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Exactly What It Says On The Tin / Music

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Exactly What It Says on the Tin in music.


  • "Weird Al" Yankovic:
    • Parodied by the song "This Song's Just Six Words Long"... do the math. The song itself is not an example; even the oft-repeated chorus is actually "This song is just six words long", which is already Exactly Not What It Says On The Tin. Why? Well, "seven" doesn't fit the meter.
    • For Weird Al himself, the "Dare To Be Stupid" LP is inscribed with the phrase "More Songs About Television And Food". (This may be a Shout-Out to Talking Heads' album More Songs About Buildings and Food, which was not this trope.
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    • In the album credits for his polka medleys, the last "song" listed always represents the musical portions of the medley that Al himself composed. This was lampshaded in the credits for "Polka Face", where the last entry was titled "Whatever's Left Over Polka".
  • Macabre's "The Ted Bundy Song" is...a song about infamous Serial Killer Ted Bundy.
  • The opening theme song for the It's Garry Shandling's Show by Joey Carbone, Garry Shandling and Alan Zweibel, starts
    ''This is the theme to Garry's Show,
    The opening theme to Garry's show.
    Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.
    I'm almost halfway finished,
    How do you like it so far?
    How do you like the theme to Garry's Show?
And goes on in the same vein.''
  • No FX: "45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records". Fortunately the song Fuck the Kids wasn't meant literally. The weird thing is there's actually 47 songs.
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  • The compilation album Short Music for Short People. The album features 101 songs by 101 artists, with an average song length of around 30 seconds. Said compilation includes the tune "Mike Booted Our First Song, So We Recorded This One Instead" by Mad Caddies.
  • Much of the soundtrack to The Proposition consists of songs with titles like "Sad Violin Thing".
  • A few of Tom Lehrer's songs fit this trope.
  • Pink Floyd:
    • "Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving With a Pict" from Ummagumma is several species of small furry animals (a sped-up Roger Waters making animal noises) gathered together in a cave and grooving with a Pict (Waters again).
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    • Pink Floyd once planned to release an album called Household Objects consisting of music played entirely on household objects.
    • When it first came out, a lot of people assumed Pink Floyd's song "Learning to Fly" was a metaphor about personal freedom and liberation. Nope. Turns out its about becoming a pilot and the joy of flying your own aircraft.
  • Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody fits the strict definition of a rhapsody.
  • Classical Music in general loved this trope.
    • Pachelbel's Canon is, in full, "Canon and Gigue in D major for three Violins and Basso Continuo".
    • Beethoven's works most commonly called the Eroica Variations (for their use in the Eroica Symphony) were in full "Variations and Fugue for Piano in E flat major, Op. 35", while his Opus 20 was "Septet for clarinet, horn, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, and contrabass in E-flat major". It's no wonder many classical works are simply referred to by composer, opus, and number.
    • George Frederic Handel's "Music for the Royal Fireworks" was composed to be played at a royal gala. With fireworks.
  • Country singer Kenny Price recorded "The Shortest Song in the World," which was 18 seconds long and consisted of a two-measure intro, followed by Price singing "This is the shortest song in the world." Believe it or not, it was the B side of a single. Ironically enough, it isn't the shortest song in the world: this is.
  • Likewise, one of Peter Sellers's albums has a track called "Peter Sellers Sings George Gershwin", which consists of... Peter Sellers singing the words "George Gershwin".
  • The state song of Maine is titled "State Song of Maine."
  • Public Image Ltd. (often abbreviated as PiL):
    • They once recorded an album that is simply named Album. Depending on the format, the same album is also called Cassette or Compact Disc.
    • The band liked using this trope a fair amount. For example, the band's first album was aptly named First Issue.
    • The band's second album, originally packaged in metal film canisters, was named Metal Box. After this initial run, the album was reconfigured and renamed Second Edition.
    • Also, their latest album, released in 2012, is called This is PiL.
  • Possibly inspired by the aforementioned Public Image Ltd. album, the British record label Metalheadz released a compilation called Metalheadz Limited Edition CD Metal Box Set, which is a limited edition CD that comes in, you guessed it, a metal box.
  • Almost any album named Greatest Hits, especially if it's "[name of artist]'s Greatest Hits". Played with a bit in cases such as Greatest Hits Plus and Greatest Hits...and Then Some (two albums with this name), which include previously unreleased songs.
  • Similar to Greatest Hits compilations, almost any live album falls under this trope. (e.g. Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison, The Who's Live at Leeds, Cheap Trick's At Budokan, etc.)
  • The Kentucky Headhunters released an album of soul music. What did they call it? Soul.
  • "Three Minute Positive Not-Too-Country Up-Tempo Love Song" by Alan Jackson.
  • Apocalyptica's debut album, Plays Metallica By Four Cellos, which has the band, at the time a quartet of cellos, playing Metallica covers.
  • KISS' "Rock and Roll all Nite" is a song about rocking and rolling all night.
  • "Eleven Four" by the Dave Brubeck Quartet (actually by its saxophonist Paul Desmond) is in 11/4 time.
  • As is "Take Five" by the same ensemble in 5/4 time. The recording of this song on the LP is the fifth take of the day.
  • "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in Edinburgh is a no-audition orchestra of really terrible musicians. When one of the player bios says the person is "too able" for the orchestra...
  • The Birthday Massacre have an example of this. When they were called Imagica, they had a song called... The Birthday Massacre. Which was, in fact, about a massacre on someone's birthday. (The song's now called Happy Birthday, for the record).
  • Rihanna's "Russian Roulette" is not a metaphor about relationships, according to the songwriters.
  • The sound production company known as Epic Score. They are the guys that make trailers sound, well, epic. (I strongly recommend a low volume setting before following that link.)
  • "4 Minutes" by Madonna is 4 minutes long, and starts out with Timbaland rapping about how he's out of time and he's only got four minutes to sing. He keeps on repeating the same phrase for about 30 seconds.
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young consists of the members (surprise) David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, and Neil Young.
  • Very similar is the briefly-existing band made up of certain former Yes members, Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe. No prizes for guessing who the former Yes members were note 
  • "The Song With the Slow Part" by Portraits of Past is a bit of a subversion. It has a slow part, but so do so many other of their songs, so it's not exactly THE song with the slow part.
  • "The Song That Never Ends" doesn't, since the lyrics are recursive.
  • Several of the songs released by King Missile, including "the Little Sandwich that Got a Guilt Complex Because He was the Sole Survivor of a Horrible Bus Crash," and "the Boy Who Ate Lasagna and Could Jump Over a Church" are prime examples of this trope
  • "Yeah" by Kyuss. The "song" is simply a brief recording of their singer saying "yeah."
  • Teenage Fanclub have a best of called Four Thousand Seven Hundred And Sixty-Six Seconds, which is 4766 seconds long.
  • Squarepusher's New Sound Album, "Solo Electric Bass 1." All the songs were played on an electric bass guitar without any other instruments, unlike the his trademark mishmash style of jungle, drum and bass, acid jazz, IDM, and experimental electronic music.
  • Several songs from Fridge's Happiness album. Can you guess what instruments were used to make the songs Cut Up Piano & Xylophone, Tone Guitar & Drum Noise, or Melodica & Trombone?
  • Fantomas Melvins Big Band were the members of Fantomas and the Melvins joining together to play songs from their respective catalogs live. About the only way that this wasn't an example is that they weren't that kind of Big Band, just a rock band with a larger number of people on stage at the same time than is usual.
  • IOSYS has a song called "Tewi Inaba's Really Irritating About Four and A Half Minutes". It's 4:23.
  • The State Anthem of the Soviet Union was... well, guess. The provinces of the USSR had similar anthems (such as the Anthem of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic).
  • Certain compilation albums on classical budget label Naxos. It's no surprise to see, for example, "Music for Solo Harp" containing... well, music performed on solo harp, or "2 Violins and 1 Guitar" containing music played on two violins and one guitar.
  • The Nails' "Eighty-Eight Lines about Forty-Four Women" is eighty-eight lines long, and mentions forty-four different women.
  • The early synth album Moog Plays the Beatles by Marty Gold. It's a synth album which is a Beatles tribute.
  • The Band From TV is a band made of TV actors.
  • The t+pazolite song "256 Secondz World Tour" is a 256-second long song incorporating styles of music from different parts of the world.
  • "Heresy" by Nine Inch Nails isn't just about heresy, the song itself is quite heretical.
  • Likewise, "Prayer" by Disturbed is literally a prayer, it's a conversation with God.
  • Complete History Of The Soviet Union, Arranged To The Melody Of Tetris
  • LMFAO's hit "Party Rock Anthem."
  • Brian Eno's Ambient 1: Music for Airports is indeed ... music fit to be played at airports.
  • A British pop band of the 1960s called "Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch" consisted of performers with precisely those (nick)names.
  • Subverted in Fryderyk Chopin's "Minute Waltz" which apparently is very difficult to get through playing in 60 seconds.
  • A My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic tribute album called Just Rocks exists, inspired by the character Maud Pie, Pinkie Pie's incredibly boring and rock-obsessed sister. The "music" consists of various musicians moving rocks around, banging rocks together, rubbing rocks together, and recording the sounds made by these movements. Track names include "A lot of tracks of sounds of rocks being played at the same time", "Graphed Acceleration of a Rock dropped from a height in air [no units specified] (rendered as an audio file)" and "Almost Seven Minutes of Live Recording of Two Rocks of Different Types Being Banged, Scraped and Rubbed Against Eachother, With Background Noise From a Computer Fan and Rustling.".
  • Songs of the Humpback Whale is indeed an album with nothing but the sounds of whales singing.
  • "Short Pop Song" by Custard is both a pop song and short (1:14).
  • "It Snowed" by Meaghan Smith, a song about how much it snowed last night.
  • The Rankin Family are an Irish-Canadian folk band; all of the members are from a family named Rankin.
  • Katatonia has a track called "Instrumental" that is... an Instrumental.
  • Two cello players from Croatia formed an act called...2Cellos.
  • Billie Holiday's final studio album is titled Last Recording. It was initially a Self-Titled Album, but was re-titled after she died.
  • The Magnetic Fields 3-disc set 69 Love Songs.
  • Kent's "Den sista sången" ("The last song") was the last song on their last album, as well as the last song on their last concert.
  • Sufjan Stevens has a quite a few of these as song titles on his 2005 album Illinois, most of them describing short instrumental transitions:
    • "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois," which is about a Real Life UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois.
    • "A Short Reprise for Mary Todd, Who Went Insane, but for Very Good Reasons," which is a short reprise of the chords from the previous track.
    • "One Last 'Whoo-Hoo!' for the Pullman," the lyrics of which consist of a single "whoo-hoo!"
    • "A Conjunction of Drones Simulating the Way in Which Sufjan Stevens Has an Existential Crisis in the Great Godfrey Maze," which is 20 seconds of a droning synth.
    • "Let's Hear That String Part Again, Because I Don't Think They Heard It All the Way Out in Bushnell," which is a few more measures of the string part from the previous track.
    • "Riffs and Variations on a Single Note for Jelly Roll, Earl Hines, Louis Armstrong, Baby Dodds, and the King of Swing, to Name a Few," which is almost a minute of variations on a single trumpet note.
  • Penguin Cafe Orchestra's "Telephone And Rubber Band": the lead instruments are a telephone (playing a UK dialling tone and engaged signal) and a rubber band for the bassline.
  • Kate Bush's "50 Words for Snow" is a List Song enumerating fifty words for snow.
  • Deacon Blue covered four Bacharach and David songs on an EP titled Four Bacharach and David Songs EP.
  • Billy Joel almost literally begs both music critics and his fans to take this approach to his music. Joel is continually exasperated by people who try to pick apart his songs looking for deep symbolic meanings hidden in the lyrics. He has repeatedly said that, while he occasionally uses innuendo, he's never hidden the meaning of anything by using confusing or obfuscatory lyrics.
    Billy Joel: "Why is there a line about being on a Greyhound in New York State of Mind? Because I was literally riding on a bus moving back to New York City from California when I was writing it."
  • Ronnie Milsap has an album called Ronnie Milsap Sings His Best for Capitol Records. It's an album issued by Capitol Records, featuring him singing re-recorded versions of popular songs (since that label did not own the rights to his RCA Records catalog).
  • Voltaire's "The Man Upstairs" — in the sense that knowing him, you'd expect it to be something critical about God, but no, it's literally about someone's upstairs neighbour who drives him crazy.
  • Leonard Cohen's Songs of Leonard Cohen and Ten New Songs.
  • Bloods And Crips was a rap group consisting of members of the Bloods and Crips gangs.


  • Parodied: An early Saturday Night Live hung a lampshade on this trope by having Frank Sinatra (played by Joe Piscopo) trying to update his image by recording an album with tunes that the young people would enjoy. The title of the album? Frank Sings Tunes the Young People Will Enjoy.


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