Follow TV Tropes


Self Deprecation / Music

Go To

"... Nickelback? You brought me Nickelback?!
Party-planner, showing his displeasure of their presence in the video for This Afternoon

  • Ska band Reel Big Fish used to sell T-Shirts proclaiming "I Hate Reel Big Fish." And their most popular track was called "Sell Out".
    • They also titled an EP "Keep Your Receipt."
  • Likewise, Oasis began selling 'Quoasis' t-shirts when their rivals Blur compared them to Status Quo.
  • Primus Sucks. By which I mean they're awesome.
    • A Tales from the Punchbowl era promotional poster reads "If you didn't like Primus probably still won't."
  • Mindless Self Indulgence frequently insult themselves. If you see anyone in a shirt that says "MSI sucks", they're probably a fan.
  • They Might Be Giants' fifth album John Henry included pictures in the liner notes of children waving signs that said: "We hate They Might Be Giants." Seeing as this was the first album where the Johns were accompanied by a full band, quite a few fans did.
    • In the documentary Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns), John Linnell goes on record saying "We are the shitty Beatles, after all."
  • Toad the Wet Sprocket is the ultimate cure for insomnia!
  • KMFDM's albums usually contain one song in this vein. The straightest example would be "Sucks" from Angst.
  • Other rock stars brag about the size of their respective members, but not Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. He brags about his smallness and is reportedly the least endowed man in the business.
  • Flight of the Conchords typically open their live performances by describing themselves as New Zealand's "second/third most popular novelty music band". The most popular New Zealand novelty music band is a Flight of the Conchords tribute band.
  • For one of the biggest acts in pop history, The Beatles were remarkably prone to this. One 1963 interview has John saying they'll be lucky to last three months, Paul extremely certain they won't still be performing these songs at 40, George hoping he owns his own business "by the time we do flop," and Ringo speculating that he'll end up owning a hair salon. In a 1982 interview George was asked to describe himself, and freely answered "a middle-aged ex-pop star." There's a picture in the book The Beatles' Recording Sessions of George in the studio c. 1967 wearing a "Stamp Out The Beatles" sweatshirt.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Replacements on occasion, as evidenced by the fact that their discography includes titles like Stink and Don't Sell Or Buy, It's Crap. Even their name itself was chosen to suggest being second-rate: As member Chris Mars put it, "Like maybe the main act doesn't show, and instead the crowd has to settle for an earful of us dirtbags".
  • Elton John's 1976 world tour was self-dubbed "Louder Than Concorde (But Not Quite As Pretty)". Many of Elton's own wardrobe selections and costumes exaggerated (or covered up) Elton's less-than-conventionally-pop-star-like looks and qualities (eyeglasses, overweight build, gapped front teeth, receding hairline, sexuality (even when few people knew about it)) for laughs. A 1977 compilation EP of his was titled Four From Four Eyes.
    • The record sleeve liner notes of his 1975 album, Rock Of The Westies featured very self-deprecating "bios" of Elton, lyricist Bernie Taupin, producer Gus Dudgeon, and Elton's band members.
  • The cover of Metallica's "Whiskey in the Jar" single was a collection of reviews blasting their Garage Inc. covers album.
  • Green Jelly/o's Theme Song contains the chant-along chorus of "Green Jello Sucks!" along with some lyrics touting themselves as the worst in the land. They were also fond of touting themselves as "the world's first video-only band," until they released "Cereal Killer Soundtrack" on CD/cassette and proclaimed in the liner notes that "now we're liars as well as jerks with no talent."
    • The Spoof Aesop of their song "Three Little Pigs" also counts.
    The moral of this story is that bands with no talent can easily amuse idiots with a stupid puppet show.
  • GWAR is fond of pointing out in their movies that they aren't particularly good, and the band characters are often depicted as fairly dim-witted.
  • Advertisement:
  • Henry Rollins has said numerous times he thought Black Flag's best work was before he joined the band. His spoken word albums occasionally include digs at his own solo career: one bit has an airport security worker asking him if he's a singer, to which he responds "Not to anyone who has good taste in music!". In another, he claims to be one of rock and roll's ninjas because "I put out records... no one hears them! I make videos... no one sees! I go on tour... no one knows! NINJA! I was never here!" He's also made comments to the effect that he's not an actor, but he takes roles whenever anybody's stupid enough to offer him one.
  • Five Iron Frenzy was all over this. In the hidden track on their first live album, Reese Roper thanks the listener "for buying another one of our stupid albums!" In the Cheeses liner notes, he writes "Thank goodness [our 1995 demo was never released]. This song suffers from suction." Their 2003 farewell tour was titled The Winners Never Quit Tour, and on this tour, they sold T-shirts proclaiming "We were the future of rock and roll... in 1995." At the band's final show, Reese told fans how hospitals were using old FIF albums as an alternative to stomach pumping. "Five Iron is stupid and you are if you like them also."
  • Starflyer 59 writes lyrics like "It's not the same when I try, it's just a bad lullaby" ("When I Learn to Sing") and "My ideas, they outweigh all the talent I own" ("Ideas for the Talented").
  • Kesha's twitter name is @keshasuxx.
  • Punk band NOFX titled their 1995 live album I Heard They Suck Live!!. Their second live album. from 2007, was titled They've Actually Gotten Worse Live!. They also have a rarities album titled 45 or 46 Songs That Weren't Good Enough to Go on Our Other Records.
  • Limp Bizkit album Significant Other actually opens with the line, "You wanted the worst... you got the worst. The one... the only... Limp Bizkit." The Outro for Chocolate Star Fish and The Hot Dog Flavored Water, features Ben Stiller making fun of the band, including a troll laugh that is repeated for 4 minutes before the next part of the Outro is played.
  • An article by metal group Harvey Milk has band members savaging their musical catalog.
  • After The Who started doing radio commercials, fans complained that they had "sold out". The title of their next album? The Who Sell Out.
  • Dos Gringos engaged in this as well, with their song I'm A Pilot. It's based on the perceptions and stereotypes that crew chiefs have of fighter pilots.
  • Emilie Autumn called herself "Drama Queen" in her 'Opheliac' era track "Shalott".
  • Matthew Shultz of Cage The Elephant came up with the lyrics to their hit "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" while on the job at a construction site, and wrote them down on unfinished drywall. He's subsequently joked that "one day, someone will find those lyrics on the wall and say 'who wrote these crappy words?'".
  • One of the more visible/notable examples of this is when the members of Pearl Jam appeared in the 1994 movie Singles as the other members of Matt Dillon's character's band. Their appearance was nothing but one giant piss take at their (Pearl Jam's) expense.
  • Another notable example of this was Mudhoney's Performance Video for "Suck You Dry", which has them playing a "10 Years Of Grunge" event at a dive bar in 1998 (the song came out in 1992) - they're mainly playing to a handful of incredibly bored looking people sitting at the bar... and one really enthusiastic fan in front of the stage who is effectively slam-dancing with himself.
  • Bloc Party's vocalist has said that he wrote "Helicopter" as a jab at himself. He's not nearly as much of a Small Name, Big Ego as the song makes him sound.
  • Micky Dolenz of The Monkees put out an album of lullabies in the early 1990s titled Micky Dolenz Puts You To Sleep.
  • The inner fold of Deep Purple's Who Do We Think We Are LP consisted of a collection of print reviews from around the world, panning the band. Uriah Heep also did this, in the gatefold of their double-live album. In the early 1970s, most critics' attitudes toward any Heavy Metal band not named Blue Öyster Cult ranged from indifference to contempt, so the two bands probably couldn't have scraped together enough positive press between them to fill an album cover.
  • Steely Dan frequently poke fun at themselves through written material posted on their website.
  • An advertising campaign for 1980s San Francisco New Wave band Flipper: "Flipper suffered for their music. Now it's your turn".
  • The Presets ' video for "Are You The One" includes this subtitle exchange at a concert- "Man, this band sucks. I wish I was listening to The Presets." "Why? They suck even more."
  • Ten CC wrote "The Worst Band in the World", although it could be argued that it's written from the point of view of another, fictional band.
  • The song "Redneck" by Lamb of God was written about their lead singer Randy Blythe. It's one long Reason He Sucks Speech.
  • Luke Seinkowski, A K A "The Great Luke Ski" of Dr. Demento fame, named one of his albums "Worst Album Ever", and interspersed its tracks with verbal tirades in which he lambasts the album as a ripoff and himself as a shameless hack. Tirades, self-delivered in a Gilbert Gottfried voice.
  • One blink-and-you-miss-it example occurs in the music video for Jessie J's "Price Tag". The song is about anti-consumerism and Doing It for the Art, for context. Around the time the line "We need to take it back in time/when music made us all unite/and it wasn't low blows and video hoes/am I the only one getting tired?" is sung, you can see briefly Jessie wearing the same outfit and doing similar dance moves she is using in "Do It Like A Dude", which is a song about being a The Lad-ette.
  • Matsuura Aya of Hello! Project has readily admitted that she gets distracted by mirrors if she sees one while she's having a conversation
  • Alice Cooper was able to combine this Trope with Take That, Critics! towards the common belief that his music held Satanic messages in his guest appearance on The Muppet Show. In the storyline, he was an agent for the devil - though not all-too competent at offering soul-trading deals to the cast.
  • Cole Porter's song "At Long Last Love" includes the line: "Will it be Bach I shall hear or just a Cole Porter song?"
  • The video for Nickelback's song "This Afternoon" features the band being kidnapped to perform at a high school party and the host being disgusted that they were the best that his friends could find. Rockstar praises how cool it would be to be a true rockstar. The picture they are painting is pretty pathetic and kind of sad.
  • Britney Spears, a lot in her actions, but also she calls herself shameless in Piece Of Me.
  • Industrial label head and one man band, Klayton (aka Cell Dweller), often makes fun of himself and his music in interviews and live video streams.
  • During live performances (for instance, Rock the Bells festival), rapper Redman has been known to have the audience chant "F*** REDMAN!"
  • Local H's "All The Kids Are Right" is mostly about how fickle music fans can be, but the main example of this involves the band themselves playing an incredibly lousy live set one night:
    You heard that we were great
    But now you know we're lame
    Since you saw the show last night
    You hoped that we would rock
    You wished that we'd just stop
    And finally we said "good night"
    When we had returned for the encore
    You and half the room had headed for the door
    No one wanted more
  • Maine rapper Spose has a song deceptively titled "I'm Awesome" which is actually about the dozens of ways he's not, spoofing how rappers usually tend to brag a lot about themselves in their songs.
  • Darkbuster's debut is titled 22 Songs That You'll Never Want to Hear Again!.
  • Tom Lehrer:
    • He released a live album entitled An Evening Wasted with Tom Lehrer, including negative reviews in the liner notes, such as "plays the piano acceptably".
    • His songbook is titled Too Many Songs By Tom Lehrer.
    • The cover of his second live album, Tom Lehrer Revisited, is a photograph of him on stage playing the piano in front of a theater of empty chairs. (Well, not entirely empty: there are two people in the audience. They're both asleep.)
  • The song Runaway by Kanye West takes jabs at how rubbish he is at romancing a woman, even admitting that the relationship failing was his fault.
  • The Spinto Band promoted their shows at the SXSW festival with a take-off on the "Shit (insert group of people here) Say" YouTube meme called "Shit People At SXSW DON'T Say" - one such line is "Man, the line for the Spinto Band showcase is four blocks long!".
  • The a cappella band Instant Sunshine's members all carry personas of being failures desperate for fame. Their first LP is called "Funny Name For A Band...", positioned directly over their name.
  • Former Pink Floyd leader Roger Waters does this on his The Wall Live tour. For the song "Mother", he sings in harmony with a video clip of himself singing the same song back in 1980, which he refers to as "miserable, fucked-up Roger". (By many accounts, he really wasn't a very nice person back then, and really has mellowed considerably since.)
  • Paul and Storm have a song entitled Opening Band which is mostly made of this. Slightly subverted, since they also poke fun at the sound guy ("he's probably out behind the building rolling up a fattie"), the venue ("we're wondering if this was worth the drive here"), and the headline act ("they're probably getting wasted in the green room").
    We're probably not the band you came to see tonight
    But it's all right
    Cause soon we'll go away
  • Disney pop starlet (well, she records for Atlantic Records, technically) Ashley Tisdale called her second album, well, Guilty Pleasure.
  • The Insane Clown Posse has often been called "the world's most hated band" by the media (and non-fans), and relishes it - their The Howard Stern Show appearances often end in hateful phone calls from listeners, which they joyfully respond to, often making the caller seem like an absolute ass by loving their criticism.
  • Hannah Montana:
    • From her interviews, YouTube videos and Twitter feed to many of the jokes in Hannah Montana to many of the TV shows she watches, Miley Cyrus spends a lot of time both celebrating and poking light fun at her Tennesseean roots and accent, which she jokingly calls "hillbilly".
    • During her 19th birthday, Cyrus made a speech (similarly filmed on a smartphone and leaked on TMZ) sarcastically describing herself as a "stoner" and referring to herself by the nickname her close friends have given her as "Bob Miley", all as a reference to an incident where Miley inhaled from a salvia bottle in New Orleans.
    • Relatedly, one of her adopted dogs is named "Mary Jane". She tweeted this post in December 2012.
    • Miley's frequent appearances and cameos on Saturday Night Live are filled with self-deprecation, and she has embraced the series' Miley Cyrus Show sketches with open arms; she's good friends with Vanessa Bayer, who plays Miley. She has also promised plenty of this kind of humor in her 2014 Bangerz tour.
  • Jon Anderson takes a poke at his own rather obtuse lyrics in Yes's "Going for the One."
    Now the verses I've sang
    Don't add much weight to the story in my head
    So I'm thinking I should go and write a punch line.
    But they're so hard to find
    In my cosmic mind
    So I think I'll take a look out of the window
    • Referring to their notorious status as a Revolving Door Band, one instance of which occurred when Anderson and keyboardist Rick Wakeman departed from the group prior to the album's recording to be replaced by The Buggles, they named their 1980 album Drama.
  • Ex-Supertramp singer Roger Hodgson reportedly asked his son Andrew (who was in his backing band in the mid-1990s what a stereotypical Hodgson lyric would be, and then wrote a song with that phrase as the title. The song, "Don't You Want To Get High?", was released on Hodgson's live 1997 Rites Of Passage album.
  • Torche's Songs For Singles EP has a sticker on the packaging with the following quote:
    "It's a bunch of radio rock bullshit" - Rick Smith (Torche Drummer)
  • It doesn't take long to find a Twitter post by pop star / ex- Hannah Montana actress Emily Osment that doesn't poke fun at her 5'2'' frame (her profile contains the description "2 foot 38 inches. Dorm life." as of December 2012), indie-rock-leaning tastes in music (she's fond of ironically referencing to "hipsters") or her love of panda bears (her fans label her as a "Panda Queen").
    • When her brother Haley Joel Osment joined Twitter in 2014, he commented to her on how he can barely keep up with the "nearly five thousand tweets" his sister has already posted (she joined the social media site in 2009). Emily joked back, "And only about 4 of them make any sense".
  • Hardcore Punk band Poison Idea released an EP titled Record Collectors Are Pretentious Assholes, with the cover depicting a large pile of various records messily strewn about the floor. This was actually a joke at the expense of their guitarist, Pig Champion - the record collection in question was in fact his. "Pig Champion" itself was kind of a self-deprecating stage name for an overweight man to use, and one of their singles that used caricatures of the band for artwork ran with it by giving him a snout instead of a nose.
  • Johnny Mercer's Hooray for Hollywood. If you think it's a paean to Tinsel Town you haven't paid close attention to the lyrics. It's mostly about how shallow the place is. Of course, "Tinsel Town" is itself a self-deprecating moniker.
  • Type O Negative's singer/bassist Peter Steele was an embodiment of this trope. Reportedly, many fans who met him were intimidated by his appearance and voice at first so he would help them relax by being as self-ironic as possible. It also shows up a lot in his interviews. Also, one of TON's "best of" albums (the one they named themselves, not the one their ex-label produced without their consent) is appropriately titled The Least Worst Of. One of their albums, kept in a "live show" style (although it's anything but) has the virtual audience cuss the band, throw trash on the stage and call in a false bomb alarm. The album's form was a sarcastic reply to how poorly TON was received during their first tour in Europe, including accusations of playing Music to Invade Poland To. In homage to this, it's become a TON fan custom to chant YOU SUCK!!! during some TON shows, and it carried over to tribute shows after Steele's death and TON's subsequent disbandment.
  • Sonata Arctica's The Days Of Grays contains the following line in the booklet (translated from Finnish): "Wrong phrase and in the wrong key, but otherwise pretty good".
  • Garbage took their name from a comment made about their sound.
  • Demi Lovato has been known to joke on Twitter and in concerts about her tendency to trip and fall onstage, and has played along with a fan's joking tweet referring to her as her character Sicky Vicky when she took ill.
  • Before writing the music for Disney's Mary Poppins, Richard Sherman teamed up with Milt Larsen to make an album called "Smash Flops." The record label was Lemon. It included songs such as "Columbus, You Big Bag Of Steam" and "Watch World War Three on Pay TV."
  • Bright Eyes' A Collection of Songs Written and Recorded 1995-1997 features a negative review in the liner notes that describes the collection as a "20 song torture hour".
  • "CSS Suxx".
  • *NSYNC was fond of making fun of themselves. They liked sporting shirts that said "Boy Bands Suck" and Chris Kirkpatrick owned an "*NSUCK" baseball cap.
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra have always been extremely fond of insulting themselves. One TV special included them portraying "YMO 20 Years Later" as a bunch of hard-drinking, washed-up old farts (in intentionally bad old-age makeup). Their concert film Propaganda made fun of the critical accusations of over-reliance on synthesizers and creative sterility (which most electronic artists had been getting ever since the early years of Kraftwerk) by "embracing" a rigid and formalistic aesthetic — by which I mean that they played on top of giant, intimidating podiums, on a stage covered in red flags, while wearing Soviet-looking uniforms with red armbands. Appropriately, the film was released in 1984.
  • In Eurovision Song Contest 2013, where which Sweden was the host, they had an interval act in the grand finale describing the country's cultures. They made fun of their own close-minded demeanor, antisocial behavior, and a good chunk of internal self-criticizing jokes the rest of Europe had trouble understanding. They then ramp it up in 2016 with the song called "Love Love Peace Peace" which makes fun of the formulaic way of how to win the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • William Shatner on his album Has Been includes this line in the song/spoken word piece "I Can't Get Behind That":
    I can't get behind so-called singers who can't carry a tune. Get paid for talking, how easy is that? (pause) Well, maybe I can get behind that...
  • Country Music group SHeDAISY mocked their own Sophomore Slump with Knock on the Sky twice on "Don't Worry 'bout a Thing", the third single from their third album. It contains the lines "Ever knocked on the sky and had it fall on your head?" and "Ever found your last record in the bargain bin?"
  • When King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp remastered the band's entire back catalogue and issued it on his own DGM label, he included photographs of the albums' original reviews, including the bad ones. He is fond of quoting the description of the band by a Canadian rock writer: 'prog-rock pond scum, set to bum you out.'
  • Magazine's Howard Devoto is humorously aware of his own less-than-imposing New Wave Nerd image. "A Song From Under the Floorboards" makes this clear in a way that may be considered Self-Parody:
    I am angry I am ill and I'm as ugly as sin
    My irritability keeps me alive and kicking
    I know the meaning of life, it doesn't help me a bit
    I know beauty and I know a good thing when I see it
    This is a song from under the floorboards
    This is a song from where the wall is cracked
    By force of habit, I am an insect
    I have to confess I'm proud as hell of that fact...
  • Cobra Starship have a song called "Pete Wentz Is the Only Reason We're Famous". Needless to say, they don't take themselves very seriously.
  • The original verse of George Gershwin's waltz song "By Strauss":
    Away with the music of Broadway!
    Be off with your Irving Berlin!
    Oh, I'd give no quarter
    To Kern or Cole Porter,
    And Gershwin keeps pounding on tin.
  • FFS is a collaborative project between the members of Sparks and Franz Ferdinand - One of their songs, which was released as a single, is titled "Collaborations Don't Work", which features lots of sly digs at the band themselves as a concept, and at one point a sung "argument" between singers Russ Mael (Of Sparks) and Alex Kapranos. (Of Franz Ferdinand)
    I don't need your patronizing
    I don't need your agonizing
    I don't need your navel-gazing
    I don't get your way of phrasing
    I don't think you're really trying
    What, pray tell, are you implying?
  • One album by "Weird Al" Yankovic had a cover parodying the album cover of Michael Jackson's Bad. The name of the album was Even Worse.
    • Weird Al's song "Genius in France" has the narrator insult himself in every other line about how dumb he is, saying things like "I'm the biggest dork there is alive" and "I'm dumber than a box of hair". The subject of the song spends the other half wondering how he got so popular in France.
  • The very first song on Fall Out Boy's sophomore album From Under the Cork Tree begins like so:
    Brothers and sisters, put this record down
    Take my advice, 'cause we are bad news
    We will leave you high and dry
    It's not worth the hearing you'll lose
  • "We're All Here" by Canadian comedy duo Bowser and Blue, about their fellow Canadians:
    We're all here (we're all here!)
    With the moose and the bear
    We're all here (we're all here!)
    In our long underwear
    We're all here (we're all here!)
    And what do we share?
    We're all here 'cause we're not all there!
  • "Here's to the Zeros" by Marianas Trench has a few sarcastic remarks aimed at the lead singer, including a line mocking the success he had in writing the music for "Call Me Maybe". The opening lines of the song take a jab at Josh Ramsay's history:
    Hey kids, do you wanna do what I do?
    I got sick, got kicked outta high school
    Just then, I kinda got arrested
    With a car and a chase and a drug test
  • Mike Posner's "I Took A Pill In Ibiza" has a verse where he refers to himself as "just a singer who already missed his shot" and calls his breakout hit "Cooler Than Me" "a pop song that people forgot". Ironically, a remix of that very song ended up placing higher in the charts than "Cooler Than Me" ever did.
  • The Ataris wrote "Ben Lee", a Take That! to the Australian singer-songwriter. Lee later covered the song.
  • Garth Brooks has frequently joked about his own weight in interviews and in concerts. He once remarked that he thought he looked like "a thumb wearing a cowboy hat".
  • Taylor Swift's video for "Look What You Made Me Do" features earlier versions of Taylor trying to climb up and reach her while she kicks them off. The video ends with the other Taylors lined up and arguing with each other.
  • Alabama did this in "Dancin', Shaggin' on the Boulevard": "Those 'Bama boys at The Bowery / They can't dance, but they play for free."
  • Portugal. The Man have official t-shirts that read "I liked Portugal. The Man before they sold out". Notably, they started selling them right around the time their song "Feel It Still" started climbing the charts, which was in part due to its use in commercials.
  • Spirtualized's album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space has a cover mocked up to look like a medicine packet. On the back it warns "May cause drowsiness".
  • During their early years, the Leningrad Cowboys liked to be referred to as the world's worst rock & roll band.
  • Record label Ipecac Recordings is named after syrup of ipecac, a vomit-inducing drug; the label's official slogan is "Making People Sick Since 1999".
  • Bono did this in U2's song "Elevation":
    I can't sing, but I've got soul
  • Kunt and the Gang featured a dig at himself in "The Wrong Ian Watkins", a satire on people who got Ian "H" Watkins from Steps confused with Ian Watkins from Lostprophets, the latter having been arrested for a paedophilia scandal at the time. The last verse has Kunt ponder if the police have made the same mistake as his friend Paul and got the two Ian Watkinses confused, so he gives them a call asking if they've got the right Ian Watkins. The police reply that they did arrest the right Ian Watkins and that Kunt's song is "a disgrace".
  • Normally when someone famous gets arrested for public lewdness — especially if they end up getting Forced Out of the Closet because of said offense — they lie low for a while, at least until the media finds something else to obsess over; George Michael clearly didn't follow that memo. Not only does his song "Outside" poke fun at the situation (it features snippets of radio news reports about his arrest and the lyric "I'd service the community, but I already have, you see" alludes to his sentence for the crime) but part of its music video is set in a men's public restroom styled like a disco.
  • Nightwish's song "Élan" has the line "Write a lyric to the song only you can understand."


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: