So you have a musical number. The music is absolutely beautiful, and the instrumental part makes you want to cry or go "Awwww...". But wait, something's wrong. There is something that is keeping you from bursting into tears. What could it be?
You're hearing a Mel Brooks
number, not necessarily a bad thing, unless you don't like musicals. This song can be described as:
- A song with beautiful or classic-sounding orchestral arrangements but that features humorous or inappropriate lyrics.
- A song with orchestral arrangements and gorgeous lyrics, but the choreography is funny. Or the actors are in funny costumes or wearing fake noses. Or...
- A song that sounds like the perfect Tear Jerker...until you discover what it is really talking about.
This song is always Played for Laughs
. Named for the quintessential master of this kind of song, Mel Brooks.
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- The Trope Namer is Mel Brooks. Many of the songs he writes fit this trope, most obviously Springtime for Hitler from the first film version of The Producers.
- "Brian", from the opening of Monty Python's Life of Brian, fits this to a tee—beautiful orchestration and a fantastic singer undercut by silly graphics and increasingly silly lyrics.
- Monty Python's The Meaning of Life has "The Galaxy Song", a light, cheery number with a lovely instrumental break...that turns out to be about an individual human's insignificance in the universe.
- The four Oompa-Loompa songs in the 2005 version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory play out this way. Danny Elfman assigns each one a different genre (Bollywood for Augustus Gloop, psychedelic Folk Rock for Veruca Salt, etc.) and gives them terrific melodies and arrangements. The lyrics (pulled from the original novel) are still about naughty kids getting their comeuppance, though, and the "rather rehearsed" dance numbers the Oompa-Loompas — all voiced by Elfman — mount are parodies of Busby Berkeley numbers, heavy metal videos, etc.
- Tom Lehrer was also infamous for these kind of songs. A bright, cheery serenade about killing pigeons? ("Poisoning Pigeons in the Park") A parlor-music piss-take on school fight songs ("Fight Fiercely Harvard")? Full orchestral backing for songs about humanity's utter annihilation by nuclear war ("We Will All Go Together When We Go"), a guy Too Kinky to Torture ("Masochism Tango"), and cheerful omnicidal glee ("The Hunting Song")? And this is only a fraction of the man's catalog.
- "Something Has Happened", from the little-known musical I Do! I Do!
- Chicago has "Class", which has a beautiful melody (the sheet music notes that it should be played "quasi Franz Schubert") but is packed with swearing and grammatical errors.
- The Book of Mormon is full of these.
- While the entire show is hysterical, "You Won't Succeed On Broadway" from Spamalot is definitely one of these... especially since the song talks about Broadway shows flopping if they can't get Jews in the cast.