Taunt Pop

“When did this happen?” I asked myself this morning, listening to Robbie Williams’ new single on the radio. “When exactly did pop songs start taking inspiration from children’s playground taunts.”

“Na-na-na-na—naaaa—naaaaa!” That’s the hook in Robbie Williams’ new song, “Candy”, a melody that small children sometimes sing, often to belittle other small children, typically with mocking words replacing the “na”s  (for example: “Billy-is-a-stu—pid—head”).

This is not a song. This is a ditty—at a stretch. This is a songwriting collaboration between Barry Manilow and six-year-old boy, who’s only answer to the question: “What shall we write a song about is?” is “Candy-candy-candy-can—dy!”

To be fair, though, this is, alas, just one of many taunt-based songs to come out this year. Starved of creativity, record companies have turned to churning out songs that are strikingly similar to pre-existing melodies (nursery rhymes, police sirens), no matter how irritating they may be.

In fact, “Candy” shares its melody with The Feeling’s song “Set My World On Fire”, in which the singer rather jeeringly dares listeners to set his world on fire.

Go on, he urges. Go on set it on fire, you sack of shit. What’s wrong? Can’t you set my world on fire? Oh, boo-hoo! Na-na-na-na—naaaa—naaaaa! Na-na-na-na—naaaa—naaaaa! Aw, look baby’s going to cry! HAHAHAHAHA!

And this isn’t even the first song to pilfer melodies from the playground either. A decade earlier, one of the most notable playground taunts to enjoy chart success was “Ooh Stick You!” by Daphne and Celeste, who might just be the most influential act in the development of the Taunt Pop genre.

If you vehemently despised yourself in the late 1990s, then Daphne and Celeste were your Beatles, and with their song “U.G.L.Y.”, the New Jersey duo composed the soundtrack to slitting your wrists in a warm bath. It was an anthem for weeping and drinking bleach while you scoured your eyes with a rusty brillo pad.

“You ain’t got no alibi,” they sang, speaking to an entire generation of depressed loners. “You ugly (yeah, yeah). You ugly.”

There’s no excuse for how offensively unattractive you are, they were suggesting. Being cast into a fire is too good for you. Yes, even hot flames can’t help you now, you absolutely abomination of a human being.

With these songs, the group were, perhaps unintentionally, paving the way for similarly mean-spirited acts, because if you subtly undermine consumers then they’ll keep buying records, right?

It certainly worked for egg-based singer/song shitter Eamon several years later, when his TESCO’s basic range rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” topped the chars globally.

The message of Eamon’s song: fuck you! You’re to blame for my small penis, not me!

Shortly after its release, a record company-designed fembot named Frankee responded to the song with a composition titled “F U Right Back” (or “F.U.R.B.” if you’re an absolute cretin). It in turn inspired women-hating basement dwellers to take to YouTube to explain why they’d like Frankee to contract AIDs or die from perpetual gang rape or cancer or multiple blows to the head.

As mean-spirited and jeering as “F.U.R.B.” was, it still doesn’t come close to Ludacris’s stupidity embracing hit “Move Bitch (Get Out The Way)”, a misogynistic hard man anthem for easily impressed, dim-witted twats.

Before stumbling across the rapper’s work, I had presumed that only two types of people would adopt the moniker Ludacris (an amalgamation of the words “Ludicrous” and “Chris”—or rather “Cris”): an unpopular early-1990s kids TV presenter or an overbearing middle-aged software developer, who wears piano key neckties and boasts about fictitious sexual encounters.

Yet Ludacris seemingly fits neither of these moulds; he’s merely just an unappealing rapper turned unappealing actor. But what a lyrical master he is. Imagine how proud he must have been when he penned the chorus to “Move Bitch (Get Out The Way)”. Imagine the pride his mother must have felt when he played her that classic song for the first time.

The song’s message is simple, but potent: move bitch; get out the way.

It was rude, it was angry and it was to become the go to song for angry nerds creating anime slideshow videos.

The simplicity of these songs has actually encouraged me to pen my own taunting playground pop song. First, I decided on what I wanted to say; my song is the touching and edgy (just like Ludicris) story of a grade-A douche bag threatening to leave his wife after a vasectomy gone wrong.

The chorus is the catchy party, the bit that I’ve stolen from children I overheard in my local park. It’s based on the old and popular folk melody “She Fell Over”, a tune whistled and screamed at anybody who falls over during a game of football.

It still cuts deep for me and I’m hoping it still does for you, too.

We’re Not Over (And I’m Taking The Kids)

We’re not over! We’re not over!
(Please keep on loving me)
We’re not over! We’re not over!
(I won’t let you leave and I’m taking the kids.)

What’s your problem?
I hate you. I want you to die.
Look what you’ve done to me.
I said look. Why aren’t you looking?
Don’t make me force you to look.
Fine, but I’m taking the car.

We’re not over! We’re not over!
(Please keep on loving me)
We’re not over! We’re not over!
(I won’t let you leave and I’m taking the kids.)

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