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Top Ten Geek Anthems: the Geekiest Songs in the Universe

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The geek have officially inherited the Earth, as was prophesied in Psalms 37:7 (more or less) so many bearded men ago. It’s a fairly recent thing, having happened somewhere between Google’s ascent to ubiquity, the second installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the eyebrow-raising popularity of Weird Al’s White & Nerdy. And since history is told by the victor, I figured I should try rounding up the soundtrack to geeks’ most epic of victories. Which is a surprisingly monumental task, mostly because I’m realizing that there are so many subgenres to geek music.

In researching this list, I came up with a few categories for Geek Anthems: Mainstream Geek Jams, Geek Metal, Nerdcore Rap, Video Game Themes and Meme Songs. (Hip Hop’s geekery-masked-as-hardcore is a whole different post. At the end of the day, who’s really made geekiness more legit than the Wu Tang Clan?)

Now for the second challenge- how to quantify what makes one geek anthem better than the next. Popularity? Geekiness of lyrics? Hardcoreness of dorkitude? Sheer bombastic nerdery? Nostalgia factor?

I did my best. I’m sure I’ll hear some flack over my choices, what I forgot (let me know) and the order- but the title says Top Ten, and so shall I attempt it. Because the choice was so hard, I have a whole section at the bottom full of geek anthems that should’ve been Top Ten.

10. Ramble On – Led Zeppelin

You’re listening to one of the greatest songs by the best band of all time, maybe for the first time, maybe for the five hundredth. You’re vaguely aware that it’s about wandering around, that it involves a girl, and that it’s as mind-blowingly brilliant as everything from the factory of Led. But this time you decide to actually pay attention to the lyrics. And you’re about 3/4ths through the songs when it hits. Mordor? Gollum? Evil one? This whole song takes place in Middle fucking Earth?!? I’ve seen the resulting grin at least three times, usually while driving around with a buddy. And it’s always ear to ear. Geekgasmic.

9. The Neverending Story Theme

So many of us second-wave geeks can trace our choice to go geek right back to this moment. Its 1984, we’ve spent the last six years caught up in Star Wars euphoria, the NES is right around the corner, and this movie/song drops. Reading wouldn’t be this cool to kids again for twenty-odd years, until a certain bespectacled wizard showed up on the scene. But for this formative moment in so many of our lives, being geeky meant getting to ride huge schnauzer-snouted dragons, chasing douchebags into dumpsters, and skipping school to hang out in creepy attics instead. What choice was there, really?

8. MC Frontalot’s Entire Ouevre

The man who basically birthed and nurtured Nerdcore Rap, MC Frontalot is as geek god as they get. I’ve had the distinct pleasure of hanging out with Damian on a couple of occasions, and the guy is as legit as he is resoundingly sweet. If you’re not familiar with the man or his work, I’d suggest our buddy Negin Farsad’s incredible documentary Nerdcore Rising. It’ll give you the what, why and how of Frontalot’s position at the front of the geek elite. Lead those troops to victory, Damian.

7. Grow Up – Random

In a just world where MCs were judged solely by their skills, Random would sit on top of the heap. I’m blown away by everything Raheem does, because whatever he touches turns sublime. However, this song captures 21st Century Geekitude better than just about any other. “I just can’t seem to grow up/ But you know what? / I don’t think I want to.” The fact that it’s backed by a beat from Mega Man 2 and is an autobiographical geek Bildungsroman is just icing on the nerdtastic cake.

6. Through the Fire and the Flames

The retconned soundtrack to absolutely every epic fantasy battle, whether in book, movie, or in your friendly neighborhood D&D campaign. Nothing tops this song in terms of heroic bombast- the next time you have to do battle against a horde of orcs, you know exactly what you’re blasting from that boombox on your (plate-mailed) shoulder. If any single song has become the (fantasy) geek rallying cry, this is the one. Geeks became aware of it gradually around its release, and then Guitar Hero shot it to geek stardom as it became the ultimate Boss Fight of 2007. Personally, I won’t be happy until people re-edit every fantasy movie trailer to include it, like this. I’m also hoping HBO’s ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ adapted series considers it for their theme song. Make me proud, George RR Martin.

5. The Legend of Zelda Theme

Did Koji Kondo have any idea of what he was unleashing on the world in 1986? A song that would be imitated, covered and worshipped by geeks until the end of time? The most epic song that could be cranked out of an 8-bit system? This is the theme song to so many geeks’ lives (and/or their ring tone of choice)- its place in the history books is more than secure. And damn it makes for a thousand sweet electric guitar solos on YouTube.

4. White & Nerdy / Dare to Be Stupid – Weird Al

The undisputed king of geek music- I could get away with putting 5-9 of his songs on this list. Whether you consider White & Nerdy or Dare to Be Stupid the anthem is almost purely a generational thing. (I refrained from going super hardcore and putting Mellow When I’m Dead instead.) Either way, they’re huge, they’re catchy as all hell, and they attract tons of weird looks when you belt them in the supermarket aisles. And to add to its geek pedigree, Dare to Be Stupid was in the original Transformers: the Movie soundtrack. Ba weep grana weep nini bong!

3. Meganerd – YTCracker

Were I to base this list only on geekiness, and discount popularity, this would be my #1 song- no contest. The beats, flow and artistry are all top notch, but it’s the lyrics that get top honors.

hacking on computers disassembling stuff
paid off in the end now who got it rough
the beauty of the baud and the world of the switch
make a new generation of us geekstas rich
we owned those that made fun of us tried to make a run at us
beat us up in class said yea theres a ton of us
whos laughing now cuz most of us your bosses
the rest of you are flipping burgers smelling secret sauces

this is the life of a meganerd baby
we doing things and we making it happen right
from the trash 80 to a black mercedes
no one can stop us now cuz we keeping nerdy nice
this is the life of a meganerd baby
we doing things and we making it happen right
from the trash 80 to a black mercedes
no one can stop us now cuz we keeping nerdy nice

[Nab the rest of the lyrics here.]

It is to geeks what Dre’s “Nuthing But a G-Thang” was to West Coast 90s gangstas. Defining.

2. In the Garage – Weezer

It’s tenth grade and I’m riding around suburban Maryland with my bro and mom. We’ve just popped Weezer’s first album into the CD walkman that’s wired to our minivan’s tape player. We’re trading air guitar solos to “Say It Ain’t So”. And then this song drops, and suddenly I hear “Kitty Pride” and “Nightcrawler” coming out of the speakers- and Rivers Cuomo pretty much sums up my brother and I’s lives in rhyme. I knew immediately that this was The Geek Anthem. It was a coming out song, basically. And while most argue that Buddy Holly and Pinkerton cemented Weezer’s longevity, I humbly posit that it was In the Garage, and the generation of geeks it represented.

1. The Touch – Stan Bush

I hope to God that some smart Hollywood exec realizes how much money they’d make if they re-released the original Transformers movie to theaters. Maybe even in 3D. If this ever happened, I have to imagine that this song would cause the theaters to spontaneously combust out of sheer win factor, or at least cause communal heart attacks and rigor mortis smiles all over the world. This is one for the ages.

What did I miss?

So many great geek anthems lost to the power of 10. The ones I wish could’ve made it:

Still Alive (Portal’s theme song)

Nightfall by Blind Guardian

Super Mario Bros Theme Song (a toss-up between this one and Zelda)

Final Fantasy Theme Song

Mr. Roboto – Styx

Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus

And this song you might not be aware of- Level Up by Zealous1

So what did I miss, and what horrible/amazing choices did I make?

64 thoughts on “Top Ten Geek Anthems: the Geekiest Songs in the Universe”

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