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Rousing Lullaby

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"Let my army of demons rock you to sleep!
It's BEDTIME! It's fuckin' BEDTIME!
Have sweet dreams while I rev my Jeep!"
Ninja Sex Party, "It's Bedtime"

Ah, the lullaby. A soothing song sung by a loved one to a child to soothe them off to Dreamland... if that kid's a wuss.

In its most basic form, this kind of lullaby is loud, proud, and informs the child (and both neighbors) that it is now time to sleep, and they'll git got by the Things That Go "Bump" in the Night if they don't. In other forms, a Rousing Lullaby is likely to keep the child awake through loud volume, energetic tempo, or frightening subject matter, but is nevertheless presented as soothing to the listener.

See also Lyrical Dissonance, which is a song that has lyrics at-odds with the melody. Compare Ironic Nursery Rhyme, which is another kind of song that inspires terror rather than comfort; Ominous Music Box Tune, where a music box (an instrument commonly used for lullabies) is played for creepy effect, and Isn't It Ironic?, where a song is chosen more for melody than lyrics. A form of Situational Irony - a lullaby is meant to be, well, lulling, and these songs are very much not.


Film - Animated

  • In The Lion King II: Simba's Pride, Big Bad Zira sings her son Kovu to sleep, but it soon turns into a Villain Song about her hopes that Kovu will grow up strong enough to overthrow Simba for the throne of the Pride Lands. It also shows that his family's not very good at, well, being a family, with his siblings pitching in in ways more likely to keep him up, such as his brother Nuka yelling "Sleep, ya little termite!" in his ear.

Film - Live Action

  • In The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl, Sharkboy has to sing a lullaby so Max can fall asleep and have a dream. It starts out slowly, but he soon gets into the song and sings really energetically and aggressively, and Lavagirl yells at him for giving Max nightmares.
    Just relax, lay about
    Or my fist will put you out


  • The Redwall book Loamhedge has a variation. Flinky sings "Vermin Lullaby," a mostly standard lullaby, to Badredd, a Bratty Half-Pint villain in the team. When Badredd is asleep, Flinky sings the lullaby again, but this time to no one in particular. In this version, the lyrics are altered to be about how Flinky hates Badredd so much that he wishes Badredd would die in his sleep and have his corpse eaten by ants and flies.
  • Subverted in the Sesame Street book "Elmo's Good Night Stories". Elmo's mother sings him a bedtime song during the chapter "Elmo's Lullaby". The next day, Elmo wants to sing it to his friends, but he can't remember the lyrics or the tune, so he loudly sings about shaking your fingers and your toes. Ernie even notes that it's more of an energetic song than a lullaby.

Live-Action Television

  • Bizaardvark parodies this in one episode as "The Worst Lullaby Ever".
  • In an episode of Man Down, Dan's mother and aunt sing the "Dudley Lullaby" (a song they used to sing to Dan to get him to go to sleep), which is not only quite loud but also extremely inappropriate (it's about being kicked down a flight of stairs and dying horribly for upsetting your uncle. The refrain is "...When he kicks you down the stairs!"). When Dan hears the song, he says "Jesus Christ! Is that what you used to sing to me? No wonder my life's utter shit!"
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: At the end of "Parts: The Clonus Horror", after a long day of supervising a trio of rowdy, omnipotent Space Children, Pearl Forrester has finally convinced the Space Kids to go to bed. Tom Servo offers to read a soothing poem to help them fall asleep—then to accompany his poem, he plays some loud oompah band music. Naturally, this wakes the Space Kids right up, which was Servo's goal in the first place.


  • Mark Gunn has Close Your Eyes (Demon Lullaby), which is about how there's a demon lurking in literally every dark corner of the kid's bedroom.
  • Metallica has Enter Sandman, a metal song about falling asleep and having an apocalyptic nightmare.
    "Dreams of war!
    Dreams of liars!
    Dreams of dragon's fire!
    And of things that will bite, yeah!"
  • Ninja Sex Party has It's Bedtime, a heavy metal lullabye where Danny informs the listener that "It's fucking bedtime!," and that he has an army of demons to "rock you to sleep" and a jackhammer to provide "soothing vibrations." The song is also laden with various noisy things, such as loud cars (including a car chase complete with police sirens), bad jazz, and a pirate battle.
  • The They Might Be Giants kids' album, "No!" ends with three songs treated as lullabies. Two of them are soft and one of those is slow, but the other, "Bed, Bed, Bed" is one of the loudest and the noisiest song on the album, with instrumental interludes of car horns and other rousing sounds.
  • Tom Lehrer sings The MLF Lullaby, wich is more likely to keep you up despite its gentle piano melody because the MLF (Multi-Lateral Force) concept entailed giving Germany access to the nuclear button scant years after they lost World War II and might still hold a grudge.
  • Voltaire sings Goodnight, Demon Slayer, which informs the child that since they're the scariest thing in the room, they can sleep anywhere they want. It's more heartwarming than the others here, but still more likely to keep them up trying to pick fights with the Things That Go "Bump" in the Night than put them to sleep.

Puppet Shows

  • Sesame Street:
    • One episode had Ricky Gervais sing Elmo "the N Song", which was generally a relaxing song on an accoustic guitar until the refrain, when it switches to a loud electric guitar and Ricky loudly sings "N goes NA NA NA, NA NA NANA NA NA..."
    • In another, Oscar is babysitting baby Natasha, he tries to sing her a lullaby, but finds it boring, so he sings it quickly. Natasha doesn't fall asleep, but she doesn't seem too bothered by the song.


  • Peter Pan Goes Wrong: Invoked. Annie, as Mrs. Darling, tries to sing a lullaby to the kids. Unfortunately, it's at that moment that the stagehands arrive to get Robert out of the doggie door where he's stuck (he was playing Nana the dog and couldn't fit through the doggie door.) They use loud construction equipment like a hammer and a chainsaw, forcing Annie to shout her song just so she can be heard over the racket. The stagehands finish right at the last line of the song, so Annie has to quickly revert to singing quietly again.

Video Games

Web Original

  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "bedtime story", The Cheat is scared into insomnia by a "shock-u-mentary" about gingivitis, so Strong Bad and Strong Mad have to think of oddly specific ways to comfort him to sleep. One of these is a "lullaby" where Strong Mad revs up a chainsaw and Strong Bad yells the lyrics to a non-sequitur rhyme over it.
    Strong Bad: Bran muffin!
    Come on, you stupid bran muffin!
    Try harder to be a bran muffin!
  • Inverted with Tobuscus's Safety Torch, which is intended to wake poor Tim-Tim out of a dead sleep and freak him out so he'll buy Toby's cockamaime security system (a torch to keep monsters away and a pail of water for when the torch sets the house alight).

Western Animation

  • Animaniacs: One sketch has the Warners as the Three Musketeers vowing to protect the King of France from a mysterious figure called "The Viper". In one scene they sing the King a soothing lullaby... with lyrics about "a big monster-man" coming for him, which does little to calm the King's nerves.
  • In Arthur, the first album contains a song (not from the show) in which D.W. sings a death metal-type song called "Go to Sleep" to her one-year-old sister Kate. It demands she fall asleep already and stop crying, and Kate actually does fall asleep.
  • The Little Mermaid (1992): Subverted with "Evil Lullaby," which is sung by Evil Manta to his son, Little Evil. The song is about Manta telling his son to dream about torturing sea creatures, in hopes that Little will grow up to be just as evil as his father. Since Manta is a Card-Carrying Villain who runs on Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad, this actually succeeds in making Little fall asleep.
  • In the Looney Tunes short "From Hare To Heir", Yosemite Sam is kept awake by Bugs Bunny playing the piano. Since he stands to lose an inheritance if he loses his temper, Sam regains his composure and asks Bugs to play him Brahms' Lullaby to lull him to sleep. Bugs plays it — very loudly, on a bass drum with cymbals.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode Stare Master, Sweetie Belle sings such a lullaby. It's soft and gentle when Fluttershy sings it, but Sweetie sings it at the top of her lungs with inexplicable gospel music accompaniment.
  • Pete the Cat has "This Song Is Not a Lullaby," which starts as a gentle lullaby tune for about halfway, before becoming a rock song.
  • In the Sonic Boom episode, "Three Men and My Baby!", Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles volunteer to babysit Chumley, the infant son of Lady Walrus, after Lady Walrus gets injured from an accident they caused. At one point, the trio have difficulty getting Chumley to fall asleep. Tails suggests that Sonic sing him a lullaby, so an irritated Sonic sings, "Rock-a-bye baby in the treetop, whatever we do, this kid just won't stop" real fast. Unsurprisingly, Chumley doesn't fall asleep. Knuckles then suggests they put on more of a show, so the trio dress as their Dude-itude band and sing a rock lullaby. Unfortunately, this still doesn't succeed in getting Chumley to fall asleep.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode, "InSPONGEiac", SpongeBob is trying to fall asleep so he can be fully rested for a day of work at the Krusty Krab. When he can't fall asleep by himself, he goes to Patrick, who sings him a lullaby from his childhood. The lullaby is called "Get Up, Be Active!", which is all about being active instead of lying down, and gradually gets louder and faster. Unsurprisingly, SpongeBob doesn't fall asleep.
  • One of the songs in the Uncle Grandpa short "Uncle Grandpa Sings the Classics Vol. 82" is one of these. A gospel number entitled "Frankenstein Is Trying To Sleep", which woke Frankenstein up and made him smash the stand the chorus of Uncle Grandpas were singing on.

"I see you're still awake for some reason. Was it the guitar solo? Was it the demons? Yeah, people have told us that before..."


Video Example(s):


This Song Is Not a Lullaby

In "Bedtime Blues" from "Pete the Cat," the song "This Song Is Not a Lullaby" starts as a soothing lullaby tune, but quickly switches to a rock song.

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