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Self-Demonstrating Song

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This is the first verse of this song
It sets the beat and starts out strong
This song is fast, in 4/4 time
A catchy little tune, and the words all rhyme.
The Frantics, "This Song"

An entire song (or sometimes just a single line of the lyrics) which deliberately provides an example of whatever the subject is, usually for comedic effect.

Compare I Resemble That Remark!, This Is a Song, Heavy Meta , [Trope Name], and Boastful Rap (as most of that features this trope).


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    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, the pauper-turned-princess and her etiquette master have a song detailing what a princess must do. One of the pieces of advice is "always harmonize in thirds". Guess what they do on that line.
  • Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie: The song under the end credits is entitled, "The Song Under the Credits"; it's opening lines are "This is the song that runs under the credits. These are the credits, so this is where it goes."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The French Connection, Popeye goes into a nightclub where a girl group is singing a song called "Everybody Gets to Go to the Moon", which is actually original to the French Connection soundtrack. Here are some of the lyrics in the chorus:
    Everybody's going to the moon
    Everybody's going, it'll be quite soon
    It's customary in songs like this
    To use a word like spoon...
    You know everybody's going to the moon
    • The next time the chorus comes around the song uses "June" instead of "spoon."
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: Although ╔dith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" serves as Shaw's Leitmotif, the title (which can be roughly translated as "Life Through Rose-Tinted Glasses") is actually an apt description of how the optimistic Xavier perceives the world.
    • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle" is featured in the Pentagon kitchen scene. When you read the lyrics (which is about a man who wishes he could save time and spend it with his beloved), it basically reflects the elderly Erik's profound regret when he tells Charles (whom he loves as a brother), "All those years wasted fighting each other, Charles. To have a precious few of them back..."
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Quicksilver listens to the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" while in Bullet Time. The song itself spells out the plot in more ways than one. "Traveled the world and the seven seas, everybody is looking for something" refers to En Sabah Nur teleporting around the globe to recruit followers and offering them something they desire. "Some of them want to use you / Some of them want to abuse you" summarizes the entire interaction between Apocalypse and Xavier.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The lyrics to the theme song for It's Garry Shandling's Show are about how the songwriter is writing the theme to It's Garry Shandling's Show.

  • "Dance To The Music" by Sly and the Family Stone may well be a Trope Codifier, as it deconstructs their song style in the riffs and lyrics.
    All we need is a drummer for people who only need a beat [only a drum beat is heard]
    I'm gonna add a little guitar and make it easy to move your feet [a guitar riff is added]
    I'm gonna add some bottom so that the dancers just won't hide [now you hear a bass riff]
    You might like to hear my organ, I said now ride Sally ride [an organ plays... and so on]
  • Music Instructor's cover of Ultravox's Hymn does the same thing, before launching into the actual covering of the song.
  • Played with in "Only A Northern Song" by The Beatles; it was written by George Harrison as a bitter take that to the Northern Songs publishing company owned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and the way he was treated by it.
    If you're listening to this song
    You may think the chords are going wrong
    But they're not; we just wrote it like that
    When you're listening late at night
    You may think the bands are not quite right
    But they are, they just play it like that
    It doesn't really matter what chords I play
    What words I say or what time of day it is
    As it's only a Northern song
  • "25 or 6 to 4" — Chicago's breakout song, one of the founders of '70s rock and considered to this day to be one of the greatest songs ever written is about... Not having anything to write about. No, seriously, that's it. People have been trying to find a deeper meaning in it for decades (ranging from drugs to sex to The Vietnam War), but just give up people, it's really about nothing. It's about the real-life case of a songwriter trying to come up with lyrics, looking at the clock, and seeing it was already after 3:30 am. Twenty-five or (twenty-)six minutes to four, specifically.
  • "Dance Stop" by Daniel Amos is about society doing its best to ignore a nuclear apocalypse, dancing right until the bombs detonate. The music is fast and upbeat, and DA would encourage fans at concerts to dance along.
  • "Superpowers" by Five Iron Frenzy:
    Sometimes we have a deadline, for writing our songs.
    Five minutes left to write this one... la, la la, la la, la la la.
  • "Headphones" by Jars of Clay. The lyrics are about isolating yourself from other people's problems by listening to pop music. The music is exactly the sort of pleasant pop sound that the narrator would listen to.
  • Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side"
    And the colored girls go "do, do-do, do-do, do-do-do-do"
  • Bowling for Soup's "A Really Cool Dance Song," which is a techo dance song in which the singer explains that in order to make money, they're doing a techno dance song.
  • "Song Inside My Head" by The Arrogant Worms. The song is about an Ear Worm. Chances are, like the song's protagonist, you'll have it stuck in your head whether you like it or not.
  • "This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends..." Newer Than They Think: "The Song That Never Ends" was composed by Norman Martin in 1988; otherwise it would have made a good Ur-Example.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's "(This song's just) six words long." A lie. The chorus is just six words long, but the song is somewhat longer.
    I gotta fill time
    Three minutes worth of time
    Oh, how will I fill so much time, mm-mm
    I'll throw in a solo, a solo, a solo
    A solo, a solo here!
    [cue solo]
  • "School's Out" by Alice Cooper:
    Well, we've got no class
    And we've got no innocence
    And we've got no principles
    We can't even think of a word that rhymes!
  • Bad Religion: "Cease". Final lines:
    What pretension! Everlasting Peace
    Everything must
    [abrupt cutoff; CD ends]
  • "Move" by John Reuben:
    '''Cause nowadays, music's too political
    And maybe just a bit too predictable
    The repetition <click>
    repetition <click>
    repetition <click>
    Man, I'm just kidding, or am I?
    * "Paint By Numbers" by Self, in which the lead sings about having to depersonalize his music so it will sell better:
    Alone I compose a bittersweet ditty
    About an ex-girlfriend
    But why bother with painful memories?
    Why tear out my heart for all the world to see?
    Why not paint by number
    Catchy melody
    Burn it up the charts with sweet simplicity
    Then do it again
  • Blues Traveler, "Hook":
    It doesn't matter what I sa-ay-ay \ As long as I sing with infle-ection,
    That makes you feel that I con-vey-ay \ Some inner truth or vast reflec-tion.
    But I've said nothing so far-ar-ar, \ And I can keep it up as long as it takes!
    And it don't matter who you ar-ar-are,
    If I'm doing my job, it's your resolve that breaks! Because
    the hook brings you back, I ain't tellin' you no li-ie!
    The hook brings you back, on that you can rely-ay-ay-ayayay!
  • DaVinci's Notebook, "Title of the Song".
  • Likewise, The Frantics have a tune tentatively called "This Song":
    This is the first verse of this song
    It sets the beat and starts out strong
    This song is fast, in 4/4 time
    A catchy little tune, and the words all rhyme
  • The first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" is about its own chord sequence.
    It goes like this: the fourth, the fifth
    The minor fall, the major lift
  • Mitch Benn is fond of this; for example, "Boy Band", "West End Musical" and "The Apathy Song".
  • "Body Be" by Johnny Q. Public explores the idea that believers in Christ can be different, while still members of one spiritual body, and that if one part tries to intrude on the natural function of another, chaos ensues. Around the bridge another song begins, then fades out. It comes back near the crescendo and the entire song dissolves into a confused mess.
  • Subverted or Averted (Depending on your opinion) in the song "The Sultans of Swing" by Dire Straits. Many genres of music are listed in the Sultans' repertoire, and the song itself does not belong to any of them.
  • "Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song" by Alan Jackson.
  • #1 Radio Single by Psychostick guides you through the entire song.
    Oh this is the verse that sounded just like the verse you heard before, yeah.
    But if you please take note that lyrics are slightly different than last time.
    We're killing time, until we're at chorus, agaiiiiiiiiiiin.

    And here we are back at the chorus.
    Don't you remember the one that is so freakin' catchy it's stuck
    in your head, for the rest of your life.
  • The Limeliters, "Generic Up-Tempo Folk Song"
  • The song "Crayons Can Melt on us For All I Care" by Relient K. It basically just tells you that it wasted part of your life.
    I... just wasted... ten seconds of your life.
  • The Venezuelan genre of Gaita Zuliana is full of songs that straddle between this trope and This Is a Song, in a Serious Business way. Often the lyrics describe how the song is going trough the traditional Gaita guidelines and tropes. And there is the Gaita Onomatopeyica (Onomatopoeic Gaita), which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • "How to Write A Love Song" by The Axis of Awesome informs the listener how to write a generic chart-topping boy-band love song—in the form of a generic boy-band love song.
  • A recurring trope in Mike Batt's songs for The Wombles — most notably, "Tobermory's Music Machine" which describes various ways in which the titular machine goes wrong, and illustrates them at the same time.
  • "Come All Ye" by Fairport Convention. Sandy Denny's vocals are highly affecting despite the fact that she's basically just describing what the band is doing.
  • "Mozart's House" by Clean Bandit: "I can make my voice sta!cca!to! / then mix it allll"
  • Die ─rzte, "Die Instrumente des Orchesters". Especially when the singer complains that noone understands the text anymore as soon as the guitar WEEEEIIIIAOOOOOORRRR!
  • Less so but still legit, "Die Summe der einzelnen Teile" by Kante (likewise German).
  • "Please Play This Song on the Radio" by NOFX:
    We wrote this song
    It's not too short it's not too long
    It's got back-up vocals (in just the right places)
    It's got a few oohs and aahs (oooh aaah)
    And it takes a little pause
    Just before I sing the F-word
    Almost every... line... is sung on time
    Almost every verse ends in a "rim"
    The only problem we had was writing enough words...
    ... (oooh aaah)
    But that's okay, because the chorus is coming up again now
  • Marianas Trench's "Pop 101", which is a catchy pop song about... a catchy pop song. As the singer elaborates on the construction of the song, those very things appear in it.
    The chords are 1-4-6-4
    Now I'm talkin' familiar
    Harmony in thirds, not fourths
    Will take you into the pre-chorus...
  • Tom Lehrer's "The Folk Song Army:"
    The tune don't have to be clever
    And it don't matter if you put a couple extra syllables into a line
    It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English
    And it don't even gotta rhyme... excuse me: rhyne!
  • "Hate the Villanelle" by They Might Be Giants is a villanelle about how annoying the rules of a villanelle are. John Flansburgh calls it "a true story about writing this song".
    • "Number Three" is the third song on their debut album, and is ostensibly about writing the song itself and how difficult it was since the singer only had "two songs in me."
  • The Who:
    • "Getting in Tune" has fairly self-demonstrating verses, but the first one stands out.
      I'm singing this note 'cause it fits in well with the chords I'm playing
      And I can't pretend there's any meaning hidden in the things I'm saying
      But I'm in tune. Right in tune.
    • "Guitar and Pen" is about songwriting, and contains a few self-demonstrating gags.
      You write up the verse and you end with a scream
      Then you swear and you curse 'cause the rhyming ain't clean

  • Spamalot's "The Song that Goes Like This".
  • "Poppa's Blues" from Starlight Express is a blues song that is almost entirely devoted to explaining the typical lyrical structure of a blues song:
    Oh, the first line of a blues is always sung a second time
    The first line of a blues is always sung a second time
    So by the time you get to the third line
    You've had time to think of a rhyme

    Web Original 
  • "Ten Dollar Solo" from Commentary! The Musical is entirely about itself.
  • Tobuscus's "Dramatic Song" is an emotional-sounding song... as long as you don't speak English. The lyrics simply explain the fact that he's not singing about anything serious or dramatic but it just sounds like that, all whilst lampshading the music, vocals and how foreign people who don't speak English might find this song intense. See it here.
  • Charlie McDonnell has a song on her album called "A Song About a Song".

    Western Animation 
  • The song "Montage" from South Park (and later, Team America: World Police) facilitates this trope by describing the exact narrative devices and reasoning behind Montages while the viewer actually watches a montage on-screen.


Video Example(s):


Elkin John

Elkin John (who is a parody of Elton John) sings a few songs that are self-demonstrating, especially the one where the team try to pull him and his piano up a giant ramp.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / SelfDemonstratingSong

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