Ever since Chorizo Garbanzo drew our attention to the use of the swear words in podcast 11 we have been racking our brains to find The King of the Cuss, The Viscount of the Vernacular or maybe A Figure Head for the Foul Mouthed. It’s the title everyone wants, but has to be earned over a lifetime of dedication to an ideal. There can only be one King and that one has to have given the world more tuneful trash-tongued lyrics and hell-directed harmonies than anyone else. But, of course, done in the best possible taste!
Therefore people, it’s my pleasure to nominate Mr Ben Folds for his consistent and unflinching use of appallingly offensive language over 2 decades of tunesmithery.
The judges have helpfully set out a clear criteria for nominations and I am sure The Dishonourable Mr Folds amply satisfies all the requirements. Surprisingly the only present nomination for the honor to become the King of the Cuss is Bob Pollard for his solo work and with the band Guided By Voices. This can be found in the blog by wizard-in-chief, Mr Kicker Of Elves, here. What follows is a direct comparison with this potty mouthed artist as will be other nominations when submitted (although after the presentation below, this might not be required).
To understand the range of Ben’s sweary accomplishments, it is necessary to visit a site where all the lyrics to all his solo and band albums are listed (http://www.azlyrics.com/f/folds.html) and read the lot (some people might argue that this is a waste of time, not me). After completing that task, the facts emerge.
Due to the researcher’s breath being taken away by the sheer venom of the language, these figures may be underestimated as in parts they had to avert their gaze. Still a spectacular 39 fucks, 20 bitches, 16 shits, 10 asses, 6 bastards, 3 craps, 2 pisses and one each for dick, bullshit and the spectacularly offensive cunt. In all 99 disgusting foul mouthed utterances. Well done that man!
This makes Bob Pollard’s paltry 84 look like he is a choir boy at the Vatican. [The Kicker blog counts the songs the swear words appear in, not the actual instances of the swear word itself. So, fuck you. – TTW Ed.]
Moreover, Bob’s profane assault has been spread over hundreds of albums, meanwhile Ben has stacked up his bounty of bile in a mere 9 studio albums. I could have doubled this by including live and extended remixes, where Ben’s tendency to trash talk is at its truculent triumphant best. In footballing terms I think we would be looking at a goal a game.
Do we need to call the jury to order? I think not. Even by mixing up the swearing genre, Bob cannot compete with the 10 completely different swearing derivatives that Mr Folds delivers. Many of the derivatives get a a Foldian flourish to encompass street language and a range of styles. Thus, motherfucker becomes muthafucka and so on… Other highlights on the innovative use of the gutter chat are “that’s some conversation for your ass” (Bitches Ain’t Shit – 2 swear words in one title note, kids).
Undoubtably, the most important criteria because let’s be honest bad language is not big and not clever unless it heightens a sense of emotional urgency, illuminates a sense of importance or makes us laugh.
Folds time and again brings his obscene diction to the party just when required. So to sum up the reason why so many relationships between men and women break up, he delivers a direct (and maybe slightly one sided) analysis by concluding “The Bitch Went Nutz”. In Song For the Dumped, Ben’s jilted boyfriend exclaims in an insightfu,l if again a bit ungallant tirade, “give me my money back you bitch” (bit of an unfortunate trend developing here).
More moving is the touching scene of the son breaking the news to his father that he wants to join the army and his fathers moving response “you must be fucking high”.
The best use by far of any a swear word, in any song, ever, is the tale of the bullied and tortured youth who works to turn the tables on his childhood oppressors to be able to issue forth the declaration to them all “Kiss My Ass! Goodbye!
Goodbye indeed! Call the jury to order! The crown is yours! Arise Cussing King Ben!
See more wizard based analysis on the light and shade of the dark side of low rent lyrics here.