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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.
- A famous Brooks anecdote is that Frankie Laine didn't realize Blazing Saddles was a comedy when recording the theme, and Brooks didn't have the heart to tell him after such a sincere performance. Hilarity ensued.
- Also "The French Mistake" parody of a classic 50's musical chorus, filled with Ho Yay lyrics.
- "Brian", from the opening of Monty Pythons Life Of Brian, fits this to a tee—beautiful orchestration and a fantastic singer (essentially a take-off of Shirley Bassey's performance in Goldfinger) undercut by silly graphics and increasingly silly lyrics.
- Monty Pythons 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, and "Every Sperm Is Sacred," an anthemic hymn sung by all kinds of Catholics about sperm.
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail has "Knights of the Round Table," which includes very silly choreography and increasingly painful rhymes for "Camelot."
- 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.
- "The Lumberjack Song" from Monty Python's Flying Circus, where the backing chorus breaks up due to the lyrics' ridiculous emphasis on transvestism.
- 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" and "So Long, Mom"), a guy Too Kinky to Torture ("Masochism Tango"), and Reckless Gun Usage ("The Hunting Song")? And this is only a fraction of the man's catalog.
- Jonathan Coulton is incredibly fond of these. "I Crush Everything" is a tale of loneliness and depression. As told by a giant squid. Or the nostalgia-packed ballad about a girl he knew in high school: "The Town Crotch."
- Singer-songwriter Brute Force (real name Stephen Friedland) is a skilled musician with a Cloudcuckoolander sensibilty, so naturally he specializes in these. His most famous song, "The King of Fuh", which was one of Apple Records' first non-Beatles releases, is a beautiful ballad with exquisite strings and stirring piano. The lyrics are about the king of the land of Fuh, and the obvious pun gets used many times.
- "Up There", from South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut. One of the better "I Want" Songs . . . sung by Satan.
"They may cut your dick in half,"
"And serve it to a pig,"
"And when it hurts, you'll laugh,"
"And dance a dickless jig."
"But that's the way it goes,"
"In war you're shat upon."
- Animaniacs had "Yakko's Universe", a musical Expy of Monty Python's "Galaxy Song", with a charming uptempo orchestral arrangement straight out of a classic Disney cartoon.