Favorite Song Tourney Matchup #16 Shop Vac vs. That Spells DNA

edited January 2009 in JoCo Music
Shop Vac lost to I'm Your Moon in matchup #2
That Spells DNA lost to Big Bad World One in matchup #6
Now they battle each other.
Matchup #16 Shop Vac vs. That Spells DNA

Shop Vac wins 28 to 15 over That Spells DNA


  • I WILL be abstaining for this one.
    I just don't like either of these.
  • Today's safe prediction: Shop Vac will crush That Spells DNA.
  • Not if I can help it.
  • I have to say that DNA contains some of Coulton's most absolutely grim and depressing lyrics! It is really disconcerting to have such an upbeat, high energy song with the words "But it's a spiraling staircase that you're falling down, and you're nothing but dead at the bottom!"
  • edited January 2009
    True, but ShopVac is similar, but to a less extent. Except in Spiff's video, of course. But DNA does kinda shift from "here's a fun lesson about DNA" to "Everyone's gonna die. Too bad."

    I'm not sure on this one. Neither is a favorite, but both are fun to listen to. DNA hooked me a lot faster, but ShopVac has been growing a lot on me since then. I'll have to relisten to both of them. I'm a swing voter, here. Somebody convince me, one way or the other.
  • Personally, I'm just tired of the oh-no-suburbia-sucks theme.
  • But it was the first.
  • Hm. Well, the first time I heard "Shop Vac," it was a live version, which I don't like as much as the recorded version...though, my friends and I played it endlessly over the summer, so it has a tendency to pop into my head a lot. "That Spells DNA" is a more recent find, but I love how grim the lyrics are when the music is so upbeat. Plus I am convinced it helped me in biology.

    I'm leaning slightly towards DNA, because it does have a special place in my heart, but if I hear a convincing argument for Shop Vac, I may have to change my mind...
  • Oooh... I think I am abstaining.... Wouldn't want either song to hate me
  • Shop Vac has clapping in the chorus. 'nuff said.
  • DNA for sure here. Much as I love Shop Vac, DNA gets a lot more eartime from me. And what's with the remarkable number of people who don't like it at all? I never realised it's lacking love.
  • I'm voting DNA. It's instantly understandable, and it took me a long time to get much of an idea what Shop Vac was about. There are still a lot of things that people on this board are not sure about in it. Not that I don't like ambiguity, or things that gradually become apparent after several listens, but you have to get something on the first listen. I'm still not even sure why suburbia supposedly sucks, and I think I only know that's the theme of the song because people have said so.
  • Let me just say that I've listened to That Spells DNA enough times that I can sing along with the chorus. DNA gets my vote.
  • That Spells DNA is Coulton at his geeky best. I mean, c'mon, "And DNA, baby, that spells DNA", "DNA you're in my heart," "If it says TGGTCGAAC
    then you might get the cancer..." that's just great stuff. The shift from "how you became you" to "you're dead, deal with it," makes me laugh as well, but that might just be me.

    It gets my vote.
  • edited January 2009
    but shop vac is just about my favorite coulton song! you will be breaking my fragile, tender heart if you all vote it down the incinerator.

    shop vac has some meat to it. it has a narrative. there is a story. there are people involved. that spells dna is dry and semiscientific and non-grammatical. i am pretty sure those sequences of base pairs he rattles off are not actually genes, and also he doesn't spell out deoxyribonucleic acid anywhere in the song, so the name is misleading!

  • "If it says TGGTCGAAC
    then you might get the cancer..."

    Ah, that line reminds me of Strangers With Candy, for some reason. Which only nudges me further towards DNA...
  • I love SWC. But why does that line remind you of it?
  • DNA is a fun song, but Shop Vac gets my vote. It has more substance and is more stimulating to me than DNA is.
  • Shop Vac has clapping in the chorus. 'nuff said.
    No it doesn't.

    I'm also going with DNA on this one, primarily because I took the time to memorise the long DNA base sequence. Just for fun.
  • edited January 2009
    "you grew and you grew and one day you were you, and you look like your father and mother. If you're looking for someone convenient to blame, you can take your pick it's one or the other."

    That's one of my favorite lines. Dr. Seuss would be proud of that line. Probably enough to get my vote over anything ShopVac has to offer....
  • I never really felt Shp Vac was one of his better song. It's certainly not bad, but I prefer DNA.
  • @Jmonkee: Damn, you're right, it is Dr Seuss!
  • Quick notes, nothing substantive, all repeating things I've said before on the forums:

    "That Spells DNA" is another lyric in what I've called the "Octopus" meter / rhyme scheme, and I quote myself:
    I still remember the WORDS you SAID / They were HARD eNOUGH to LEAVE a MARK
    We start the story when MOM met DAD / And they DANCED all NIGHT and he TOOK her HOME
    All alone by the TABle of FOOD / In my WRINKled SUIT and my BORrowed TIE
    Also, it's the song that JoCo cites in his Jawbone Radio interview from January 2006 as most directly influenced by They Might Be Giants, if you're wondering about the pairing of morbid subject matter with upbeat melody.
  • Anyone noticed 'DNA' is ANOTHER JoCo song that touches on the subject of 'blame'...?
  • btw Cov, don't abstain. That's boring. Sell your vote.
  • Hmmm.... Good idea Rob !

    Oookay !!!!

    Roll up, roll up one and all.
    Read the post and heed the call!

    State your case and your intent-
    Sway me with your argument!

    DNA or Vacuum Cleaner
    which of these d'you thinks keener?

    And just how far d'you think you'd go
    to Gain the vote of Cov (that's Joe!)?

    Money? Goods? or Hand made socks!
    What will make me tick your box?

    As of NOW the bidding starts!
    strip your soul and bare your hearts

    Lavish me with blatant bribes
    that your choice may yet reside

    atop it's gasping nemesis
    make a HIT out of your Miss

    to get your song to the next round...
    shall we start at 50 pounds??

    A Man Feeling Rather Silly This Evening.... ;' )
  • I love this place.
  • I see the spirit of Seuss has conquered Cov..yay!
  • life is so much better in rhyme
  • The shopvac’s loud, I’ll have to holler
    While I try to bribe you with a dollar

    We don’t have pounds here in the states
    Unless you’re measuring with weights

    I don’t have much cash in the bank
    To influence my fave song’s rank

    But what I have could soon be yours
    If, you enjoy cleaning floors

    I cannot offer you a lot
    But in my heart’s a special spot

    Reserved for you if you should choose
    To make that DNA song lose
  • For me Shop Vac must be the one.
    While DNA is lots of fun,

    Which song gives you the chance to choose?
    Not DNA which says “you lose”.

    Random base pairs lay your path
    (Whether poetry or math);

    If Mom and Dad weren’t up to snuff -
    Too bad, so sad, I guess that’s tough.

    But Shop Vac says that you’re in charge.
    You can live small, you can live large,

    You can live here, you can live there.
    Just be careful and aware

    To choose that TV, house or drink -
    Choose some, choose all! The kitchen sink!

    Picking your future, how’ere inane
    Is better than just laying blame

    I cast my vote for Shop Vac’s hope
    Not DNA’s too passive mope
  • I love SWC. But why does that line remind you of it?
    Oh, probably the unnecessary article in front of cancer...it seems very SWC-esque...
  • edited January 2009
    This is for Covenant:

    “Shop Vac” and “That spells DNA” are both very good songs, but only one can be more favored than the other one. Covenant, as an abstainer from previous polls has agreed to vote for one song over the other, as long as he is given a good enough reason to. I will proceed to state why I think that Covenant should vote for “Shop Vac” now, and every time it comes up again. These reasons include, but are not limited to: content matter, fan involvement, and the fact that I am about to prove Lex wrong.

    The content matter of “Shop Vac” is of the modern suburbs, and the “tragic suburban angst” (Coulton) involved with them. This is seen clearly through the lyrics “You can cry and I probably won't hear you” (Coulton Shop Vac). The emotions and deprivation of the suburbs have gotten to this suburbanite to the point where he doesn’t even care if his wife is feeling these emotions too. This paints a clear, vivid picture in our heads creating a whole complex monologue that most westerners can relate to.

    The second, and perhaps an even more important reason why Covenant should vote for “Shop Vac” is that there was a large piece of fan involvement in the making of the song. On his blog, before the song was completely finished, Coulton stated that “You may notice that there is no guitar solo after the bridge. I was going to go through the whole process of cutting together snippets of decent playing, beating myself up about not being a better guitarist and cursing my useless sausage fingers, but forget that. I leave it to you, dear minions.” An artist asking for fans to create a piece for their work is rare and far between, and Coulton exemplifies his difference to the mainstream music industry by allowing a fan to create a solo for his song.

    The third point that I would like to make for reasons to vote for this song is that I am going to prove Lex wrong. I wrote “Shop Vac has clapping in the chorus. 'nuff said” (The Clinger). Lex replied “No it doesn't. I'm also going with DNA on this one, primarily because I took the time to memorise the long DNA base sequence. Just for fun” (Agent Lex). I would just like to point out now, that Coulton stated on his blog that “I knew I was going to do hand claps in the chorus and I couldn’t wait” (Coulton). Those might not be handclaps, but if they aren’t, I don’t know what they are.

    Both DNA and Vac are good, favorable songs. Vac is better, however, because of the content matter, the fan involvement, the fact that I proved Lex wrong, and yes, even the handclaps. Covenant shouldn’t abstain from voting, because the whole Coulton community is needed to find out what the true favorite song of the die hard forum fans is. Without someone as pivotal as one of The Mandelbrot Set members, we will not get the true favorite song, and will be stuck with a slightly less than true favorite song.

    In Closing I would just like to say: Shop Vac has clapping in the chorus. 'nuff said.

    Edit: I didn't realize how 'wall-of-text-y' this was until I saw it posted in vanilla. I typed it out in word...
  • @wishflower: oh, yeah, totally. I was thinking diseases and could only come up with "Fidel Castro impersonated Marilyn Monroe and gave President Kennedy a case of syphilis so severe that eventually it blew the back of his head off." Which is possibly one of the greatest statements ever made, ever.

    I will be back sometime to defend DNA and make a plea on its behalf. Just, not tonight.
  • edited January 2009
    This paints a clear, vivid picture in our heads creating a whole complex monologue that most westerners can relate to.
    Not me.

    Every single one of us, no matter which country we're from, which culture, favourite song and race (and I mean race in the biological sense) has DNA in almost every cell of our bodies. Everybody can relate to that. It unites us, just us as DNA bases unite polymer strands.
  • Oh, in case anyone isn't clear on this point in the future: Me writing an essay in response to a post by Covenant is mostly a joke...

    @Angelastic: You actually read it?
  • @Angelastic: You actually read it?
    Of course, it was funny. I read up to the part I replied to and then I planned to skim the rest but I had to read the proof of Lex being wrong.
  • The strings of DNA mentioned in the song are made up. According to JoCo, "I'm pretty sure that actual important strings of DNA would be too long to put into a song and still have a song that someone might want to listen to."
    (Wiki) Yep, he did make them up.
  • I just don't get Shop Vac. I mean, I've seen it explained (well, not so much explained... more like I've seen some (follow the Bry-trail) discussion about what certain parts of it might mean. I think there were other threads about it that I can't find.) But to me, it goes like this:

    We found a place and got a whole lot of things we apparently wanted.
    It's actually kind of boring, can't wait until the kids leave home.
    We don't have a very healthy relationship; we avoid communicating.
    We don't have any friends, I'd like to get drunk and forget about that.
    We don't have a very healthy relationship; we avoid communicating.
    I have a mild case of OCD.
    I'm having some kind of out-of-body experience, real or imagined, there's a freeway far away, and I guess I have to back to [my life in suburbia/the city (pick one)], who knows, maybe I'll even go beserk and kill some people.
    We don't have a very healthy relationship; we avoid communicating.

    Pretty much a string of non sequiturs, and some spoilt lucky people who have everything they want (or at least everything they thought they wanted) but are unhappy about it because it's not fashionable to be happy. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but I guess people in US suburbs with kids and dogs can relate to it. Personally, I wouldn't be very happy to have a driveway, swing set, or dog, but it appears that the narrator wanted them, so I guess he's just a bit depressed, which could happen to anyone, but it doesn't make for a very interesting song.

    Whereas... everyone's got DNA!
  • "I must think on this further..."

    (Ref? Diff. 4/5)
  • I suppose the parts of "Shop Vac" you're wondering about, Angelastic, are immediately recognizable to me as elements, somewhat exaggerated, of the American Suburban Dream: to live in the suburbs with the spouse and the two-point-five kids and to have the perfect little house with all the perfect little amenities -- not so much that the narrator wants these things but that the stereotype is that he's supposed to want these things. (Basically there's a very clear image in American pop culture of this dream, established in many many movies and TV shows and magazines and commercials etc., and JoCo has pulled out random elements of this image.) Can't oblige you with a line-by-line explication at the moment, he writes, and hears the cheers of the crowd; paging Dr. Cox, Dr. Cox to the white courtesy phone.

    SpaceParanoids, I did after all upload a large version of the icon...
  • I recognised the dream, but... why the angst? This is a song about a guy who is living the dream but is depressed for some reason. I guess it's worth writing a song about, but it just seems to be missing something, in comparison with other JoCo songs.

    When he 'explains' this song in concert, he says something vaguely similar to, 'I was up on the roof with a vacuum' [at which point I get surprised, partly because he was on the roof with a vacuum cleaner, and partly because he wasn't downstairs like in the song, but this is irrelevant to my point, keep reading] ' and I was thinking, "Man, this is awesome." And then I thought, "No it isn't!"' at which point a few people in the audience laugh.

    I want to know how he got to that "No it isn't". I've seen this thought pattern before, on the internet, when somebody is doing something that they think is really cool, and then they realise that actually, they're kind of a loser, because the thing they're doing was only cool last week or only for teenyboppers or is actually incredibly nerdy and carries bad social stigma or something. You know, like "Man, I just got to level 1000 on World of Warcraft after not leaving my seat for a week/rickrolled everyone on /b/, I am so cool. Wait, no I'm not." But I don't really see how this applies to being on the roof with a vacuum cleaner. Is it just not cool/socially acceptable to enjoy things that are (or were, a few moments ago, before the inexplicable self-correction) enjoyable?
  • Because the thing about the American Suburban Dream is that it's typically hollow -- "we haven't got real friends / and now even the fake ones have stopped calling."

    Not that being up on the roof with a vacuum is socially unacceptable, but that it's not particularly the kind of thing that should be the most fun thing you did all week. Like, "awesome" used to be sitting with the, I dunno, XBox or something and blasting aliens, or whatever the kids do these days with their technology, but now it's cleaning the gutters? Is this all that's meaningful in my life these days?
  • I think I see what you mean. But if it's so obvious that living the American Suburban Dream causes [actually, I don't really see the causal connection, apart from that you have a roof to vacuum. Well, I guess kids are a major part of it, but we have a much better song about that] such angst, then why does the dream persist?

    And doesn't every awesome thing become not awesome if you spend enough time thinking about more awesome things? That's just normal greed/envy, nothing to do with suburbia. If it seems awesome before you start thinking of more awesome things, why not just enjoy it instead of wallowing in not being the king of the perfect world who does only the most awesomest things ever? Is everybody obliged to be miserable because there might be somebody happier than them somewhere? Or only people in the suburbs?

    My answer is no; we are obliged to enjoy life and/or be miserable because there's a spiralling staircase that we're falling down, and we're nothing but dead at the bottom.
  • The angst comes from the sudden realization that just when it seems one has achieved all his (or her, but I use the masculine because we're talking "Shop Vac" in particular) dreams, he discovers that everything he's worked to build is a sham. The rooftop anecdote is significant not because roof-vacuuming is awful or even that it's not awesome but that it's the sudden moment of realization that one has become mired in complacency, to the extent that if he hadn't had the epiphany he would've seriously considered cleaning the gutters (a tedious, when not perilous, bit of yardwork) "awesome."

    That is, the angst isn't, "Oh god I have to clean the gutters," it's "Oh god I've become that guy who thinks cleaning the gutters is awesome."
  • edited January 2009
    Okay, I have such a hard time picturing anyone other than a modern witch on a roof with a vacuum cleaner that I have no concept of how awesome it is or isn't. I still don't really see a problem with enjoying it if it does seem awesome, and, more importantly, I don't see why moving to the suburbs suddenly causes anything more awesome than cleaning gutters to disappear, unless, of course, being on the top of a tall apartment building with a vacuum cleaner is more fun, which I suppose it would be, for the view, but I guess people don't do that.

    I think the point of 'everything he's worked to build is a sham' is mostly skipped over in the song, it just goes straight from 'I got everything I wanted' to 'I'm so depressed. House the size of a planet and my wife and I don't have a very healthy relationship; we avoid communicating.' and then while I'm still trying to figure out how that happened, it goes into the ambiguous bit at the end. When it comes to expressing 'thing I thought I wanted actually kind of sucks [at first]', You Ruined Everything does a much better job. ETA: Though of course a coveted vacuum cleaner is the perfect icon for this sentiment.
  • edited January 2009
    I recognised the dream, but... why the angst? This is a song about a guy who is living the dream but is depressed for some reason.
    I think I see what you mean. But if it's so obvious that living the American Suburban Dream causes such angst, then why does the dream persist?
    well, it wasn't really obvious until it started becoming a popular theme in american art and mass media, and even today i could easily imagine someone who's never heard of fountains of wayne and hasn't seen the sopranos and doesn't really hear that message very much.

    as to 'why the angst', there's enough cultural baggage going on here that explicating all of it is tricky, but i'll try to hit the high points:
    this idyllic suburban life is an image that's been propagated more or less since the '50s, i think. initially it was created in advertising when people started opening up these outer areas for habitation, and it sort of took root, because a big part of the message is that this is a great place to raise kids, and having kids was apparently a big deal in post-ww2 america (hence the baby boom).

    trouble is, this cultural knowledge grew out of advertising, and all advertising lies at every opportunity. so you have this widespread cultural message that you want to live in this specific place, and have this specific family structure, and own these specific things, and sure, that works for some people, but for a lot of people it's actually a pretty terrible idea.

    the message is being given to everyone indiscriminately, though, and unless you're relatively thoughtful and introspective, you might not realize how hateful an environment that would be for you. hell, even if you do, you might still go because of pressure from others, or economic pressures, or whatever. so you end up getting into this situation and only then realise you've been lied to, and by that point you've got a mortgage and children that you may or may not have wanted and so on.

    also, suburbs tend to be largely devoid of cultural venues of any sort. when you're planning a move, it's easy to say, 'well that's only a little extra drive to get into town,' but then when you have to actually tack the extra 30-40 minutes, both ways, onto the trip, it can become too much of a hassle, and so you end up giving it a miss.

    now, with shop vac specifically... raising kids takes a lot of time and effort, so i imagine it's easy enough to use them as a crutch/excuse for not doing anything or having a social life. shop vac is looking at the suburban family post-kid, where you have the couple whose relationship and lives have been dominated by the kids until all of a sudden that prop was kicked out from under them, and now they're sort of in free fall.

    i think that covers the basics.
  • He's living the dream.

    But he isn't living his dream.

    Vote Shop Vac.
  • Any song that playfully and casually rhymes multi-syllabolic biological science terms deserves your vote!
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