Monday, September 16, 2013

Cole Porter Sucks

300 Plus word essay that I can’t believe I didn’t see that I had to do:

I can’t write for shit, but I think you’re tits
Still, better to say than to leave unsaid
I can’t sing, either, but I’m a big believer
In feeling inferior
While I overfeed your head

In the first verse, I chose to mimic the somewhat formal pentameter of the Porter song, while introducing modern profanity and slang indicative of current lyrical trends that have become so commonplace today. By juxtaposing the formality of the syllabic rhythm and structure with modern language, I am attempting to delight the reader with the small surprise of bad words with formal structure reminiscent of the imitated work. This also serves as a segue-way and acknowledgement of Porter’s song (antiquated and, now- many decades later- stuffy) to my ‘updated’ version in which I cite more currently known equivalents. It is not unlike the idea behind sampling an established older song in order to set the tone, establish theme, and lend gravitas to a new pop song intended for top forty, except this is intended to be a bit of a joke, as lyrically I am also mocking the subtext both large and small of a desperate man with an inferiority complex who cuts himself off at the knees by employing really shoddy simile ad-nauseum over and over for the duration of the original work.

You’re badass
You’re an octagon ring
You’re badass
You’re MoMA
You’re Kim Deal on bass
You’re a Fendi bag
You’re Fifty Shades of Twilight
You’re Roger

In the second verse, I continue to mimic the original and simply swap out references that were current at the conception of the Porter version for references that are more easily recognizable today, while continuing to tonally update through repetitive use of profanity. You’re the top becomes you’re badass, the coliseum- a site for violent spectator recreation – becomes an octagon ring, such as is used for it’s modern gladiatorial equivalent (minus intended death), UFC tournaments. The Louvre becomes a museum so modern and current as to have the word modern in its name- MoMa, the Museum of Modern Art. Strauss symphony gives way to Kim Deal, an alternative musician known for her amazing work on bass in such seminal bands as The Pixies and the Breeders. Bendel bonnets were status asserting hats- like, Little House on the Prairie hats- that have a modern equivalent in IT bags- purses- manufactured by Fendi, et al. The appearance of Shakespeare on Porter’s song gave me pause, as Shakespeare was long dead by the time Porter was conceived, and as per our given definition of popular culture in class, Shakespeare would not have qualified during Porter’s lifetime any more than Shakespeare would qualify now, despite the fact that for the last several hundred years, there is no other playwright in the known universe whose works are produced more often. Overlooking this fact, I reference Fifty Shades of Grey and Twilight. I wouldn’t want to over think it. Finally, to wrap verse two up, I reference Roger from American Dad as opposed to the (still) very iconic Mickey Mouse, although today when someone refers to someone or something as ‘Mickey Mouse,’ it is typically intended to denote immaturity or dilettantism. I cannot speak as to the perceived meaning during Porter’s heyday. It could mean “Hey, you’re awesome. Like Mickey Mouse.”

You’re Summit Plummet
You’re an abandoned amusement park
You’re a crystal studded skull
I’m without inherent value of any kind, I’m Charlie Sheen, I’m Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls
But if I’m all those not-awesome things,
Somehow that translates into you having lots of qualities

Verse three switches out the Nile for the world’s largest waterslide, the Summit Plummet, found in Florida. The Tower of Pisa is swapped for what, for my money, would be an equivalent in ruined cool, an abandoned amusement park. The Mona Lisa’s smile is exchanged for the Damien Hirst work, ‘For the Love of God,’ which is more commonly known as ‘that Bedazzled skull I saw on Instagram.’ I swapped out Porter’s flop, wreck and worthlessness for Charlie Sheen (noted flop and arguably worthless wreck) and the legacy raping fourth Indiana Jones film.
I continue in this manner for the duration of the rewrite, swapping out old for newer, more recognizable equivalents. I also continue to overanalyze Porter’s premise, ridiculing and undermining it to great comedic effect by being excessively literal of what his citations actually entail if you think about them.


"You're the Top" by Cole Porter (1934)



At words poetic, I'm so pathetic
That I always have found it best,
Instead of getting 'em off my chest,
To let 'em rest unexpressed.
I hate parading my serenading
As I'll probably miss a bar,
But if this ditty is not so pretty
At least it'll tell you
How great you are.

You're the top!
You're the Coliseum,
You're the top!
You're the Louvre Museum.
You're a melody from a symphony by Strauss
You're a Bendel bonneti,
A Shakespeare's sonnet,
You're Mickey Mouse.


You're the Nile,
You're the Tower of Pisa,
You're the smile on the Mona Lisa
I'm a worthless check, a total wreck, a flop,
But if, baby, I'm the bottom you're the top!



You're the top!
You're Mahatma Gandhi.
You're the top!
You're Napoleon Brandy.
You're the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
You're the National Gallery
You're Garbo's salary,
You're cellophane.


You're sublime,
You're a turkey dinner,
You're the time of the Derby winner.
I'm a toy balloon that is fated soon to pop
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

You're the top!
You're an Arrow collar.
You're the top!
You're a Coolidge dollar.
You're the nimble tread
Of the feet of Fred Astaire,
You're an O'Neill drama,
You're Whistler's mama,
You're Camembert.

You're a rose,
You're Inferno's Dante.
You're the nose
On the great Durante.
I'm just in the way,
As the French would say, "de trop."
But if, baby, I'm the bottom,
You're the top!

Reworked by me, Seth

“You’re basically better than me and I think that reiterating that endlessly will endear you to me somehow”

I can’t write for shit, but I think you’re tits
Still, better to say than to leave unsaid
I can’t sing, either, but I’m a big believer
In feeling inferior
While I overfeed your head

You’re badass
You’re an octagon ring
You’re badass
You’re Moma
You’re Kim Deal on bass
You’re a Fendi bag
You’re Fifty Shades of Twilight
You’re Roger

You’re Summit Plummet
You’re an abandoned amusement park
You’re a crystal studded skull
I’m without inherent value of any kind, I’m Charlie Sheen, I’m Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls
But if I’m all those not-awesome things,
Somehow that translates into you having lots of qualities

You’re badass
You’re an assassinated conscientious objector
You’re badass
You’re fancy alcohol that probably costs too much
You’re light pollution in a foreign country
You’re a museum in London in addition to being a museum in France, so essentially you are breaking the laws of space and time
You’re the money that a reclusive German actress could command
You’re plastic wrap

You’re badass
You’re cooked poultry
You’re how fast a really fast horse can competitively run
I’m an impotent, withering toy
But if I’m all those crappy things,
In my warped view of what meritocracy is,
This makes you exceptionally valid as a human being

Oh my God, how many verses of this horrible song do I have to write

You are STILL BADASS
You’re a really nice accessory that again, denotes status
You’re badass
You’re currency
You’re a dead dancer’s feet
You’re a nobel laureate playwright, also dead
You’re an old puritanical hag sitting in a rocking chair looking unnecessarily unpleasant
You’re English cheese

You’re a rose… I’m not changing that because we still have roses
You’re somebody who spends a lot of time in multiple levels of hell and I don’t get how that’s a compliment… I think Cole Porter was just mad-libbing this song by the forty-seventh verse
You’re Ashley Simpson’s new nose (it’s better than the alternative)
I remain inferior
Even the French think I’m shit and they like Jerry Lewis
But if I’m I suck that bad,
that only makes you more badass

DIY: If you missed today's class, you are responsible for rewriting the lyrics yourself with modern pop culture references and posting them to your blog. You will also need to write a 300-word essay explaining why you chose the substitutions you did in your rewrite and how those substitutions reflect modern popular culture. This must be submitted by September 18 for you to earn XP for this quest. If you miss the deadline, you must complete the "Ooops" quest to earn the Pop Culture Maven badge and progress in the class.

You want the extra credit that the class earned as well? Then provide a link to a video of you SINGING those lyrics. Oh, yes, you heard me! We sang in class and it was fantabulous. So warm up the vocal chords, set up your webcam and let 'er rip.

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