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A musician with a theme song? Don't all artists' songs represent? While that might be the case, so many of our favorite bands rep themselves and reference themselves in their lyrics, we thought we'd take a look at the different strategies performers enlisted to define themselves, describe themselves and make their mark.
'Theme From The Monkees,' The Monkees
"Hey, hey, we're the Monkees" states it as plainly as possible. No threats or bombastic boasts from these boys, who were talent scouted to be in a TV show about a fictional rock group. From their early example, musicians learned that the first thing you need to be a band is a song about being a band. And top-flight producers and songwriters, worldwide casting calls and a prime time slot don't hurt, either.
'My Name Is,' Eminem
In this masterpiece of self-reference, Slim Shady tells his gripping life story. Or is his masterpiece 'The Real Slim Shady?' Both tracks demean females; in both videos Shady mockingly dresses up like other celebrities. But finally the tactics diverge: The message in 'My Name Is' screams save me, I'm human, "I just drank a fifth of vodka/Dare me to drive." But in 'The Real Slim Shady,' his army of lookalikes makes it undeniable that "there's a Slim Shady in all of us."
Will.i.am intros Fergie as the untouchable queen of the candy court, and though she becomes increasingly tantalizing throughout the song, her tactic is to tease. In the video, we see Fergie, presumably "tasty, tasty [and] laced with lacy," emerging from a giant cake surrounded by tussling women and candy, but she sticks to her message: "You can see me, you can't squeeze me." The closest we'll come to comprehending her particular succulence is repeating the adjective she invents and defines.
'Who the F--- Are Arctic Monkeys,' Arctic Monkeys
These young Monkeys know what their fans need -- "Everyone wants someone to adore" -- but this anthem isn't pure swagger. With a distinctly less friendly tone than the original Monkees, these industry-wary lads ask, "In five years will it be/Who the f--- are Arctic Monkeys?" But in a brazen attempt to damn the haters and breed devotion, they declare they "Don't care if it's marketing suicide/Won't crack or compromise." Now those are rock idealists you can count on. Until they're five years older.
'Hey Bo Diddley,' Bo Diddley
This 1950's rock 'n' roll icon wrote the rules for theme songs: First, call-and-response is key, preferably from an entourage of ladies. Second, the title of your song should be your name and make up about 90 percent of the lyrics. Lastly, if one song is a hit, write a second. Diddley preceded 'Hey Bo Diddley' with a song simply titled 'Bo Diddley' and followed it with at least 11 albums that bear his name in the title.
While most self-referencing artists promote themselves, M.I.A. instead wants you to find her (Hello, this is M.I.A./Could you please come get me?"). She dreamily tells the story of being misplaced and unable to return home: "I was sippin' on a Rubicon/Thinking 'bout where I come/Savin' for a telephone/Can I call home?" Wake up, M.I.A. -- Skype is free and your identity is all over YouTube.
'The Dandy Warhols' TV Theme Song,' The Dandy Warhols
With their typical postmodern cynicism, the Dandys eschew all mention of their name. In fact, the lyrics mostly consist of nonverbal vocals such as "Hey-rah, yee-hah, ooh, ooh, ooh." A direct assault on the Monkees, this song screams, "We don't need a TV show for our TV theme song!"
'Izzo (H.O.V.A.),' Jay-Z
The word Jehova is often translated into English as the personal name of God. Jay-Z takes the alias "H.O.V.A." and further defines himself by encrypting the ancient holy name with the mystical "-izzle" code, thought to have been conceived of by one Snoopus Doggus in 3000 B.C. After spelling "H to the izz-O, V to the izz-A," Jigga lays out a healthy view toward competition: "He who does not feel me is not real to me/Therefore he doesn't exist/So, poof ... vamoose, son of a bitch." Amen.
'We Are Motörhead,' Motörhead
This is the we-are-everything assault: Motörhead is your life. They are the future and the past, they "bring you UFOs and saucers in the sky," they "are the ones who wanna poke you in the eye," they "are the ones you need, the ones you despise." What else can you do but put your fist up and give yourself to the wrathful gods of Motörhead?
'SWV in the House,' SWV
From the jump, SWV lay out what their acronym stands for: Sisters With Voices. Then they let you know exactly when the phenomenon of SWV takes place (that would be the '90s). They further summarize their unique skill: "I make ya man's d--- hard with the way I sing" and finish it off with a succinct threat: "If you try to step to me/I'll set your ass straight." Nice meeting you, ladies.
'Beastie Boys,' Beastie Boys
The Beasties throw a curveball with this dirty punk anthem that barely resembles their other songs, let alone their signature sound. They do manage to spell "B-E-A-S-T-I-E" 11 times in under a minute and evoke an us-against-them feel where the "cops just don't have respect for me" and "the world is filled with tyranny." So even though it doesn't sound like classic Beastie Boys, it gets the kids moving all the same.
'LT Tour Theme,' Le Tigre
One strategy often overlooked in rock music theme songs is defining your musical entity's target audience. Le Tigre, however, cut to the chase: "For the ladies and the fags, yeah/We're the band with the roller skate jams." The gals also get an A for effort for their commitment to pleasing their fans: "There's no way we can do every song that's shouted/But we'll still try to push you towards abandon."
'Pledge Your Allegiance,' Suicidal Tendencies
While hip-hop artists rep their hotness, hardcore punk musicians proudly declare, "When I feel like s---/I feel like s---." The ST theme song defends against criticisms of the man ("How can you call me evil/Have you spoken to God today?") but at the same time demands the cultish devotion of the underdog: "As long as your heart beats/Pledge your allegiance to ST."
'Theme Song,' All Girl Summer Fun Band
If this Portland, Ore., band, which includes members of the Thermals and Softies, were to write a personal ad, it'd be one of those frank ones that ends with "No Drama" or "NSA." These ladies manage your expectations. You're not going to catch them in several cities, check them out on tour next year or be a lifelong fan. It's going to be a fling, your head is going to get all hot, you'll be Googling them and humming their tunes. You'll feel freer than you have in years. And then you'll be alone again.
In the year 1999, Nas likened himself to a Renaissance-era cult-prophet and to a Colombian drug lord: "Nasty, Nas the Esco to Escobar/Now he is Nastradamus." This explains why he envisions a high-tech future with "laptops with 100 gigabytes [and] ninja bikes" where "we all roll dice, for each other's ice." He's talking about climate change, right?
'The Theme From Fannypack,' Fannypack
Fannypack rep the usual: where they're from (Brooklyn, N.Y.), who else is from there (Biggie and Diddy), how they're hot ("We're so pretty/Ass and titties") and how they're badass ("fake ID gets me into the bar"). But they don't stop there: They list everything related to them in any way, from Stove Top Stuffing to Timothy Leary. Oh, and potato chips, Egg McMuffins, mating animals and grated cheese. Yum!
'CSS SUXXX,' CSS
Maybe in anticipating their success, this Brazilian band (CSS -- "Cansei Ser Sexy" -- translates to "tired of being sexy") wanted a built-in ego-taming mechanism on their first tour. Having drained their creativity on the rest of the album, they decided they'd tell the world "CSS SUXXX" for two full minutes. Or maybe CSS meant to say that being tired of being sexy sucks. As in everyone should be sexy all the time. And if that means following frontwoman LoveFoxxx's lead and wearing full piece tie-dyed body suits, so be it.
'You Don't Know Michelle,' OMG Michelle
You might not actually know Michelle, but are you a hater? If so, this all-female Brooklyn crew is on a mission and you're in their way: "We came to dance/We came to have a good time/My love is worth a million/Your hate ain't worth a dime." They further define themselves against somebody else, namely "Scornful uptight douche-made haters/Always talking out their necks 'cause they're weak-ass perpetrators."
'Diddy,' P. Diddy
When Sean Combs, known as Puff Daddy, changed his name to P. Diddy, everyone was like, "P-what?!" Then he dropped the "P," except in Australia and the UK where he kept it after a lawsuit with another Diddy. Combs says he has no plans to change his name again, but for a man with so much, (music stardom, business ventures, Bentleys and billons) we think he might be heading toward the Prince route: Next he'll just be, as he spell-raps in 'Diddy,' "the D, the I, the D." He's been there, he's Did that.
'Theme Song,' Too Much Joy
This song is full of over-the-top proclamations that define the band: "We sleep on floors and live on crumbs/We're a bunch of ugly bums/To create you must destroy/Smash a glass and cry, too much joy." But we wouldn't have thought Too Much Joy were worth mentioning, except for the fact that they were once sued by Bozo the Clown for illegally sampling from a Bozo the Clown album. Bozo the Clown!