Ska-B-Q: (noun) a social gathering taking place outdoors where food is prepared over an open flame, and music with reggae, punk rock and pop influence is played exclusively.
For your summer Ska-B-Q playlist, these songs are sure to put burgers in friends’ hands get them skanking all the way to the condiment table.
1. The Aggrolites – “Banana”
When the Aggrolites answered the call from MC Bat Commander of the Aquabats to write and perform a song for his children’s television show Yo Gabba Gabba!, the self-described “dirty reggae” band cleaned up their act. “Banana”’s potassium-rich lyrics and irresistible melody sticks with kids and their ska-nerd parents alike.
2. The Aquabats – “Pizza Day”
If there is a theme song for high school hot lunch, the Aquabats have written it. “Pizza Day” serves up a hot slice of sing-along chorus, horn arrangements and undeniable ska-punk rhythm. Thanks to these humble superheroes, pizza day will be forever known as “the best day of the week.”
3. Less Than Jake – “Hamburger Hop”
A little-known track from Less Than Jake’s rarities album, “Hamburger Hop” is a 49-second jingle singing the praises of greasy little sliders. These Gainesville ska-punk legends are making us hungry with nothing but a ukulele and an appreciation for an all-beef patty, onions, pickles and a bun.
4. Mephiskapheles – “The Bumble Bee Tuna Song”
One of the greatest things about the ska revival was the influx of ska-related puns in band names. The aptly named third-wave satanic-ska juggernauts Mephiskapheles are recently reunited and would do right by everyone if they put their best-known track, “The Bumble Bee Tuna Song,” an ode to the chicken of the sea, back into their set.
5. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “Chocolate Pudding”
Self-proclaimed “ska-core” pioneers the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were able to survive in a post-ska revival world thanks to their signature upbeat melodies supported by hardcore sensibilities. “Chocolate Pudding” may not be their crowning songwriting achievement, but as far as ska food songs go, it’s a pretty tasty tune.
6. MU330 – “Raw Fish”
MU330 frontman Dan Potthast frequently pulls inspiration from touring into his songwriting. With plenty of guitar upstrokes and zippy horn parts, “Raw Fish” isn’t so much a sushi love song as it is about close-minded people fearing the unfamiliar: “I heard they eat raw fish/Just the thought of it makes me sick.”
7. Mustard Plug – “Sweet Potato”
It’s almost surreal that Mustard Plug have been an active ska band for more than 20 years. Written before hitting their songwriting stride, “Sweet Potato”—a lesser-known track from the band’s debut record—likens cute girls to starchy root vegetables, and features profound rhyming couplets like “hot” and “tot,” as well as “fine” and “wine.”
8. Rudiments – “Lucky Charms”
A self-dubbed “psychoska” band, San Francisco’s the Rudiments were a groundbreaking group, fusing together elements of ska, thrash, punk, metal, dub and more for exciting results. Of course, they also wrote a song about a breakfast cereal, with its memorable chorus, “Where’s my Lucky Charms?!?” (Extra punctuation added by us, but if you listen to the song, it’s pretty accurate.)
9. Save Ferris – “Spam”
Save Ferris were untouchable at the height of late-’90s ska revival with their Orange County ska-punk style, undeniable sing-along choruses, an electric live show and smokin’ hot frontwoman in Monique Powell. As far as tunes about processed meat products go, “Spam” is as undeniable as the Oscar Meyer wiener song.
10. The Slackers – “Fried Chicken Mary, Mary”
The third wave also brought about resurgence in traditional ska-reggae bands such as the Slackers. With Vic Ruggiero’s soulful crooning and rocksteady rhythm, “Fried Chicken / Mary Mary” is a song about a scoundrel’s attempt to swoon a lady into a date for fried chicken and biscuits and gravy. Does he succeed? Listen and find out.