Don’t Be Such A Cob Nobbler: 5 Hilariously Clever Musical Hoaxes

Maske put it best this morning when he wrote, “I delayed getting out of bed today as life on the internet has made me rather callous towards the one day a year devoted to trickery.” April Fool’s Day can be and often is THE WORST, especially in this go-go post-Y2K age we suffer through, with thousands of dollars spent on gags that aren’t nearly as clever as Jane in Marketing thinks they are. It’s a shame, too, because foolery and hoaxing, whether they occur in April or otherwise, can be wonderful and hilarious, especially in the uptight music business.

For proof, here are five music-based hoaxes that you may not have heard of (meaning, no Nine Inch Nails mentions) that put the “-ool” back in “fool” and you can’t spell “cool” without “-ool.” Or something.

1. The Most Popular Song That Doesn’t Exist

One of the lesser known Billboard charts is the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles that, simply put, lists the top songs outside of the Billboard Hot 100 that have yet to chart. Currently, #1, or #101 as it were, is “I Could Be the One” by Avicii vs. Nicky Romero. It’s not widely mentioned for a reason — the typical Joe Sixrihanna isn’t much interested in the musical equivalent of an inactive third-string quarterback — but there’s one song that made the Bubbling Chart in the 1970s that has fascinated music fans to this day: “Ready ‘N Steady.” This is where I’d link to a YouTube video, but that’s the problem — there is no video; there’s not even a song.

According to a Desert News article about music historian Joel Whitburn:

Once upon a time – 1979, to be exact – there was a single. “Ready `N’ Steady” was its name, by someone (or something) called D.A., on the Rascal label. For one week in 1979, it “Bubbled Under” the “Hot 100.” Then it disappeared. Joel Whitburn’s still looking for it. “It’s the only record we’ve never been able to find in the history of the pop charts. Is that crazy?”

Whitburn has never seen the record, has never even heard the song. “We think – we think – that it’s a girl’s rock group from Chicago. Punk group, we think – 1979. And we think that the Rascal label was out of a guy’s home in Detroit.” There was a small ad one time, in some old punk-rock guide, for a Rascal label in Detroit. It even had an address. Whitburn checked it out.

“I sent a guy over there to Detroit,” Whitburn recalls, “and it was just a vacant home, a house that was vacant, all boarded up, shut up. There was no business or anything. So we think the guy might have pressed up some records out of his basement or something. Probably sent ’em to radio stations and it got some play in some areas, a couple of Midwest markets or something, and it `Bubbled Under.'” (Via)


2. Silibil N’ No Brains

It’s a tale as old as time: two Scottish friends, Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd, with rap aspirations try and fail to land a record deal, because they sound too much like the “rapping Proclaimers,” of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” fame. So, they secretly reinvent themselves as Silibil N’ Brains, with personas based on Jim Carrey and Chris Tucker, and pretend to be Californian runaways who fled to the U.K. Oh, and they’re best friends with Eminem and his D12 crew. They sign a record deal with Sony and achieve some mainstream success, but after appearing on TRL, people start looking into their lie of a background. Before long, Silibil N’ Brains’ secret past had been revealed and they broke up, and Bain became an addict and an escort agent. THE END (???).

3. “Grunge Speak”

Remember when The Office wasn’t depressing and Daryl Philbin taught Michael Scott “black man phrases” like “fleece it out” and “dinkin’ flicka”? Well, something similar happened to the New York Times, in an elaborate hoax put together by a Sub Pop Records employee. It happened in 1992, when grunge was near the peak of its popularity, or more accurately, five months after the cool kids were DONE with grunge, meaning it was the Times time to shine. Reporter Rick Marin contacted Sub Pop receptionist Megan Jasper and asked her if grunge kids had a secret language of their own. She said yes and passed along a list of COOL GRUNGE SLANG, all of which she made up.

bloated, big bag of bloatation – drunk
bound-and-hagged – staying home on Friday or Saturday night
cob nobbler – loser
dish – desirable guy
fuzz – heavy wool sweaters
harsh realm – bummer
kickers – heavy boots
lamestain – uncool person
plats – platform shoes
rock on – a happy goodbye
score – great
swingin’ on the flippity-flop – hanging out
tom-tom club – uncool outsiders
wack slacks – old ripped jeans (Via)

Such a lamestain, that New York Times.

4. The Men In the Lying Mask

Long before The Onion tricked millions of gullible idiots into believing in Planned Parenthood’s $8 billion abortionplex, Rolling Stone convinced its loyal readers that Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney had recorded an album together, under the name the Masked Marauders. The hoax was conceived by the great Greil Marcus, who wrote a fictitious glowing review of the “famed” bootleg by Dylan, et al. that couldn’t be released under their real names because of contractual obligations. Reports Snopes:

Even though the “review” contained plenty of clues to indicate it was nothing more than a bit of humorous fun (e.g., the session was said to have been recorded “in a small town near the site of the original Hudson Bay Colony in Canada” and featured Paul McCartney singing “Mammy,” Mick Jagger warbling “I Can’t Get No Nookie,” and Bob Dylan imitating Donovan), more than a few readers didn’t get the put-on and went looking for the album at their local record stores. (Via)

Marcus and fellow Rolling Stone editor Langdon Winner took the gag one step further by recruiting members of the real-life band Cleanliness and Godliness Skiffle Band to record as the Masked Marauders, who literally did it for the nookie. The album was bought by Warner Bros. for $15,000 and went on to sell 100,000 copies, even after most people figured out the put-upon. Still, I’d like to believe there’s at least one person out there who thinks “More or Less Hudson’s Bay Again” is Dylan’s greatest song.

5. “Who Let the Dogs Out?” was written by performance artist Andy Kaufman, who’s still alive.

Or so I’ve heard. #truthisoutthere