Monty Python may very well go down as the greatest sketch comedy troupe of all time, but their contribution to musical comedy is often overlooked.
Here’s the ten best songs that Monty Python ever recorded or performed.
10. The Henry Kissinger Song – Eric Idle is very fond of townhall-style British tunes, and this love ode to Henry Kissinger manages to insult the politician outright without losing its sense of subtelty–that is, until the line, “All right so people say that you don’t care / But you’ve got nicer legs than Hitler / And bigger tits than Cher.”
9. Traffic Lights – It’s a deadpan singer describing why he likes green traffic lights and not red traffic lights, while bored back up singers repeat each verse in its entirety. Even old Monty Python fans got to the second verse the first time they’d heard this one before realizing that the joke’s on the listener.
8. Eric The Half A Bee – John Cleese’s lingual talents are on display for the Eric the Half A Bee song, which is remarkable for how well it turns a subject which isn’t very funny–a bisected bee–into a pretty brilliant foray into the English language.
7. All Things Dull and Ugly – A traditional hymn turned into a sacrilegous revelry simply by answering, “well, if God made everything beautiful, surely he made the terrible bits, too.” The addition of the boys’ choir almost makes it too venomous to be funny. Almost.
6. Every Sperm is Sacred – From “Meaning of Life,” another attack on the Church. This one’s got sperm jokes, so it’s a bit funnier, but no less deliciously vindictive (though it is a bit more subtle, despite its subject matter).
5. The Galaxy Song – Eric Idle once again displays a talent at making one laugh while feeling uncomfortable in this examination of the sheer vastness of the universe–and mankind’s obviously insignificant place in it. How depressing is it? Well, in The Meaning of Life, a woman agrees to a live organ transplant at the conclusion.
4. The Lumberjack Song – Monty Python dressed in womens’ clothing a lot, so we should have seen this one coming. Nevertheless, whether in their live shows, CDs, TV, or even in one movie, you never see the Lumberjack Song coming until Idle bellows, “I never wanted to be a (insert profession here)…I wanted to be….A LUMBERJACK!”
3. Drunken Philosophers – Quite an impressive display of drinking terms and philosophers, all in one song. Monty Python’s intellectualism scores a big one in this tune, with lyrics like “Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,” and “Emmanuel Kant was a real pisant / I drink, therefore I am”.
2. Sit On My Face – George Harrison was a rumored cowriter of this lewd Python song, which may explain why the troupe chose to perform it at the Concert for George before effectively mooning the delighted crowd. And ode to oral sex performed by a Mountie-esque choir, Sit On My Face was Monty Python at their politically incorrect best.
1. Always Look On The Bright Side of Life – There’s a reason that Eric Idle practically owns this list–he was the musical Python, and his talents really came out for the climactic song from Life of Brian, which combines his cheery songwriting with gradually more depressing lyrics, finally arriving at “life’s a piece of shit, when you look at it.” Still, the happy-go-lucky whistling is pretty infectious.
What are your favorite Monty Python songs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.