Mormonism doesn’t show up in pop music lyrics all that often. Now that Sufjan Steven’s 50 states project is probably not happening and Kolob Records hasn’t had a hit since 1976 (more on them in a future entry), we don’t have much reason to hope for a serious uptick in LDS references on our radios in the near future (though there is reason to believe that Sufjan’s Utah entry would have been a doozy.)
If you’re tired of not hearing about Mormons in your music, and you’re also not listening to strictly devotional pop, you’ve been pretty much out of luck. Until now. Presenting: Mormons Mormons Mormons, We Haven’t Got a Clue aka Your guide to LDS references in Non-LDS Music, Part I.
#1 “Salt Lake City” by the Dwarves
Mormonosity: 8/10 This is definitely a song about Mormondom. The Osmonds, Provo, and, strangely, Hello Kitty all get a shout out.
Quality: 9/10. There’s no harm in someone writing the perfect pop punk song, even if that someone is the Dwarves who are normally somewhat grittier, harder, and more naked than you’d think from this song.
Highlight: “I’m not pure and I’m not pretty, and I’m not going to Salt Lake City” may seem like a standard line, but it will seem brilliant after it gets lodged in your brain and you realize you’ve spent the last 3 weeks singing it to yourself in the shower.
Things get weird when: Halfway through the song Dexter Holland (The Offspring guy) shows up.
Likelihood of being played at a Mormon dance: 7/10. Kids love the Beach Boys, right? Save this one for the sock hop and you’ll be a hero. Speaking of the Beach Boys…
#2 “Salt Lake City” by The Beach Boys
Mormonosity: 5/10 There is no doubt that the song is about Utah’s capital city, including Lagoon (Hey, I’ve seen that from the freeway!) Beyond that, it’s an exercise in being generic. You mean to tell me that SLC has a “#1 radio station,” “sun in the summer” AND a “park near the city”? Roadtrip!
Quality: 4/10. This is the musical equivalent of President John Taylor’s “Fried Froth.” Tasty enough for a moment but ultimately there is no substance and you could eat it all day and still want more.
Highlight: Besides the flawless (but expected) harmonies, the baritone sax solo is pretty sweet.
Things get weird when: “And the way the kids talk so cool is an out of sight thing.” I can only assume that this song was written before the advent of “fetch.”
Likelihood of being played at a Mormon dance: 6/10. Sure, if the DJ was using CDs instead of an ipod and his bathroom break took longer than planned so “Help Me Rhonda” rolled over in to this, I could see it. Moving away from SLC specific tunes–
#3″Knife Fight at the Mormon Church” by Thirty Years War
Mormonosity: 2/10. It’s got the words “Mormon Church” in the title. Aside from that, this goof y screamy product of the 2000s doesn’t even try. Even more disappointing: There’s precious little knife fighting, if any
Quality: 2/10. This is the kind of music that sounded dated as soon as it was released. Noodly guitar leads, compassionate guy/screamy guy dual vocals, random changes in time signature dropped in for their own sake–if the Refused had really known what were spawning, I wonder if the Shape of Punk to Come would have made it out of the studio.
Highlight: The title is honestly the best part.
Things get weird when: The singer starts talking about “shoot to kill.” So much for that knife fight, eh?
Likelihood of being played at a Mormon dance: 1/10. I’m not sure anyone without a two-tone asymmetical haircut would ever hear this, let alone groove to it. The high council member who oversaw my dances would have been jarred, but this time for the right reasons.
#4 “More Mormon Than Mormon” by Megachurch
Mormonosity: 3/10. It’s a heavy metal instrumental with some vaguely liturgical/metal dude moaning and a really good title that I plan on incorporating into my daily discourse.
Quality: 7/10. Appropriately heavy, decently brutal. Subtle enough to not call themselves Deicide. I could see myself listening to this by choice again.
Highlight: I like the liturgical chant moaning part, though I don’t see myself singing along in the shower.
Things get weird when: I get the impression this is meant to be a satirical stab at religious folks. Did I mention they’re 100% instrumental?
Likelihood of being played at a Mormon dance: 5/10. Much much less offensive than staple “It’s all coming back to me” by Celine Dion, but the heaviest thing I remember hearing at church dances was probably something by the Cranberries.
#5 “Mormon Braes” by Luke Kelly
Mormonosity: ?/10. First someone tell me what a brae is.
Quality: 7/10. Jaunty little Irish jig with a nice gang-vocal refrain that repeats throughout the song.
Highlight: Though the song seems to be about a widow mourning a lost love, in the course of one conversation she goes through her grieving process and decides to marry again in the morning. Never let it be said that the Irish are a sentimental folk.
Things get weird when: Actual lyrics: “As I went in by Strachen Toon I heard a fair maid mourning She was making sair complaint for her true love ne’er returning” I might not think that was weird if I had any idea what was going on.
Likelihood of being played at a Mormon dance: 7/10. As long as Braes isn’t the Irish plural of bra. I’ll be honest, I really don’t know at this point.
TO BE CONTINUED…
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