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Music / Tim Minchin

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"And fine, if you wish to glorify Krishna and Vishnu in a post-colonial, condescending bottled-up and labeled kind of way... then whatever, that’s okay, but! Here’s what gives me a hard-on: I am a tiny, insignificant, ignorant lump of carbon. I have one life, and it is short, and unimportant...but thanks to recent scientific advances, I get to live twice as long as my great-great-great-great uncleses and auntses!"
— "Storm"

Timothy David Minchin AM (born 7 October 1975 in Northampton, England) is a flame-haired Australian pianist who once wrote an album full of silly songs to get them out of his system. When he discovered that the public loved them more than his more serious work, he became a comedian, and proceeded to become quite famous both in Australia and in the UK. He's known for his Black Humor and for his spot-on criticisms of both the religious right and the new age left.

Several of his songs have official videos, including "The Pope Song" and "Storm", the latter of which has been adapted into an animated short. He also famously serenaded Jonathan Ross's wife.

He hosted one episode of Never Mind the Buzzcocks and has now won an Olivier Award for writing the score to the hit musical Matilda. He has also been nominated for Tony Awards for his work on Matilda and Groundhog Day. His latest work involves writing a new song for the 2022 film adaptation of his Matilda musical.

Not to be confused with Tin Machine.

Has his own YouTube channel.

Tropes embodied in his work include:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Tim is probably one of the few people who could sing a song to Jonathan Ross about how he wants to bang Ross's wife and make Ross laugh his head off about it.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Five Poofs and Two Pianos:
    "Why settle for a quartet of queers when there's a possibility of a penta-poofter piano posse here?"
  • And a Diet Coke: Fat Children
    Ordering a Diet Coke is not the way back,
    Bumb-a-larda kiddie-stuffer your kids are fat have you noticed that?
  • Answer Song: Song for Phil Daoust, a response to a scathing newspaper review.
  • Anti-Love Song:
    • You Grew on Me is a love song, despite comparing love to a malignant cancer.
    • If I Didn't Have You is "I do love you, but I'm not going to pretend you're the only person I could ever love".
      If I didn't have you someone else would do.
      • Which would make it a song in favour of realistic love...?
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Several of his works, like Storm. Better seen in his address for a graduation ceremony in The University of Western Australia.
    There is only one sensible thing to do with this empty existence, and that is: fill it.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • The Pope Song levels many accusations against pedophile priests and those who cover for them. The very last of which, on the very last line of the song, is that they wear stupid hats.
    • In Context, Tim discusses his hatred of, amongst other things, racist Africans, Japanese homophobes, the disabled rapists and Burmese cats.
    • "Song for Phil Daoust" includes several embittered lyrics towards the journalist which get more and more caustic as the song continues. As everything builds to a climax, the final departing verse of the song calls the journalist a "poo-face".
    • "5 Poofs and 2 Pianos":
      And all those angry letter writers,
      Like Disgusted from the Isle of Wight, and
      Mad from Hull, and Outraged from Leeds,
      And Slightly Annoyed from Berwick-on-Tweed...
  • Association Fallacy:
  • Astronomic Zoom: Not Perfect. "This is my Earth ... This is my house ... this is my body ... this is my brain"
  • Audience Participation: He often talks to members of the audience during performances.
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • Canvas Bags and Peace Anthem For Palestine. Although in Peace Anthem he has a habit of setting up obvious jumping in points for the audience before cutting them off with more piano solo.
    • Lampshaded and subverted in both Hello and I Love Jesus.
    • Averted in one of the versions of Dark Side when he tells the clapping audience to shut up. The fact they were off-tempo may have had something to do with it.
  • Author Tract: Of the good kind in Storm, in which Tim makes a passionate argument for rationalism.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "Prejudice", a song about a nasty word that has caused no end of damage and hurt to people, spelled with "a couple of Gs, an R and an E, an I and an N". It is, of course, "ginger".
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Invoked
    If you're so into Shakespeare, lend me your ear:
    To gild refined gold... to paint the lily...
    to throw perfume on the violet... is just fucking silly.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The entirety of Three Minute Song is basically about Tim mocking the BBC (or whatever network he's performing it on) and their restrictions.
  • Black Comedy: Lullaby which is an, um, lullaby about getting a baby to sleep. It starts out pretty sweetly, and ends with a line explaining that how much you love your child is directly proportionate to how dead it looks.
    What more can I do to put a stop to
    this mind-numbing noise you are making?
    Where is the line between patting and hitting?
    When is rocking "rocking" and when is it "shaking"?
    I don't know what else I can do to try to hush you.
    My heart says "I love you", but my brain's thinking "fuck you."
    And hoping a child trafficker will abduct you.
    At least then I'll get a few hours in bed.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • If You Really Loved Me gets more bizarre and fetishistic as it goes along. It starts with somewhat beautiful metaphors for love that just get more and more depraved and vulgar as the song continues:
    Because I need you, like a fish needs a sea.
    Like a fire needs oxygen, like a flower needs a bee.
    And if you really cared for me...
    you'd let me video you while you wee
    standing up in the bath.
    I shouldn't even have to ask,
    perhaps you'd even store a little more in a flask.
    These are just the things that people do
    when their love for one another is true.
    • Angry (Feet) gets weirder and more psychotic, until the narrator finally admits to cutting his psychotherapist's feet off and kicking him in the head with them.
    • In Cont, he expresses hatred to the rich and poor who use wealth/poverty as an excuse for bigotry, bitches who get rabies and try to bite babies and whores who don't accept Visa.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the second verse of "Rock 'n' Roll Nerd", he mentions guitar kids learning Stairway To Heaven. The outro quotes the song.
    • In "Three Minute Song": "Yeah, I got people. And a phone. And a sense of the passage of time." The whole joke of of the song is being performed on talk shows and lasting for three minutes, because if he goes over people watching the talk show will get bored.
  • Brown Note: "F Sharp" may very well be the real deal. Try listening to it and not cringing.
    • Genius Bonus: It's known among serious vocalists that F is a difficult key for the human voice to stick to; without instruments to keep them on the straight and narrow, the majority of choirs will slide sharp or flat when attempting it.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Dark Side. Every Part of it. But the Re Veal (Daddy never came to my ball games...) takes the cake.
  • Caustic Critic: Phil Daoust.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: 86 times in The Pope Song. You may as well call it Cluster F-Bomb: The Song.
  • Comically Missing the Point: "Happy Little Africuns":
    Millions of kids in starving nations
    Living their life with no Playstations
    AIDS and war, no vaccinations
    Living their life with no Playstations
  • Country Matters: The bridge of "Three Minute Song" is: "For China is a country that can bring me to my knees!" sung on a loop until the words sound like something else entirely.
  • Cowardice Callout: "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)" places some verbal emphasis on calling the main character, supposedly too ill to testify against child sex abuse but also implicitly complicit in hypocritically covering up such abuse; a coward.
  • Cure Your Gays: Referenced and inverted in Five Poofs And Two Pianos.
  • Christmas in Australia: Basically the subject of White Wine in the Sun.
  • Darker and Edgier: Parodied in Dark Side, and to a lesser extent Rock And Roll Nerd.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: He's fond of this when introducing his songs.
    • This is a song about prejudice, and the language of prejudice, and the power of the language of prejudice. It's called... Prejudice.
    • This is a poem about anger. It's called Angry (or, in brackets, Feet).
  • Digging Yourself Deeper
  • Double Subversion: His At The Hairdressers joke.
  • Drag Queen: Wears heavy eye makeup and fancy, frilly clothes as part of his stage persona. Minchin has even said it's not as an act of transvestism, but simply because it helps him exaggerate his expressions and movements (which is otherwise difficult when your hands and feet are occupied the playing piano).
  • Dramatic Wind: Tim even uses a fan he brings on to pull it off during "Canvas Bags".
  • Getting the Baby to Sleep: "Lullaby" is a song sung by parent who is getting more and more desperate as their crying child won't go to sleep.
    I don't know what else I can do to try to hush you
    My heart says "I love you", but my brain's thinking "fuck you"
    And hoping a child trafficker will abduct you
    At least then I'll get a few hours in bed
  • Granola Girl: Storm.
  • Green Aesop: "Canvas Bags" advocates carrying your shopping in reusable canvas bags instead of plastic ones.
  • Grief Song: The aptly titled The Grief Song, also known as Fuck The Poor.
  • Guyliner: Because his performance doesn't allow him to gesture, he uses Guyliner to make his facial expressions easier to read from the audience. His makeup starts running (because he had been sweating under hot lights for two hours) during the Royal Albert Hall show while performing "Dark Side".
  • Ho Yay: invoked
    • "Adam Hillsong," made especially hilarious by the fact that you can see the exact moment when the subject (victim?) of the song realizes what the "apple" euphemism is.
    • Also in Five Poofs and Two Pianos, where he considers being gay to be part of the "Four Poofs and a Piano" band.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Angry (Feet), the funniest being the involuntary quacks whenever he mentions his doctor.
  • "How I Wrote This Article" Article: He composed an unusually clean, three-minute long song for pre-watershed TV appearances which is all about the reasons he needs to write a clean three-minute song.
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Prejudice" is filled with puns regarding its subject matter: gingers and red hair.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Referred to in YouTube Lament.
    • In If You Really Loved Me:
      We go together
      Like a cracker and Brie
      Like racism and ignorance
      Like niggers and R&B
    • Interestingly, he'd later lament using the joke because, even with the obvious Hypocritical Humor stratagem, the power of the slur is such that he still shouldn't have used it. In subsequent performances it's changed to "bling and R&B".
    • Nothing ruins comedy like arenas, written to serve as part of the opening song to Tim's first arena tour.
    • Song for Phil Daoust is about Tim's efforts to overcome criticism and be mature in the face of negative feedback... but he still thinks Phil is a fucking poo-face who deserves to have big chunks of flesh cut out of his face and be forcefed them while his children watch.
  • Impractical Musical Instrument Skills:
    • Tim has demonstrated on more than one occasion the ability to play certain notes with his feet while he is in the middle of playing. Often the alternative would be stretching across the piano uncomfortably, or stop playing altogether to reach the note. Impressively he's not only capable of timing the foot note, but also play it in correct key as well. Musically inclined toes!
    • If you listen to "Ready For This", the ENTIRE song is pretty much performed by him creating different effects with his MOUTH and then adding SFX to them (ie giving the "guitar" some distortion or rounding out the "kick drum" a bit so it sounds like a kick drum).
  • In the Style of: "Dark Side" includes a great Pearl Jam imitation, lampshaded by inserting a few bars of "Jeremy" into the middle of it.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Pretty much the entire point of Cont.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In Not Perfect;
    And the weirdest thing about a mind,
    Is that every answer that you find
    Is the basis of a brand new... cliché.
  • List Song:
    • The Fence, a song on how the world isn't always black and white, briefly plays this trope for one of the choruses:
      We divide the world
      into terrorists and heroes.
      Into normal folk and weirdos.
      Into good people and paedos.
      Into the things that give you cancer.
      And the things that cure cancer.
      And the things that don't cause cancer, but there's a chance that they'll cause cancer in the future.
    • There's also YouTube Lament, which lists all the techniques Tim ever uses in his songs, concluding that none of them will ever get as many hits as Kitten Waking Up.
    • If You Open Your Mind Too Much, Your Brain Will Fall Out is essentially this, with the list items (all pertaining to pseudoscience and religion and Reasonable Experimental Conditions) getting longer and longer.
      If anyone can show me in the history of the world / Of a single person who's been able to prove either empirically or logically the existence of a higher power with any consciousness or interest in the human race [breath] with the ability to punish or reward people for their moral choices or that there is any reason other than fear to believe in any version of an af-ter-life... [plays the same few notes he's played at the end of all the shorter lines.]
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Quite a lot, given that he's a decent pianist with a dark sense of humour. "You Grew On Me" is something of a Double Subversion, since the gorgeous music suits the underlying sentiment perfectly well, it's just the comparison of love to terminal illnesses that breaks the spell a little. Unless, of course, one is familiar with the Australian slang term moll.
  • Mood Whiplash: Dark Side is a blatantly lampshaded example, but there are others. Confessions is another... he sings about different issues, only to then cut to him singing about boobs.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Done deliberately in Canvas Bags. Played with in The Good Book, as he introduces it with "This next song requires a boot".note 
  • Mundane Utility: Tim using a 60-piece orchestra for background music.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Storm from, well, Storm is a fan of alternative medicine and new age culture. Tim's initial assumptions about her prove to be quite accurate.
    "I admit I'm a little bit wary/ because I notice the tip of the wing of a fairy/ Tattooed on that popular area/ Just above the derrière/ And when she says “I'm Sagittarian”/ I confess a pigeonhole starts to form/ And is immediately filled with pigeons/ When she says her name is Storm."
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Woody Allen Jesus:
    Praise be to magic Woody Allen zombie Superman komodo-dragon telepathic vampire quantum hovercraft - me - Jesus!
  • N-Word Privileges: In Prejudice he mentions a word that contains a couple of Gs, an R and an E, an I and an N, which is only acceptable to be used by those it applies to.note 
  • Ode to Apathy: His song the fence is an "anthem to ambivalence" about how people tend to divide the world into a binary of good and bad, but it's not that simple and it's okay not to know all the answers.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: "Thank You God" begins with a little speech about how Tim doesn't write songs mocking religious belief anymore, after an encounter he had with a Christian guy in Australia called Sam, who questioned whether Tim really only believed things that he had evidence for. When Tim confirmed that this was so, Sam told him of his own mum, an evangelical Christian who was diagnosed with a progressive degenerative eye disorder, but who didn't believe in medical science and worried that she'd go blind; then, after she, Sam and their entire congregation had prayed to God for a cure, she'd gone back to the ophthalmologist and found out that her eye disorder had gone as if had never been. Tim then launches into a solemn gospel number, "Thank You God", ("Please forgive me all those things I said / I'll no longer betray you, Lord / I will pray to you instead")...which abruptly turns into a jaunty little samba with the refrain "Thank you God, for fixing the cataracts of Sam's mum."
    Thank you, Sam, for showing how my point of view has been so flawed
    I assumed there was no God at all but now I see that's cynical
    It's simply that his interests aren't particularly broad
    He's largely undiverted by the starving masses,
    Or the inequality between the various classes
    He gives out strictly limited passes,
    Redeemable for surgery or two-for-one glasses
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In The Song For Phil Daoust: Tim manages to avoid swearing in his dressing down of his Caustic Critic, until about two minutes into the song when his anger can be held back no more:
      I just want to say, Phil Daoust,
      I know it must be really hard to be a 'journaloust'
      What with deadlines always looming
      And the pressure to be entertaining,
      So maybe you should quit and get a job that you'd be better at,
      Like killing yourself, you fucking cunt.
    • An epic one (even for Tim) in 'Thank You God'
      So in a bit of a change of his usual stunt,
      Of being a sexist, racist, murderous cunt...
  • Pun: In Cheese, when Tim laments giving up cheese:
    I cannot camembert it anymore!
    Edam you mon amour!
  • Radio Friendliness: TV-friendliness, at least, is discussed in The Three Minute Song.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Come Home (Cardinal Pell)" is a rant against said Cardinal for refusing to return to Australia to testify about sex abuse. He calls him "a coward" twice, says God has a spot in hell for him as well as asking if he actively tried to "keep it buried". It concludes:
    Oh! Well! Cardinal Pell,
    if you don't feel compelled
    to come home by a sense of moral duty...
    Perhaps you will come home and frickin' sue me.
    • "Storm" a 9 minute rant about how ignorant a newager is also qualifies.
  • Religion Rant Song: Thank You God, The Good Book, The Pope Song...
  • Rule of Three: Three movements in Confessions.
  • Running Time in the Title: "Three Minute Song" lasts exactly three minutes.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • Rock And Roll Nerd.
    • The Song For Phil Daoust, which is as much about Tim's childish inability to get over Daoust's review as it is Daoust himself.
  • Shamed by a Mob: "15 Minutes" deconstructs this mentality, in turn modern "callout culture" at large, depicting it as encouraging excessively damning Witch Hunts that makes everyone on any side a potential future target.
    Pick up your pitchfork and your torch
    We'll go hunt the monster down
    But keep an eye out for uneven ground
    We’ll turn on you if you stumble
    Don't need perspective or a heart
    Leave humility at home
    Welcome to the glasshouse, hope you brought your stones
    Are you ready to rumble?
  • Shaped Like Itself: In The Good Book, he describes The Bible thus:
    If I wanna know how to be good
    it's to the good book that I go.
    'Cause the good book is a book
    and it is good and it's a book.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After a lengthy and incredibly complex piano solo in "Dark Side", the music gradually slows until just two notes are playing for a brief period. This is shortly followed by the opening to "Beethoven's Für Elise" - which Tim may have used to suggest the pseudo-seriousness for the song.
    • The Coda of "Inflatable You" includes the repeating lyric "Don't let me down" - a nod to The Beatles song of the same name.
    • "Teenage Years" involves the concept of 'reaching Nirvana' and drinking the 'Teen Spirit', Bundaburg Rum. 'Smells like Teen Spirit' was a song created by Grunge '90's group, Nirvana.
    • Confessions ends with a homage to "I Will Always Love You".
    • "If I Didn't Have You" includes a verse about Tim's romantic prospects had he been more wealthy, which quotes from "If I Were A Rich Man" from Fiddler on the Roof.
    • The orchestral performances of "Rock & Roll Nerd" end with an over-the-top playing of the end riff from "Stairway To Heaven", which he references earlier in the song in an extensive band list:
      He's never really been part of the scene
      Give him Guns N' Roses, he'll take Queen
      He's more into Beatles than The Stones
      He's more Stevie Wonder than Ramones
      And he's never owned a panel van
      He's never shot a Pantera fan
      He doesn't know the difference between metal and thrash
      He couldn't tell you nothing about Axel and Slash
      He likes Ben Folds and the Jackson Five
      He knows all the words to "Stayin' Alive"
  • Silly Love Songs
  • Sincerity Mode: White Wine In The Sun.
  • Spoof Aesop: "Confessions": We shouldn't objectify women, but fuck he loves boobs.
  • Stealth Pun: Used in Inflatable You.
    Now birth control is not an issue
    I clean it all off with a...
  • Stylistic Suck: Fairly often, whether in terms of lyrics, singing, or piano.
  • Take That!:
    • Mostly against religion or superstition, but without much in the way of political prejudice — he goes against the New Agey left as hard in Storm as he goes against the traditionally theistic right in The Good Book.
    • Song for Wossy is a Take That! to the complainants who got Jonathan Ross suspended by the BBC, or specifically those who insisted that Ross would be traumatised if anyone dared to target him with the kind of joke that he was suspended over. Watched from this perspective, you can see that point that Wossy works it out.
    • The end of "Confessions" features a variation of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You", except for the version on Tim's Ready For This album which had to be removed for copyright reasons. Tim uses the silence to add some perfectly timed commentary slamming the copyright.
      Hi, sorry - Tim here. So I had a bit of a copyright problem with this bit, see as where usually I avoid musical parody as a matter of principle preferring to keep my work as original as possible, I every now and then quote a more well-known popular song within one of my own less-popular works. In this case it was the song "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton, who, it might surprise you to learn I consider her one of the best songwriters of her generation; seems like a bit of a dumb end to my breasticular anthem, but what I did right, is I replaced the word 'you', right, with the word 'boobs', right - it was fucking incredible and copyright lawyers are fucking dicks.
  • Third-Person Person: Rock And Roll Nerd - "But he doesn't want to seem self-obsessed, so he writes in third-person."
  • Tragic Dream: Slightly Played for Laughs in "Rock and Roll Nerd", in that the narrator (really Tim himself) aspired to be a rock star. The caveat? His life is too normal.
    But you see the problem is, there's not much depth in what he's singing
    He's a victim of his upper middle class upbringing
    So he can't write about the hood, or bling bling
    So he sits and imagines his girlfriend is dead
    To try and invoke some angst in his middle class head
    But the bitch is always fine at half past nine when they go to bed
    And he's not spent a single night in prison, he has no issues with nutrition
    He has no drinking problem, and no drug addiction
    Unless you count the drugs they put in chicken
    And marijuana always tends to make him cough, he doesn't look good with his t-shirt off
    And when he tries to act tough, you can tell he's tricking
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: There's one in "Three Minute Song", because otherwise Tim would get bored.
  • Uncanny Valley Makeup: Granted, only because the bar for men is set very low, but still, it's strange to see a man, much less a straight one, wearing non-black eyeliner - especially without obvious foundation.


Video Example(s):


Get Out, They're Waiting

Jesus screams at Judas so that he'd leave. Judas rebukes him in turn.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

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