- Feb 22 2023“Weird Al” Yankovic.
8 Novelty Records Australia Loved In The '80s
8 Novelty Records Australia Loved In The '80s
Australia’s fondness for homegrown comedy records has been well documented. (You can read our previous coverage on the topic here.) But our appetite for novelty tracks didn’t stop there. Not by a long shot. Throughout the 80s, a stream of hilarious, ridiculous and downright odd singles from overseas made their mark locally, with everyone from the king of parodies to a TV alien hitting the Australian chart.
“Snot Rap” by Kenny Everett
It wasn’t the biggest chart hit in Australia, but late British comedian Kenny Everett, and his characters Sid Snot and Cupid Stunt, had a loyal following down under. Sounding more like a game show theme than hip-hop, “Snot Rap” was one of a number of rap send-ups that allowed the comedians involved to avoid singing… something we can probably all agree was best avoided.
“The Curly Shuffle” by Jump ‘n The Saddle and The Knuckleheads.
Australia was treated to not one but two rival versions of this tribute to the Three Stooges, with both charting simultaneously in March 1984. Jump ‘n The Saddle from the US were the original artists, with Canada’s The Knuckleheads recording a quickie cover version of the swing tune that incorporated some of Curly Howard’s best-known catchphrases.
“Eat It” by “Weird Al” Yankovic
Setting the standard to which all other comedy artists could only aspire, “Weird Al” Yankovic had been sending up hit songs for years. But like everything associated with Michael Jackson’s Thriller album, his parody of “Beat It” was also a massive success itself. In fact, “Eat It” achieved something the song that inspired it didn’t quite manage – it reached number 1 in Australia. (“Beat It” peaked at number 2.) “Weird Al” returned to the ARIA top 50 three more times – lampooning Madonna on “Like A Surgeon,” taking the mickey out of Michael once more with “Fat” and, in 1992, with “Smells Like Nirvana.”
“To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap)” by Mel Brooks
Another comedian who’d been making Australian laugh for ages scored his first chart hit in 1984 with the show-stopping theme song from wartime comedy To Be Or Not To Be. Only Mel Brooks could make Nazism humorous, and he did so by also turning to rap to make his gags about the rise of the Third Reich, name-checking Göbbels and Himmler along the way – something not often heard in a top 50 single.
Living Doll” by Cliff Richard & The Young Ones
Cliff Richard had had no trouble landing hit songs throughout his career, which by 1986 was already pretty lengthy. But he had never managed to reach the very top of the Australian chart. Enter TV’s The Young Ones for a shambolic take on one of Cliff’s earliest singles, all in support of the newly launched Comic Relief. The comedy series about an eclectic group of housemates was so massive it also spawned another hit: Neil’s remake of “Hole In My Shoe.”
“Star Trekkin’” by The Firm
The Star Trek franchise had never been bigger in 1987, thanks to a series of successful big screen adventures and the launch of a new TV spin-off, The Next Generation. Perfect timing then for this novelty hit, which set the catchphrases of the series’ characters to an increasingly speedy tune. Teamed with a Claymation video, it appealed to fans old enough to remember the original show and kids who probably had no idea what a Klingon actually was.
“Stuck On Earth” by ALF
This next song from outer space was little more than a cynical cash-in on the runaway success of TV sitcom ALF about the titular wise-cracking furry alien from Melmac. Producer Ben Liebrand threw together snatches of dialogue over a dance beat – something Pet Shop Boys would do a much better job of several years later with “Absolutely Fabulous” – and fans lapped it up.
“Stutter Rap (No Sleep Til Bedtime)” by Morris Minor & The Majors
The highest-charting rap song in Australia until MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” hit the top in 1990, the number 2 debut single by British comedian Tony Hawks in his Morris Minor alter ego sent up Beastie Boys, with the subtitle derived from “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”. The trio followed the eminently quotable “Stutter Rap” with a dig at another famous three-piece – producers Stock Aitken Waterman were the targets of follow-up “This Is The Chorus.”
For some more familiar 80s faves, check out our Hits of the 80s playlist on Spotify:
Listen to Hits of the 80s on Apple Music:
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