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Those creepy songs about rodents

muskrats

Back to Tom Reynold’s ‘Touch Me I’m Sick – The 52 creepiest love songs you’ve ever heard’. Sorry, I can’t get enough of this book. It’s just that somebody has to remind us constantly how many of the songs we love really suck, and how cutesy melodies can sanitize really awful lyrics. Especially if the song is about rodents! Hey, I have hamsters and I love them. But I would never write songs about “bacon nibbling” and “cheese chewing” rats!

Excerpts:

Muskrat Love — Captain and Tennille/America

“While doing research for ‘Muskrat Love,’ I was invariably led to muskrats, a subject I knew nothing about save having worked for a few in the past. Muskrats are very large rat cousins that live in swamps, breed copiously and are considered a nuisance because they burrow into levees and earthen dams.

“… (The rodents’) names are Muskrat Susie and Muskrat Sam… doing the jitterbug in muskrat land, a magical place where waterborne rodents perform Second World War-era dances and one pill makes you larger, one makes you small. Also, while they ‘shimmy’, we find out Sammy’s ‘so skinny’, perhaps the dumbest rhyme ever concocted…

“The chorus consists of Sam and Susie whirling, twirling and tangoing, which sets up the next bad rhyme where they’re ‘singin’ and ‘jingin’ the ‘jango’. For the record, neither ‘jinging’ nor ‘jango’ can be found in the dictionary so I’m not sure what a jango looks like, let alone how the hell you jing one…

“After a final spin through the chorus of twirling tangoing and jango jinging, Sam and Susie fall hopelessly into ‘muskrat love’, muskrat separation and muskrat divorce. They swim off together into the sunset to tell other muskrats the news…

“Why would anyone write a love song about the courting rituals of marsh-dwelling fauna? Were wildebeests already taken? Why do these two cheese-eating swamp bunnies need to jing the jango in Muskrat Land?”

Ben — Michael Jackson

‘Ben’ is the theme song to the 1972 film of the same name, an inferior sequel to the 1971 cult horror film Willard about a teased social misfit who befriends rats and trains them to kill his tormentors. In the movie Ben, a lonely little boy finds the rat leader Ben and its killer pack living inside his house, and dispatches them on bullies at his school… The film ends with the rat colony being destroyed although Ben escapes, crawling back to the boy’s house. As the kid nurses him to life, the rat peers menacingly at the camera, plotting his revenge. The credits roll and the song kicks in, probably not the revenge he had in mind…

“Though dated and sappy, there is nothing disturbing about the song itself. The melody is pleasant and Jacksons’s vocals is quite impressive considering he was only 13 at the time. It’s only when you realize he’s singing to a man-eating rat that ‘Ben’ veers off into the bad camp arena. It’s probable that most teenage fans who bought the single never knew this since the film Ben wasn’t a hit.

“Now, let’s jump ahead 35 years to an era when the phrase ‘a Michael Jackson song’ has an entirely different meaning to it. ‘Ben’ becomes an example of a creepy love song that becomes creepier when you disregard the thing that made it creepy to begin with. In other words, switch the rat with a 10-year-old-boy named Ben. See what I mean? Of the thousand of boys whose clueless parents shoved them into Jackson’s orbit over the years, the odds are that a few of them were named Ben.”

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