So I recently became enamoured with Sparks. Beyond the goofy deadpan drama that is core to all their music, something I enjoyed a lot were their album names. They are ridiculous. To be honest. Often I like my musicians to be serious about the craft. But for better or worse I have to appreciate the power in the pun: Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins. Or A Woofer in Tweeter’s Clothing.
Anyway, this inspired me to put together a list of the albums with silly wordplay in their names. There are a lot out there to enjoy/revile.
No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom
I love No Doubt. Most bands in the 90s American Ska movement were terrible. Tragic Kingdom on the other hand has some absolute classics.
The Jam – All Mod Cons
My mother instilled in me a love of all things Paul Weller, with The Jam at the top of that list. Half of their albums had some stupid joke in the title, see also Sound Affects and Setting Sons.
Blink 182 – Enema of the State
Blink 182 didn’t shy away from the more ridiculous. Is it a good pun? No. Is it kind of gross? Yes. Did I love their ham-fisted take down of social norms and the taboo? You bet!
Leonard Cohen – Ten New Songs
No pun here. Almost the opposite. But the confidence (laziness) to release new music with this title. It’s a stupid joke, and therefore gets on the list.
Will Smith – Willennium
This is a classic format. The narcissistic album title that features some kind of portmanteau of the artists name. Justin Timberlake’s Justified also springs to mind. Really though this is just an excuse for me to put Will Smith’s take on ‘Rock the Casbah’ with the song ‘Will 2K’. Rock the Dancefloor!
Reuben – Racecar Is Racecar Backwards
I have no idea why but my puny teenage brain thought that this revelation was mind blowing. Racecar IS racecar backwards.
Salt-n-Pepa – A Salt With a Deadly Pepa
I feel like this is a variant of the Willennium album name. But A Salt With a Deadly Pepa is particularly egregious as this pun runs out of steam towards the end.
Supergrass – Road to Rouen
Neither the album not the album title are good for this one. For me this album marked the shift from a quirky and boisterous band to something much more sedate and polished. Relistening to the lead single it just feels like a Stereophonics cover band.
Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are
Stupid all round. A few months ago we listened to Machine Head by Deep Purple on the podcast. While looking through their playlist I saw some of the worst album names and covers combinations. Deep Purple in Rock has their faces chiseled on to Mt. Rushmore. Come Taste the Band has their faces instead eerily floating in a glass of wine. It’s weird. How were they successful?
David Bowie – Aladdin Sane
Going for a classic here. And in reflection maybe the only good piece of wordplay on this whole album. This one took me a while to actually notice. I remember watching a documentary talking about his characters and how this era was defined by A-Lad-Insane. I was furious it took me so long to see.
Words by Matt Paul