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10 Underrated South Park Songs
Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Book of Mormon is only the latest example of their towering songcraft.
By Sean O'Neal
Although few have seen it yet, Matt Stone and Trey Parker's The Book Of Mormon is already one of the most promising shows on Broadway. That's because the duo has spent their entire career proving that, in addition to being consummate smart-asses, they're also extremely talented (even Oscar-nominated) songwriters, creating catchy, funny tunes from their early days on Cannibal: The Musical to Team America: World Police and throughout fourteen seasons of South Park. And while South Park songs like "Uncle Fucka" and "Chocolate Salty Balls" have rightfully gotten plenty of accolades, the show also boasts this equally great roster of less-heralded musical numbers — a commitment to quality that bodes well for filling out two hours on Broadway.
1. "Montage" (Season 6, Episode 3, "Asspen")
Paul Engemann's propulsive synth-rock number "Push It To The Limit" — best known as the song that soundtracked Tony Montana's swift rise to the top of the coke heap in Scarface — may have no bigger fans than Matt Stone and Trey Parker. The duo has used the tune several times in versions both straightforward (as during Cartman's training for the Special Olympics in "Up The Down Steroid") and satirical — specifically, as the self-aware "Montage," which bluntly notes the training sequence's power to convey gradual improvement over a stretch of time without everything taking too long. First appearing in "Asspen" and later reworked into Team America: World Police, "Montage" is parody so powerful it should've effectively killed off any and all unironic montage sequences for ever after.
2. "Jesus Baby!" (Season 7, Episode 9, "Christian Rock Hard")
Cartman forms the Christian rock band Faith +1 not only because of its gullible, built-in audience (one that also presumably considers illegal downloading a sin), but because Christian songwriting is as easy as pulling out all the "baby" references from regular pop songs and replacing them with "Jesus." The result: A communion come-on, an invitation to a little between-the-shroud action, a holy roll in the manger — in other words, some super-hot blasphemy. (A note for aspiring pop stars: swap the "Jesus" for "baby" and you're Katy Perry.)
3. "Fightin' 'Round The World" (Season 6, Episode 4, "The New Terrance and Phillip Movie Trailer")
This song will dog Russell Crowe until the day he dies, or at least until he retreats to the caves to hibernate forever. And for that reason alone, it's indispensable.
4. "The Prostitute Song" (Season 4, Episode 15, Fat Camp")
Before Scientology stole him away, Isaac Hayes' Chef was the heart-and-soul songbird of South Park, and even with his life cut short, most of this list could consist of underappreciated, non-"Chocolate Salty Balls" gems. But few of Chef's musical education moments were ever as instructive as this number from "Fat Camp," which turned James Taylor's "Your Smiling Face" — with an assist from (a fake) Taylor himself — into a no-nonsense dissertation on what makes a prostitute so special, with sentiments that Charlie Sheen clearly took to heart.
5. "Getting Gay With Kids Is Here" (Season 3, Episode 1, "Rainforest Shmainforest")
Much of the focus on South Park's early musical hits centered on Chef, but this song from season three's "Rainforest Shmainforest" shouldn't be overlooked. A masterfully crafted parody of an Up With People-style sing-along, "Getting Gay With Kids Is Here" is, admittedly, built on an overly obvious "gay also means happy" premise. But the straight-faced gusto with which it recreates unbearable glee-club-style "rock" songs makes it work. If the line "being an activist is totally gay" doesn't make you laugh, then South Park is not a show for you.