Geek Music for Geeks Who Don't Really Like Music

When I went off to college (late 80s) I bought a handful of very cheap classical music cassette tapes, simply because I needed some music I could listen to on headphones to drown out the noise in the dorms.  I’ve also got a CD of classical marches, but again the reason is practical — I put it on when I have to clean up old papers or my e-mail in-box, and the music helps me stay focused.

But I don’t really like listening to music.

On my voice recorder, I have an MP3 of the Battle of New Orleans (to amuse my Civil-War-obsessed son), and a very poor MP3 of Daughter (to amuse my headstrong daughter).  I lifted both from the soundtrack of YouTube videos. I also have some traditional music that I recorded during a visit to the Thunder Montain Lanappe Powwow. In all cases, I put this music on my recorder because of my kids.

My wife doesn’t care much for the Internet, but in the last few months she has discovered YouTube music videos, so sometimes after I’ve put the kids to bed I’ll come down to the study and find her bopping to pop music (some retro, some neo-retro).

While I don’t go out of my way to listen to music, I will say that some songs have made me listen up and pay attention. And they’re all very geeky.

So here you go, with links to YouTube videos.

Songs

  1. Make the Logo Bigger (Burn Back)
    Heavy metal web design in-jokery.
  2. The Humans are Dead (Flight of the Conchords)
    “Finally, robotic beings rule the world!”
  3. Code Monkey (Jonathon Coulton)
    Willy Loman as a cube slave. Heartfelt and irony-free.
  4. I Have the Password to Your Shell Account (Barcelona)
    “You should be less obvious / I don’t think you’re smart enough.”
  5. It Is Pitch Dark (MC Frontalot)
    “You are likely to be eaten by a grue!”
  6. White and Nerdy (Weird Al Yankovic)
    When this first came out, four people e-mailed me to tell me about it.
  7. My Way (cover by William Shatner)
    “I can do Star Wars!”
  8. I Feel Fantastic (Jonathon Coulton)
    “And I feel fantastic / And I never felt as good as how I do right now / Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day / When I felt the way that I do right now, right now, right now.”
  9. Elements Song (Tom Lehrer)
    For the science geeks. A spoof of the Major-General’s Song, which paints British naval officers as a kind of humanities geek.
  10. Conjunction Junction (Schoolhouse Rock)
    For the grammar geeks.

Instrumentals

  1. Ballet Mechanique (George Antheil)
    Premiere of all-robotic version of George Antheil’s infamous Dada piece for 16 player pianos and percussion orchestra.”
  2. Typewriter (Leroy Anderson)
    Warning — video shows explicit Jerry Lewis content.
  3. Powerhouse (Raymond Scott)
    You’ll recognize the middle movement from Warner Brothers cartoons that feature factories or complex contraptions, but the whole piece is worth a listen.
  4. The Blue Danube Waltz (Strauss) and Also Sprach Zarathustra (Strauss )
    Both pieces are s
    trongly associated with the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack.