As far as it goes with hand claps and cowbells, the majority of people are 2/3 of the way there. With Shane rejoining the podcast after a brief sabbatical, we felt it was a good time for another mixtape episode. But don't fear the reaper, we've collected 12 great tunes that showcase (or don't) the percussive beauty of skin on skin and wood on metal bovine accessory. Enjoy!
Close To Me - The Cure
This is the first song I can remember noticing hand claps. I mean of course, I had heard them in songs before, but they are so obvious in this one, not to mention I first heard this song around the age when I started really paying attention to music.
Hair Of The Dog - Nazareth
This song could have easily been substituted for Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" in the classic Walken SNL sketch, as it features the the most over-the-top employment of 70's cowbell to ever emerge from a cannabis-fogged van. Scotland's answer to AC/DC--I would so totally go see them today if they toured together--even if Nazareth's bass player is the only remaining member left over from this era.
Your Life Is A Lie - MGMT
Not exactly what you would immediately tag as a "single" from indie rock giants MGMT but the video certainly has legs. The solid thunk of the cowbell (or perhaps just a lead pipe) transcends the stereotypical 70's rhythmic standard heard everywhere, including through some of this podcast. You can thank acid for this one.
Stars and Sons - Broken Social Scene
Sometimes the handclaps resonate more when you have to wait for them, and that's exactly what happens with Stars and Sons -- this is Broken Social Scene at full swagger, and the handclaps here serve as an exclamation point, culminating the building tension within the track. No bubblegum to be found.
A great song off of a great album. Summerteeth is criminally underrated. The handclaps in this one aren't as prominently featured as other songs on this list, but they are just right.
Hey Ya! - OutKast
I don't give half a shit what the rest rest of the guys around the table care about this song, as it is pure genius to my ears--to the point that I actively searched my radio dial incessantly for it at its popular zenith. This is catchy as all-hell, the video delivers in spades, and marked the high point of a double album (which, if we're "being honest" was really just two solo records sewn together). Also, it features hand-claps.
Lowrider - War
There's a real root of Chicano and Cuban percussion throughout this gem and the cowbell features prominently thus. Performed by the band War, who also gave us hits like "Spill The Wine" and "Why Can't We Be Friends?", it seems difficult to imagine anyone who has not heard that punchy trumpet riff at least a dozen times.
House of Jealous Lovers - The Rapture
You will not be surprised to learn that James Murphy had a hand in production here, and to that extent this sounds like the sibling of a long lost LCD Soundsystem release. At the time the band felt a dance song might alienate their fans, but why? This track is a calorie burn waiting to happen. Both cowbells and handclaps join the party.
Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel
What can I say, the patron saint of handclap songs, somebody was gonna need to pick this one.
Stuck In The Middle With You - Stealers Wheel
There is so much to love about this song/video, from its 70's bell-bottom majesty to its literal interpretation of being stuck between a clown and a joker (although--party game--guess which one is which). This also features both cowbell and hand-claps, which gives it a double-whammy for this episode. I have my doubts, but it would appear that Kevin also spontaneously picked out the solo artist that this band spawned.
One last thing: I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't give away the spoiler that there are no ears severed in this. Deal with it, and just go re-watch Reservoir Dogs.
Groove Is In The Heart - Deee-Lite
When I was a sophomore in college, my buddy Hondo made up his own lyrics to this song called "Move Your Shopping Cart", with the chorus ringing out "I'm Krogerin' for my mother". It's an earworm that often sidelines my brain for days at a time with a nice, driving (and likely sampled) cowbell keeping it all together.
Clever Girls - Paul Carlberg
It seems appropriate to note the omnipresent Swedish songwriting tradition here, but we spend precious little time discussing up and coming songcraft in that regard...those who pen the smash hits get all the ink. For his part, Pelle Carlberg knows his way around a ditty, and this buoyant track with the overly complicated name brings us home.