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Self-referential songs

Old 11-07-19, 06:39 PM
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Self-referential songs

Let's have some fun here!

For years (since reading (not all the way through) Go"del Escher Bach in college), I've been interested in the paradox of self-reference (e.g. "This statement is false")

I've developed a list of about a dozen songs that range from explicitly to arguably self-referential.

I'll throttle my list to one every day or two, if you guys think of ones I haven't thought of, awesome! (If you think of ones on my list, that's great too)

The easiest way to be a self referential song is to include "this song" somewhere in the lyrics. So for the #1 prototypical example of a self-referential song, I'll offer you


Chorus: "You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you"
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Old 11-07-19, 07:00 PM
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A whole lot of rap songs would fit into this thread. Most has too much profanity for BF, but this'll work:


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Old 11-07-19, 07:05 PM
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Certainly a whole host would flood in by virtue of "My name is MC whatevuh and I'm here to say..."

But if it gets a lot more clever and interesting than that, what would you recommend as a prime example?

I don't have any rap on my list, so no worries about spoilers (not that anybody should be worried)
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Old 11-07-19, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Certainly a whole host would flood in by virtue of "My name is MC whatevuh and I'm here to say..."

But if it gets a lot more clever and interesting than that, what would you recommend as a prime example?

I don't have any rap on my list, so no worries about spoilers (not that anybody should be worried)

NWA's 'Straight Outta Compton'; virtually every song on the album.
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Old 11-07-19, 07:35 PM
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The entire A Prince Among Thieves album, which is fantastic.


I was tricked into reading I Am A Strange Loop and enjoyed it very much. If you haven't read it, he describes it as a more coherent version of GEB.
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Old 11-07-19, 07:36 PM
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This might pass the BF censors since its one word of profanity in the title, and the singer uses it for self-deprevation:

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Old 11-07-19, 07:52 PM
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The Song that Never Ends
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Old 11-07-19, 09:47 PM
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Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring is about birth and death and everything between; the entirety of the human experience in a few simple notes. That has to include listening to Jesu throughout the ages.

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Old 11-07-19, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Nice! I had never heard that one before. Definitely qualifies!

Reminds me of the obnoxious camp song that all I can remember about it is how it iterates on itself with 'Same song, next verse; a little bit louder and a little bit worse'

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Old 11-07-19, 11:23 PM
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The rest I don't think you get it (or maybe I don't get it). I listened to that whole prince of thieves thing, I didn't find any self reference. Except maybe the opening shot of Prince of Thieves was the TV showing Prince of Thieves? I don't think that really counts. Compton I don't know.

Also not beastie boys. I'm not talking about a video illustrating or dramatizing a song's lyrics.

It's the difference between a song being about something (or even about what its title says it's about), vs a song being about itself.

(And claiming that Jesu is about the entirety of human experience, including the experience of listening to Jesu, is so broad as to be meaningless)

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Old 11-07-19, 11:30 PM
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Self referential movies

I hope this is ok. These two films are very strongly self-referential, and also masterpieces.

Meru


Free Solo

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Old 11-07-19, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
The rest I don't think you get it (or maybe I don't get it). I listened to that whole prince of thieves thing, I didn't find any self reference. Except maybe the opening shot of Prince of Thieves was the TV showing Prince of Thieves? I don't think that really counts. Compton I don't know.

It's the difference between a song being about something (or even about what its title says it's about), vs a song being about itself.

(And claiming that Jesu is about the entirety of human experience, including the experience of listening to Jesu, is so broad as to be meaningless)
That's the trailer. The album is a story about the making of the album, and about friendship and betrayal. Listen to the whole thing - it'll take an hour - and it will be clear as day.

I did say originally that it's an album.
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Old 11-07-19, 11:36 PM
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In order to make the concept clearer, I'll just go ahead and bust out the most obvious example (which I didn't use first because not as many people are going to already be familiar with it)

This is the song that goes like this, from Spamalot (the play version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail). I saw this in Vegas, the whole production struck a pretty good balance between reiterating the best jokes from the movie, and providing fun new content, including this song, which is about this song:


It really beats you over the head with its self-reference

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Old 11-07-19, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
That's the trailer. The album is a story about the making of the album, and about friendship and betrayal. Listen to the whole thing - it'll take an hour - and it will be clear as day.

I did say originally that it's an album.
OK, then I'll allow it. (but I'm not gonna spend an hour)

Reminds me of the netflix show Episodes, which [spoiler alert!] turned out to be about the making of the show Episodes.

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Old 11-07-19, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I hope this is ok. These two films are very strongly self-referential, and also masterpieces.

Meru

Free Solo
I've seen Free Solo, I haven't seen Meru. I'd say, as documentaries made partly by the participants/subjects, these are more 'self-aware' than 'self-referential'. They are about mountain climbing. They might be self-referential if they were about documentary film-making, in particular the making of themselves.

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Old 11-07-19, 11:56 PM
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Talking about not being sure whether to continue the project because you fear your presence and the camera's might cause the subject to take more risk than he normally would and perish seems pretty self referential to me. Meru is even more so, but since you haven't seen it that's all I'm going to say.
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Old 11-08-19, 12:45 AM
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okfine, but it still seems kind of inherent to the nature of a documentary of a living subject who is aware they're participating in a documentary. Same deal as Blair Witch Project.

But my aim is to focus on songs, where the self-reference arises as a quirky surprise
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Old 11-08-19, 12:46 AM
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Hey there, Delilah
Don't you worry about the distance
I'm right there if you get lonely
Give this song another listen
Close your eyes
Listen to my voice, it's my disguise
I'm by your side
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Old 11-08-19, 12:57 AM
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rap is on a more personal inner-city relevant level....
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Old 11-08-19, 01:05 AM
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You claimed all this time that you would die for me.
Why, then, are you so surprised to hear your own eulogy?

He had a lot to say.
He had a lot of nothing to say.
We'll miss him.

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Old 11-08-19, 01:30 AM
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I had a girlfriend recently who loved Ellie Goulding. Her version is better than the original, it has a kitten.

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Old 11-08-19, 04:42 AM
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Elton John - Your Song

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Old 11-08-19, 06:40 AM
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I don't get it. Carly Simon is referring to a specific someone in "You're so Vain".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You%27re_So_Vain
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Old 11-08-19, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
Certainly a whole host would flood in by virtue of "My name is MC whatevuh and I'm here to say..."

But if it gets a lot more clever and interesting than that, what would you recommend as a prime example?

I don't have any rap on my list, so no worries about spoilers (not that anybody should be worried)
LL's diss of Kool Moe Dee. After LL came out with "I Need Love", Kool Moe Dee called LL soft. This was LL's response.

"Yo, Bob! Show that old skool sucker punk what real hip hop is, boyyyy!"

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Old 11-08-19, 08:31 AM
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I think this is what you're getting at:

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