Why is Bo Burnham’s Words Words Words on my best 1,000 albums ever list?
I hate catchy choruses and I’m a hypocrite.
Some stats & info about Bo Burnham – Words Words Words
- What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Comedy Music, Pop Music
- Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
- All Music’s rating – 4 out of 5 stars
- When was Words Words Words released? 2010
- My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #648 out of 1,000
Bo Burnham’s Words Words Words on Spotify
What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?
Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.
But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.
What does Bo Burnham’s Words Words Words mean to me? What does it make me feel? Why is it exciting or compelling?
I’m pretty sure I first heard of Bo Burnham sometime in the 2010s by way of listening to a “station” on Pandora for either Tenacious D or Flight of the Conchords. It would play a song or two by those artists and then branch out to other “comedy music.”
Burnham immediately got my attention for a bunch of reasons, some related to music and some related to comedy*. He’s an incredible piano player and in the midst of experiencing the Bo Burnham experience, it’s extremely easy to remember that everything he’s doing is a one man show. You’ll also quickly note that he can adeptly transition from singer songwriter mode into wildly fast paced and quite competent hip hop flow.
* And little did I know that Burnham was on his way to becoming a legitimate phenomenon, not just as a musician/stand-up comic but also as a highly respected director (Example: Eight Grade), screenwriter, and actor.
But more than everything else, Burnham is strikingly funny. The jokes often come from quick and clever word play, but he’s also able to make insightful points that are entertaining and funny at the same time.
Some songs on Words Words Words are studio tracks while others were recorded live. Both are great, but I far prefer the live stuff. The title track, “Words Words Words,” is a great example. Just take the first 20 seconds alone: Burnham yells, “Let’s rock!” This is followed by gentle, beautiful piano playing (the performance of this transition always cracks me up), which quickly again transitions into Burnham rapping while continuing to play the piano (is there anyone else who does this?). And it all works seamlessly – it’s catchy and funny and rollicking and fun all at once. And somehow it all culminates and makes sense when the chorus comes and Burnham drops on us, “I hate catchy choruses and I’m a hypocrite.”
“Oh Bo” is more of the same formula but with an even catchier chorus. We’re all saying, “Ohhhhh Bo.”
Burnham announces that “Art Is Dead” is not funny at all but that it “helps him sleep at night.” It is funny while also managing to be a rumination of sorts of the compulsion to be a performer/artist and how that intertwines for the desire for fame and, of course, money. It’s smart and funny in the best possible way, but isn’t afraid to drop a ribald reference in here and there to keep us on our toes.