troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
YMMV: Frank Zappa
  • Archive Panic: 53 albums in 35 years plus all the ones released posthumously. Not to mention one of the most obsessive bootleg collection communities in all of fandom. Hundreds upon hundreds of high-lineage concert bootlegs zapping across the ether in lossless audio format as we speak. Not to mention the occasional rehearsal, alternate take, or unreleased studio album (!) that floats by. Good luck.
    • In fact, it inspired the cover of the posthumous 1996 release The Lost Episodes.
  • Base Breaker: Generally Zappa's 1960s and 1970s output is held in high regard by most fans. His later output is more polarizing. Most of it is politically dated (with explicit references to the Reagan era), musically more slick and instrumentally less varied (the rock songs don't sound as colorful as in the 1970s) or obnoxious and irritating to listen to (Zappa and his band singing in very stupid sounding voices). Two of his most hated records are both from this time period: "The Man From Utopia" and "Thing-Fish". His classical compositions from this era get a bit more praise, though some feel he shouldn't have used the Synclavier as much.
  • Crazy Awesome: Nothing more needs to be said about the man.
  • Creator Worship: Saying anything bad, ever, about Zappa is liable to trigger his fans' Berserk Button. Scroll down for evidence.
  • Czechs Love Frank Zappa: Besides the fact that he was very influential in the country's underground scene and regarded as a symbol of anti-authoritarianism, Czechoslovakia's first post-Communist president, Václav Havel, was a huge fan of Zappa and wanted to name him government consultant on trade, cultural matters and tourism. The Bush administration, probably still pissed about the PMRC thing, torpedoed the entire idea, and Havel made Zappa a cultural attaché instead.
    • Havel was imprisoned due to listening to Zappa albums - this is where the huge Czechlove comes from. Also, the Bush administration flat out said that they'd break off relationships if he were to be named so.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: A lot of songs can get this reaction. Lampshaded by a compilation titled Have I Offended Someone? collecting some of his most controversial songs.
  • Ear Worm: As artistic/innovative/influential/etc. as his music is, it'd mean nothing if it weren't also so damn catchy (see: Hot Rats, "Eat That Question", "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance", etc.).
  • Epic Fail: One of his albums, Jazz from Hell, almost got censored for having inappropriate lyrics, problem is the entire album was Instrumentals.
    • Reportedly, the issue the PMRC had with the album was titling one track, "G-Spot Tornado".
    • Truthfully though, the record store that added the label did so only because they knew nothing whatsoever about the album.
  • Epic Riff: Many, including:
    • "Willie the Pimp."
    • "I'm the Slime"
    • "Ms. Pinky"
    • "Eat That Question," which is almost entirely made of epic riffs. Also "Cleetus Awreetus-Awrightus" on the same album.
    • "Tryin' to Grow a Chin."
    • The Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar trilogy, a collection of Zappa's live guitar solos, and quite possibly the greatest guitar album ever made.
  • Face of the Band: Didn't even found the Mothers of Invention, but took over almost instantly.
  • First Installment Wins: His first and third albums, Freak Out and We're Only in It for the Money, are the only ones on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time, despite being listed as one of the 100 greatest musicians by the same magazine.
  • Fridge Brilliance: "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee" is obviously a parody of over-dramatic rock opera songs, and based on some crude humor, but consider this: What can be more heartbreaking than contracting an STD from someone you love and trust implicitly?
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Some of the songs on We're Only In It For the Money are based on the ludicrousness of the idea of cops killing hippies. Two years after the album's release, the Kent State murders happened.
    • On Joe's Garage, Frank Zappa did a decidedly tongue-in-cheek Progressive Rock parody called "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?", about the title character contracting "an unpronounceable disease," and then died of prostate cancer. However, the song's still really funny.
  • Genius Bonus: The premise behind the story of Joe's Garage.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Bassist Roy Estrada messing around with the baby doll in Baby Snakes wasn't quite as funny after Estrada was arrested and convicted for child molestation in 1994 and 2012.
    • While it's a pretty safe bet that the 9/11 attacks weren't what Zappa had in mind, this line from the "Hydrogen" section of the chapter "All About Schmucks" in The Real Frank Zappa Book reads much differently today.
    "Some people in the Imaginary Heartland of America might say,Who gives a shit? They ain't going to get us. They ain't coming over here. Why, some of 'em don't even have air-o-planes."
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the former category, the line about hippies getting crabs in "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" became even funnier when Joe's Crab Shack released a psychedelic advertisement promoting "Peace, Love and Crabs".
    • "You Are What You Is" described a black man who learned how to play golf and got a good score, pretty much predicting Tiger Woods' claim to fame.
  • Misaimed Fandom
    • Became popular with hippies, a subculture he hated.
      • It's worth noting, though, that while he (justifiably) dismissed the subculture as a trend that wouldn't last, as a lifelong libertarian he was sympathetic to a large number of their socio-political aims, and the attacks on We're Only In It for the Money mostly ("Flower power sucks" in "Absolutely Free" is the most obvious exception) aren't on the hippie subculture as a whole but on people who were only participating in it for the sex, drugs, and/or (in the case of performers) money without caring about its social aims. By far his biggest problem with the subculture seemed to be that, while it was ostensibly aimed at attacking conformity, it had quickly evolved into yet another form of conformity due to how many people were participating in it. That said, this didn't stop him from relentlessly attacking the more ridiculous trends associated with the subculture, such as their fashion.
    • Valley Girls even though his song "Valley Girl" was really a Take That from Moon Unit Zappa at the Valley Girls at her school.
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: An almost immediate example: When We're Only in It for the Money came out a lot of people thought he was crazy because of all the references to cops shooting hippies. Slightly under three years later, the Kent State shootings happened. They were National Guardsmen rather than police, but other than that it occurred almost exactly as he predicted. The proximity of the events has also led to several cases of You Fail Rock History Forever as people have claimed that the songs on the album were inspired by the Kent State shootings.
  • Tear Jerker: Zappa was reportedly quite skeptical about making music that served as this trope, though once in a blue moon, he could pull it off, as shown with "Watermelon In Easter Hay" (an instrumental from Joe's Garage) and "Mom and Dad" (from We're Only in It for the Money).
    • Once in a blue moon nothing. 'Black Napkins', 'Zoot Allures', 'The Idiot Bastard Son'....
    • In his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book, he wrote that "Village of the Sun" struck him as a sensitive lyric, adding, "There aren't too many of those in MY catalog."
  • True Art Is Angsty: Mostly averted; he frequently derided this and stuck to comedy. However, played straight with some of his more fervent protest songs, like "Heavenly Bank Account."
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Frequent, especially on his sound collages.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Frank made some of the most bizarre music ever recorded, but his only drugs of choice were caffeine and nicotine. All the more remarkable given he created 53 albums in the span of 20-25 years, on top of touring, managing his record company, and verbally bitch-slapping the PMRC. Oh, and raising four kids.
    • As he points out, a lot of his stuff is so complex that you have to be sober to play it. For an example of what can happen, check out the London Symphony Orchestra's drunk version of "Strictly Genteel."
      • Once again - read Zappa the Hard Way. As someone who has studied Frank for more than 40 years and has extensively interviewed numerous bandmembers, family members and acquaintances, it's quite amazing the amount of wrong information that gets put out there.

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
14717
24