Pop will eat itself: Some catchy earworms about food
The other day, I was at Golden Hunan in Liberty (fantastic black pepper chicken, BTW) eating Chinese food while humming the song “Chinese Food.”
If you never heard “Chinese Food,” you don’t know how much of a crime against humanity that is. If you have, then please show me mercy.
“Chinese Food” is another “Friday”-esque earworm scientifically engineered in a factory where giant vats of scrunchies and rainbows and Sunny Delight are stirred and processed until the next pop sensation is extruded, kind of like in “Willy Wonka” where all that complex machinery made one tiny gobstopper – ear candy if you will.
The terror has been mostly contained to YouTube, where the video stars a cute teen girl, plates of food, a panda, and yet more rainbows. High art.
It occurred to me that it wasn’t the only song about Chinese food I knew. Post-punk ’80s-ish Brit rockers Siouxsie & The Banshees had a song called “Hong Kong Garden,” about a Chinese takeout place (in England they call it “takeaway” – how exotic!).
It’s a little more political than “Chinese Food” (which is about as political as an old sock), and Siouxsie herself explains it was inspired by a restaurant in London that was occasionally terrorized by skinheads. But it mentions chicken chow mein and chop suey, has a great catchy tune and is great for dancing. And at more than 30 years old, it has more staying power than “Chinese Food” – hopefully.
Think of all the catchy food songs you’ve heard. You heard Presidents of the United States of America’s “Peaches” about the million of peaches millions of times if you were alive in the mid-’90s. It’s entirely about eating peaches, so it’s not just a clever title, as opposed to the naughty “Cherry Pie” or “Milkshake.”
“Peanut Butter and Jelly Time” also was an Internet phenomenon, but decidedly less irritating. People who heard you singing it usually joined in, instead of killing you.
The highly singable “Milk and Cereal” by G Love & Special Sauce namechecks Frankenberry, a limited-edition box of which I have at home calling my name.
The Fat Boys had “All You Can Eat,” a rap menu of everything on the buffet. And only $3.99!
Southern Culture on the Skids had “Eight Piece Box,” about a great fried chicken special – you’ll eat some now, eat some later, warm it back up with your french-fried pataters. The band is known for throwing fried chicken to the crowd during shows, so they know you can’t hear a song about chicken without wanting some.
The Reverend Horton Heat wrote “Eat Steak,” which lists all the different cuts of delicious beef you can grill up – but also pays tribute to the poor cow meeting his demise. It was so catchy they used it in a Boston Market commercial for steak. Subtle.
There’s countless songs about barbecue, but none sung quite so cutely than the version by Emmett Otter and his puppet jug band in his eponymous Christmas special.
So, food, we sing your praises. Feed your earworms with a food tune playlist, and when you’re done with “Chinese Food,” be sure to burn it with fire.