What Went Wrong With… Novelty Songs & YouTube Stars?

Parody of the YouTube Logo as a toilet sign with the text "Broadcast Yourself"

There’s plenty of great music out there, as long as you’re willing to search for it, but when the masses are left to choose, we usually end up with the dregs of society becoming famous. That brings me neatly to the novelty song… novelty songs are usually “one hit wonders” and they attain plays and re-plays simply because they’re funny, catchy, or contain some kind of gimmick such as a dance. The novelty song isn’t a new thing, ever since “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” we’ve had to endure various musical dog turds as they become popular, but these days with YouTube, Vine and all other forms of social media, more and more of these video-slash-songs have made their way to the forefront, and thanks to the public’s casual “likes” and “shares”, these tracks have spread like wildfire.

The worst of these songs was Rebecca Black’s “Friday”, something which was badly constructed and badly executed. This atrocious mess received an astonishing 78 million views (one more if you play this video) and yet you’d be hard pushed to find a single person who actually liked it.

That’s not to say all novelty records are bad, if done correctly they can be enjoyable. Remember The KLF as The Timelords, or The KLF as The KLF for that matter? When they convinced Country Singer Tammy Wynette to sing “All bound for Moo Moo Land” on the song “Justified & Ancient”, it wasn’t just catchy, it was a pretty good track too. But I guess that was the whole point of the group; taking into account their book “The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way)” you realised what they were trying to do.

These days most novelty songs aren’t even intentional; they’re usually the end result of some deluded half-wit thinking they’re the word’s greatest. Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Nigga” along with the irksome “Shmoney Dance” did the rounds a few years back. Shortly after its release, the dreaded words “It’s gone viral” were spoken, and before you could say “wack shit” you could see every idiot online from Texas to Timbuktu doing their rendition of what looked like a drunkard dancing with back pain.

This year it’s T-Wayne’s “Nasty Freestyle”, a song with no artistic merit at all, and personally I can’t see or hear why this shit is popular. The song features breathtaking lyrics such as “I’m the king of this shit, crowned by the toilet”. Wayne’s rhyme-schemes are so basic, that you can picture him with a rhyming dictionary, frantically leafing through the pages like…

“I’m just barely getting started, you already upset
Got a tiger, err… as a pet
I just took him err… to the vet… omg, it rhymes!”

This kind of crap makes Trinidad James“Gold all in my watch, don’t believe me, just watch” lyric seem clever. In fact it makes Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” sound like fucking Beethoven.

I have to acknowledge that sometimes novelty songs are needed, especially when they comment on popular culture. Parodies such as Sporty Thievz’ “No Pigeons” make for a refreshing mockery when done right; if other novelty tracks were like this, I wouldn’t mind them at all. “No Pigeons” (a reaction to TLC’s “No Scrubs”) was akin to The Barron Knights, it was perfectly timed, well observed, and genuinely funny.



There have always been novelty songs, even before YouTube; during the seventies and eighties we had masses of them such as “Agadoo” and “Superman” by Black Lace, but toward the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties we finally had a short but much needed reprieve. Then suddenly during the the late nineties and throughout most of the noughties there was a spate of corny, moronic, novelty music. There was Lou Bega’s lame-arsed “Mambo No. 5”, that annoying “Crazy Frog” shite, there was the tiresome “Macarena”, that shitty “JCB Song”, and who could forget the infuriating “Who Let The Dogs Out?” by The Baha Men and Afroman’s “Because I Got High”? The pinnacle of novelty crapdom however was reached by The Fast Food Rockers with their “Fast Food Song” which had clods everywhere yelling “McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Pizza Hut!” like some kind of mass-hysterical twats tweaking off Sunny Delight.

Similar to fast food, for a long time now, we’ve just accepted that this kind of stuff will be released and become popular. Since the noughties it seems that novelty songs are not only being widely consumed, sometimes they aren’t even acknowledged as the bullshit they so obviously are. Now that Hip-Hop and Electronic Dance music has officially become Pop, unfortunately the novelty track has moved further afield, and along with this shift into new genres, misguided members of the public have been swindled into thinking that these new novelty joints are somehow credible.

The public really needs to become more discerning and better informed. We need to start looking beyond the genre of these songs. The likes of T-Wayne’s “Nasty Freestyle”, Bobby Shmurda’s “Hot Nigga”, and Baueer’s “Harlem Shake” are just as shitty as the “Fast Food Song”; if only the public ignored the shiny packaging these new tunes and music videos were wrapped in, they’d realise the truth…

Regardless of the genre, regardless of the presentation, if it’s corny, if it’s catchy, if it’s gimmicky, then it’s fucking crap.

The Novelty Is Wearing Off.

4 replies »

  1. I agree with almost all of this article, dude. Most novelty songs stink. Since the 80s, and on vinyl they’ve been terrible to listen to. I only didn’t agree with the “if it’s catchy”, “then it’s fucking crap” line. But this was great work. This article was amazing. One question did Britain hear “Sweatshirt” yet. This should have been on here and is worse than Rebecca Black “Friday”.

    Hope this link embed itself. U should listen to this though. Song by Jacob Sartorius fits criteria of a shitty novelty song u described above. So this article was awesome. Please reply since I want the British perspective on Sweatshirt now.

    • Whoa, that was excruciatingly bad. The little tit can’t sing at all – or write for that matter… “You’re the only one I hold, and I don’t want you to be cold” …I bet he was up all night with a rhyming dictionary coming up with that one.

      To answer you’re question, I’ve never heard of Jacob Sartorious before, plus this article was written over a year ago, but yes that song fits the criteria for being a crappy novelty song especially considering the amount of views on YouTube.

      By the way, I only watched this shite to the end because you asked me to – but now that’s 33,174,503 views!

    • I do have to make an exception for “Because I Got High”; it’s silly and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is part of why it still makes me smile over 10 years later.

  2. I’d pull in the Spice Girls as a novelty act. Hyped, garish, crass and fucking annoying. Meets the criteria perfectly. Of course, now we live in a post-pop world where many forms of musicianship is eroded away by streaming/youtube/Brexit/covid/joolsholland (delete as applicable) and those fame-hungry jack-in-the-boxes are considered critical art symbolising a so-called ‘better time’.

What Went Wrong Or Right With This Article? (spam & shite will be deleted)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.