A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that country star Alan Jackson's single "A Million Ways to Die" is from the soundtrack to Seth MacFarlane's comedy film A Million Ways to Die in the West. This played-for-laughs western song lists ways a person can die: gunshots, paper cut, frying in the sun, smallpox or bigger pox, deadly tomahawks, punishment for stealing a pie or succeeding at cards: "They'll cut your ankle off to cure a minor cough." The lyrics are rendered even funnier by the deadpan soberness of Jackson's vocal and the full-blown spaghetti western-style musical production. One use of the word "s--t" earned this funny song its explicit rating. The official lyric video is interspersed with footage from the film and shows plenty of blood, splatter, and gore, as well as drinking in saloons and some sexual situations.
What's the story?
Alan Jackson's single A MILLION WAYS TO DIE is a soundtrack song from the Seth MacFarlane comic western film A Million Ways to Die in the West. Musically, the song borrows from other popular western themes, such as the song "Rawhide" (from the TV series). Jackson sings in a serious, deadpan voice about the many ways one can die in the west, whether it's "Six bullets in the gut, or just a paper cut" or "Smallpox or bigger pox, and deadly tomahawks." There's one use of "s--t" that earned this tongue-in-cheek song its explicit rating: "Out on the desert plains it hardly ever rains / and you can hear coyotes cry / They'll eat you up and then they'll s--t you out again." At the end of the partial list of the million ways one might die in the west, Jackson sings, "It's a kick in the pants but you don't have a chance / of escaping a million ways to die."
Is it any good?
This comic theme to Seth MacFarlane's film A Million Ways to Die in the West wouldn't be nearly as effective without an authentic country-and-western singer such as Alan Jackson on vocals. He uses the perfect deep and sober approach to this song, and the musical arrangement evokes great TV-western scores. This is a funny, well-informed spoof, and, even if kids don't recognize the musical points of reference, they'll still be entertained by the lyrics.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about when violence is funny. What's the difference between violence and slapstick? How do you know this song is a satire?
How do Alan Jackson's voice and performance contribute to the humor of this song?
To compare, check out non-comedy western themes, such as Ennio Morricone's music for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly or Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington's theme to the TV show Rawhide.
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