On songs about food

Slicing, broiling, chewing, and swallowing are such natural processes that singing about them is just as natural. Eating is one of life’s purest visceral pleasures, so I present to you a list of songs about food (at least in name).

Cibo Matto — “Artichoke” “Artichoke” is off of the Cibo Matto’s magnum opus, Viva! La Woman, in which Cibo Matto presents to us a number of food-themed songs. “Artichoke” is the most “serious” food and song on the album, beginning with a crumple and a clatter over a clunky piano. It’s definitely not a fast food track — it oozes all over, and Hatori’s voice glides along the distorted instruments. “Can you squeeze a lemon on me?”

REM — “Orange Crush” Orange Crush is a deliciously sweet soda, and I’ve always had a thing for this classic REM tune, in part because it refers to something so lighthearted as a soft drink. At least, that’s what I used to think — according to Wikipedia, “Orange Crush” is talking about Agent Orange. Huh. Well, at least this song, secretly about Vietnam, has the fun fizz of the soda. (There’s also a far more depressing version: the recent cover by Editors.)

Wiley — “Pies” Wiley is a British rapper who produced a subgenre of Grime he calls “Eski,” as in Eskimo, because his beats are so icy. The beats on “Pies” sound like they were created by hitting massive icicles with mallets, so Wiley channels strangely serious hip-hop as he sings: “Who ate all the pies? (pies) / Who ate all the pies? (pies) / There goes Wiley, there goes Wiley, he ate all the pies, boy.” Clearly, “Pies” is an incisive exposé on urban life in London.

Coil — “Broccoli” You might think a song called “Broccoli” would be silly, and the gloomy clicking and chanting are so over the top that it is at least smirk-worthy. That is, until you realize the band is talking about the death of your parents, saying: “Wise words from the departing: Eat your greens, especially broccoli. Always wear sensible shoes.” Beyond creepy.

Smashing Pumpkins — “Mayonaise” I love mayonnaise, the condiment. Many people find it absolutely disgusting, but there’s something fabulous about its semi-gelatinous giggle smothered all over French fries. There’s also something fabulous about Corgan’s voice smothered all over “Mayonaise” [sic]. “Mayonaise” presents a shockingly perfect balance of breathiness, guitar distortion, and indulgent, adolescent angst. Fans adore it, along with the better-known tracks off Siamese Dream like “Disarm” and “Cherub Rock.” It’s almost depressing to listen to the overdramatic, whiny new Pumpkins album — alongside the intricate, sensitive Siamese Dream — but that’s a different column entirely.

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