I’ve been updating a bunch of playlists, covering everything from morning routines to writing projects to silly themes. Inadvertently, I discovered that several “nonsense word” songs went together quite well, and one thing led to another and…
I ended up with a playlist called:
Be-Bop-a-Lula: Music that just made shit up
(Or, if you’d like to be a pretentious twat about it, non-lexical vocables.)
- Heebie-Jeebies – Louis Armstrong
Not just a hot tune, but a historical one as well. This is considered one of the first examples of scat singing on recording, and showcases all of Pop’s considerable talents and personality to boot.
2. Be-Bop-a-Lula – Gene Vincent
It will be stuck in your head FOREVER.
3. Rama Lama Ding Dong – The Edsels
For the record, I want to learn how to sing harmonies just so me and a few friends can break into this at parties.
4. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da – The Beatles
Supposedly, McCartney ganked this phrase from a Jamaican acquaintance. What, the Brits co-opt someone else’s culture and profit from it? Say it ain’t so! (This song still kicks ass. It was metal and punk rock before metal and punk rock existed. Suck it, Lennon.)
5. Jadda Jadda Jing Jing Jing – Bob Carleton
It sounds silly and quaint to us now, a hundred years later. But at the time, non-lexicals were a hallmark of jazz, and only scared the conservative white folk all the more. That crazy jungle music was bad enough at the beginning of the twentieth century, but to add in ethnic-sounding nonsense lyrics that were probably from some barbaric voodoo chant? Gasp! The horrors!
6. Mahna Mahna – The Muppets
I lied earlier. THIS is the one that will be stuck in your head FOREVER.
7. Blue (Da Ba Dee) – Eiffel 65
Unless it’s this one.
8. Ooby Dooby – Roy Orbison
This tune is the solution to a thirty-year earworm problem that I couldn’t solve. Back in the 80s, I remember catching a snippet of a sitcom that I didn’t watch, and the two characters kept breaking into this whole little song-and-dance ritual with non-lexicals that made it impossible to just do a Google search decades later to try to solve the mystery. It niggled until, a few years ago, I heard this Roy Orbison tune and recognized the chorus. With that, I discovered that the dumb thing lodged in my head since 1986 was, in fact, the Hongi Bongi ritual of purification from Perfect Strangers. Stupid brain.
9. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (is all I have to say to you) – The Police
Even when it came out, it was hard to take Sting seriously as an international sex symbol when he sang the chorus for this song.
10. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – Steam
He doesn’t love you. And know what else? If he did he wouldn’t make you cry. Still valid advice, friends.
Bonus: Yah Mo B There – James Ingram with Michael McDonald
I love it. I love this song! LOVE IT. So? You thought Journey was uncool once, too. Shut up. Only Jesus can judge me.