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"Out in the woodsI wanna make friends with the badger"
Up to no good
—The Badger Song
Punk grew in popularity during the 1970s and by the mid-eighties it was a pretty mainstream genre, with prominent political punk bands gaining mainstream critical acclaim and billboard hits. Punk music was Serious Business, often addressing social ills that were largely ignored by mainstream society.
The Dead Milkmen took another angle.
Poking fun at religion, politics, society, and punk music itself, the Philly-based Dead Milkmen are certainly one of the greatest satiric rock bands. Invoking, subverting, and referencing standard musical cliches, the Dead Milkmen had a pretty steady underground following from their start in 1983 and received more mainstream attention from Punk Rock Girl. The band broke up in 1995, having released eight studio albums, one live record, and a bunch of other side releases.
In 2008 they reunited with a new bassist, Dan Stevens, as founding member Dave Schulthise passed away in 2004. Their latest album, The King In Yellow, was released in 2011.
- All Just a Dream: Silly Dreams
- Appease the Volcano God: in The Fez, which features a chant of "you have angered the volcano god!"
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From Methodist Coloring Book
"God hates war
And God hates crime
But he really hates people
Who color outside the lines"
- Also in Nutrition where the speaker admits that he's a deadbeat and has no ambition, but hey, at least he cares about his nutrition.
- Ax Crazy: The speaker in Violent School, If You Love Somebody Set Them On Fire, and quite a few more
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Satirized by the Dead Milkmen themselves and sung about
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: The Badger Song
The badger's your friend
Make friends with the badger
The badger's your friend
Make love to the badger
- Conspiracy Theorist: Conspiracy Song
- The speaker in Stuart, who has theories about what the queers are doing to the soil!
- Deep South: "Hello my name is Billy Bob and I don't give a damn" in Tiny Town
- Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: The beach is thoroughly derided in Beach Song for its stupid sand, stupid fish, and stupid people but the worst part is that the speaker gave his ice cream to a shark and now has nothing to eat.
- Genie in a Bottle: I Dream of Jesus except it's not a genie, it's Jesus Christ, and he's in a Manishevitz bottle that the speaker's mother finds behind a 7/11
- Goth: Mocked in Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance To Anything)
You wear black clothes say you're poetic -
The sad truth is you're just pathetic
- Lyrical Dissonance: Dark humor and lyrical dissonance are pretty standard tools
- Motor Mouth: In Moron
- Parody Names: Drummer "Dean Clean" and lead guitarist "Joe Jack Talcum" are gentle parodies of punk names like Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, etc.
- Philadelphia: Expect strong Philly accents and references to Philly landmarks
- Punk Rock
- Pyromaniac: If You Love Somebody, Set Them On Fire
"Oily rags are special things/You know to me they're diamond rings/Maybe we can have some fun/Maybe we can burn someone"
- Shout-Out: In "Punk Rock Girl":
"We asked for Mojo Nixon
They said 'He don't work here!'
We said 'If you don't got Mojo Nixon
Then your store could use some fixin'!'"
- "The Thing That Only Eats Hippies" has one to Hüsker Dü with the line "So Bob and Greg and Grant you should beware."
- The Doors were parodied in two of their songs. In the opening dialogue of "Bitchin' Camaro," a cover band that turns "Love Me Two Times" into a song about AIDS is mentioned. Then in "If You Love Somebody Set Them on Fire," the "You know that it would be untrue, you know that I would be a liar" segments are a reference to "Light My Fire."
- Surf Rock: Parodied in Beach Song, where they complain about wasting the summer at the beach
- The Cuckoolander Was Right: In I Dream of Jesus the speaker's mother claims to have found Jesus trapped inside of an old Manischevitz bottle. Considering the mother's past history of getting into fights and her former church which believed dancing was "a one-way ticket to hell" the fact that Jesus is actually in the bottle is a pretty surprising.
- The Quincy Punk: Satirized quite a few times, most notably in Punk Rock Girl
- The Stoner: Smokin' Banana Peels
- Three Chords and the Truth: Subverted. Quite a lot of songs use just a few chords but the "truth" delivered is pretty subjective.
- The Something Song: Guitar Song, The Blues Song, Beach Song, Conspiracy Song, The Badger Song....
- Tuckerization: "that Jonny Wurster kid" in "Stuart" is named after Jon Wurster, the drummer for Superchunk and a friend of the band.
- Went to the Great X In the Sky: The Thing That Only Eats Hippies
Gonna send 'em all to that big folk festival in the sky
- Wisdom from the Gutter: As The Dead Milkmen were often deliberately crude and ridiculous, it's pretty shocking when a song like The Secret of Life, which is about the speaker's interstellar romp with a space alien, is genuinely sweet and provides the message that there is no secret to life, since secrets only serve to turn people against each other.
- If I Had A Gun is from the same album (Soul Rotation) and while one might expect it to be along the same lines as Violent School where the speaker rambles about how awesome violence is, it's actually a pretty interesting contemplation about how the speaker would be different if he owned a gun and had the power to destroy.
- Word Salad Lyrics: Invoked, subverted, satirized over and over again. "The Fez" does all of these in a single song.
- Yandere: Again, If You Love Somebody, Set Them On Fire