This week we’re taking a slight detour as we look at popular bands who have used their musical talents to immortalize insects. Previously, we touched on artists who were bitten by “the love bug”.
There have been, of course, a plethora of bands with pests in their names (The Beatles, Adam and the Ants, the Scorpions, the Rats, etc). We could compile multiple playlists just based off their names! For today, though, we’re jumping into the songs themselves, looking at 10 artists who have “immortalized” insects in their music. As before, you can follow this playlist on Spotify… So sit back, turn the speakers up, and enjoy!
With their distinct sound, the B-52s definitely stand out from the other artists included in this list. Though most people can sing along to their most popular song “Love Shack,” in a rousing bout of karaoke, most people would be hard-pressed to offer the same performance for “Junebug.” It just doesn’t get the same airtime. Nevertheless, this song still delivers the classic B-52s vibe that fans have come to associate with the band… as well as all the free lovin’ that the band espouses.
There are numerous versions of “Boll Weevil” out there, but perhaps the most iconic is the rendition done by Old Lead Belly. A definite “throwback,” this song is reminiscent of an older time in music… The haphazard, casual intonations definitely give this song the feel of a laid-back evening on the porch, belting out old folk songs for the fireflies to hear.
This entry isn’t so much a song as it is narrated speech over music. “Army Ants” is very reminiscent of a National geographic documentary meets the grind of a seedy nightclub mixed with the delivery of Mitch Hedberg… a scattered offering of “one-liner” facts related to insects. Waits’ gravelly voice also amps up the “creepy” factor of this piece, which is quite fitting, considering it’s about insects.
“Qongqothwane” has been described as a traditional wedding song from the Xhosa people of Africa. As native English speakers do not have the linguistic ability to pronounce some of the sounds, it became commonly referred to as “The Click Song.” “Qongqothwane” is a song about where the village’s witch doctor can be found. Though his physical appearance is just like everyone else (not the stereotype that most people think of when they picture witch doctors), he is compared to a “knocking beetle,” which (in local folklore) leads the way home. The witch doctor leads the newlywed couple to a new future together in the same way that the beetle leads children home to where they belong.
In this peculiar song, Ava (and her mangos) chronicle the journey to becoming an entomologist. Ava starts off by catching her bugs in the “local salad bar” (eww!) Catching, cataloguing, classifying, and displaying insects for others to see. Not necessarily an exciting life, but it was interesting enough to earn its own song. Now if we could just find our own “pest control” ode.
Like Kid Icarus, Audioslave gets too close to the sun in this song. A much lesser known single by a superb band, the lyrics truly capture the disillusionment that failure can cause. Notable lyrics: “I was a king, I was a Moth with painted wings made of cloth / When did the flame get so high and get so hot?”
The only country music offering in the list, Shelton’s “Honey Bee” is a self-aware tune, and he even admits in the lyrics that the song “comes out a little country.” The song basically likens him and his girl as two complimentary parts in a couple (at least, that’s the intent… we’ve never heard of mixing wine with whiskey, but who are we to judge?) The song is, as most love songs are, stereotypical, but a good guitar riff and a catchy chorus make that fact easy to overlook.
Arguably the most popular entry in our list, The Dave Matthews Band (“hardcore fans call him Dave“) offers up “Ants Marching,” which is one of their most recognizable hits. Horns are on loop through the background under Dave’s vocals, adding to the lyrical idea that nothing is ever changed, much like the “ants marching” from the title.
This English rock band offers a peculiar piece. the lyrics are not deep at all. In fact, on may suggest that Colin Newman (lead vocals and guitar) channels Randy Newman based on the simplicity of this song. There is no story arc provided, but simply a song that is easily played in the background as you go about your day. This UK band sets up an anthem of sorts within the song — “I am the Fly” becomes a chant which begins to crescendo over a “clap-track” until its sudden end.
The Bearded Ones came up with their own ode to the common black fly. It starts off with the typical ZZ guitar riff, then continues into a song that, while lyrically not too deep, is fun to play air guitar to. This song contains all the innuendo that is to be expected of a ZZ Top song, while the guitar drives the momentum and keeps it moving forward.
OK, obviously this song does not have insects in the title itself… but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to include the King of Parody in our list… Perform This Way earns him a spot based on its lyrics: Weird Al dons a suit made of bees (and poking fun at Lady GaGa in the process).
Well played, sir.
So there you have it: 10 songs (plus a bonus track!) about common pests.. some of these songs hit pretty high on the charts, too! What do you think? Are there any we missed? Leave a note in the Comments section or tell us via Facebook or Twitter