Annotated Pun Playlist

In case you didn’t SPOT this earlier (hahaha…haha…ha) I made a pun playlist of Spotify! You can check it out here!

I also took the liberty of briefly explaining my reasoning behind each song choice. Happy listening and reading!

 

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1. If I Had $1,000,000 by Barenaked Ladies 

I chose this song to begin my playlis

t both for its light-hearted, fun, playful nature but also for the pun in the third verse: “If I had a million dollars, I’d buy you some art — a Picasso or a Garfunkel.” The Barenaked Ladies are making a comical pun on the name of Art Garfunkel from the famous folk due “Simon and Garfunkel.”

2. Amy, Amy, Amy by Amy Winehouse 

This song comes next for it’s bluesy and jazzy vibe as well as the pun in the second verse. The whole song revolves around Amy singing about herself and how thrown off she is by the beauty of a guy in front of her. She drives this point home with the line “My train of thought spins right off track.” She uses these cleverly placed words to show both the disorderly chaos of her mind “getting off track” whenever this man is around as well as planting an image in our minds of a train literally spinning off a train track. Well done, queen Amy and rest in peace.

3. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number by Steely Dan 

Okay, so this one requires having a bit of an open mind. Over the years there have been many interpretations about what this song is about. So keeping in mind what my personal interpretation is of this song, there is a very clever and powerful pun in this song. I believe “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” is about the narrator of the song who has given Rikki — a closeted gay man — his phone number and is encouraging him to call him and acknowledge his feelings for the narrator — presumably also a gay man. Keeping this interpretation in mind — there is a line in the first verse where the narrator speaking to Rikki says “I guess you kind of scared yourself, you turned wrong.” This to me is a pun on both Rikki making a mistake of not calling him back at first as well as “turning” in a sense that he briefly let his guard down and displayed his feelings toward another man before wanting to hide them again. This song to me is a beautiful narrative about encouraging a gay man to come out and be himself.

4. Rape Of The World by Tracy Chapman 

This is a beautiful song by my girl Tracy with the use of an extended metaphor throughout the song comparing the destruction of our environment to a woman being raped. Tracy has been known to make very socially and politically charged commentaries like this that are often times — sadly — still very much relevant today. She uses a bit of wordplay in this song with her usage of verbs. While talking about the earth as if it is being raped she says the earth has been “stripped,” “dumped on,” “poisoned,” and “beaten up.” All of these actions are ones we’d think of happening to someone getting raped but not to our own planet — drawing parallels to the destruction of our earth to a rape with the usage of wordplay.

5. Adam’s Song by Blink 182 

This song has made the list not even for the song itself or the band — Blink 182 — but rather for its album title. The title of the album this song came off of is called “Enema Of The State.” If you don’t know what an enema is, well I’ll let you google that on your own, but this is basically in a humorous and almost absurdist Blink 182 fashion making a play on word with the phrase “Enemy Of The State.” Why I chose Adam’s Song to add to the playlist is simply because I think it’s a beautiful, raw, emotional song that everyone should hear.

6. Chaining Day by J Cole 

The whole premise of this song is essentially a double meaning on the narrator of the song wearing a golden chain around his neck but also making parallels to the metaphorical chains still left on him as a black man in society. The phase “chaining day” in particular is very cleverly used because it is meant to highlight the narrator both celebrating success and wealth with a gold chain but also being forced to reflect on his ancestors being chained up as slaves and the systemic oppression that still exists today for black people in society.

7. Bet That I Will by Snow Tha Product 

Snow Tha Product — one of my favorite rappers because of her raw social critiques and the feminist empowerment in her words — drops a pun in this song while critiquing men’s unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies. She does this when she says “Only way imma kill it get a booty like Selena, heard she ate Pizza. Now I’m calling Dominos, Pizza Hut. My man cheesin. Said for some reason he like that I’m eatin. I’m pushing this weight. Now my weight kinda leavin. But stayin in places he like what he seein.” This is an example of Snow Tha Product using a pun about “cheese” both while talking about pizza and the man in her song smiling about her weight gain in all the “right places” further examining and calling out the unrealistic body expectations of women to be “thick” in certain places but be super skinny in others in order for men to find them attractive. Well done, Snow. You smash that patriarchy.

8. Two Presidents by YG Hootie and Kendrick Lamar 

This is a clever little gem. While Kendrick Lamar is a rather famous rapper not many I feel know this single he did with YG Hootie exists. This song contains a lot of clever allusions — the most obvious being a parallel to Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X being two of the most influential “presidents” in American history for black people. This song also has a very powerful pun. At the end of the chorus Hootie says “Rest in peace to my homie he got hit up with the K…K…K…” This, similar to J Cole’s use of the word chains is a pun looking to the past and also looking at the present. Hootie uses the phrase “KKK” both to talk about the deaths of black lives on account of the white terrorist group the Ku Klux Klan but also is using the letter “K” to refer to AK-47’s — guns that have been responsible for the deaths of many African American lives today due to under addressed gun violence issues in impoverished, inner-city communities. This song is very clever and powerful in its lyrics and worth a listen.

9. Power by Kanye West 

First, I’d just like to take a moment to point out that Kanye is a very punny guy! Most of his songs contain some sort of wordplay in them — some instances more clever and tasteful than others — but wordplay nonetheless. In this song in particular the punning is taken to a very clever and interesting level. In the chorus of this song he says “Stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power.” This is a pun both on “tripping” or turning off a power circuit as well as becoming more and more power hungry as he tries to rise up in society as a powerful figure in society challenging the hegemonic white men who rule most industries and instead speaking up as a black man. This is a great song with some awesome and yes, POWERful commentary on racial and socioeconomic inequalities in our society today.

10. Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin 

“I’m gonna give you every inch of my love.” Think about it.

11. Californication by Red Hot Chili Peppers 

This punny title of this song and album is cleverly used to make a social critique on the exploitation of young people in Hollywood for their sex appeal that big name corporations can capitalize off of for profit. I also almost view this song as a warning to those who want to be famous as a way to say “fame is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

12. While My Guitar Gently Weeps – The Beatles 

How could I NOT include the Beatles on this list? Their band name is possibly the most famous musical pun in the history of musical puns. As far as my choice of song, again, similar to my rationale for Adam’s Song, this is just an underrated Beatles song I enjoy a lot and wanted to share with the public.

13. By Chance (You & I) by Jr Aquino 

This is an adorable little love song not many know exists. To make things even more adorable there is a pun in the second verse! The line “Are you tired cuz you’ve been on my mind running thousands or thousands of miles?” is making a pun on the word “running” as in physically running but also his thoughts running. wildly about this woman. I appreciate this song a lot because its lyrics are essentially a bunch of cheesy pick up lines throughout the entire thing with clever usages of word play as well as allusions.

14. Dental Care by Owl City 

This catchy and fun song is full of good vibes and puns. This song is basically a play-by-play of the narrator of the song going to the dentist. He makes puns about his experience by saying lines like “I’ve been to the dentist a thousand times so I know the drill,” and “When hygienists leave on long vacations that’s when dentists lose all their patents.” The first line playing on the word “drill” and the second playing on the words “patients” and “patience.” Adam Young also makes another pun later in the song worth noting where he says “Alcohol and golf don’t mix and that’s why I don’t drink and drive,” punning on the term “drive” used in golf. This is a warm-hearted song that accomplishes its goal of making its listeners smile with an abundance of puns.

15. Still Not A Player by Big Pun 

His name is Big Pun. I had to.

 

 

 

 

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Here Comes The Pun

In a lot of way puns and wordplay are kind of like poetry. The artistic placement of a certain word in place of another to bring attention to that particular sentence has a very creative and aesthetic appeal to it. Music and song lyrics — in my humble oPUNion — can fulfill a similar purpose.

 

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I decided this week to do something a little different with this blog and get a little more creative, since we are talking about the creativity that goes into puns when placed in song lyrics. I made my own pun playlist featuring songs, artists, and album titles that have some sort of pun cleverly crafted inside them. Feel free to check out my pun playlist here. I also annotated/explained the selection of each song on the playlist here.

I’d now like to talk about my overall process when selecting songs for the pun playlist and some themes and commonalities I noticed when it comes to puns and music.

The easiest place to start when looking for puns in music was hip-hop and rap music. Rappers are constantly dropping puns in their music — sometimes to make a comedic insults or sexual references, but more often then not — to make a strong societal critique.

A common pun I kept noticing as I scrolled though my archives of hip hop music was puns on the word “chains.” The double meaning usually comes from rappers trying to make a parallel between black men as slaves being chained and sold as property to the modern day mass incarceration of black men in prisons, often for nonviolent drug crimes or due to under addressed socioeconomic inequalities in our society. Often in these lyrics rather than saying the protagonist of the song is in handcuffs the word “chains” is deliberately used instead to draw this parallel. The best example I have to this in my pun playlist is “Chaining Day” by JCole. This was a powerful pun not meant to be taken in jest at all but rather to think about how racism has persisted today and how we have a long and hard push for equality left before the systemic mistreatment of black people as well as other racial minorities ends.

Another commonality I noticed while studying hard rock, classic rock, and alternative rock genres of music was the usage of puns about, dare I say it, sex. While some are not so subtle double meanings referring to male and female genitals, often employed by our friends Led Zeppelin, other times they are used as a way to draw attention to corruption or misplaced values in society. The best example of the latter, a track I also feature on my pun playlist, is called Californication meant to bring forth the often hidden side of Hollywood where sex appeal is sold and capitalized on as well as young people exploited to sell their sex appeal and good looks or sex itself.

Overall, what I have seen transcend through all musical genres is the usage of puns to highlight a love for something or someone, an imperfection or flaw within a person — usually the singer/narrator — or as a humorous appeal.

Puns and music are like peanut butter and jelly, Oreos and milk, pickles and the trash can — they just go together.

I would encourage all of you today to go back and listen to your favorite bops because more than likely some of them have puns you’ve never overtly noticed but probably implicitly have loved for a long time.