Mitchell John Benn (born 20 January 1970) is a British satirical songwriter, best known for his topical comedy songs on The Now Show. His favourite topics include James Blunt, Coldplay and Twitter (where he had a feud with Stephen Fry, which was settled when Fry agreed to make him 'Viceroy of Facebook' in return for Benn giving up the quest to be 'King of Twitter'.) He is Liverpudlian-Scottish and looks a bit like a Viking. He has released several albums, some solo and some as 'Mitch Benn and the Distractions'.
He's done two other radio shows: Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music started out with him discussing various aspects of music and musicians with Robin Ince, before the third series became a sitcom about him and Ince going on tour. Either way, the plot was an excuse for him to play his songs and Ince to be rude about them. The Mitch Benn Music Show is simply him showcasing his favourite comedy records by others. He also made the Mitch Benn Specials in 2005, following on from the radio adaptation of his stage show Mitch Benn is the 37th Beatle, but looking at the influence of other musicians. The episodes were: "The Freewheelin' Mitch Benn"; "Mitch Benn is the Fat Pink Duke" and "Mitch Benn Has Left the Building".
His first novel Terra was published in July 2013. You can see some of his celebrity friends reading the first chapter here. Terra's World was published the following year, and a third installment, Terra's War published in 2021.
Tropes used in Mitch Benn's songs include:
- Anti-Love Song: Plenty, including "Now He's Gone" and "Imagine You Were Mine". The latter is a Stalker with a Crush song.
- Bears Are Bad News: Averted in no less than four songs about Knut the Polar Bear, most recently an Elton John-style Eulogy.
- Black Comedy: A lot of his comedy songs seem to be about death. Often real deaths. "Rock'N'Roll Hall of Death" is about a museum dedicated to how rock stars died ("We got Mama Cass's sandwich box and Brian Jones's flippers"); "Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation" is about people who hanged themselves, and whether they were attempting this ("Did they wanna die? There's no way of knowing/They couldn't tell if they were coming or going").
- Boy Band: a song called "Boy Band"
- Brief Accent Imitation: Imitates all kind of accents, especially when it's funny. Exceptional examples include:
- "Five One" (about the famous World Cup qualifying game), in which he imitates the accents of several English players and the Germans as a whole.
- "Gordon Brown has Saved the World", sung from the perspective of Gordon Brown with Gordon Brown's accent.
- "Baby Knut Must Die", which is mostly in a silly Bavarian accent but briefly turns into metal grunt.
- "Poisonous Frogs", in a ridiculous yet mostly-comprehensible Scottish accent.
- Bring My Brown Pants: "Credit Crunch", an advertisement-style jingle based upon the observation that Credit Crunch sounds like a breakfast cereal, containsAnd remember kids, Credit Crunch is so worrying it even turns your trousers brown!
- Crapsack World: His song Hello Aliens is a plea to be taken away because Earth is so horribleThe World's full of Nutters all ready to Snap.The Air's full of Poison, the Sea's full of Crap.
- Determinator: "Good Luck, Sir Ranulph Fiennes" focuses mostly on the man's fondness to keep adventuring despite having "left bits of himself all over the world".
- Distant Duet: "West End Musical" (also a Counterpoint Duet)
- Elvis Impersonator: "Everybody's Elvis" and "If Elvis Were A Northerner"
- Benn also provided the voice for Elvis in Good Omens.
- Enemy Mine: Benn found himself begging Manchester United, arch-rivals of his hometown team Liverpool, to win quickly and easily in a televised cup match so that it wouldn't go to extra time. note Are you listening Man U?I hate you enough already without you making me miss Doctor Who
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Most of his song titles.
- Five-Finger Discount: "So Long Woolworth's", in which he worries about where all the Chavs will shoplift from with Woolies going bankrupt.
- Follow the Leader: "Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now". Also "Virgin Bills Dead People", a song calling out Virgin Mobile for callously sending bills to the family of a man who'd passed away, follows a similar premise to "United Breaks Guitars" by Sons of Maxwell calling out United Airlines for refusing to compensate a band member after their employees carelessly (some say deliberately) broke a valuable guitar.
- Freudian Slip: "Gordon Brown Has Saved the World" is predicated upon one that the then-Prime Minister made during a speech.
- Genre Shift: Aside from drawing upon a broad range of musical genres to parody, the song "Baby Knut Must Die" alternates between sounding like a Bavarian Oom-pah cliche and something resembling death metal.
- Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: "Toddling Along" uses the Gravitational Cognizance version as a metaphor for the financial crisis.
- Great Balls of Fire!: "Never Mind The Song (Look At The Stage Set)"
- Hell-Bent for Leather: "Stinky Pants" discusses the hygiene problems of leather trousers.
- Horny Vikings: "IKEA", which borrows the first line of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song"
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Invoked in "The Hardest Song In The World To Find"
- "I Want" Song: 'I Want'. Appropriately.
- Large Ham: "Brian", which imitates the Flash Gordon theme song and ends with the man shouting "Blessed's annoyed".
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- In "There Are Things Worth Rioting About Right Now", along with a minor Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion:Now they want to ration visits to your own GP
it's the latest brainwave from Jeremy Hunt
You might want to look at your priorities
or are you just a gang of stupid racist c-
cause there's things worth rioting about right now.
- An inversion of the usual mechanic occurs in Anti-Love Song "Not Bitter" where lines start offensive but are rendered almost-innocuous:You bitch, you bitch, you bet your life I will be OK
You whore, you whore, your horoscope told you
This was the right thing to do today
You slut, you slut, use lots of self control and don't turn round
You cow, you cow, you count on it
I won't be breaking down.
- In "There Are Things Worth Rioting About Right Now", along with a minor Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion:
- Least Rhymable Word: Benn is inspired by Tom Lehrer, and it shows.
- Pastiche: He has done a lot.
- "I'm Proud Of The BBC" is a pastiche of the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start The Fire".
- "IKEA" takes a lot from The Immigrant Song.
- "We Never Fly Without A Teapot" riffs on the genre of World War II patriotic anthems.
- "Not Everybody Has To Imagine" is pretty much "Imagine", but with the lyrics on the other end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion
- List Song: 'These Ghoulish Things Remind Me of You'.
- "I'm Proud Of The BBC" is a list of awesome BBC shows and personalities. Including Doctor Who three times. Although perhaps each mention is for each of the show's three incarnations: the original run from 1963-89, the TV movie and the new series.
- "I'm Still Here" is a list of all the ways a musician trying to go out with a bang has failed to get himself killed.
- Midword Rhyme: In Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music, to rhyme with orange.
- Mixed Metaphor: "The Devil And A Hard Place", inspired by a global warming spokesman saying the world was "standing on the precipice of a runaway train".
- Mushroom Samba: "Tea Party"
- New Media Are Evil: "Steal This Song" disagrees:Home taping isn't killing music
Music's dying of natural causes
- Protest Song: Most of his songs on The Now Show. He's usually funny about it, though. "Not Everybody Has To Imagine" is interesting, a skewering of John Lennon's "Imagine" from the opposite end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism:And you may say I have no dreams,
Well perhaps that's how it seems,
But in a world this tough,
Dreaming's not enough.
- Ruthless Modern Pirates: "The Pirate Song", a Now Show song that included the lyrics "On land they'd recognise us for the psychos that we are" and "The papers call us pirates tho' we're muggers in a boat / Armed robbery is jolly when it's done while you're afloat".
- Self-Demonstrating Song: Many, such as "Boy Band", "Stay The Hell Away From Hallelujah" (to the tune of "Hallelujah", of course) and "Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now":"...and you dooooo a high bit in the middle eight
then yooooou have almost solved the riddle of just how...
to sound like Coldplay now."
- Self-Deprecation: In "Why Are The BNP So Fat?"Why are the BNP all so overweight
I know that I'm on pretty thin ice asking this but wait
- Shout-Out: Quite a few. 'Hardest Song in the World to Find', for example, has a Shout-Out to The Ring.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: "I May Just Have To Murder James Blunt" rhymes the title character with "confront" and "back to front" and then notes that "he's the only man alive who is his own rhyming slang."
- Teenage Death Songs: Parodied in "Now He's Gone".
- Subliminal Seduction: "Please Don't Release This Song" ends with a backmasked version of the chorus of "We Haven't Got A Clue".
- Take That!: Expected, as many of the Now Show songs are political. "Why Are The BNP So Fat?" springs to mind, along with "There Are Things Worth Rioting About Right Now".
- This Is a Song: "West End Musical".This is a great big opening song
- For balance there is also his Very Happy Ending Song
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: "Stay The Hell Away From Hallelujah"
- To the Tune of...: "Now Coldplay Sound Like Everything Else" (to a Suspiciously Similar Song of 'Viva la Vida', which Coldplay were accused of plagiarising). He also recorded a song strongly reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven" which included the lines:And now everyone here is staring at me in fear,
'cause this is meant to be Stairway, obviously.
And the original song's a good eight minutes long,
He's not going to do all of it, is he?
I think I'll let you wonder...
(Riff) Nah, that's it.
- Toilet Humour:
- The discovery of methane on an extra-solar planet led to this song:Something's farting way out there in space
it's hitherto unknown to science
someone's letting off gas giants.
- More literally, there's the song he wrote when Bob Dylan was sued by his neighbours because of the smell from the outdoor toilet on Dylan's malibu property:It's my Port-a-Loo, it's got Nothing to do with You.
Except when the Smell comes a-blowing on the Wind !
- And when the International Space Station had problems with its lavatory
- The discovery of methane on an extra-solar planet led to this song:
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: lampshaded in "Boy Band" with "Off the stools!"
- True Meaning of Christmas: a song called "The True Meaning of Christmas".