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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Five Best Uses of Animal Sounds in Songs

Posted By on Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 10:05 AM


The ol' Casio keyboard sound effects never get a workout quite like they do around Halloween, when nearly every spooky song comes punctuated with a howl or a squeak. Or a half-dozen of them, as in the case of the maddeningly catchy kids' song "Pumpkin Jack." (Click here to listen, and don't say we didn't tell you.)

But otherwise, animal noises in songs are surprisingly scarce outside of the kids and novelty genres. Here we present five of the best.

See also: -The six best songs about birds -The six best songs about dogs -Gig musicians vs. Show musicians

5. Sure Shot, the Beastie Boys If there is a better way to kick off a '90s playlist -- or this list -- than with the "talking" I Love You Dog that's lifted, apparently, from an old Little Caesars commercial, let it be known. Because those three almost syllables -- ruh-RUH rooo! -- paired with the unexpected and brilliant flute line now seem made for each other, like dog poop and brand-new carpet. You could argue that the barking dog is a nice touch on Sublime's "Doin' Time," which is true enough, but an almost-talking dog trumps a regular non-talking dog every single time.

4. Jungle Love, the Steve Miller Band Probably a parrot's most shining moment outside of a Jimmy Buffett concert, this song owes more to its feathered soloist than the omnipresent background cowbell. Though "Jungle Love" never even cracked the top twenty on Billboard, without that bird, the song would be nothing more than a forgettable pit stop for the Steve Miller Band, en route to its craptastic (creeptastic?) song "Abracadabra," which inexplicably made it to No. 1 in 1982. (Family lore has it that during this song's heyday, our pet budgie would go bird-shit crazy bopping his head whenever it came on the radio. And that's a nice image. Who's a pretty bird till you flew out the window, dum-dum? You are, Chipper! RIP.)

Wolf. Not pictured: Chinese menu. - BACCHARUS
  • Baccharus
  • Wolf. Not pictured: Chinese menu.

3. Werewolves of London, Warren Zevon People might argue that werewolves are about as real as the howl in this song's refrain, but given that it consists solely of a howl and three words, it rightly deserves a spot on this list. And talk about staying power: This song bit into the Top 40 and didn't let go for six weeks in 1978, a time before werewolves were concerned with impressing girls named Bella, perfect hair notwithstanding. Kid Rock, everyone's second-favorite hoosier from the Detroit area (haha, just kidding, Ted Nugent!), ripped off sampled this track in 2008 for his hit "All Summer Long," which is the musical equivalent of mixing Grey Goose with off-brand orange juice.

2. Sleigh Ride, various artists Clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clop, horses, horses, horses, horses, overandoverandoverandover. The sound of hooves keep a steady pace throughout many versions of "Sleigh Ride," and, if you're listening to a lyric-less version, might even take center stage. It's kind of terrifying, really. Because the clip-clops seem to steadily gain speed throughout the song, like your own quickening pulse and the days leading up to Christmas, until you have a nervous breakdown in Target choosing between this strand of lights (it's longer, pricey, but all white) or that one (shorter, but multicolored and cheaper) all while shopping for a present for that one niece whom you don't even like. A sleigh ride to the psych unit, this one.

1. Chicken Train, Ozark Mountain Daredevils "Missouri Waltz" (sample lyric: "Hear that mournful melody/It just haunts you the whole day long") has enjoyed a 60-odd year run as the state song. But it's also kind of a drag. Besides, hearing it doesn't make you a real Missourian, but this does: Listening to the Ozark Mountain Daredevils' 1973 song "Chicken Train" (sample lyric: "Chicken train, running all day/I can't get on, I can't get off/Chicken train, take your chickens away") on eight-track tape in a rickety boat skidding across one of the state's many lakes and rivers. Though OMD found more widespread success with its songs "Jackie Blue" and "If You Wanna Get to Heaven," "Chicken Train," with its Jew's harp/harmonica/clucking-chicken triad, is the far superior tune. Plus, it'd be badass to hear your state song on KSHE.

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