The Kazoo might be a ‘figure of fun’ in the music world, but it’s got an impressive list of credits…
The humble Kazoo, with its brash, fizzy sound, is sometimes, well, ridiculed. Perhaps it’s the (typically) brightly coloured plastic construction, which makes it seem like a toy. Or maybe it’s the fact that all you have to do is hum a tune to play it (well, that can’t be a real musical instrument, can it?). Whatever it is, the Kazoo has a hard time being taken seriously.
And, when you look at the list of classic songs it’s been used on, you would expect it to feel pretty hard-done by (as much as a plastic musical instrument can…)
To try and help the Kazoo’s public image, and its status among its peers, we’ve collated a list of five of the best tracks ever to feature a Kazoo.
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Crosstown Traffic
It’s not only one of the best songs to use a Kazoo, ‘Crosstown Traffic’ is also arguably one of Jimi Hendrix’s greatest ever tracks. Though it’s laden with Jimi’s trademark 9th chords, bombastic playing, and effortless songwriting prowess, the song’s defining features is the buzzing, ‘doo-dee-doo’ Kazoo lines.
Amazing, when you consider that Jimi could easily have played this part, but then, would this track have had as much character? I doubt it…
The Red Hot Chili Peppers – Rollercoaster
The Chilis have been through many lineups over the many decades that they’ve been together. The most successful of these was undoubtedly the team of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, and John Frusciante. Though the period when Frusciante left, and was replaced for period by Jane’s Addiction guitarist, Dave Navarro, was not the band’s greatest hour, it did produce a few gems.
One of these was ‘Rollercoaster’, which featured in the Beavis and Butthead movie. Yes, that is a Kazoo you can hear in the chorus.
Jurassic 5 – Concrete Schoolyard
When Jurassic 5 broke through with their unique take on Hip-Hop’s golden era in ’97, it gave the scene a shot in the arm, whilst bringing it to a far wider audience. ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ read almost like a statement of intent- to bring Hip-Hop back to its roots. With its lolloping low-tempo groove and tighter than tight crew rapping, it did just that. Of course, they used a Kazoo solo to do it…
Pink Floyd – Jugband Blues
This track has the rather sad accolade of being the last recording with Syd Barrett in the band. In this regard, it signifies the end of one era of the band, and the start of an entirely new one. However, it’s still a classic, psychedelic trip, with Kazoos taking the solo in the middle section.
Dionne Warwick – This Girl’s In Love With You
Burt Bacharach’s ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ is a bona fide classic that amply illustrates why he is widely considered to be one of the greatest ever songwriters (it’s also one of Noel Gallagher’s favourite tunes, if memory serves…)
Dionne Warwick’s version of the song, which neatly flips the sexes, demonstrates just what can be done with a song of this calibre by a vocalist of exemplary talent. It also shows that the only way you can make a classic like this better is with the addition of a Kazoo. Listen out for the middle eight.
So there we are- the Kazoo has contributed, and dare I say, defined many classic tracks over the years. When nothing else will do, use a Kazoo 😉
Order your Kazoo online here.
Are there any Kazoo-laden tracks you feel should be added to this list? Feel free to post in the comments below…
Joe is a contributor for the Dawsons Music blog. Specialising in product reviews and crafting content to help and inspire musicians of all musical backgrounds.