Frank Zappa/YMMV

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
/wiki/Frank Zappacreator
  • Archive Panic: 53 albums in 35 years plus all the ones released posthumously. Not to mention one of the most obsessive bootleg collection communities in all of fandom. Hundreds upon hundreds of high-lineage concert bootlegs zapping across the ether in lossless audio format as we speak. Not to mention the occasional rehearsal, alternate take, or unreleased studio album (!) that floats by. Good luck.
  • Crazy Awesome: Nothing more needs to be said about the man.
  • Creator Worship: Saying anything bad, ever, about Zappa is liable to trigger his fans' Berserk Button. Scroll down for evidence.
  • Czechs Love Frank Zappa: Besides the fact that he was very influential in the country's underground scene and regarded as a symbol of anti-authoritarianism, Czechoslovakia's first post-Communist president, Václav Havel, was a huge fan of Zappa and wanted to name him government consultant on trade, cultural matters and tourism. The Bush administration, probably still pissed about the PMRC thing, torpedoed the entire idea, and Havel made Zappa a cultural attaché instead.
  • Ear Worm: As artistic/innovative/influential/etc. as his music is, it'd mean nothing if it weren't also so damn catchy (see: Hot Rats).
  • Epic Riff: Many, including:
    • "Willie the Pimp."
    • "I'm The Slime"
    • "Ms. Pinky"
    • "Eat That Question," which is almost entirely made of epic riffs.
    • The Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar trilogy, a collection of Zappa's live guitar solos, and quite possibly the greatest guitar album ever made.
  • Face of the Band: Didn't even found the Mothers of Invention, but took over almost instantly.
  • Fridge Brilliance: "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee" is obviously a parody of over-dramatic rock opera songs, and based on some crude humor, but consider this: What can be more heartbreaking than contracting an STD from someone you love and trust implicitly?
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: Some of the songs on "We're Only In It For the Money" are based on the ludicrousness of the idea of cops killing hippies. Two years after the album's release, the Kent State murders happened.
    • Frank Zappa did a decidedly tongue-in-cheek Progressive Rock parody called "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?", and then died of prostate cancer. However, the song's still really funny.
  • Genius Bonus: The premise behind the story of Joe's Garage.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Bassist Roy Estrada messing around with the baby doll in Baby Snakes wasn't quite as funny after Estrada was arrested and convicted for child molestation in 1994 and 2012.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In the former category, the line about hippies getting crabs in "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" became even funnier when Joe's Crab Shack released a psychedelic advertisement promoting "Peace, Love and Crabs".
  • Misaimed Fandom
    • Became popular with hippies, a subculture he hated.
      • It's worth noting, though, that while he (justifiably) dismissed the subculture as a trend that wouldn't last, as a lifelong libertarian he was sympathetic to a large number of their socio-political aims, and the attacks on We're Only In It for the Money mostly ("Flower power sucks" in "Absolutely Free" is the most obvious exception) aren't on the hippie subculture as a whole but on people who were only participating in it for the sex, drugs, and/or (in the case of performers) money without caring about its social aims. By far his biggest problem with the subculture seemed to be that, while it was ostensibly aimed at attacking conformity, it had quickly evolved into yet another form of conformity due to how many people were participating in it. That said, this didn't stop him from relentlessly attacking the more ridiculous trends associated with the subculture, such as their fashion.
    • Valley Girls even though his song "Valley Girl" was really a Take That from Moon Unit Zappa at at the Valley Girls at her school.
  • Seasonal Rot: His 80s output and posthumous albums are seldom mentioned in comparison to what came before.
    • Major, MAJOR YMMV here. This is like Joel vs. Mike or Kirk vs. Picard. Yes, there are a large number of fans who didn't like You Are What You Is as much as Joe's Garage or We're Only In It For The Money, but there's many other perspectives on Zappa. His electronic albums like Jazz From Hell or Resolver + Brutality just plain would not happen in other era of Zappa, and his classical aspirations really started to mature right near the end. Not to mention "Valley Girl" was '82, and there's a huge segment of the US population who don't care about anything he did besides that. Then if you're into the whole live show trading circuit, there's Zappa's guardian guitar angel Steve Vai, who showed up on the scene in 1980. There's probably many more arguments for Seasonal Rot applied to Zappa from different perspectives, but it's never going to be as universally agreed as, say, for example, it was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
      • Indeed. To name but one obvious example, Läther wasn't officially released until 1996 and many fans regard that as his finest album (although it was recorded from 1972 to 1976 and apparently sequenced in 1977, although certain accounts indicate that he tinkered with the track listing even after its initial 1977 broadcast on KROQ). Furthermore, fans with little interest in popular music styles are likely to be much more enthralled by the work he did in the '80s and early '90s in which he experimented with classical forms (albeit in his typically avant-garde fashion) than by most of his earlier albums; Lumpy Gravy is the only album he recorded in the '60s that seriously utilizes classical forms, and most of his '70s work had little relation to classical music either. Let's not forget, as well, that Zappa's 1988 band is regarded by some fans as one of his strongest (it's also probably the largest since the Grand Wazoo band), and it was well documented in concert releases. His political satire from the late '80s is also much more pointed than a lot of his other work, with "Jesus Thinks You're a Jerk" from Broadway the Hard Way being a particularly strong example. Finally, fans who prefer unedited live music without overdubs or the other kinds of studio trickery Zappa would often employ on his "live" releases are likely to prefer the posthumously released live albums, which generally consist of unedited concerts (Wazoo is a particularly strong release in this vein, documenting the last show of the brief Grand Wazoo tour and featuring a 32-minute rendition of "Greggary Peccary"). All that's not to say that his '80s and '90s work is necessarily as consistent or groundbreaking as his earlier work, but it's definitely not worth ignoring.
  • Tear Jerker: Zappa was reportedly quite skeptical about making music that served as this trope, though once in a blue moon, he could pull it off, as shown with "Watermelon In Easter Hay" (an instrumental from Joe's Garage) and "Mom and Dad" (from We're Only In It For The Money).
    • Once in a blue moon nothing. 'Black Napkins', 'Zoot Allures', 'The Idiot Bastard Son'....
  • True Art Is Angsty: Mostly averted; he frequently derided this and stuck to comedy. However, played straight with some of his more fervent protest songs, like "Heavenly Bank Account."
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Frequent, especially on his sound collages.
  • Unfortunate Implications: On songs like "Sy Borg," Zappa seemed to find the idea of homosexual sex very funny. And there's plenty of examples of women being objectified in his music, cf. the Wet T-shirt example listed above.
    • Robert Christgau pointed this out in his review of Sheik Yerbouti:

If this be social "satire," how come its sole targets are ordinary citizens whose weirdnesses happen to diverge from those of the retentive gent at the control board? Or are we to read his new fixation on buggery as an indication of approval?

    • Zappa seems to find sex, in general, funny. He famously said that more people should laugh during sex.