Super Bad Virus song
and its antecedents
Some noted fast patter musical parodies of the past
By Byron Toben
My earlier article calling attention to the Singaporean showman Alvin Oon’s song, Fight the Virus, to the tune of The Sound of Silence has generated a lot of hits here at WestmountMag.
Now comes American musician Daniel Matarazzo with his Super Bad Transmittable Contagious Awful Virus! song, which is going viral on the Internet as armies of self-isolated viewers search for distraction, even if a parody of an all too serious subject.
Its popularity is enhanced by being sung to the tune of the 1964 Mary Poppins animated sequence hit Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, as sung by Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke.
That rapid-fire patter reminded me of other musical parodies of note, albeit on less threatening subjects.
After viewing Mr. Matarazzo’s song and a clip from the Mary Poppins movie, you may wish to also remember Tom Lehrer’s 1959 glib recitation of the periodic table, The Elements, to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Major General’s Song from their Pirates of Penzance.
(Mr. Lehrer, now retired, is still with us at 92 and even churned out a 2016 piece called Trump, Clown although I have not found a video of it.)
Another legendary piece was performed by the wonderful Danny Kaye, master of dozens of fast track patter songs in his 1939 Broadway debut in Lady in The Dark by Moss Hart and Kurt Weill. That song, Tschaikowsky (and Other Russians), blended a host of famous long Russian names in much the tongue-twisting style as Tom Lehrer rattled off the 100 or so elements.
FUN FACT: Lehrer would sometimes encore that piece by acknowledging the ancient listing of elements by Aristotle… a much shorter list of Earth, Water, Air and Fire.
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.