This one would be ridiculously easy if I went with a straight-up comedy song. Spinal Tap, Randy Newman, Tom Lehrer, almost anything from the first 8 years of The Simpsons, nerd-du-jour Jonathan Coulton...plenty of options. Hell, if I hadn't already mentioned it last month, I'd just throw up a video of Richard Thompson's 'Read About Love' ("He gave me a book / The cover was plain / Written by a doctor with a German name / It had glossy pictures, serious stuff / I read it seven times, and I knew it well enough") and call it a day. But I figured it would be more interesting - marginally-so, at any rate - to go with a funny song by a songwriter who doesn't normally go quite so obviously for the laughs.
Of course, there are still plenty of choices here, too. Plenty of normally-serious artists have tried to lighten things up over the years, to do something which offsets the relentless po-facedness of their 'normal' output. But unfortunately, most of them suck. This one, though, doesn't. Well, I don't think so, anyway.
The words "produced by Ben Folds" wouldn't normally fill me with confidence. Aside from his work on the surprisingly-excellent, no-really-it-is William Shatner album Has Been from a few years ago, I've never been fond of Folds' strain of self-consciously quirky college rock, and coupled with the trying-too-hard video, this sort of thing would normally set my teeth on edge. And yet...it works. For me, at least. It's not exactly a major piece of work from Palmer, and it sticks out like a sore thumb on the album it comes from - Who Killed Amanda Palmer, a record dominated by thoughtful, sensitively-arranged pieces of musically- and lyrically-literate art-pop - but it made me laugh the first time I heard it, and it still does. A song about rape, abortion and teenage ostracism wouldn't normally be the most obvious subject for an infectiously-catchy bit of comedy-pop, but it works here.
I forget when exactly I first heard this song, but it was actually one of the first Amanda Palmer songs I really listened to - I was vaguely aware of her former band, the Dresden Dolls, but they'd never quite grabbed me, so when she released a solo album, it rather passed me by. But I came across this song on Youtube one day, quite by accident, and it clicked with me, making me curious enough to check out the rest of the album. As I mentioned above, 'Oasis' is miles removed from the rest of the album in terms of content, style and tone - many critics seem to single it out as the weakest track, in fact, and while I don't agree, I can understand why - but it was the one which first introduced me to her music, so I retain something of a soft spot for it. The album would, to be fair, almost certainly be stronger without this song - it's funny, but out-of-place, and it drags down the far more overtly serious songs surrounding it, arguably harming the overall thematic cohesion - but on the whole, I'm still glad it's there.
It takes an aggressively light-hearted approach to a serious topic, and while that's a trick which plenty of people have attempted before, to manage it without trivializing the issue in question is still a neat trick to pull off. I reckon thatshe manages it perfectly, although I can understand why some people disagree strongly - the bottom line, as Palmer herself has pointed out, is that if the same lyric were set to a minor-key dirge, no-one would have batted an eyelid. That there's a disturbingly fine line between the comic and the tragic is hardly a new discovery, but this is about as good an illustration of the principle as any other I can think of.
More importantly, though, it's laugh-out-loud funny, in that gleefully-embracing-the-tasteless way which still so often works for me, however juvenile or crass. And the video is perfect - the high-five at 1:06 cracks me up.