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Monkeys: A Musical Retrospective

Written by Katie Marzullo. Published: December 14 2021


No, I am not referring to the pre-fab rock and roll band from a 1960s TV show (R.I.P. Michael Nesmith).


I am quite literally referring to actual monkeys, our primate brethren, who have, for some reason, found themselves to be the subject of many a popular song in the last half-century. Why has this come to be? Is it because monkeys are, as the 1990 Jane Goodall documentary pointed out, “so like us”? Is their humanoid mystique just so irresistible to artists that they can’t help themselves from exploring the depths of their existence? Is it because they just look so cute in suits?


Whatever the reason, it’s clear that musicians have only begun to tap the well of monkey-related compositions. Among those who have paid tribute to our simian kinfolk are George Michael, Peter Gabriel, Beastie Boys, and, yes, even The Beatles. Those are some fine introspective minds at work, folks. They would not steer us into a void of frivolous whimsy, like an organ grinder or Every Which Way But Loose. “Why do I have to share my baby with a monkey?” pleads George Michael. These are legitimate philosophical questions!


Perhaps I am not properly qualified to solve the riddle of the musical monkey. So, instead, I shall leave it up to you, dear reader, to ruminate this enigma yourself with the below music videos dedicated to these jungle-dwelling, poo-flinging, funny hat-wearing creatures. Enjoy!