The List: Best songs about the burbs

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

This week's issue offers a tour guide to five of the city's vibrant burbs. With that in mind, we assembled a suburb-oriented mixtape for your outer-ring explorations.

Like fertilizing the lawn or toilet-papering a neighbor's tree, there's perhaps no more suburban experience than wandering the fluorescent-lit aisles of a grocery store.

Really, the Canadian rockers' entire Grammy-winning album (also titledThe Suburbs) could qualify, but we'll run with the jaunty, piano-driven title cut, which envisions the fall of '70s-built subdivisons.

"I grew up in the suburbs, right by the neon highways / I grew up sad and lonely," Richman sang back when he was just a teen - a fact that makes his words resonate even more.

In Sting's version of a "suburban family morning," he has to "shout above the din of our Rice Krispies," which is one of the more dramatic lines about breakfast cereal in rock music.

The Brit-pop crew has always been fascinated with present-day suburban England (see:Modern Life Is Rubbish), but it peaked with this irony-heavy sing-speak number about the disconnect that can emerge in one's attempt to construct the perfectly manicured life.

What would suburbia be without sprawl? "Come on down to the store / You can buy some more and more and more and more," Kim Gordon sings, sounding not unlike a Kmart ad.

Quite possibly the quintessential song about the suburbs, Folds owns up to his privilege in satirical lines like, "Y'all don't know what it's like / Being male, middle class and white."

The oddest track from the underappreciatedWe Love Life finds Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker delivering a long, spoken-word piece that follows a water channel through choked city sewers and out to the more open spaces "below other people's ordinary lives."

What could be more suburban than singing about Cuisinart, Tupperware parties, a weenie barbecue and wall-to-wall carpeting?

Best-known as producer for countless pop-rockers, Walker launched a solo career after the demise of Marvelous 3 and imparts some valuable advice about suburbia here: "Best not let it get the best of ya."

The Monkees' classic, as tidy and beautifully arranged as the "rows of houses that are all the same," is darker than it seems at first glance, eschewing creature-comfort goals (the sedan, the house with the white picket fence, etc.) in favor of escape.

"Carry me back to sweet Jersey, back where I long to be," Real Estate sang on its 2009 chillwave debut - possibly the first time that sentiment was ever uttered.

From the pop-punk trio's 2004 rock-opera comeback album,American Idiot, Billie Joe Armstrong sang about "a land of make believe that don't believe in me."

TheBlue Album standout paints a picture of the classic '90s suburban teenage introvert, complete with standardDungeons & Dragons references.

Years ago, Ghost Shirt attempted to release 52 singles in 52 weeks. This track, like so many of the songs, proved the band's throwaways were better than most bands' singles.

This bluesy, slow-burning number is perhaps the best advertisement ever penned about the benefits of fleeing city life.