Isn't generally heard, and if it is it doesn't matter!"
A common feature of The Musical is the Patter Song, a light and rapid melody sung by a Motormouth character less commonly, more than one. This will often take the form of a Long List, resulting in a List Song. Very commonly the song will involve tongue-twisters that test the singers ability to pronounce the lyrics clearly, and occasionally the ability is tested even further by raising the tempo of the song little by little until it goes at a frighteningly fast pace. A semi-patter song is a toned down version that has a patter song feel, but where the words are more important than the rapid delivery.
If the lyrics aren't enunciated precisely, leaving only a few key phrases clearly audible, this will overlap with Something Something Leonard Bernstein.
(Or perhaps the London West End, if that should be the location),
That at some point in the drama, all the action turns to stasis―
(Because, after all, how many shows make plotting their main basis?)
And a Motormouth or three will more or less expressly chatter
In a light and rapid melody—more technic'ly, a patter.
Since a Long List is a structure that no writer can resist long,
You will ofttimes find the Patter overlapping with the List Song.
Though it uses terms so recherchés, the singers' tongues are twisted,
Each author still will use the trope, as here on this page, this did—
But because to try explaining what the trope entails quite tramples
On our Tropers' little patience, let us on to the examples:
- The McDonald's "Menu Song" jingle, which featured patrons singing the restaurant's entire menu to the tune of the obscure 70s hit "Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)." This was eventually turned into a contest to see if any real-life customers could recite the entire list on the spot for a free drink.
- There was a second contest involving the song, this time with free records given out both at McDonald's, and with local newspapers, one of which would be a winner. Another variation was to press the song on records of varying stability, and only the one that wouldn't warp at the end would be the winner.
- It's a single verse, but it counts: "Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun!"
- In the Musical Episode of Scrubs, Dr Cox's traditional long, funny rant becomes this.
- The theme song to The Big Bang Theory is a patter song performed by The Barenaked Ladies.
- Crazy Ex-Girlfriend had one klezmer patter song sung by the main character's mother called "Where's the Bathroom?"
- Neo of Sporin had one in Galavant, called "Time Is Of The Essence," in which they try to revive Gal after he'd been stabbed by Sid's sword.
- This was one of Danny Kaye's signatures.
- Remarkably averted in A Song Is Born. (Danny's songwriter wife refused to write any songs for the film as they were estranged at the time.)
- "The Interrogation Song" by Sam the Eagle, Jean-Pierre Napoleon (Ty Burrell) and The Muppets, from Muppets Most Wanted.
Jean-Pierre: You know, I think they did it.
Sam: No they didnt!
Jean-Pierre: Yes they did, and we can pin it.
Sam: If they did, how did they do it?
Jean-Pierre: If they didnt, how did they didnt?
Sam: If they didnt then its easy,
Cause they simply didnt do it!
Jean-Pierre: If they did it, then I knew it,
But weve nothing that can prove it!
- Henry Higgins' musical rants in My Fair Lady.
- Isaac Asimov:
- "The Author's Ordeal": This song acts as an Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's "When You're Lying Awake" (also known as "the (Lord Chancellor's) Nightmare Song"), written for Iolanthe. The poem has a number of phrases that evoke a Tongue Twister sense by including rhymes within the lines, and the penultimate line is at least three times as long as any other line.
- "The Foundation of S.F. Success": This song acts as an Homage to Sir William Schwenck Gilbert's "If you're anxious for to shine" from Patience. The poem has a number of phrases that evoke a Tongue Twister sense by including rhymes within the lines.
- "Unbelievable" by Diamond Rio. Lampshaded in Cledus T. Judd's parody: "That Diamond Rio song had way too many syllables!"
- "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies.
- "I've Just Seen a Face" by The Beatles.
- "Une Valse à Mille Temps" by Jacques Brel.
- Similarly, in its English rewrite, "Carousel."
- "A Wolf at the Door" by Radiohead is unusually dark in tone for a patter song, but no less rapid-fire (though it has longer-than-usual spaces between the pattery verses). However, the choruses are slightly slower.
- "88 Lines about 44 Women" by The Nails.
- "Johnny Tulloch", by The Rankin Family, featuring rapid fire lists of people piled in a wagon for a dance in Glencoe, and a story about the dance. Towards the end of the song, there's even scat singing from the women in the group while the male singer lists the names of those in the wagon.
- "It's The End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by R.E.M.. The Trope Namer for Something Something Leonard Bernstein.
- "Hardware Store" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, which is also partially a List Song when Al starts rattling off things the hardware store in question sells.
- It's one song Al refuses to perform live because he doesn't think he can do it again.
- "Your Horoscope for Today" isn't fast enough for the whole song to count, but the bridge does, when he says all this in about twenty seconds and in one breath:
Now you may find it inconceivable or at the
Very least a bit unlikely that the relative position
Of the planets and the stars could have some special deep significance
Or meaning that exclusively applies to only you
But let me give you my assurance that these forecasts and predictions
Are all based on solid scientific documented evidence
So you would have to be some kind of moron not to realize
That every single one of them is absolutely true
Where was I?
- He also does this in the theme song for his short-lived TV show. The first verse is even a run-on sentence!
- Steve Goodie's Harry Potter-themed parody "Dumbledore" is likewise an example.
- "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan.
- "Soho (Needless to Say)" by Al Stewart
- Pretty much everything Vio-Lence ever recorded.
- Virginia-based Carbon Leaf revived a traditional song from the U.K. (opinions vary as to whether it's Scottish or Irish) called "Mary Mac". Their official recorded version may be heard here. Be sure to check out a few of their live versions, as well. Note that any tropers who wish to upload their own versions should try to increase the tempo at every verse *and* every repetition of the chorus, to show off just wwhow good they are.
- Tim Minchin's "Pope Song" has shades of this:
- Matisyahu - King Without A Crown
- "Goin' Down" by The Monkees is a fast-paced, upbeat song... about a guy having second thoughts after trying to drown himself.
- Kirby Krackle's "Who Watches the Watcher," which is used as the theme song of Marvel's online news show "The Watcher," features a major section that rattles off a list of Marvel characters who watch the Watcher.
- Chameleon Circuit's Big Bang 2, which summarizes the Doctor Who episode named "The Big Bang."
- The song "I've Been Everywhere" was originally written by Geoff Mack and popularized by Lucky Starr (both Australian) and featured a rapid-fire list of Australian cities the author had visited. It was later famously rewritten by Hank Snow to feature cities from the USA and recorded in that form by many, many other artists including Lynn Anderson, Asleep At The Wheel, and Johnny Cash.
- Many of Jimmy Durante's songs were these, due to his idosyncratic singing style. Three prime examples are "Inka-dinka-doo", "Chibodee-chobodee-chibodee" and "Durante, The Patron of the Arts."
- Barbra Streisand's "Minute Waltz" and "Come to the Supermarket in Old Peking," which is also a List Song of said supermarket's more notable merchandise.
- Rolf Harris' "Court of King Caractacus."
- A Heavy Metal example: "Shenanigans" by S.O.D.
- Judas Priest's "Freewheel Burning" where Rob Halford sings these words in under 20 seconds, and still manages to end it with several long notes:
Look before you leap has never been the way we keep
Our road is freeCharging to the top and never give in never stops theWay to beHold on to the lead with all your will and concedeYou'll find there's life with victory on high
- Todd Rundgren has his own examples with "Song of the Viking" and "An Elpee's Worth of Toons", both of them Gilbert and Sullivan pastiches. And he also covered Gilbert and Sullivan's "Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song", which is itself an example.
- "Stuart" by The Dead Milkmen
- "Popular" by Nada Surf, the verses for which a spoken-word readings from a cheesy teen dating advice book.
- Tom Waits has "Pasties and a G-String", a very tipsy sounding patter song about strippers from Small Change.
- Tom Lehrer, a huge fan of both Gilbert and Sullivan and Danny Kaye, not to mention a certified scientific and mathematical genius, wrote several songs like this.
- In "The Elements", he rhymed all the chemical element names from the Periodic Table (at least, all the ones that were known at the time; several more have been discovered since note ) and set them to the tune of the Major General Song.
- "New Math".
- His rendition of "Clementine" on An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer includes a final verse In the Style of... Gilbert and Sullivan. While he calls it a "rousing finale", the song is actually a patter song.
- Against Me!'s "You Look Like I Need a Drink" is a punk example. It starts off as a mid-tempo song before delving into extremely fast patter for the remainder.
- "Rosetta Stoned" by Tool.
- The 1974 novelty song "Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)," where each verse lists various musical personalities, pop songs and record labels from the 1950s to the then-present in rapid succession. The tune and concept was later lifted for a McDonalds jingle, where patrons would sing the restaurant's entire menu.
- "Salty Dog" from Flogging Molly's first album, Swagger
- Pretty much any dancehall reggae song is this, especially to those who are unfamiliar with, or otherwise don't regularly follow reggae music.
- Much of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's music consists of these.
- Convincing John's self-titled song on Fraggle Rock is a patter song, as he fast-talks his fellow Fraggles into believing his Insane Troll Logic.
- Spitting Image used the Gilbert and Sullivan song "My Eyes Are Fully Open" to parody Neil Kinnock's reputation for talking really fast, without talking much about anything at all.
- The last episode of the summer 2015 series of The Now Show had "It's a Long-Term Economic Plan (But Not For You)", in which Jake Yapp and Harry the Piano cast George Osborne as Harold Hill ("Friends, we got trouble, right here in Blighty...")
- The Trope Codifier are the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan, every one of which has at least one patter-song (most often these were originally written for the actor George Grossmith). Specific examples:
"This particularly rapid, unintelligible patter / Isn't generally heard, and if it is it doesn't matter!"
- Perhaps the most prominent example is "I am the very model of a modern major-general" from The Pirates of Penzance. Many patter songs since then are inspired by this.
- "How Beautifully Blue the Sky", also from The Pirates of Penzance, has the entire women's chorus singing patter in 2/4 time while the romantic leads sing a duet in 3/4 time—at the same time.
- "When You're Lying Awake" (often called "The Nightmare Song") from Iolanthe
- "My Name is John Wellington Wells" from The Sorcerer.
- In the trio, "My Eyes Are Fully Open" from Ruddigore, note which is the fastest of the G&S patter songs, Gilbert and Sullivan lampshaded their own notoriety for patter songs (and the difficulty in understanding them when sung). As the song says,
"The task of filling up the blanks I rather leave to you, but it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list, 'cause they'd none of them be missed, they'd none of them be missed."
- "As Someday It May Happen" (a.k.a. the "Little List" song) from The Mikado lists people who would not be missed if they were to be executed. Modern productions of The Mikado invariably rewrite this one to incorporate topical and local events, especially as the original lyrics explicitly invite the performer (or producer) to add their own lines:
- The final verse of "I Am So Proud" from The Mikado. The trio begins with each character singing their part in sequence, then in counterpoint, and totally skips that format at the end with the trio singing a brief patter.
- Patience has a true patter song in "If You Want a Receipt"note and a semi-patter song in "If You're Anxious for to Shine".
- The Phantom of the Opera has "Notes" in the first act, which is a patter song with an increasing number of people all singing angrily at each other until the Phantom shuts them up.
- "Clarice Cara Mia Sposa" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Don Giovanni has "Fin ch'han dal vino calda la testa", sung by Don Giovanni organizing a party.
- "Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians)" lyrics by Ira Gershwin and music by Kurt Weill, first performed by Danny Kaye in Lady in the Dark.
- "Both Sides of the Coin" from Drood.
- "Contini Submits" and Necrophorus' part in "Folies Bergeres" from Nine.
- "Rock Island" from The Music Man is a rare example involving many people. It's more of a proto-rap than a conventional song, and it lost its musical accompaniment when the pianist was unavailable. The authors performed it a cappella, and it worked so well that they kept it that way. And of course, "Ya Got Trouble" from the same score is one of the most well-known American patter songs.
- Stephen Sondheim loves this:
- "Everybody Says Don't" from Anyone Can Whistle doesn't keep a consistently fast pace, but has more than enough sixteenth notes to challenge singers.
- "Another Hundred People" and Amy's part of "Getting Married Today" from Company. The latter is such a fast patter that the printed notes are never sung.
- "Buddy's Blues" from Follies.
- "Now" from A Little Night Music.
- The British Ambassador's part in "Please Hello" from Pacific Overtures. Sondhiem wrote each Ambassador's part (American, British, Dutch, Russian, and French) in a musical style that reflects their nationality. The British Ambassador's bit is an homage to Gilbert and Sullivan
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has some of this in "The Contest," and more in "The Worst Pies In London."
- "Franklin Shepard, Inc." from Merrily We Roll Along has elements of this.
- Into the Woods has an ensemble version of this in "Your Fault", but other bits in the score are similar, such as the Witch and Stepsister's bit in "Ever After".
- Arguably "The Ballad of Czolgosz" from Assassins.
- "Now (It's Just The Gas)" from Little Shop of Horrors.
- The Quartet from Chess has some of this.
- Mr. Graydon's dictation test/interview of Mille in Thoroughly Modern Millie ("The Speed Test") gradually becomes this as they move through the verses. The tune uses "My Eyes Are Fully Open" from Ruddigore.note In this case, the music starts off as PAINSTAKINGLY SLOW, and then little by little turns RIDICULOUSLY FAST.
- A song that Jim Steinman wrote for the never produced Batman musical was a patter song. It was written for the Joker character, was entitled "Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?" (Steinman likes long titles) and it goes a little something like this...
- "The Plan" from The Brain From Planet X counts as this.
- The verses of "War Is A Science" from Pippin.
- Made more evident in the revival, in which the verses get EVEN FASTER.
- The Other Wiki has its own list...
- Professor Abronsius' song "Wahrheit" in Tanz Der Vampire.
- Thomas Aquinas's part in Godspell's "Tower of Babble." "God is apprehended by imagination, intuition...."
- Also from Godspell, Judas/David's verse in "All For The Best."
- "Pulled" from The Addams Family has a bridge which is a brief, fast-paced List Song.
- "Tonight at Eight" from She Loves Me.
- Not a whole song, but the ending of "The King of Broadway" in The Producers certainly qualifies.
- So does Leo's part in "We Can Do It"
- Most of the song "The Brain" from the musical version of Young Frankenstein ("His Medulla Oblongata / tells his brain stem that its gotta / send an impulse full of data / which creates a lot of pain" etc).
- "The Red Phone Rag" in Strangelove: The Musical.
- "Es que estoy tan ocupada" ("I'm just so busy") from the Cibrian-Mahler musical 30 Days, where Juana's self-centered mother answers her pre-suicide call by listing all the inane stuff she does.
- "Strike That, Reverse It" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has fun with this trope: A Running Gag within it has Willy Wonka singing so quickly that he keeps accidentally switching words around at the end of verses (Internal Homage to the 1971 film adaptation of this story), and in the final stretch he promises "The next time I'll rehearse it". As he presses the guardians of the Golden Ticket finders to sign a contract before proceeding with the tour, his summary of its contents is so fast — and filled with both Gratuitous Latin and Gratuitous French — that Mr. Salt complains "This tempo is preposterous!"
Wonka: Our schedule has no room for intros, languid and rubato./ Accelerate right to the verse, and play it molto presto and staccato!
- In Albert Herring, the Mayor delivers his speech chanting out words at a very fast clip, slowing down only for coloratura cadences, after each of which he takes a big breath.
- Barnum gives us the "Museum Song."
Quite a lottaRoman terra cottaLivin' lava from the flanks of EtnaStatuaryRide a dromedarySee the Temple tumble and the Red Sea part.McNamara's bandThe fattest lady in the landA pickled prehistoric handA strand of Pocahontas' hairCrow and SiouxWho're going toBe showing youSome rowing throughA model of the rapids on the Delaware.
- Guns and Ships of Hamilton holds the distinction of being the fastest song in one of the fastest shows in Broadway history, courtesy of Lafayette. There's a section where 19 words are sung in about 3 seconds. And it's all done in an over-the-top French accent. Angelica's main song (Satisfied) also counts- Lin himself can't pull off her rap sections, and she's got fewer opportunities to sneak a breath in than Lafayette does.
- Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 has the beginning of preparations, which instead of typical comedy, uses the format to sound vaguely ominous.
- In Mass Effect 2, Mordin Solus once states that he used to sing Gilbert & Sullivan, and always did the Patter Songs. It should come as no surprise, seeing as Mordin talks about five times as fast as everyone else anyway.
- I am the very model of a scientist salarian
I've studied species turian, asari, and batarian
I'm quite good at genetics (as a subset of biology)
because I am an expert (which I know is a tautology)
My xenoscience studies range from urban to agrarian
I am the very model of a scientist salarian!
- The song "Brand New Day" in Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog is a notable example. The whole cast and crew were amazed that Neil Patrick Harris actually managed to sing it.
- Most of Mettaton's numbers, mainly "Metal Crusher" and parts of "Death by Glamour" in Undertale the Musical.
- The bridge from "On Your Knees" on the Red vs. Blue season 9 soundtrack can count as this.
Oklahoma beat down
Pennsylvania dead and drown
Bitch slap Tennesee
DC dead see?
Utah is a fucking mess
Oregon in great duress
Maryland is on her knees
Louisiana? Bitch .please.
Mississippi worst day ever
North Dakota not much better
Missouri in a stranglehold
Montana's corpse is getting cold
Bleeding time for old Kentucky
Indiana not so lucky
Vermont could use a four leaf clover
New Jersey it is almost over
Pick up Delaware and slam her
Call the meds for Alabama
Michigan has been destroyed
Ditto that for Illinois
New Hampshire should have brought a friend
West Virginia's at her end
- While the theme from Camp Camp certainly counts, the final part of the second verse is very notable.
David: We've got:
search and rescue
training that'll save you from a heart attack
keeping up with rhyming
it's Camp Camp!
- That's How We'll Get Her from the Wander over Yonder-episode "My Fair Hatey" is a song by Sylvia and Commander Peepers in which they plot a way to defeat Lord Dominator.
Peepers: I've done extensive research on our good friend Dominator
You see, her whole fleet's powered by volcanic excavator
So I'll apply frostonium to this pyroregulator
and completely discombobulate her army's power center!
- "I Really Don't Hate Christmas" from Phineas and Ferb's Christmas Vacation is a song in which Dr. Doofenshmirtz sings about how much it bugs him that he can't work up more than "an intense, burning indifference" towards a holiday he, as an evil genius, feels obliged to hate, while rattling off a number of holidays and other things that he unambiguously hates.
You see, Valentine's is torture, and my birthday is a mess
New Year's is a lot of noise, and Arbor Day's a pest
Halloween's a horror, but I guess I must confess
That I really don't hate Christmas!
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
- In the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000", the Flim-Flam Brothers get a patter song that's heavily based on the previously mentioned "Trouble" from The Music Man.
- Discord gets a patter song in the episode "Three's A Crowd" titled "Glass of Water", where he asks for a glass of water. Along with many, many, many other zany things.
- Pinkie Pie's "Smile Song", as originally written by Amy Keating-Rogers, was going to have a patter section, but it was deleted from Daniel Ingram's final version.
- In Animaniacs, the segments "Yakko's World" and "All the Words in the English Language", both of which are sung by Yakko, seem to be this.
- Histeria! summed up all 37 of William Shakespeare's plays this way in "That Is The Story That's Told By The Bard."
- Taz-Mania: Francis X. Bushlad gets brief one (set to the tune of "Modern Major General") extolling the virtues of his lemonade in "Francis Takes a Stand".
- There's a Cartoon Network promo listing all the aliens in Ben 10 in song form.
- "The Fundamental Principle of the Thing" in Donald and the Wheel is an explanation of how gears work worded in a convoluted, formal, and rapid manner. It assumes Viewers Are Geniuses, though in a tongue-in-cheek way. Donald is noticeably confused the whole time.
Spirit of Invention: Count the teeth along these two gears
You would know this if you knew gears
How the larger has exactly twice the teeth.
Twice the number, incidentally,
If you spin it even gently,
You'll observe the smaller turning twice the speed.
- "Biskit Family Business" in the Littlest Pet Shop (2012) episode "A Night at the Pawza" is about the corporate head Fisher Biskit teaching his daughters (through song) how he runs his business. That he explains it in such a complicated way suggests he has a thorough, intimate knowledge on the subject.
- The Simpsons has a few, including "See My Vest" (in which Mr. Burns shows off all the garments he's made from real animal skins and fur), and "We Do", in which the Stonecutters list the many conspiracies in which they are involved, including covering up life on Mars, robbing cavefish of their sight, and maintaining Steve Guttenberg's career.
- Bunsen's song about how to grow a rubber chicken tree in the Muppet Babies (2018) episode "Bunsen Knows All".