Friday, September 26, 2014

Pig Latin in music

What influence has Pig Latin, the children's language game, had on popular music, you ask? 

Not much, but a little more than none. Jazz vocalist Anita O'Day took her last name from the Pig Latin word for "dough." In Wikipedia's article on Pig Latin, the "in popular culture" section lists a few songs that are sung in Pig Latin. Some songs have "Pig Latin" in the title, like Todd Rhodes and LaVern Baker's "Pig Latin Blues," but aren't sung in Pig Latin.

Today on Music Weird, we'll survey almost 50 years' worth of songs that feature singing in Pig Latin.

Nellie Lutcher – "Pig-Latin Song" (1947)


This song registered on Billboard's "race" chart in 1948 when it appeared as the B-side of Lutcher's "Fine Brown Frame." In a review, Billboard said, "Nellie imparts [her] own peculiar vocal pattern to her own tune." Maybe it's the poor audio of the video, but Lutcher's vocal performance seems very weak to me here. 




Johnnie & Jack – "Pig Latin Serenade (Pa Won't Know and Ma Won't Care)" (1953)

On "Pig Latin Serenade," Billboard wrote, the "duo gets together on Pig Latin clambake. Could be an attention-getting gimmick." I used to use a weird Johnnie & Jack instrumental, "Yeah," as the theme of my rockabilly radio show on WFHB-FM.

Lead Belly – "Pig Latin Song" (1953) 

Lead Belly recorded this song more than once. 



Johnny Brooks – "Pig Latin" (1960) 

No audio for this one. "Pig Latin" was the B-side of Brooks' "Help Me Somebody."



Bob Luman – "The Pig Latin Song" (1961)

"The Pig Latin Song," the B-side of Luman's "The Great Snowman," was also recorded by Holland's Magic Strangers in 1964. This might be the best-known Pig Latin song. Bob Luman had a some pop hits as a rocker in the early '60s (including the Top 3 hit "Let's Think About Living") and then notched a lot of country hits in the late '60s and 1970s.


Zoom – "Ig-pay Atin-lay" (1977)

The cast of the television children's show Zoom cut an album, Playgrounds, in 1977 that includes a song in pig Latin, "Ig-pay Atin-lay." No audio sample.


The Hemmer Ridge Mountain Boys – "Red Neck Mother (in Pig Latin)" (1977)

This record is a version of Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Red Neck Mother" sung in Pig Latin. YouTube has a video of Wrecks Bell performing this version live.  



Ben Stiller – "The Pig Latin Lover" (1990)

Even if you're not a fan of Ben Stiller, you have to admit that this is impressive, especially when he gets to "American Pie." Taken from Stiller's sketch comedy show, The Ben Stiller Show, this sketch parodies those old television ads for records, like the ads for Slim Whitman's albums.




Mr. T Experience – "Pig Latin" (1990)

From their album Making Things with Light. You can hear a sound sample here.  


Black Maddness – "Igpay Atinlay" (1993)

Features rapping in Pig Latin.



Dillinger Escape Plan – "Pig Latin" (2002)

Some hardcore in Pig Latin. 

Bonus track: Louis Jordan – "Ofay and Oxford Gray" (1945)


This song about racial harmony uses the word "ofay," a derogatory African-American term for white people. The origin of the word is unclear, but one popular theory is that it originates from the Pig Latin word for "foe." Whether or not "ofay" is Pig Latin, it's the only (potentially) Pig Latin word in this song.


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