Older Than Steam: J. S. Bach, of all people. He wrote a cantata about coffee! Coffee addiction was the moral panic du jour in 18th century Leipzig, so Bach wrote a musical piece in favor of the drink: Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht ("Be still, stop chattering") (BWV 211), better known as the "Coffee cantata." The story concerns a young woman who is in love with coffee. Her father attempts to bribe her out of the habit by promising to find her a husband if she gives it up, to which she agrees. She ends up getting her way after all, by secretly telling her suitors that she will only marry them if they allow her to drink coffee.
"Weird Al" Yankovic's parodies live on this trope, changing the lyrics of "epic" rock songs or "heartfelt" pop songs to be about riding the bus or buying crap on eBay or eating ice cream. How do you parody that which already borders on self-parody? You out-Mundane Made Awesome it, of course!
The song is a parody of R. Kelly's "Trapped In The Closet", which is an epic-length "Hip-Hopera" (22 separate chapters and counting...) about the inhabitants of an apartment complex doing little worthy of the drama. It features Kelly throwing his full vocal might into lines like "And then he said, 'I'ma heat this chicken!'"
Perhaps his most pure use of this trope is not in a spoof but in an original song, "Hardware Store", an ecstatic paean to the grand opening of a new hardware store. Also interestingly, his song "Jurassic Park" inverts this — taking an overblown epic about love, loss and soggy cake and making it about fleeing giant killer dinosaurs.
You do NOT mess with CNR... ever! Watch. It's a parody of the Chuck Norris Facts, but it's actually about actor Charles Nelson Reilly.
"The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" takes a normal family vacation to a tacky tourist trap and turns it into what could be described as the holy pilgrimage of a group of aficionados of American culture to one of life's greatest mysteries.
The Shy Child song "Drop the Phone" features fast-paced, anguished, barely intelligible yelling over an EPIC electro track — until you listen closely to the lyrics and realise it's about a guy checking his voicemail: "Then I just used a landline, to call my phone and check on my voicemail. The message is wiped!". Even worse, the chorus is an angry Rage Against the Heavens... about the fact that everyone else's cellphone can get a signal and his can't!
James Blunt's music video for "You're Beautiful", as parodied on Mad TV. "Now I'm putting a bunch of stuff on a line on the floor, have you ever seen such a kickass video before?"
Grunt: Pigorian Chant sounds exactly like something from a Pure Moods compilation... until you read the liner notes and realize it's nursery rhymes about barnyard animals being sung in Pig Latin.
Parts of Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio. There actually is some important drama of some sort going on in that sequence where the female lead is singing "Cancel my appointment to the squash club"—but it proved hard to get past that line. And if you don't already know the true implications of "making an appointment with the Minister of Love"—a section that really is meant to be climactic—you might get baffled.
Eileen Ivers, who dares to ask the question, "Would you like your traditional Irish fiddling with a freakin' wah-wah pedal??" (The answer: Yes.)
Miley Cyrushas stated that her song "Bottom of the Ocean" is about her mother flushing her fish. However, you would never guess that by the lyrics of the song, which treat the death of the fish as if it had the impact of a sad breakup.
Speaking of singers and their pets, Michael Jackson's "Ben" comes to mind, which is a passionate song about his love for a pet rat.
In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, Jack Black's character envisions himself literally blowing up someone's head with the power of the Pick. Even more awesome is that this doesn't stop him: he apologizes to the head-asplode man in the song:
Jack Black I did not mean... Kyle Glass He did not mean... JB To blow your mind... KG To blow your mind... JB But that shit happens to me...ALL THE TIME!!!!
Hell, the entire movie is pretty much made of this trope.
Jonathan Coulton's song "Mandelbrot Set" is an epic rock ballad with an insanely catchy riff about one man's world-changing battle against the forces of chaos. The man? Benoit Mandelbrot. The forces? Abstract mathematics. The means of his victory? Well... You take a point called Z in the complex plane / Let Z1 be Z squared plus C / And Z2 is Z1 squared plus C / And Z3 is Z2 squared plus C and so on...
It would be even better if he'd actually described a Mandelbrot set. What he described was a Julia set.
The Swedes seem to be a target for this. P.O.D's music video for their song, 'Boom', depicts a ping pong match between the band and the blue and orange dressed "Sweden" team. Played in an empty stadium, the match features an epic dive to save a point, a wrist injury resulting from that dive, baseball-style arguing a ref's decision, a Bobby Knight parody flipping his lid when the call is overturned in favor of the Swedes, complete with ripping up the decorative plants next to the competition area, 'another' epic dive to save a point, this time in slow motion, and culminates in a line brawl. All this was over a winner's check for $35,000, that presumably had to be split evenly between the members of a platinum selling band.
Would you expect anything less of the guys who brought us Lazy Sunday? (Which is mentioned under "Live Action TV" in its own right)
There's also "Who Said We're Wack?", which has an epic battle-rap backing complete with dramatic strings, and is written as though calling someone "wack" is the gravest insult imaginable ("How could a person up and call a person wack?/ How could the devil turn the blue sky black?").
Shower by Psychostick makes it to an impressive length of five and a half minutes.
It's shower time, you bitches!!!
Also The Root of All Evil:
"Sitting in the waiting room. Waiting for my turn to sit on the Throne of Pain! While filling out various legal documents. All starting to look the same. My insurance information and my medical history. I dont know if they want me to -"
Receptionist: "Excuse me did you have any questions about the form?"
"YEEES! As a matter of fact I do!!! Do I fill out this field here, too???"
"Canvas Bags" by Tim Minchin embodies this trope. An environmental ballad about taking canvas bags to the supermarket instead of plastic bags. It devolves into a rap-interlude by Minchin, the song becoming a massive Crowd Song with the audience waving canvas bags around, and then he brings on a fan, unbuttons his shirt, and lets it flap in the wind, finishing off with a Truck Driver's Gear Change to end the set. At some gigs, he even sets off the pyrotechnics.
John Cage's 4:33 consists of a pianist sitting down before a piano and spending the title time making no sound whatsoever.
Not quite. The piece is made up of the sound of someone not playing the piano, which is entirely different to someone making no sound whatsoever. Cage effectively wrote a duet for the awkward fidget and nervous cough.
Though for the mundane aspect it is hard to get a clearer example than Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are
Several songs by The Beatles. "Helter Skelter" from The White Album is often cited by music historians as one of the first metal songs. The basic purpose of the song was to be as loud, raucous, and heavy as possible. This is the song that caused Ringo Starr to throw his drumsticks across the room and shout "I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!" Yet the lyrics are about a slide at an amusement park.
The first bit of Serious Business press The Beatles got in America was a critique of the song "Not A Second Time", an album track featured on Meet The Beatles (With The Beatles in the UK). The ending of the song was described by rock critic William Mann as having "Aeolian cadences". John Lennon was bemused at this, saying he had no idea what "Aeolian cadences" were, and that they sounded to him like some kind of exotic bird.
Rock concerts are not what one would call "mundane", but then there is Eien Strife, a cosplaying rock band that performs for anime conventions that mixes their music with storytelling that is equal parts epic and entertaining.
The mini-movie for "Telephone" is chock-full of this trope.
LET'S MAKE A SANDWICH
Katy Perry would like to inform you that she kissed a girl and she liked it. (Partly due to the taste of her cherry chapstick, of course.)
"Dragostea din tei" (aka the Numa Numa song), covered by opera singers, with backing orchestra. The finishing touch is the camera pan over the crowd, a good number of whom are doing the dance.
The Presidents of the United States of America' song "Peaches" is a fast-paced rock song about, well, eating peaches. Particularly so that the most hard-rocking riff is set to such lyrics as "Peaches come from a can! They were put there by a man! In a factory downtown!". Also, in the music video, the band gets attacked by ninjas.
The Presidents more or less made a living off of this trope. Other songs of theirs cover topics like toy dune buggies and kittens.
Bah, "Quest for Fire" pales in comparison to "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner," which is about... well... a competitive runner.
The Raconteurs' song "The Switch and the Spur" is an epic song about a man in the Old West dying of a rattlesnake bite. The snake is compared to God; Brendan Benson even included bits of the Lord's Prayer (including a paraphrase of the doxology, "Thine is the power..."; yet another indication that the Catholic Jack White had little to do with the writing of the song).
Japanese musician No.305's music, almost all of it, takes this stance toward anime shows, driven home by his Large Ham persona.
The video for Brantley Gilbert's "Country Must Be Country Wide" arguably invokes this, turning a song about country having a surprisingly widespread and diverse fan base into.... something else. Tell me, does anyone buy country music as a subversively-cool underground culture?
The Filipino song "The Ordertaker" is a heavy metal riff about not finding anything good to eat at a restaurant, a Suspiciously Similar Song mashup of two System of a Down songs, and the music video even features poorly-disguised pastiches of WWE wrestlers going at it.
Nine Inch Nails' video for "Head Like A Hole" shows, amongst other things, Trent Reznor washing his hair and shaking his head in slow motion. The result is surprisingly epic.
The Divine Comedy play with this trope a few times, largely through their use of an Orchestra making everything sound more epic by default. Sweden, from the album Fin de Siecle, takes it to it's logical conclusion however, featuring a full chorus of enthusiastic opera singers, sinister sounding brass stabs to rival John Williams and a creepy xylophone riff to demonstrate ... the singers wish to retire to Sweden when he's older, because they have such a high standard of living, lovely fresh air and they all seem to be such nice people.
In the song "Pistola", Incubus singer Brandon Boyd apparently owns the most epic pen ever.
"She Don't Use Jelly" by The Flaming Lips IS this trope. It's about a girl who puts vaseline on her toasts, a guy who blows his nose with magazines and a girl who uses tangerines to dye her hair. Clearly this calls for Steven Drozd's massive drumfills, exaggerated quiet-verse-loud-chorus dynamics, Wayne Coyne and Ronald Jones crunching on the distortion pedals in the chorus, and an oddly happy slide guitar melody on top of everything.
The Voice Australia has already fallen into this with it's advert featuring Seal, Joel Madden, and Delta Goodrem, all in slow motion, with some epic music behind them. It's a talent show.
Affiance's music video for "Call to the Warrior" takes every stereotypical heavy metal performance video trope... and applies it to the group playing the song on Rock Band.
Danish heavy-metal group Volbeat wrote a song dedicated to the boxer Mikkel Kessler, which Kessler would go on to use for his entrances. Aside from explicitly describing how he's going to knock you into oblivion, the build-up of the introduction sounds less like a sportsmanlike competition and more like some sort of Uruk-hai army marching to WAR. Complete with echoing war-horns.
And continuing with the general thread of Mundane Made Awesome Via Metal, Megadeth's "Wake Up Dead" is a nice bit of classic thrash...of which the subject matter can be literally summed up as "Ohgod, if I wake my wife by stumbling in stinking drunk at 4am she is going to kill me in my sleep...especially when she finds out I've been cheating on her to boot..."
The Who's "Pinball Wizard" is about the most epic song about pinball you will ever hear.
The theme song for Monty Pythons Life Of Brian, "Brian's Song", is musically a grandiose, bombastic anthem fit for a Biblical epic, with a very dramatic singer. In fitting with the overall parody of Biblical epics, however, lyrically it describes the average life of a perfectly mundane young boy as he matures into a perfectly mundane man.
Brian The babe they called Brian. He grew... Grew, grew and grew... Grew up to be... GREW UP TO BEEEEEEEE... A boy called Brian.
Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix has a ton of awesine musical pieces and remixes already, but the game somehow takes the most basic song, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", and remixes it into awesomeness. To top it off, the song is used as the game's tutorial!
The Sigur Ros song "Hoppípolla" is quite possibly one of the most epic songs ever. And it's about hopping into puddles.
"Power User" by MC Frontalot. Upgrading your computer has never sounded so pimp.
The Japanese band Sakanaction in "Ame(B)", a bouncy song with overdubbed vocals, epic synth arpeggios and a flashy rhythm guitar. The lyrics, when translated, talk about the singer opening an umbrella in the rain, and soaking his left shoulder when the wind starts blowing.
Kraftwerk has a song named Autobahn about driving your car on the highway and it sounds epic!
Kraftwerk largely subvert this trope with "Trans-Europe Express". A cross continental train journey to go hang out with Iggy Pop and David Bowie in Dusseldorf is arguably pretty badass, but Trans-Europe Express makes it sound about as exciting as taking a bus to the shop for some bread.
Frank Zappa was also an expert at this. He wrote songs about the dangers of going to your kitchen at night ("The Dangerous Kitchen", from The Man From Utopia), dental floss ("Montana" from Over-Nite Sensation), sex dolls ("Mrs. Pinky" from Zoot Allures), Smelly Feet ("Stink Foot" from Apostrophe (')), wet t-shirt contests and working in a muffin factory ("Wet T-shirt Nite" and "A Little Green Rosetta" from Joe's Garage),... Even his instrumental music often received mundane titles: "None Of The Above", "A Pound For A Brown On The Bus" (about a bet who would moon his behind the fastest on the bus), "Twenty Small Cigars",...
The song "Everything Is Awesome", performed by Tegan & Sara in The LEGO Movie, takes this trope about as literally as it possibly can, particularly in the rap verses (which are performed by The Lonely Island, who frequently use the trope in far less kid-friendly circumstances):
Trees, frogs, clogs
Rocks, clocks, and socks
Figs, and jigs, and twigs
Everything you see, or think, or say
The common belief is that the Taylor Swift song "Long Live" is about winning album of the year at The Grammys, which is awesome, but not as awesome as the song would suggest.
As mentioned above, this is something of a speciality for The Lonely Island, who tend to combine bombastic R&B/Hip-Hip styles with rather mundane subject matter:
"Like A Boss" is about a boss who does everything... well, like a boss. It starts off fairly routine, but then goes to some rather strange places.
"I Just Had Sex" involves two guys giving the full power-ballad treatment to what appear to have been some rather underwhelming sexual encounters.
She kept lookin' at her watch!(Doesn't matter, had sex!) But I cried the whole time! (Doesn't matter, had sex!) I think she might've been a racist!note A Klan hood is sitting next to the bed(Doesn't matter, had sex!) She put a bag on my head! (Still counts!)
"I'm On A Boat", a truly epic set of beats about a guy who is... well, see the title.
"Lazy Sunday" treats two guys going to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as if it were a hardcore gangster rap about planning a heist and indulging in conspicuous over-consumption with the proceeds.
Inverted with "Space Olympics", which is a 1980s-style power ballad about competing in the Space Olympics of 3022, but which focusses more on the various logistical headaches and budgetary problems that hosting a large-scale sporting event in the vacuum of space would result in — essentially, making the awesome utterly mundane.
SPACE DISKS! Is totally cancelled SPACE SWORDS! Is totally cancelled SPACE LUGE! Is also cancelled And all other events are pending...
Sesame Street Platinum All Time Favorites, a Greatest Hits Album with Sesame Street songs. All of it are just children's songs, sometimes about really mundane topics, like Prairie Dawn's "Little Things", about respecting little things in life and Ernie's "Rubber Duckie", about his love for taking a bath with his plastic toy duck. But they are all so catchy that you sing them along easily.
Swedish cult band Torsson (proudly billing themselves as "The fourth best band in the city of Lund") have made a career of this. Some of their more well-known songs deal with things like a boring bush-league football game where the narrator's team loses, taking the train to a small town in southern Sweden, two kids trying to sell ice cream on a rainy day, and how to start a 1961 DKW on a damp morning.