For as far back as I can remember, the show Horrible Histories has held an immensely special place in my heart, by endeavoring to impart the stories, people, and events of history to its audience in a wonderfully engaging way. And while the many skits are all genius, one of my favorite aspects is the hilarious, surprisingly touching, brilliantly inventive Savage Songs section in each episode.
Music has an amazing ability to convey emotions in a way the spoken word cannot, to tap into the feelings and thoughts hard to articulate. What Horrible Histories has achieved is an incredible back-log of tunes chronicling the past while honoring through parody many well-known musical genres and specific songs in a way that deserves more recognition. So, for this article, I thought I would take you through my Top 10 Favorites:
Literally: Placing its focus on detailing the invasion and pillaging of Britain by the Vikings in all their savage glory, this was one of the first songs I fell in love with (a weird choice, I know). I’ve always held a fascination for Vikings however, and I think the decision to set this anthem to a glam rock score was inspired.
William Shakespeare & the Quills: Having long been a huge fan of Shakespeare, this song feels like it fits who he might have been to a tee. A worthy tribute to the mind-blowing impact he left on both the English language and very foundation of entertainment, the easy-going rhythm and nature of it also makes it enjoyable to get stuck in your head.
Real Live Cowboys: Since I love all things related to cowboys and the Wild West, whenever I listen to this tune it superbly and effectively transports me back to the time it’s focused on, dusty bandanas, long days on the trail and all.
Charles Dickens: Ah Dickens, what a horrible, tragedy-laden life he led. The stories he wrote were equally tragic thanks to his penchant for basing characters off of people in his life, and this send-up revels in that misery in a spectacular way (but seriously, those high-notes Matthew Baynton achieves are something else!).
Dick Turpin, Highwayman: This little slice of outlaw rock is pure entertainment from start to finish, the pairing of lyrics and melody spot-on, and the music video on- point, right down to the heavy duty black guy-liner!
Monarchs’ Song (English Kings & Queens): As the song on this list most likely to get you dancing right along with the actors, the sheer joy and enthusiasm poured into it makes for a delightful watch, since the singers are clearly having a ball. Not to mention, you get SO MUCH history crammed into one quick and catchy piece of music.
The Few (RAF Pilots): An extremely fun number with great dance moves in the style of boy bands like Take That and NSYNC, it also causes me to choke up a little at the poignant ending which involves a Winston Churchill voice-over set to the image of the actors walking off into the sunset; a truly fitting laudation for those amazing WW2 fighter pilots.
Victoria & Albert A Love Ballad: The sheer sincerity and utter sadness of the last two lines in this song get me every time, proving that Horrible Histories can rip your heart out when it wants to. Shining the spotlight on a not always perfect but still epic love story, this is the one for when you’re in the mood for something a little more bittersweet.
The Original Tudor: Due to the major over-shadowing of this historical figure by his more infamous son, I love that this song brings attention to King Henry VII’s reign in what is a fun, bouncy time, proving him to be a revolutionary leader who can hit those high notes when he wants!
Australia: I couldn’t leave out the only song dedicated to the origins of my home country, now could I?! Outside the fact of my own bias, I adore this homage set to, what else, the melodies of Kylie Minogue songs.
Honorable Mentions: World War One Cousins/Matilda(s) and Stephen… and Henry/Rosa Parks: I Sat on a Bus/We’re the Thinkers/ We’re The WWII Girls (a fantastic spotlight on the amazing contribution of women to the war effort in WW2, it’s also catchy as all get out, particularly the middle girl’s fast-paced air-force section)/Born 2 Rule (Taking their audience on an abridged journey into the lives of the Georgian Era monarchs, this song is the one that started it all, and continues to be one of the best).