The Spoonman Challenge

Was discussing ’90s songs for some reason over email with one of RWCG’s many, many fans and correspondents** and the subject of Soundgarden, now in the midst of a comeback I gather, came up.

This made me think, as I often do, of “Spoonman”:

Feel the rhythm with your hands
(Steal the rhythm while you can)
Speak the rhythm on your own
(Speak the rhythm all alone)

Spoonman, come together with your hands
Save me, on together with your plans
Save me, yeah

Special note for those of you too young to fully accept weird notions about your elders: believe it or not, this is a song that actually became somewhat of a hit for them in that weird special time we call The 1990s. DJs would dutifully explain that Chris Cornell wrote it about a guy he saw playing the spoons next the Seattle Space Needle or whatever (I’m making 50% of this up). Oh also, the song had the tinkling sound of rhytmic-spoons mixed into it. I kid you not. And anyway, radio listeners would nod their heads and accepted the idea that this was all very important and interesting. And people sang along with it. And so it got a lot of play.

Spoonman. Come together with your hands.

With that prelude, then, here is the RWCG Challenge™ for the day: Can anyone name a Sillier ’90s Song than “Spoonman” by Soundgarden? Some ground rules.


1. Just being Silly doesn’t suffice. “Who Let The Dogs Out” came out in the ’90s and it was Silly but not particularly ’90s per se.

2. Similarly, being ’90s without being Silly doesn’t work either. Lots of Pearl Jam – “Jeremy” or “Glorified G”, for example – is very, very ’90s but not all that Silly.

3. To expand a bit on what I mean by Silly And ’90s then: you have to imagine someone 100 years from now listening to the song. Key questions:

  • Do they furrow their brows?
  • Are they having a hard time understanding why this would have been popular?
  • …and what would have been in the minds of the songwriter?
  • …and of the people listening to it and enjoying it?
  • In order to fully explain, do you feel like you have to launch into a mini cultural history of the time period in which it came out? in this case, of The 1990s?
  • Is it hard to do that and explain said context in a satisfying way that fully accounts for the song’s popularity?
  • Importantly: Do they giggle at any point?

I submit that the answer to each and every one of these questions is Yes, when it comes to “Spoonman” by Soundgarden. YOUR CHALLENGE: Trump that – name a Sillier ’90s Song than that.

P.S. Please note that I don’t think it’s a ‘bad’ song as far as hard rock songs go. Nice riff, and all that. It’s just that it’s also very Silly and ’90s.

**estimated count: 2.7

UPDATE: The worthy (IMHO) nominees so far –

Aqua, “Barbie Girl” (Matt)
Bloodhound Gang, “Bad Touch” (Matt)
Limp Bizkit, “Nookie” (Matt)
Whale, “Hobo Humpin Slobo Babe” (dana)
Belly, “Feed the Tree” (Pastorius)
POTUSA, “Lump” (kid dynamite)
King Missile, “Detachable Penis” (Mike)
Weezer, “Undone (The Sweater Song)” (josh)
Metallica, “Enter Sandman” (josh)
Flaming Lips, “She Don’t Use Jelly” (josh & RPLong)
Cracker, “Teen Angst” (RPLong)
Soul Asylum, “Misery” (RPLong)
Green Jelly, “Three Little Pigs” (RPLong)
Eiffel 65, “I’m Blue” (Surge)

Maybe I’ll do some sort of tournament and figure out the Winner.

35 Responses to The Spoonman Challenge

  1. eddie says:

    My decade beats your decade for silliness hands-down.

    Also it’s totally awesomer.

    • So I assume you’re talking about the 80s?

  2. Matt says:

    Aqua – Barbie Girl

    • Silly. Have to think about whether it’s “90s”.

      • Matt says:

        The other one that comes to mind is that Bloodhound Gang song, the name of which escapes me, about doing it like they do it on the Discovery channel. Not sure if it was in the 90s though, it might have been in 2000

        A lot of rap qualifies in an unintentional way. Listen to NWA – Straight Outta Compton and try not to laugh.

        Oh man, I almost forgot Limp Bizkit. Nookie is a perfect one, but nearly any of them would qualify.

        • Wiki says “Bad Touch” was on an album released in Feb2000, but the video I found is copyright 1999. I’ll allow it.

          Yes, rap is a wild card here. One wants to say that Ice Ice Baby is an automatic contender, but it’s hard to know whether it’s “90s”. I think I’d include it.

          As for gangster rap, one important (albeit not the only) vector of Silly is taking yourself oh so seriously – and gangster rap definitely qualifies. My knowledge of it probably isn’t good enough to pick out Silly + 90s gems of that genre though. I think you could justifiably throw in something like “Gin and Juice” though, and all that other Dr. Dre + Snoop stuff.

          Yes, Limp Bizkit is one of those bands that seem like they must be on the list somewhere. Another one is Offspring.

          I’m also waiting for someone to bring up that 4 Non Blondes song. I’m sure everyone knows the one I mean.

          • Matt says:

            And I said heeeeyeeeeeeyeeeeeyeeeeyeah

            That one? Actually, was there another?


  3. dana says:

    hobo humpin’ slobo babe by Whale

    • Wow. Had totally forgotten about this one. Nice.

  4. Pastorius says:

    Ironic by Alannis Morrissette was a pretty stupid song, but not a silly song, I guess. Also, chiding that song has been a bit of a cottage industry.

    Feed the Tree by Belly seemed pretty silly. The song was about pregnancy and giving birth and it was by a band named Belly. And, it was a demand to a guy that he stick around, which of course, would not be a concern if the kids of the 90′s had any notion of the importance of marriage.

    So take your hat off boy
    When you’re talking to me
    And be there when I feed the tree.

    It seems a little unfair for me to laugh at people for their wisdom deficit and misfortune in having been the first children to be raised by hippies, but I always have laughed at them.

    I don’t care if you forgive me or not.

    So, here’s my silly revision to their silly song;

    Hey bitch, try being a lady for a change,
    And then, maybe I’ll take my hat off
    And maybe even open the door for you
    And, if you actually act feminine on a consistent basis
    I’ll be there when you “feed the tree”
    or whatever you Feminist education told you to call it

    • Feed the Tree is a solid nominee. I had never known what the hell that song was about. Silliness pervades it.

  5. mkfreeberg says:

    Have to do this…

    • Oh my.

      He missed out though on the chance to have some text saying ‘inspired by the Soundgarden song Spoonman’ at the end though.

  6. kid dynamite says:

    Lump – by POTUSA. what do I win?

    “Lump sat alone in a boggy marsh,
    totally emotionless except for her heart
    Mud flowed up into lump’s pajamas
    she totally confused all the passing pihranas

    She’s lump, she’s lump
    She’s in my head
    She’s lump, she’s lump, she’s lump
    She might be dead”

    runner up, by the same band:

    Peaches – by POTUSA – although this one is a little less “silly” because you can actually listen to it and like it in some bizarro way…

    • Lump is definitely up there.

      • dana says:

        i was going to offer peaches or “push the little daisies” by ween, but i considered them intentionally silly

        • All of Ween is basically its own category of thing. I don’t even know what.

    • RPLong says:

      Isn’t “Lump” a song about getting a brain tumor, though? I realize it’s delivered in a humorous way, but I always understood it to be a pretty serious tune.

  7. Pastorius says:

    Kid Dynamite, your choices are great.

  8. Mike says:


    I couldn’t remember that name of that song. You make a solid nomination. Hear that song at damn near every Dallas Stars game I went to in the second half of the ’90′s.

  9. Mike says:

    While I was off searching for Lump, which was hard because I couldn’t remember the name, I came across this: Some guy’s idea of the top 200 songs of the ’90′s.

    There is a song on that list named “Detachable Penis” that might be appropriate for this challenge.

    • RPLong says:

      I remember that tune! That song was awesome. I totally forgot about that one.

      And also, remember “Mary Moon” by the band Dead-Eye Dick?

    • kid dynamite says:

      but Detachable Penis shouldn’t qualify because it’s awesome.. you listen to it, and you’re like “wow, that’s awesome,” not “wow, that’s stupid/silly”

      • I’m allowing it. I’m not sure how awesome I think it is ;-)

  10. josh says:

    The Sweater Song, maybe. Must give this more thought.

    Enter Sandman is a *super scary* song by a *super scary* band about *bad dreams.* Parents keep your kids away from that devil music.

    • josh says:

      Also, that Flaming Lips song about Taaaaaaaaaangerines seems very 90s.

      • josh says:

        On a different note, Salt and Peppa’s “Shoop” is pretty silly. One has to explain that to “shoop” is to make love, and yes, only Salt and Peppa ever used that word. Shoopadoopadoopadoop.

    • I love the Sweater Song. But it probably belongs.

      I also think Enter Sandman is kinda silly, now that you mention it. Thinking about it is making me giggle. “Exit light, enter night, take my hand, we’re off to never never land”? LOL

  11. RPLong says:

    Oh, man… Where do I begin?

    How about *anything* by Primus? Their biggest hit was “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver,” which was about exactly what everyone thought it was about.

    “Tangerines” by The Flaming Lips
    “Loser” by Beck
    “Teen Angst” by Cracker
    “Misery” by Soul Asylum (“Frustrated Incorporated”???)
    “It’s Oh So Quiet” by Bjork
    “Three Little Pigs” by Green Jelly

    …and a good 30% of the material on Tool’s first two releases

    • Loser doesn’t quite cut it in my book. Obviously it’s very ’90s, but it doesn’t take itself seriously enough to be Silly.

      That Cracker song works, kinda.

      I had had the idea that Soul Asylum belonged somewhere on the list but I kept thinking of Runaway Train, which was very ’90s, but not Silly enough. Misery is a much better suggestion.

      Not really familiar with that Bjork song. But looking at it on Youtube, I kinda like it. Bjork is like Ween, a category all her own.

      Oh my. I had forgotten about that Three Little Pigs song. Takes me back to Beavis & Butthead. Okay, that works.

  12. Surge says:

    What about “I’m Blue” by Eiffel 65?

    • I had not known who sang that song or what it was called until today.

  13. James says:

    “Scooby Snacks” by Fun Lovin’ Criminals is inestimably silly. Random internet comment on this band:

    I had forgotten about this terrible, godawful band. Truth be told, I’ve never heard any of their songs all the way through, but I’ve heard enough to know that I loathe them. I wonder what label put those jackasses together.

    And what could be more 90s, mainstream and silly than “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls?

  14. Bob says:

    How about “yellow Ledbetter” for pure non-sense?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 318 other followers

%d bloggers like this: