This week's edition of The Onion featured a fantastic article ridiculing the esoteric nature of Steely Dan enthusiasts and the doubters who find their music to be overwrought cheese. Me, I'm kinda caught halfway. They're pretty good songcrafters but I've never really felt the urge to add a record to my collection. Notwithstanding, the article is fantastic satire. So here are ten of my favorite musically themed Onion stories, in no particular order.
1. Nation Planning Surprise Party to Cheer Up Conor Oberst
Why It's Funny: A doe-eyed, perennially dejected white kid who's gained fame for being such is always a target rife for parody.
Best line: "The country feels really bad that he's going through such a rough spell, so next Friday, everyone who can should meet in Omaha with balloons, funny cards, and silly little gag gifts." - Quote attributed to one of the party's 4000 planners
2. 37 Record-Store Clerks Feared Dead In Yo La Tengo Concert Disaster
Why It's Funny: This was published in the wake of the Great White pyrotechnic folly, in which a rock club caught fire and nearly 100 fans (and I believe one of the band) perished. A tragedy for sure, but a brilliant parallel to use such a snob-friendly act in a satirical piece. I enjoy this one so much I actually have the headline and main photo as a fridge magnet.
Best Line: "All I can do is wait and pray they'll find them," said Bert's Discount Records owner Bert Halyard, who lost clerks Todd Fischer and Dan Harris in the collapse. "They were going to start an experimental/math-rock band together. Dan had a really nice Moog synthesizer and an original pressing of the first Squirrel Bait EP."
3. Yngwie Malmsteen to Change Midde Name to "Fucking"
Why It's Funny: 'Cause Yngwie Fucking Malmsteen, that's why.
Best Line: This one is just a bumper photo and the headline. But the picture is perfect:
4. Ask Sir Mix-a-lot
Why It's Funny: The "Ask" advice column is an ongoing feature the Onion has been doing for as long as I can remember; not with Mix specifically, but with any person, creature, or object serving as the columnist. Others include "Ask a Bee," "Ask Raymond Carver," etc. They all feature responses that have absolutely nothing to do with the question, but are just apropos-of-nothing ramblings by whomever the columnist happens to be.
Best Line: (in response to a question from Peeved in Peekskill) "Dear Peeved, Who's afraid of my big bad weenie / Rub it and see if it's got a genie / Gonna make disappear this 10-inch zucchini / Just like Houdini / M-I-X to the A-L-O-T rappin' / Wanna see yo' butt cheeks flappin' / Mix want the honeys with the big back doors / So drop them drawers, whores. Unh."
5. Teen Who Just Discovered Led Zeppelin Starting to Piss Friends Off
Why It's Funny: Because this was me. Tons of adolescent males go through the "Zeppelin Is The Greatest Thing to Ever Happen to Music" phase; this article is a perfect rag on dudes just like me who, from age 16-19, got more of the Led out than most do in a lifetime.
Best Line: "It's getting to the point where you're almost afraid to go to a movie with Mark because John Paul Jones' second cousin might be an extra in it." - Quote attributed to friend of the subject of the story
6. Donald Fagan Defends Steely Dan to Friends
Why It's Funny: Because Steely Dan is one of those bands that has a feverish fanbase and an almost equally feverish army of detractors. A brilliant scenario to have one of the cofounders find themselves defending the band the way a superfan might have to.
Best Line: "You can't just write it all off as 'shitty jazz fusion' because there are a few horns in the band. And what about 'Bodhisattva' and 'Show Biz Kids' on Countdown To Ecstasy? Don't sit there and tell me that those tunes don't rock." - Quote attributed to Donald Fagan
7. Bill Gates Finally Getting Into Radiohead's Kid A
Why It's Funny: Kid A is the classic 'grower'. I feel like most people needed some time to digest it; why shouldn't a mega-billionaire be allotted the same kind of grace period?
Best Line: "I liked 'Morning Bell' and 'Optimistic,' but the rest just seemed like this intentionally weird mess. Then I took it out again maybe a month ago, and it finally started to sink in. Now I think I even like it better than OK Computer." - Quote attributed to Bill Gates
8. Bob Marley Rises From Grave to Free Fratboys from Bonds of Oppression
Why It's Funny: What's not to love about this? Fratboys are so, so, soooo easy to ridicule and the pros at the Onion know how to do it right. The college/frat-boy obsession with Bob Marley doesn't go much further than an appreciation for weed culture. I'm sure Bob would feel indebted to them for their undying support...
Best Line: "Frata mon's life is hard," said Marley during a press conference Monday at Iowa State University's Acacia fraternity. "Professor, he flunk you all the time. Policeman, he ticket you for the noise. Board of Regents, they make so many rule, try to keep the fraternity music down."
9. Bassist Unaware Rock Band Christian
Why It's Funny: 'Christian Rock' is such a joke of a genre in the first place, it was a ripe and juicy fruit for the Onion to pluck. It's just so funny how Christian 'rockers' try to mimic actual rockers so carefully, essentially downplaying their faith in some sort of bait-and-switch attempt at amassing a fanbase. Hilarity ensues when that scenario is taken to the point of actually recruiting an unaware band member.
Best Line: "Actually, Jack writes a lot of songs about chicks," (bassplayer Brad) Rolen continued. "'Your Love,' 'When You Return,' 'I Confess'... I don't know if they're all about the same girl or lots of different ones, but one thing's for sure: Jack loves the pussy."
10. Dave Matthews Not That Into Himself Anymore
Why It's Funny: As phases go, the "Dave phase" is one of the more common among us children of the 90s and oughts. The quirkiness and warmth of the Dave Matthews Band captured our collective attention for a while before it kinda became clear that the band was past its prime. I wonder what happened? Still, there are those who won't give up the fight. The Onion made it clear that Dave is not among them, which equally mocks Dave's fall-off in quality and the obsequious fanbase.
Best Line: "Rock music with a violin? I don't know," Matthews added. "Seemed cool once."
Any I missed? Search through the Onion Archives and you'll probably find dozens more.