Lana Del Rey has just released her latest single, the fantastically titled ‘hope is dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it’. With a host of lyrical references to everything from Sylvia Plath to the iPad, the track is prototypical Del Rey, sharp and sombre against the backdrop of Jack Antonoff’s piano. Given Del Rey’s proclivity for lengthy titles, perhaps now is a good time to take a look back at some of the greats in the pantheon of really, really ridiculously long song titles. Or, if you’d prefer, just skip to the end for a playlist full of songs with really long titles.
#1. Sufjan Stevens – ‘‘The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You’re Going to Have to Leave Now, or, ‘I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!’’’
I mean, this list could just be a collection of Sufjan songs really, couldn’t it? Maybe it will be, I haven’t decided yet. The prolific Oscar nominee (!) has graced us with an abundance of wonderfully titled tracks over the years, but I’ve plumped for the second song from his breakthrough record Illinois or, to give it its full title, Sufjan Stevens Invites You To: Come On Feel the Illinoise. Okay, Sufjan, if you insist.
#2. Panic! At The Disco – ‘Lying Is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off’
Travel back to a simpler time when you dressed entirely in black and listened to Panic! At The Disco with sincerity. Not like now, where you dress entirely in black and listen to Panic! At The Disco with sincerity masked as irony. The group have annotated the Closer-inspired lyrics on Genius, offering some real insight into their creative process:
“Natalie Portman was so sexy, she plays a stripper, and wears this pink wig. Her and Clive Owen have a couple of lines that they share. We thought that was so cool.”
#3. PJ Harvey – ‘A Woman a Man Walked By/The Crow Knows Where All the Little Children Go’
Definitely a deeper cut from the Harvey discography, this song sees the multi-instrumentalist in raucous form. Taken her from her second collaborative album with frequent musical companion John Parish, Harvey snarls and spits through a menacing set of lyrics.
#4. The Flaming Lips – ‘My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion (The Inner Life as Blazing Shield of Defiance and Optimism as Celestial Spear of Action)’
The Flaming Lips are a notably gas bunch, indeed frontman Wayne Coyne got married inside a literal bubble this past week (nod to No Encore for that piece of knowledge). This sense of reckless abandon clearly extends to their song naming sensibilities. Alas, Spotify has failed to grace us with the majesty of the track’s full title, granting us the meagre ‘My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion’. Pathetic.
#5. Arctic Monkeys – ‘You Probably Couldn’t See for the Lights but You Were Staring Straight at Me’
A lesser known track from the group’s insanely popular debut Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, this one feels light-years away from the music the Arctic Monkeys are currently producing. It’s vintage Alex Turner lyricism, a simple tale of fancying someone, elevated by his sharp sensibilities. “And oh, I’m so tense, never tenser, could all go a bit Frank Spencer” is one of those little rhymes that camps out in my head whenever I revisit this record.
#6. Aretha Franklin – ‘Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)’
Given that 2018 was quite relentlessly packed with bad news, it could be easy to forget that we lost the wonderful Ms. Franklin last year. So, even though this title might not be the longest in the world, I’ll happily take any excuse to call upon the memory of that voice. This track sees Franklin flowing effortlessly from a funky verse into a typically vocal-flaunting chorus.
#7. Pink Floyd – ‘Several Species of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together in a Cave and Grooving with a Pict’
An absolute car crash of a song title from probably the weirdest Pink Floyd album (and that’s saying something). For all the the psychedelic exploration before and after, 1969 release Ummagumma is, to my mind, the strangest entry in their discography. Indeed, the abrupt change at 3:13 in the track ‘Sysyphus (Part 4)’ caused the only music-induced jump scare I’ve ever seen. This chosen song, however, is scary in more of a slow-descent-into-madness kind of way.
#8. Death Grips – ‘You Might Think He Loves You For Your Money But I Know What He Really Loves You For It’s Your Brand New Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat’
Death Grips are basically the musical equivalent of getting punched in the face and really enjoying it. On this album opener, from the abrasive Government Plates, the lads are not only punching you, but shoving a lengthy Dylan-alluding title down your throat as well. Like Pink Floyd, listed above, the group seem intent on creating discomfort in the listener, and my do they succeed.
#9. R.E.M. – ‘It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)’
Stipe and the boys foresaw our impending demise decades in advance and, unlike those foolish Mayans, chose not to put an exact date on it. They did however, declare that the end was nigh, and gave us a nice stream-of-consciousness bop to say goodbye to it all. Just like the preceding Death Grips entry, this one has ties to Bob Dylan, with R.E.M. citing ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ as an influence.