When it comes to comedic musicians, one of the biggest influences and front-runners of which is Tim Minchin. An Aussie, who – in 2020 – was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia, he has gained a worldwide following through his songs which touch upon religion, love, and social issues, all with a comedic twist.
An accomplished pianist, Minchin has enjoyed a great deal of fame through the years, sustaining a fanbase based on his opinionated musings, with which his followers agree. Despite all of his jokes, puns, and punchlines, however, the messy-haired yet sharply dressed piano player is more than just a comedian, proving his worth as a perfectly legitimate musician, even inspiring the likes of Bo Burnham.
Here, we take a look at the greatest works of Tim – listing his greatest pieces.
You can listen along with this article here.
F**k The Poor
This is one of Minchin’s shorter songs, in which Tim expresses his belief that many people only donate to charity in order to cure their own guilt rather than actual remorse.
Changing the songs for different occasions, he claims he’ll pay the small amount of “50 bucks to take away my guilt” with the person indulgently buying vodka rather than paying to those less fortunate. He says that personal perception pushes those to pay for charity more than generosity, stating it’s “the force that drove Teresa” referring to Mother Teresa’s actions. Additionally, he says the same reason is for “that school that Opera built”.
In this short number, he reflects the true lack of care those who donate have to the true cause they are giving to.
If You Really Loved Me
Starting as a pure and real-sounding love song, the pop music epithet is soon broken by the vastly out-of-place line: “And if you really cared for me, you’d let me video you while you wee”
As the song continues, the theme of love becomes more prevalent as Minchin challenges his lover to more and more bizarre tasks such as to “purchase forty cockatoos…and s**t the words “Tim is God” on my ex-girlfriend’s Hyundai”. He further demands they “sing me passages from the Qur’an wearing nothing but a Bob the Builder hat to the tune of ‘Waltzing Matilda’ as he loves the combination of “Islam, nationalism, and Bob The F*cking Builder”.
After an extended piano solo showing Tim’s piano skill finesse, he states he wants his lover to also “adopt so that you could stay thin”.
He further adds that ”I dig you like an Aussie digs pies, like born-agains dig Jesus like Jesus dug guys” – showing some of the famous anti-religious elements that have made Minchin such a beloved figure.
Ten Foot C**k and A Few Hundred Virgins
Introduced as a song about “anal sex and God”, it is immediately obvious this is not one aimed at those who are religious.
Opening with the line “So you’re gonna live in paradise, with a ten-foot cock and a few hundred virgins?”, the song goes about questioning why devout followers would save their virginity for Heaven. Minchin then goes on several hypotheticals, pointing out the flaws in this concept as well as the illogical rules.
A takedown of religious anti-sex views, it draws links between steeples and the penis to show the context of sexuality in religion. Eventually, after all the sexual innuendo, Tim reflects on his own reflection pondering if he’ll be “the first to go”. Referring to Hell, he says his lack of following of these intimate laws will mean he shall perish.
Three Minute Song
Often dismissed as no more than comedic fodder, Tim’s musicality in this short song is on full display. As this track is so strict in timing, the Australian can use his well-versed knowledge of the keyboard to work the song around the confined time slot.
A song altered for whatever show he’s on and the audience present, he has performed on the Royal Variety Show, Ruth Jones’s Show in Wales, and on the Conan O’Brian Show on TBS in the USA. The song is a somewhat parodical reflection of pop music at the time, with Minchin confining himself to having a song that may go no longer than 3 minutes, with no profanity or inappropriate content. Using playful double entendre throughout, he repeats the term ‘For China’ to sound like ‘vagina’ and remarking he’ll get a “giggle with my fingering” before using the technique of the same name to play a piano solo.
A supposedly clean song littered with euphemisms, it constantly finds more bizarre ways to fit sexual content into the tune. He finally ends the song, finishing the piece at exactly 3 minutes (the reason for this in the song’s context is not to lose viewer interest and make it playable due to its conveniently short length)
Some People Have It Worse Than I
Opening with the lyrics “Well, I wake up in the morning at 11:37 and can’t believe I have to face the horror of another f**king day”, the song is immediately plunged into being a dark and depressing anthem. He lists the minor inconveniences in the western world before contrasting them to much more serious issues that he is glad not to be facing.
In comedic fashion, the Aussie pianist lists throughout that he could have it worse as he could be: a starving Ethiope, Gary Glitter’s family, or the architect of the World Trade Centre – among others.
As he lists the horrific situations, he eventually ends with the increasingly absurd, “I could have a serious nut allergy; and be shipwrecked on an island, with a crate of Snickers bars; a jar of Nutella, and a freshly baked pecan pie”.
It shows comedic juxtaposition and satirical commentary, showing Tim’s extensive knowledge of world events and history. It might seem a depressing, sad song but it is so much more than that.
The oddly-titled Cont, this track (alongside the Heritage Orchestra) takes on an instant offence view as obvious from first lines, “I don’t like Jews, neither should you. They’re ethically and spiritually poor, that’s a fact”. It further continues as Minchin claims he can’t stand black people, Muslims on the tube, the Chinese, etc.
Just before finishing, Minchin realizes he has made a mistake in covering up half the lyrics. Noting he may be misconstrued, he reveals the song is actually called ‘Context’
The first lyric now takes on a new meaning as it becomes “I don’t like Jews (who make and distribute kiddy porn) neither should you. They’re ethically and spiritually poor, that’s a fact”. He is shown to not hate the listed people for their race, nationality, or sexual orientation but for the actions of those people. The finishing line further proves this, “I don’t care about your colour or your creed, I won’t judge you for no reason but your deeds”.
A seemingly racist piece, Tim tests the audience’s limits before turning the tune into a beautiful piece of misdirection. Tim, alongside the Heritage Orchestra show expert musical talent whilst Minchin displays his ability as a comic, touching on social issues but in an amusing fashion.
You Grew on Me
A song that starts off comedically, it is apparent there is so much more to this as it becomes a genuinely poetic, poignant, and beautiful artwork.
Written about the misconception that love is always at first sight, this song explores the theme of regretting an old love. Opening with the line “You grew on me like a tumor’, it starts in comedic fashion but soon becomes much more serious as Tim performs likely his greatest ever vocal performance. Using the extended metaphor of growing like various diseases, he also uses an incredible metaphor comparing the tumor to love, saying there is no dose of “emotion chemotherapy”.
Combined with Tim’s brilliant voice is his piano mastery creates a huge canvas Minchin paints with beauty in its emotion. He seemingly gets more soulful throughout, especially in the key change and final repeat of the opening lines. A powerful and painful tune carried on the sheer range of emotions Tim displays; it is a nice change from comedy into a more heartfelt and moving song. A song of loss, its use of the simile does not make it comedic but instead feels more investing for the listener.
A song cited by Minchin as “a song about prejudice and the language of prejudice”, Tim describes “six seemingly harmless letters arranged in a way that will form a word”. These letters include a couple of Gs, an R, and E, I and an Ns. In a prolonged build, for a minute and a half, Tim talks about the significant power that this banned word presents.
It is, of course, heavily implied he is referencing the N-word. However, in some of the greatest misdirection in musical history, he reveals it is actually “ginger”, stating “only a ginger can call another ginger “ginger”. Following this awesome deception of the viewers’ presumptions, he talks about the harsh troubles Tim has faced for being ginger, but never with any true conviction. He uses examples such as being called “Fanta pants”, “Ginga” and “match stick”. Through a number of puns, use of wordplay, and repetition, Tim gets across a strong message of the obstacles he has overcome, but in comedy style.
Perhaps the greatest fake-out in musical history, it proves Tim’s genius wordplay and his ability to set up a theme before diverting on the subject matter. Other than the bait-and-switch, it is a witty and great single about the mistreatment of ginger-haired people.
A Tim Minchin regular, this song is described by the musician as “a love song”. Starting with describing the characteristics of a lover, at the end of the first verse, it is revealed this is not true love – but a sex doll.
As a result, with the knowledge of the subject in mind, every lyric now takes on a whole new meaning. Listing what his inflatable love can do, such as having “no problem with your weight at all” and “never sensitive or tickly”, he compares the differences between real people and dolls, listing the advantages of the inanimate object. Furthering his point, he claims they have “all the holes real girls have got, plus one for the air” who can easily be pumped up with “a couple of squirts with the pump of my bike”
As the song continues, the song starts breaking down. After the line about how the gentleman’s product is “not disgusted by [his] hairy crack”, the graphic detail of this line confuses and startles Minchin, who desperately improvises the names of Burt Bacharach and Jack Kerouac before mumbling about doing a piano solo. Missing multiple notes in this solo to further create the atmosphere of the tune falling apart, the discords eventually build to a defiant, heavy ending as Tim’s finale is the chorus of The Beatles’s ‘Don’t Let Me Down’.
Thank You, God
Here it is – Tim’s magnum opus; Dylan had ‘Like A Rolling Stone’, Simon and Garfunkel had ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, and George Michael had ‘Careless Whisper’. Performed alongside an orchestra, this song shows Tim’s strongest anti-religious sentiment.
A gospel opening before Minchin begins an upbeat verse thanking God for fixing the cataracts of one of Tim’s friend’s mum. Talking about Sam’s mum, Minchin sarcastically talks about God’s magical, healing powers. Minchin points out God does not care about “the starving masses” or “flood-addled Asians” but will help the “privately-insured” with “common and curable corneal degeneration”. Minchin starts a further rant, listing off – before satirically dismissing – more rational reasons for the blindness recovery of the mother of Sam.
Heavily blasphemous, it originally just insulted those who ignorantly label good events as miracles which are proof of God. Now officially going after the Holy Spirit himself, he calls God a “sexist, racist, murderous c**t”. He further goes on to show the many perfect factors needed for this to be a miracle and the odds of it being chosen over more serious matters. With one final dig towards the religious, listing all the needed elements before stating, “and if you get that right, he [God] just might take a break from giving babies malaria” – telling of the amount of heinous and terrible God deliberately puts on Earth (especially towards the vulnerable and innocent).
A blistering takedown of those who believe positives are God-created miracles, it has become one of his signature songs, being played at significant events such as the 2012 Reason Rally. A serious theological debate against God is a brilliant (if offensive) representation of Tim Minchin. An insight into the work of Tim Minchin, this is a go-to zeitgeist for his sound and one that perfectly summarises his whole appeal.