Top Ten Songs by They Might Be Giants

I first heard They Might Be Giants during the fall of my senior year of high school, while on senior retreat. One of the songs they played in the morning to wake us up was “They Might Be Giants,” from the Flood (1990) album. The following spring, one of my friends bought me the cassette of Flood, and I was completely hooked.

Since that time, I have seen They Might Be Giants perform live on eight separate occasions, and have taken my younger brother, sister, and even my mom to their concerts. Their catchy, bouncy songs are just the sort of music that I can’t get enough of, despite any other musical phases which I have gone through. I suspect I will continue going to see They Might Be Giants perform live for as long as I can.

10. “Dr. Worm”
Severe Tire Damage (1998) was a partially live CD, and thus contained many of They Might Be Giants’ earlier songs, rather than a wealth of new material. “Dr. Worm” was one of the few new songs on the CD. Though certainly not the first of They Might Be Giants’ songs to feature a horn section, the horns are part of the charm of this song, along with the idea that it is being sung by a drum-playing worm, who is “not a real doctor” but he is “a real worm … an actual worm.”

9. “S-E-X-X-Y”
“S-E-X-X-Y,” the first song on Factory Showroom (1996), a favorite of mine, but that opinion is not necessarily shared by all They Might Be Giants fans – my sister can’t stand it. I particularly like the slightly funky guitars and the reverb used on the vocals throughout the song. The lyrics are always fun as well, explaining the extra X in the title “because it’s extra, baby.”

8. “The Statue Got Me High”
Apollo 18 (1992) contains many gems in the form of the “Fingertips,” twenty-one individual tracks ranging between four seconds and one minute long. But the best actual song from this album is definitely “The Statue Got Me High.” The lyrics are fun, suggesting the idea of communication between a human and a statue, and mesh with the music incredibly well.

7. “Man, It’s So Loud in Here”
Mink Car (2001) is, in my opinion, a bit different from previous They Might Be Giants albums. “Man, It’s So Loud in Here” reflects that difference. Even though the lyrics are still as improbable as any traditional They Might Be Giants song, the rhythm is almost a dance beat, which meshes particularly well with these lyrics. But it is a bit unexpected from a band that really doesn’t do much in the way of dance music.

6. “James K. Polk”
Having majored in history in college, I can definitely appreciate a song like “James K. Polk.” This three minute long biographical sketch of the eleventh United States president has probably helped me to remember more about him than I can remember about many other one-term presidents. Yes, it definitely appeals to the geek in me more than anything else, but it’s my favorite song from Factory Showroom, and makes it to number six on my top ten.

5. “The World’s Address”
“The World’s Address,” from Lincoln (1988), definitely wins my vote for the most clever of They Might Be Giants’ songs. Though the song is called “The World’s Address,” the lyrics play on the similar sounding phrase “The World’s A Dress.” The song is not particularly memorable musically, but the lyrics more than compensate for that.

4. “Particle Man”
Flood is, in my opinion, the absolute best They Might Be Giants album, and “Particle Man” is one of the songs that makes this album truly great. As with so many of their songs, the premise of the song is fairly silly – it’s basically about a sort of super hero who goes around fighting with other “men,” like Triangle Man, Person Man and Universe Man. But somehow, it works. This song achieved some popularity after being featured in an episode of “Tiny Toon Adventures,” making it one of They Might Be Giants’ more recognizable songs.

3. “Don’t Let’s Start”
The first TMBG album, They Might Be Giants (1986), is filled with wonderful songs, but only one of them makes my top ten list. “Don’t Let’s Start” wins that honor, mainly because of the lyrics of the song. Musically, it’s just another song. But lyrically, it resonates wonderfully: “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful / Everybody dies frustrated and sad and that is beautiful.” Depressing, yes, but I’m sure many people would agree with that sentiment.

2. “Birdhouse in Your Soul”
It’s a shame that a top ten list necessitates only one song being labeled number one. If I could make co-number ones, “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” from Flood, would share the top honor. The music is peppy, lively, and fun, and so are the lyrics. Just another reason why Flood definitely makes my list as the best They Might Be Giants album.

1. “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)”
Normally, when I’m trying to make a top ten list of songs by a band, I try to stick with songs that were actually written by the band in question. But sometimes, I have to make exceptions. “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” is the best song that They Might Be Giants didn’t actually write. But if you ask most people who have heard of They Might Be Giants, they would probably name this song among their favorites, if not at the top of the list.

It isn’t the first song I heard by them, but it is one of the ones that hooked me solidly as a fan. Flood in general is such a great album, that it’s bound to hook They Might Be Giants plenty of fans. If you haven’t already heard it, check it out. I think you’ll like it.

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