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Music / Wesley Willis

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Wesley Lawrence Willis (May 31, 1963 August 21, 2003) wrote some awesome fucking songs!
The music was very formulaic!
He used a Technics KN series keyboard's auto-harmony for the accompaniment!
He called his concerts "harmony joy rides"!

Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!

He suffered from paranoid schizophrenia!
He heard voices from demons named "Heartbreaker", "Nervewrecker", and "Meansucker"!
He had psychotic episodes on the Chicago CTA bus lines!
He called his psychotic episodes "war hell rides"!

Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!

[long instrumental passage with Stock Sound Effects]

He released more than fifty albums of music!
He liked to greet his fans by headbutting them!
He died at the age of 40 of complications from leukemia!
His music will be remembered for all time!

Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!
Wesley Willis!

Rock over London!
Rock on, Chicago!
TV Tropes! It will ruin your life!

This musician features examples of:

  • '80s Hair: Wesley was not a fan of this, if his song "Cut the Mullet" is any indication.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: In some of his songs, Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, and the Mighty Thor turn into jerks who harass him and his girlfriend, prompting him to kick their asses with a rubber hose.
  • Affectionate Parody: By a Christian ska band, of all things. The W's had a Hidden Track on their first album that was a tribute to Five Iron Frenzy, done In the Style of Wesley Willis. Presumably very few people got the joke.
    • Anal Cunt did one of these to close the Howard Is Bald EP.
  • Animalistic Abomination: The titular beast in "The Chicken Cow," which comes out when it's 25 degrees below zero and stabbed Wesley's brother in the ass when he was in the cold.
  • Animals Hate Him: In his songs, at least, Wesley has been harassed or attacked by horses, vultures, termites, dogs, vampire bats, electric eels, and more.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: He wrote many songs about bestiality. Apparently, he believed he was being tormented by demons, and that writing these songs would gross them out enough to leave him alone.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The demons that torment Wesley.
  • Big Fun: When Wesley was in a good mood, he was big, and he was fun.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "Rock over London! Rock on, Chicago!"
    • He was also fond of various permutations of "Rock Saddam Hussein's ass to Russia!"
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
    • He had an astounding gift for hyperbole, too. Check out his song for Alanis Morissette:
      "You are a rocking maniac! You are a singing hyena! You are a rock star in Jesus' name! You really rock Saddam Hussein's ass!"
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: He had quite a few of these over the years, some of them quite famous, from Henry Rollins to Jello Biafra.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "Fuck You". The chorus is simply "Fuck you" repeated five times.
  • Concept Album: Sort of - Rock N' Roll Will Never Die consists entirely of songs about other musicians (such as Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, Alanis Morissette, and Jello Biafra), ending with a song about his own band, The Wesley Willis Fiasco.
  • Couch Gag: Many (all?) of his songs end with the phrase "Rock over London, rock on Chicago..." after which he would then spout a line from a random commercial jingle or product slogan. Kevin Mac Leod named two of his tracks "Rock over London" and "Rock on Chicago" in tribute, mimicking the songs that he often sung over.
  • Cover Version: Duran Duran's "Girls on Film", for obvious reasons.
    • He also recorded a cover of "Amie" by Pure Prairie League with the Wesley Willis Fiasco.
  • Cursed with Awesome: His schizophrenia caused huge problems in his life and made it difficult for him to go out to art stores and ride the bus as he loved to do, but everyone can agree his circumstances made him a unique musician.
  • Darker and Edgier: His songs fronting The Wesley Willis Fiasco, a live rock/metal band. Though similar lyrically to his self-produced synthesizer songs, they sound much heavier.
  • Documentary: The Daddy Of Rock N' Roll. Filmed in 2000, it was finally released in 2003, mere months before his passing.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: In "Rock 'n Roll McDonald's'" he describes the titular establishment as "A restaurant where [people] buy food to eat".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Wesley's demons were apparently disgusted by bestiality, hence why he wrote songs about it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Songs like "Al Capone" and "They Threw Me Out of Church."
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Sometimes combined with Cluster F-Bomb, as he was prone to saying things like "Suck a pygmy marmoset's dick, you dad-blasted motherfucker!"
  • Headbutt of Love: He was famous for greeting fans with a headbutt, so much that he had a permanent bruise on his forehead towards the end of his life.
  • Heroic Safe Mode: He dealt with his demons' torments by telling them to suck animal genitalia.
  • "I Am" Song: "Wesley Willis". Wesley affirms himself as a "good person to the max", despite his demons calling him "a jerk, a bum, and an asshole".
  • Improbable Weapon User: In his "superhero" songs, Wesley uses a rubber hose as a weapon. He's proficient enough with it to beat up and humiliate the likes of Superman and the Mighty Thor.
  • Little Known Facts: He could occasionally toss one out in a song, like when he claimed that Al Capone (who died in 1947) killed Wesley's brother.
  • List Song: "Suck a Caribou's Ass", its cousin, "Suck a Polar Bear's Dick," "Make Sure I'm Out Screwing Up".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: He wrote songs like "Kill That Jerk" and "Fuck With Me And Find Out", using the often upbeat pre-programmed tracks on his synthesizer as backup music.
    • He also has a song called "Kill Whitey," which most people assume is racist before it becomes perfectly clear that it's just about one specific guy named Whitey who Wesley really hated.
  • Madness Mantra: See Once an Episode. Also, the choruses in his songs consisted of the same phrase repeated over and over again.
  • The Magic Touch: He describes Bill Clinton in the song with the same name that he has the Midas touch.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Heartbreaker, Meansucker, and Nervewrecker.
  • Once an Episode: Almost every one of his songs ended with the mantra, "Rock over London! Rock on Chicago!" followed by some kind of commercial slogan.
  • Outsider Music: Identified by Irwin Chusid as a prime example.
  • Product Placement: After reciting his Catchphrase, he will sometimes mention a brand name along with its slogan. For example:
    "Pontiac: We build excitement!"
    • He'd occasionally include specific products in rather unflattering places, such as:
      "Suck a golden lion tamarind's dick with Price Chopper imitation vanilla extract!"
  • Real Men Have Short Hair: "Cut the Mullet", though it evidently targets the one particular hairstyle rather than long hair in general.
  • Refuge in Audacity: A literal example, since his at times frequently obscene (and hilarious) lyrics were his way of drowning out the schizophrenia voices in his head.
  • Scary Black Man: Being that he was inspired by gangsta rap, some of his more violent songs fall into this trope. However, much of the time it is just for shock value, as he wasn't a violent person in real life. According to the book Songs in the Key of Z, his intimidating appearance saved him from being robbed on several occasions.
  • Shout-Out:
    • From "Fuck You:" "Take This Job and Shove It! I'm not working for you anymore!"
    • From "Gingerbread Knocked Me Out:" "When I dialed 911 for help, it was a joke. I'm sorry that I couldn't get help at all."
    • From "Feel The Power Of Rock N Roll": "Rock the casbah like a hurricane".
    • A couple of songs by The Wesley Willis Fiasco included musical quotations from other rock bands: "Casper the Homosexual Friendly Ghost" incorporates the signature riff to "Jamie's Cryin'", while "The Bar Is Closed" does much the same with "YYZ".
  • Smug Super: Pretty much every superhero Wesley ends up fighting. Spider-Man was kissing Wesley's girlfriend. The Mighty Thor mugged his girlfriend with a baseball bat. Superman was "being such a roughneck."
    • Subverted in "Birdman Kicked My Ass" - Birdman attacks Wesley for trespassing in his yard, and then comes after him again for throwing a brick through his window. For once it's not the superhero who's being the dick.
  • Strictly Formula: All his songs follow the same pattern- being around 2 minutes and 50 seconds long, has an identical pattern of verse, chorus (always the same line repeated 4-6 times), verse again, chorus again, roughly 90-second instrumental interlude, verse, chorus, "Rock over London, rock on Chicago" and an advertising slogan.
  • Take That!:
    • "I Whupped Batman's Ass" and "I Whupped Superman's Ass." Oddly enough, Birdman is the only one who can kick Wesley's ass.
    • He made a song about how Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars franchise is the worst character.
  • Take That, Critics!: "Make Sure I'm Out Screwing Up", though it can also be interpreted as being directed towards the voices in his head.
  • Take This Job and Shove It: From the song "Fuck You".
    Take this job and shove it!
    I'm not working for you anymore! Stick it up your ass!
  • Three Chords and the Truth: His songs generally tend to be very minimalistic, consisting of very simple rhythms played on a keyboard.
  • Title-Only Chorus: To the point that this trope could very well be renamed "Wesley Willis Syndrome", if not for the fact that Willis is a rather obscure artist. Every single one of his songs does this.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Goes without saying. Some of his songs end with him committing wanton destruction and/or being arrested.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Happens several times in "I Whupped Batman's Ass".
  • Vulgar Humor: Some of his songs had titles like, "Suck My Dog's Dick", and "Lick A Bulldog's Nasty Asshole". He apparently directed these songs at Heartbreaker, Meansucker, and Nervewrecker in order to cope with his Schizophrenia.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Most often to be found in his Cluster F-Bomb songs.
    "The triangle car went off the road. It fell in the water. I was running the show."
  • Word Salad Title: Most of his albums that aren't just named after one of the songs.
  • Wound That Will Not Heal: That bruise on his forehead technically healed, but he kept on headbutting his fans, which made it keep coming back. It's hard to find a photo of him without the bruise.