Morning Music: The Axis of Awesome

Axis of Awesome

Yesterday, I discovered a new band — because I was researching something about commodity trading of all things. (I’m going to feature them tomorrow, so you’ll just have to wait.) They are a comedy band. And while at a festival, the lead singer said, “There’s obviously a lot of philistine out there in the world of musical comedy. Axis of Awesome. Benny from The Axis of Awesome…”

It’s a standard joke. The Axis of Awesome were huge and this band never particularly took off. The joke is that they are really upset about it even though they were friends. Also: The Axis of Awesome is an Australian band, so the venue makes it funnier.

I V vi IV

But it reminded me that Sheep in the Box had mentioned the band. In particular, he mentioned their song “4 Chords.” In it, they do a medley of songs that use the chord progression: I V vi IV.

It’s a very folky progression and it has been used excessively. But it’s very pleasant and people like hearing the same stuff over and over.

This video has over 42 million views. And it’s really well done. It’s not so much the idea but its construction and production. (I love that annoying pitch correction!) And they seem like such nice nerdy boys.

i iv VII III

I’ve seen people do similar things but on a much less ambitious level. You don’t have to be writing music very long before you start noticing that it’s all very much the same. In fact, I’m amazed there isn’t more unintentional plagiarism.

More recently, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain did a similar medley using the common but must more obscure i iv VII III chord progression.

I really like it, although it does annoy me a bit that they throw in “Hotel California” when it doesn’t have the same progression. It’s similar, but not the same. It does, however, add a nice quasi-bridge that opens it up.

It also ends with an absolutely fabulous fugue that never fails to thrill me.


Axis of Awesome cover taken from Amazon under Fair Use.

2 thoughts on “Morning Music: The Axis of Awesome

  1. I’d seen a video of them performing this live, but this version has a lot of good visual gags. I also like Rob Paravonian’s rant about the overuse of Pachelbel’s Canon in music:

    • That’s great! I like it quite a bit more. Of course, I have a long history of hating on Pachelbel’s Canon. One of the first pieces of writing I got paid for (Almost 30 years ago, ugh!) was essentially a rant about it. The piece wasn’t that popular until Jean-Francois Paillard came out with his pizzicato version. Then it was everywhere and everyone was doing it that way. Although to be honest, it’s a good piece of music. It’s just a victim of its own popularity. I think people could do some interesting things with it if everyone didn’t demand that it sound the same.

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