Hate The Villanelle

From This Might Be A Wiki
Music video for "Hate The Villanelle"

song name Hate The Villanelle
artist They Might Be Giants
releases Dial-A-Song (2015), Glean
year 2014
first played June 6, 2014 (3 known performances)
run time 1:52
sung by John Linnell


  • This song is a villanelle, a nineteen-line poetic form that has five tercets followed by a quatrain, with a rhyme scheme of ABA for each tercet and ABAA for the quatrain. In addition, there are two refrains which are both included in the first and last stanzas and placed in an alternating manner in the other.
  • John Flansburgh on the song, from a radio interview on February 11, 2015:[1]
It actually is a villanelle, which is like a poetic form—it's like a sonnet. And I put that lyric together, and then just sort of presented it to Linnell as like a finished thing, and said if you want to have at it with putting music to this, that would be a fun way to do it. In part because just putting the lyrics together in and of itself was like such a homework assignment. I feel it's actually a pretty good villanelle: it has the entire exact right number of syllables, all the rhymes are true rhymes—they're not close rhymes, which is a big problem for me.
  • This song debuted with a live performance as part of NPR's Ask Me Another in June 2014. At the show, Flansburgh introduced the song with, "It's a true story about writing this song."[2] Listen to NPR's official audio recording of the song and episode here.
  • Robin Goldwasser was the one who brought the "miracle of the poetic form that is the villanelle" to the band's attention.[3]
  • John Flansburgh also said that the song was inspired by "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas.[4]
  • Interestingly, the words villain and villanelle both derive from the same Latin word, villanus, meaning a peasant or farmhand (a bumpkin, if you will).

Song Themes

Altered Voice, Bells, Body Parts, Criminal Activities, Escape, Hands, Jail And Imprisonment, Mathematics, Poetry, Questions, Recursion, Religion, Supernatural, Rhymes, School, Self-Reference, Traded Tracks, Writing


Current Rating

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Hate The Villanelle is currently ranked #688 out of 1013. (85 wikians have given it an average rating of 7.79)