CLOSE
Original image

Most Amazing Wikipedia Entry Ever: "Baby Got Back"

Original image

Now, I like big butts as much as the next guy. But I was floored when I came across the Wikipedia entry for Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic "Baby Got Back." This erudite description of the song reads like a college essay. I now present the entire "Synopsis" of the song, as proof that Wikipedia is completely awesome:

Synopsis

In the opening verse, Sir Mix-A-Lot professes his affinity for large buttocks and his inability to conceal this fact from others. He goes on to describe other desirable physical attributes such as a trim waistline, tight fitting garments, and unblemished skin. Though the song does not contain a distinct narrative, the author does visit upon recurrent themes such as female body image as depicted in media, male attitudes towards dating and relationships, and the author's own sexual prowess.

In later verses he expresses his exasperation with the entertainment industry's portrayal of the ideal female form. He soundly rejects the notion promulgated by fashion magazines that diminutive buttocks are more desirable. His critique of the women that appeared in contemporary music videos is particularly scathing, likening their appearance to those of prostitutes. To further illustrate his point, he stipulates the purported ideal proportions of 36-24-36 (measuring the bust, waist, and hip diameter respectively) would only be pleasing on women with a standing height no greater than 63 inches.

Mix-A-Lot also briefly touches upon the roles that ethnicity, nutrition, and physical fitness play in determining the shape and size of the female buttocks. He recommends that any exercises performed should be limited to the abdominal area. He cautions against a fitness routine strenuous enough to diminish the heft of the gluteal muscles. Though he offers no broad dietary guidelines, Mix-A-Lot contends that the dish "red beans and rice" is an important food staple for maintaining a healthy buttocks.

Various lyrics address the fact that some men find no intrinsic value in large buttocks and consequently express disinterest. Mix-A-Lot makes clear that he would eagerly strike up relations with any woman overlooked or discarded by such men. The remainder of the narrative is fleshed out with the author's various attempts to entice women into enjoying a ride in his luxury automobile, presumably in exchange for sexual favors.

A Wikipedia editor challenges that final statement with a note: "Says who?" If any Wikipedia ninjas can figure out who wrote this synopsis (the history page is here), I think that author deserves an honorary induction into Mix-a-Lot's posse on Broadway.

(Via @nathanrabin of the Onion AV Club.)

Original image
iStock
arrow
Big Questions
What's the Difference Between an Opera and a Musical?
Original image
iStock

They both have narrative arcs set to song, so how are musicals different from operas?

For non-theater types, the word “musical” conjures up images of stylized Broadway performances—replete with high-kicks and punchy songs interspersed with dialogue—while operas are viewed as a musical's more melodramatic, highbrow cousin. That said, The New York Times chief classical music critic Anthony Tommasini argues that these loose categorizations don't get to the heart of the matter. For example, for every Kinky Boots, there’s a work like Les Misérables—a somber, sung-through show that elicits more audience tears than laughs. Meanwhile, operas can contain dancing and/or conversation, too, and they range in quality from lowbrow to highbrow to straight-up middlebrow.

According to Tommasini, the real distinguishing detail between a musical and an opera is that “in opera, music is the driving force; in musical theater, words come first.” While listening to an opera, it typically doesn’t matter what language it’s sung in, so long as you know the basic plot—but in musical theater, the nuance comes from the lyrics.

When it comes down to it, Tommasini’s explanation clarifies why opera stars often sing in a different style than Broadway performers do, why operas and musicals tend to have their trademark subject matters, and why musical composition and orchestration differ between the two disciplines.

That said, we live in a hybrid-crazy world in which we can order Chinese-Indian food, purchase combination jeans/leggings, and, yes, watch a Broadway musical—like 2010's Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—that’s billed as “rock opera.” At the end of the day, the lack of hard, fast lines between opera and musical theater can lead composers from both camps to borrow from the other, thus blurring the line even further.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Original image
iStock
arrow
History
Lost Gustav Holst Music Found in a New Zealand Symphony Archive
Original image
iStock

English composer Gustav Holst became famous for his epic seven-piece suite "The Planets," but not all of his works were larger-than-life. Take "Folk Songs from Somerset," a collection of folk tunes composed by Holst in 1906 and largely forgotten in the decades since. Now, more than a century later, the music is finally attracting attention. As Atlas Obscura reports, manuscripts of the songs were rediscovered among a lost collection of sheet music handwritten by the musician.

The Holst originals were uncovered from the archives of a New Zealand symphony during a routine cleaning a few years ago. While throwing away old photocopies and other junk, the music director and the librarian of the Bay of Plenty (BOP) Symphonia came across two pieces of music by Holst. The scores were penned in the composer’s handwriting and labeled with his former address. Realizing the potential importance of their discovery, they stored the documents in a safe place, but it wasn't until recently that they were able to verify that the manuscripts were authentic.

For more than a century, the Holst works were thought to be lost for good. "These manuscripts are a remarkable find, particularly the ‘Folk Songs from Somerset’ which don’t exist elsewhere in this form," Colin Matthews of London's Holst Foundation said in a statement from the symphony.

How, exactly, the documents ended up in New Zealand remains a mystery. The BOP Symphonia suspects that the sheets were brought there by Stanley Farnsworth, a flutist who performed with an early version of the symphony in the 1960s. “We have clues that suggest the scores were used by Farnsworth,” orchestra member Bronya Dean said, “but we have no idea how Farnsworth came to have them, or what his connection was with Holst.”

The symphony plans to mark the discovery with a live show, including what will likely be the first performance of "Folk Songs from Somerset" in 100 years. Beyond that, BOP is considering finding a place for the artifacts in Holst’s home in England.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios