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Published on June 23rd, 2020 | by Jerry Doby

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Songs With Unusual Inspirations

The vast majority of songs released today and for most of the last century have covered just a handful of topics. Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Rihanna has sung about love, it’s such a popular topic that Billboard in the US has compiled three separate lists of love songs, covering 150 different tunes. 

There are also just as many songs written about heartbreak and relationships ending, including famous hits like “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler and “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston. Adele even wrote an entire hit album about a breakup. 

Then there are songs about being rich and spending money, which some may think is a modern phenomenon with songs like Ty Bri’s “Gimme Sum Money”. But the 1973 song, “Money” by Pink Floyd and the 1960 tune “Money (That’s What I Want)” by Barrett Strong would suggest otherwise. 

Sometimes though, musicians get odd inspirations for their songs that are unique, resulting in some interesting creations. 

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana

Smells Like Teen Spirit is perhaps one of Nirvana’s most famous and popular songs. It helped to create a huge new audience for the band, a fact that they resented so much that they refused to play it for a long time. 

It reached number 1 in charts around the world, including in Spain, Belgium and New Zealand and continues to be popular to this day.

The title for the song was actually inspired by some graffiti that a friend of Kurt Cobain’s has sprayed on a wall that read “Kurt smells like teen spirit”. Cobain wasn’t aware, but Teen Spirit is actually a brand of women’s deodorant, but it became the title of the song. 

The line in the song “here we are now, entertain us” was also inspired by events in Cobain’s life. He would regularly say these words when he arrived at parties. 

Two of a Kind Working on a Full House – Garth Brooks

Two of a Kind Working on a Full House is a classic country tune that’s about the love between the singer and his wife. It was originally recorded by Dennis Robbins but failed to garner much interest. It was then re-released in 1991 by Garth Brooks, becoming an instant hit, reaching the top spot in the Canadian Country Tracks and US Hot Country Songs charts. 

The song uses poker hands as metaphors to describe his relationship, with the “two of a kind” referring to him and his wife. The line “working on a full house” refers to the life they’re building together since a full house is one of the strongest combinations of cards you can have in the game of poker. 

Taxman – The Beatles

Regarded by many as the greatest band of all time, The Beatles performed a whole host of songs popular to this day. One of these was Taxman, a song inspired by a high tax rate that the band had to pay on their obscenely high earnings. 

The British government introduced an income tax rate of 95%, which was increased from the already high rates that had been fluctuating between 90-99% throughout the 1940s-1960s. The Beatles track was a blatant criticism of this, with lyrics “there’s one for you, nineteen for me”.

The track also took inspiration from the comic book hero, Batman, with the harmonised singing of the word “tax-maaan” in a similar way to the Batman theme tune. 

Mr Blobby

In the early 1990s, a pink bulbous creature with yellow spots, googly eyes, and a concerning metallic voice became immensely popular in the United Kingdom. Known as Mr Blobby, this pink creature was part of a feature in a prime time Saturday night show called Noel’s House Party. 

Mr Blobby was supposedly a TV show character that celebrities were tricked into performing with. Mr Blobby would then do ridiculous things and cause havoc, pulling down the set and bumping into the celebrity. 

While he was originally a joke, the public somehow fell in love with the pink blob, and “Blobby mania” took over the country. It spawned a range of merchandise, a Mr Blobby TV show, and even a theme park called Crinkly Bottom.

Mr Blobby also released a song in 1993, also titled Mr Blobby. The song reached number 1 in the UK charts, possibly the only time a practical joke got so out of hand it became a huge commercial success and inspired a hit song.

 



About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of The Hype Magazine, and internationally published arts & entertainment journalist. Member of the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture as well as the United States Press Corps.


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