DOI: 10.1386/punk_00198_1 ISSN:

Sex, violence and a bit of a giggle: Notes on the novelty song

Hugh Hodges
  • Music
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • History
  • Cultural Studies

Drawing on examples of novelty songs from Tin Pan Alley, rock ’n’ roll, punk, skiffle and pop, this article argues that novelty songs, when they make it into the charts, always appear to perform a similar function. Whatever the differences in the ecologies of popular music in Britain and the United States, and despite historical changes, novelty songs always seem to arrive as a more or less impolite interruption. The article proposes that it is this, the way they are used, that distinguishes novelty songs, not distinctions between novelty songs and other popular songs based on their (lack of) authenticity, seriousness, originality or durability.