Top 10 Mr. Bungle Songs

Mr. Bungle Songs

Our top 10 Mr. Bungle songs list looks at the body of work of an American outfit best known for its avant-rock sound. Mr. Bungle was established in 1985 with its initial lineup consisting of drummer Jed Watts, keyboardist Theo Lengyel, bassist Trevor Dunn, lead guitarist Trey Spruance, and Faith No More vocalist Mike Patton. After its inception, the band released a couple of demo recordings, the most notable being the 1986 demo The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny.

The ‘90s were Mr. Bungle’s prime years with the band issuing three studio albums all of which were a success in the mainstream. After its third studio album, Mr. Bungle went on a hiatus only to regroup in 2019. The reunion would soon be solidified with the release of the band’s fourth studio album which was warmly received in the mainstream.

While we have described the band as an avant-rock outfit, Mr. Bungle rises above categorization in some of its records paying homage to other subgenres including thrash metal, alternative metal, avant-garde metal, and funk metal. The band members have cited acts such as Oingo Boingo, Camper Van Beethoven, and Bad Manners to have been a major inspiration for Mr. Bungle’s musical pursuits.

Mr. Bungle’s Album Releases over the Years

In August 1991, Mr. Bungle its eponymous studio album through Warner Bros. Mr. Bungle proved to be one of the band’s sought-after releases thanks to its blend of multiple genres. The move to feature a blend of variant sounds on Mr. Bungle gifted the band attention from a wide range of fans eventually leading the album to mainstream and commercial success. Producer John Zorn is among the handymen who engineered the success of the band’s debut album.

Like Mr. Bungle, producer John Zorn defies categorization owing to the incorporation of multiple elements in his experimental and avant-garde musical approach. Mr. Bungle was a mainstream success in the UK where it managed to rise to the fifty-third spot on the UK Albums Chart. Unfortunately, the album never made it to the US mainstream charts. Nevertheless, its music impacted/inspired other musicians including James Shaffer of Korn. “Quote Unquote,” “Slowly Growing Deaf,” “Carousel,” “Stubb (A Dub),” and “Squeeze Me Macaroni” are the best Mr. Bungle songs from the album. The album sold over two hundred thousand copies in the US alone.

In 1995, Mr. Bungle issued its sophomore studio album, Disco Volante. The album’s title is Italian for the phrase ‘Flying Saucer.’ Once again, Mr. Bungle gave us a taste of its diverse music genre coverage infusing jazz fusion, art rock, and avant-garde metal into its staple experimental rock sound. The album rose to the fourth spot on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Album Chart, peaking at number one hundred and thirteen on the Billboard 200. “Chemical Marriage,” “Desert Search for Techno Allah,” “Backstrokin’,” and “Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz” are the top musical gems by Mr. Bungle from the album.

Mr. Bungle pushed the limits of blending multiple music genres with its third studio album, California. The album saw the band take on a blend of free jazz, pop, doo-wop, noise music, and experimental rock sounds. Mr. Bungle went on tour to promote this album sharing stages with System of a Down and IncubusCalifornia managed to rise to the seventh spot on the Billboard Top Heatseekers Albums Chart, peaking at number one hundred and forty-four on the Billboard 200. “Sweet Charity,” “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare,” “Vanity Fair,” “Retrovertigo,” “Pink Cigarette,” and “Ars Moriendi” are the best Mr. Bungle songs from California.

After two decades of hiatus, Mr. Bungle was back in 2020 with its fourth studio album, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo. This was a re-recording of the band’s 1986 demo tape. The album saw the band blend thrash metal, skate punk, hardcore punk, and crossover thrash. The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo was a mainstream success rising to the fifty-third spot on the UK Albums Chart. The album made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number thirty. “Eracist,” “Sudden Death,” and “Bungle Grind” are some of the most popular songs by Mr. Bungle from the album. The album also featured covers of Corrosion of Conformity’s “Loss of Word” and The Exploited’s “USA.”

Mr. Bungle’s Legacy

Mr. Bungle has over the years proved to be a force to reckon with in the experimental rock scene. Despite having disbanded for two decades, Mr. Bungle’s reunion was warmly received proving the band’s place in the hearts of rock fans. Mr. Bungle has been cited to have impacted the careers of several artists/acts including Korn, Incubus, System of a Down, Limp Bizkit, Avenged Sevenfold, and Deftones. Here we present ten of the finest picks off Mr. Bungle’s music catalog.

#10 – Sudden Death

Ushering us to the ten best Mr. Bungle songs list is the ravishing hit “Sudden Death.” The song is among the top musical gems off the band’s fourth studio album, The Raging Wrath of the Easter Bunny Demo. “Sudden Death” is a seven and a half minutes composition that brings out the best of the band’s newfound glory after over two decades of no new music. The song is a thrash metal affair that had earlier been penned by Mike Patton.

“Sudden Death” was described by Trevor Dunn as a song inspired by the ‘80s’ cold war between the USSR and USA. The lyrics of the song allude to the fear of nuclear warfare and its consequences for the human race. Joining Mr. Bungle in the instrumentation of this song are Anthrax rhythm guitarist Scott Ian and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.

#9 – Slowly Growing Deaf

“Slowly Growing Deaf” is one of the top musical gems Mr. Bungle issued on its eponymous debut studio album. We have previously quoted in this article that Mr. Bungle excelled in blending multiple genres/sub-genres in its song. “Slowly Growing Deaf” introduces us to Mr. Bungle’s impressive sound-blending uniqueness.

The song gives us a taste of Mr. Bungle’s amalgam of funk, heavy metal, and jazz with tinges of ambient music. According to the band’s bassist Trevor Dunn, “Slowly Growing Deaf” is a song enthused by the satirical and profound exploration of society’s rising desensitization. The song marked Mr. Bungle’s first hit in the “Sleep” trilogy. Parts two and three of the “Sleep” trilogy are featured on the band’s sophomore studio album, Disco Volante.

#8 – Chemical Marriage

Number eight on our ten best Mr. Bungle songs list is the stunning hit “Chemical Marriage.” The song is among the top hits off the band’s sophomore outing Disco Volante. “Chemical Marriage” is a straightforward jazz-tinged hit that brings some elements of tribal music. The song also adds to the list of hits from Disco Volante that brings out the best of the band’s inexplicable (yet great) avant-garde inflections. Adding to the song’s glamour is its aesthetic music video which serves as a perfect visual accompaniment.

#7 – Stubb (A Dub)

We return to the band’s eponymous debut studio album, home to our seventh pick “Stubb (A Dub).” The song has its lyrics alluding to a dog named “Stubb” that was owned by the band’s guitarist Trey Spruance. Like most of the songs from the album, “Stubb (A Dub)” finds the band exploring deeper into themes of nature of existence and life in a nutshell.

Other than the song’s introspective lyrical content, the song’s exemplary experimentation makes it a song worth featuring on the ten best Mr. Bungle songs list. The song oozes similar avant-garde influences seen with the instantly recognizable hit “Squeeze Me Macaroni,” one of Mr. Bungle’s fan-favorite tracks.

#6 – The Air-Conditioned Nightmare

Number six on our top ten Mr. Bungle songs list is the energetic hit “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare.” The song is among the top musical gems featured on the band’s third studio album California. “The Air-Conditioned Nightmare” remains a fan favorite pick thanks to its enthusiastic groove and awe-inspiring lyrical content. This song’s lyrics paint a dark portrait of a dementia patient close to his death.

We cannot forget the song’s heavy drums and speedy guitar riffs that add some glamour to its overall feel. Mr. Bungle is not the only artist(s) to have ever released a song under this title. Former Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett issued a song with a similar title (but different lyrics) in 1981 on his fifth studio album Cured.

#5 – Carousel

The fifth pick of our ten best Mr. Bungle songs list is the stunning hit “Carousel.” “Carousel” is yet another great track off the band’s eponymous studio album. The song’s sizzling groove is among the top reason it is one of the most revered hits off the album. Despite featuring some playful sax sounds, “Carousel” brings on a slightly aggressive metal feel making sort of an avant-garde metal track. The song showcases the band’s technical flexibility while asserting its member’s creative lyricism.

#4 – Sweet Charity

“Sweet Charity” is among the top musical gems off the band’s third studio album, California. The song serves as the lead track of the band’s third LP. “Sweet Charity” incorporates some surf rock-tinged guitar riffs influences despite not fully sounding like one of the surf rock mainstays The Beach Boys. Mike Patton makes a luscious vocal delivery that places him as one of the pillars of the band’s continued success. While most of his vocals take an avant-garde approach, “Sweet Charity” finds Mike crooning in pop music stylings.

#3 – Quote Unquote

Mr. Bungle, the band’s debut studio album, is home to the third pick of our ten best Mr. Bungle songs “Quote Unquote.” Initially, the song was entitled “Travolta” with its title changed following legal threats. The song has its lyrics allude to the thoughts and inner feelings of a blind, deaf, and crippled man who barely has freedom of speech since his mouth has been sewn.

Released as the debut single off the band’s eponymous studio album, “Quote Unquote” remains to be one of the most revered heavy stompers by Mr. Bungle. Unfortunately, the song’s video never got airplay on MTV despite the song’s impact on Mr. Bungle’s career. “Quote Unquote” contains samples of the 1978 hit “Grease” by Frankie Valli.

#2 – Retrovertigo

We head back to the band’s third studio album California where we find the musical gem “Retrovertigo.” “Retrovertigo” has its lyrics solely credited to bassist Trevor Dunn. Trevor revealed that the song’s title is a name he came up with to define his disgust concerning the state of mind where the human race seems disillusioned owing to its greedy desire for money and image over the life of others.

“Retrovertigo” is among the musical gems by the band that unleashes Mike Patton’s incredible vocal range which shows why he has led Mr. Bungle and Faith No More to acclaim. The song was covered by Avenged Sevenfold in 2017 and featured on the deluxe edition bonus disc of the band’s album The Stage.

#1 – Pink Cigarette

Number one on our ten best Mr. Bungle songs list is the bewitching hit “Pink Cigarette.” The song is the brightest hit off the band’s third studio album, California. “Pink Cigarette” is a slow track that showcases the band’s drift to more conventional sound influences while still preserving hints of its staple experimental rock sound.

“Pink Cigarette” has its lyrics alluding to a narrative by the singer where a girl abandons her boyfriend leaving him reminiscing about the lipstick stains on her cigarette. While the band never made an official music video to this track, a fan video blew the internet by storm with its heart-breaking yet fitting resemblance to the song’s lyrics.  

Feature Photo: The original uploader was Mr Bungle at English Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0 <http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>, via Wikimedia Commons

Top 10 Mr. Bungle Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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Updated November 17, 2023

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