5 Great Songs to Immediately Ruin a Party
The rules of a house party playlist are as simple as they are elegant. If you want to host a good party, you play five straight hours of "I Wanna Rock" by Luther Campbell. A bad party? Five straight hours of Lou Bega's Disney "Mambo No. 5." It's a timeworn equation.
But what if you want to hold a confusing party? What if you, the malevolent puppet master that you are, expressly invited those poor bastards who'll return your calls for mind games and bacon-wrapped dates? Simple -- just turn on any of these five songs. Your guests won't leave, but they won't know what the hell's happening either.
"Life at the Outpost" by Skatt Bros.
Sounds Like: The Dallas Cowboys' entrance music, if the team was sponsored by a Turkish bath.
Back in 1979, a Canadian disco group known as Skatt Bros. released their two most famous songs, both of which made the Village People sound like the house band for The 700 Club.
Like "Y.M.C.A.," Skatt Bros.' first single, "Walk the Night," was a catchy ditty about meeting exciting new friends in an unfeeling metropolis. But unlike the Village People's hit, "Walk the Night" (sample lyric: "He's got a rod beneath his coat he's gonna ram right down your throat!") never caught on with the senior citizen aquarobics circuit.
Skatt Bros.' next single, "Life at the Outpost," recounts the trials endured by frontiersmen of yore: "The sergeant-at-arms had masculine charms ... his black leather boots kick[ed] the butts of recruits." It also sported -- I am not fucking around here -- the finest music video never to reach popular rotation:
Dear God, the Brawny Man cloned himself six times and hosted his own private key party.
Did you hit "Play"? If so, welcome to Year 0 of your new life. 2012 was 1 B.L.A.T.O. (before "Life at the Outpost"), and 2014 is 1 A.L.A.T.O. Those dudes are so rip-roaringly enthusiastic. It's like someone made a Seven Brides for Seven Brothers porn parody but forgot the brides.
Anyway, this music video is notable for two reasons. First, those guys aren't Skatt Bros. -- the record company instead hired miscellaneous sweaty dudes to lip sync and punch the air.
"My agent swore up and down this was a Marlboro ad."
Second, this song presents a paradox. There's probably no circumstance where it's tasteful to play "Life at the Outpost," modern gay clubs and honky-tonk bars included. (Even a honky-tonk gay bar would likely opt for the safe choice that is Big & Rich's "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.")
But there is also no scenario that wouldn't be vastly improved by this paean to buckaroo gangbangs: house parties, wakes, training montages, Seders, senatorial filibusters, you name it. This is the Sriracha sauce of music.
"The Body Rules" by Jesse "The Body" Ventura
Sounds Like: Your uncle receiving a lap dance behind a bingo hall.
Throughout his career, Jesse Ventura has been many things: WWF wrestler, statesman, and Sexual Tyrannosaurus. And somewhere between investigating the most patriotic crevasses of Hulk Hogan's body and becoming the governor of Minnesota, Ventura became a bona fide bard.
In 1984, Ventura recorded "The Body Rules," the most stereotypically cock-rock track in the history of rock, stereotypes, and cock. When our descendants make a historically inaccurate Metallica biopic 200 years from now, "The Body Rules" will stand in for all eight songs on Ride the Lightning.
Like a jalopy that can fly, "The Body Rules" is so ramshackle, it's miraculous. The riffs resemble a wild boar suffocating in a dumpster on a hundred-degree July day. The percussion section is a Casio keyboard demo. The vocals amount to confused, threatening mutters. It is a musical masterstroke, Wagnerian in theme, and eclipsed in emotional power only by "Hulkster in Heaven," Hulk Hogan's 1995 gospel ballad dedicated to a Make-A-Wish Foundation child who passed away.
Never has the gulf between heartfelt intention and musical execution been so wide.
But unlike "Hulkster in Heaven," somewhere on this planet there's probably a stripper whose organs failed in 1986 still gyrating listlessly to "The Body Rules," her body animated by the aural ichor of lyrics like "I've got the tools/To deal with fools." It's also a good bet that -- instead of recording his vocals in a studio -- Jesse Ventura yelled them into an unknown answering machine that just so happened to belong to a music producer, and one thing led to another.
[Dials random number] "Hello, is this Hulk Hogan's phone? Dammit, Hogan, you can't hide in this maze of digits forever!"
60 Minutes of Paul Stanley Concert Banter
Sounds Like: A man who went insane after being forced to sing "Love Gun" for almost four decades.
How long does it take you to get bored with a song? A week? A few days? Fifteen minutes? Well, if you're a multiplatinum rock band embarking on your umpteenth farewell tour, you don't have this banal luxury.
And if you're KISS singer Paul Stanley, you're playing "Rock and Roll All Nite" every other day from 1975 until your heart explodes (otherwise the KISS Army will try you for war crimes in the parking lot).
But Stanley's predicament goes far beyond this. Every time he plays a show, he can't go, "I've spent an aggregate seven months of my life singing 'Strutter.' For Christ's sake, people, LET ME SING SOMETHING NEW. " No, that grease-painted dynamo sashays onstage and screams, "WOO! 'STRUTTER'! HOW YOU LIVING, MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA?"
Stanley's showmanship is simultaneously awe-inspiring and completely demented. And the 2005 bootleg CD People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest chronicles 70 tracks' worth of Paul Stanley stage patter. Listen to it below -- the highlight is Track 26, when he warns the citizens of Pittsburgh about his "six-shooter of sex" and his "Uzi of ooze."
So, yes, if you surreptitiously play People, Let Me Get This Off My Chest at your next party, people will assume there's one guest who's having the time of his life just out of eyeshot. That, or your house is haunted by a drunk ghost.
"Losing My Mind" by Liza Minnelli and Pet Shop Boys
Sounds Like: DARPA weaponizing your aunt's record collection.
I hate to be that guy, but musicians today just don't do flamboyance right anymore. Lady Gaga and Nicki Minaj generally confuse being interesting with wigs. More importantly, R. Kelly hasn't compared his dick to Jurassic Park since 2007. It's the worst.
Back in 1989, this was simply not the case. No, because this was the year that the U.K. synth-pop duo Pet Shop Boys produced Results, a Euro-disco album by cabaret starlet/Judy Garland offspring Liza Minnelli. In other words, this was the closest our civilization has ever gotten to building a human Voltron out of gay icons.
The lead single was "Losing My Mind," a cover of a song from a Stephen Sondheim musical maybe nine of you would recognize. AND IT WAS THE MOST DRAMATIC SONG EVER SUNG.
Holy shit, is that one dreadnought of a torch song. It combines DEFCON 1 diva vamping with a jackhammer beat you can build a bridge to. Also, it's so muscularly unsubtle that your guests will have no choice but to shut up when it's on, lest they be spontaneously mowed down by a runaway Mardi Gras float.
Shooby Taylor's Entire Discography
Sounds Like: An Appalachian snake handler channeling Cthulhu, who has assumed the form of David Lee Roth.
Shooby "The Human Horn" Taylor (1929-2003) was a scat singer who fancied his vocal improvisation a reasonable imitation of jazz brass. In reality, his scatting sounded less like a trumpet and more like an Ewok applying for a homeowner's loan. But don't take our word for it -- here's his cover of a number from the 1940s Broadway musical The New Moon:
Someone transcribed this for your next karaoke night.
If only Shooby were still around to participate in the inevitable revival of Cats. ( "The m-a-a-agical Mr. Mistoffele-e-es, SHRAW SHRAW, POPPY POPPY POPPY POPPY.") The defining trait of Shooby's music isn't listenability, but inimitableness. There are thousands of performers out there in the world, all concocting tunes of varying degrees of aural elegance. Now, I don't know all of these musicians by name, but I can 100 percent guarantee you that not a single one's going out of his or her way to emulate Shooby here.
"WEE SAW RAW, WEE LEE MAW DEE DEE RAW."
Your eardrums may initially resist the Human Horn's siren shraw, but you'll succumb once you realize that here is a man who devoted his entire life to literally shouting nonsense. That's equal parts tragic and amazing and joyous and maniac. Mind you, Shooby wasn't a once-respected scatman whose salad days were left out of the history books. No, he was kicked out of jazz clubs, ignored by his peers, and booed offstage of Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater (where he lasted less than 30 seconds).
Note that the MC refers to him as "Scooby."
Nowadays, Shooby's musical legacy is mostly confined to his website, which hasn't been updated since 2007. There, you can find the remnants of his discography on MP3. Consider Shooby a litmus test -- if his loopy cover of "Over the Rainbow" from The Wizard of Oz doesn't make you grin, you're a fucking android. And if your significant other can't warm up to Shooby, you're fucking an android. And if your friends resist the clarion call of the Human Horn, you're their token meatbag.
You can find Cyriaque Lamar on Twitter, listening to Skatt Bros.