London Cheese: Fergie Spoof

My informant is a 19-year-old college student who grew up in Chicago, Illinois, then moved out to California where she now attends the University of Southern California. Both her parents are from a Jewish background and her ethnicity is Dutch, Russian, Lithuanian, and English.

This piece of folklore is a very common form of song variation for young children. They will take a popular song and interchange the lyrics with just about anything as long as it follows the same structure as the original song. For example:

Informant’s song:

When I come to the market step aside (oh shit),
All the dieters cant deny (oh shit),
Although it has fat, its just like that (oh shit),
But who the heck cares its cheese (oh shit).

How come every time I come around
My London cheese its gets all green and brown?

Original song by Fergie

When I come to the club, step aside (oh, shit)
Pop the seats, don’t be hating me in the line (oh, shit)
VIP ’cause you know I gotta shine (oh, shit)
I’m Fergie Ferg, and me love you long time (oh, shit)

How come every time you come around
My London, London bridge wanna go down?

Informant: “I just learned it from another one of the kids on the playground. When something like this is brought up at school, especially in elementary school, it catches on really quick. Once you hear it, it gets stuck in your head, next thing you know you are singing it around school and even back at home. In this way, the song gets spread everywhere. The lyrics are kind of ridiculous so it would be easy to see there being multiple variations of this song out there. Also the fact that the original song was such a huge hit really helps the song carry. When people here a widely popular tune, it is much easier to remember.”

I thought that this was piece was very interesting for a few reasons. Firstly, my informant is collecting folklore as well and when she brought this up, it reminded me of how many songs I knew from my childhood that I would sing like this and how many songs I have heard young children sing. Many of them I can still remember every word of. It made me realize how often we use songs for folklore as kids. It is also interesting that for the most part, as kids, we are replacing popular song lyrics, rather than creating our own new songs. I think this most definitely says something for American culture and how much influence popular culture has on children. Also, the amount of exposure children get to popular culture reflects the ways we make these songs.