Tuesday, February 24, 2009

17 Different Kinds of Awesome

In stark contrast to yesterday's post, let me tell you a little bit about how my brain works. I like Nerd Rock. It pleases me in many ways. Nerd Rock, when you can find musically proficient performers of such, is wonderfully fulfilling. It not only sounds good, but you are most likely dealing with someone who bothered to learn more than the basic three chord rock riff, so there will be some tonal complexity to it. Add to that constant sarcasm, one of my favorite things. Although I'm not an expert, I can admire from a distance. Sprinkle a healthy dose of pop culture references on top, and you get songs like these:

Nun Fight by Paul and Storm:

Tom Cruise Crazy by Jonathon Coulton:

The X-Box Song by Tripod (which I think I've posted here before):

or Even My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors by Moxy Fruvous:

Although he is the almighty reigning Nerd Rock King, Nerd Rock got its start much earlier than Weird Al Yankovic. It's roots are found, in my humble opinion, with a genius from Harvard (graduated at age 18) named Tom Lehrer. Tom was a nerd's nerd. He wrote musical satire through the 50s and 60s and his self-published albums became cult hits. He took a "break" because he was fired by the TV show he worked for because his songs became too political and because he apparently hated touring.

And this is the truly awesome part: he went to college with Joe Raposo. Does that name sound familiar? It should. You all know at least 5 songs by him. I just finished reading "Street Gang: A Complete History of Sesame Street". Joe was the genius behind the music of Sesame Street and The Electric Company. He brought Lehrer out of retirement to pen "Silent E" and "L-Y" and a bunch of others as well.

I was formally introduced to Tom Lehrer by my 9th Grade Geometry teacher Mrs. Carocari. Her name alone made people want to commit suicide, but she had a twisted sense of humor which one day led her to play this recording for us:

However, for all the greatness of Nerd Rock, you will notice that there are no women included in the above list. Nerd Rock is a manly endeavor. And if you went to college where I did, there were over 5 men for every woman, proving that ratios really, really do matter. I simply hadn't come across the somewhere less than 20% of Nerd Rockers who were female. Until now.

I discovered the genius behind this gem when I encountered a Nerd Rock Nexus, called the Masters of Song Fu, where Nerd Rockers are challenged to write songs with a specific theme in one week. Her name is Molly Lewis. She has a YouTube page with even better material. And her entry into the latest Song Fu contest is an instant classic. Seriously, it's worth a listen. I guarantee your day will improve.