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Is there a specific word (or words) for albums which are named after lyrics of a song on that album?

Self-titled or eponymous albums are named after the artist, while albums with a song of the same name have a title track.

However, is there a particular term for an album that is named after lyrics?

Examples include:

U2 - All That You Can't Leave Behind - lyrics from 'Walk On'

Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon - lyrics from 'Brain Damage'

Beastie Boys - Licence to Ill - lyrics from 'Paul Revere'

Note: there's a similar question here, but it's the inverse to my question.

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    I'm going to go with "no", but it would be an interesting word if it existed -- the sort of thing that everyone knows exists, but only music writers would actually use, maybe once every other year. – joseph_morris May 9 '14 at 17:54
  • That English Stack Exchange question you link to says an "album title drop" is when "albums aren't named for one of the songs on them — they're named for one of the lyrics within these songs." How is that the inverse of your question? – JLG May 10 '14 at 22:29
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    NOTE: A "title drop" is a very straightforward, well-known phrase in the film industry. It's when the title is taken AND USED IN a line of dialogue in the movie. (This is a commonplace phrase, you can see it defined anywhere online, famous examples, etc.) {NOTE - the question linked to is incredibly confused; and the "reference" site linked to is risible. See my comments there.} Just as Ronan says, he wants the opposite of this, for music albums: when an album title is taken from a lyric; the opposite of a line of dialogue taken from a title. – Fattie May 12 '14 at 10:33
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    @JLG: the question linked to is utterly confused and shambolic (it's as bad as the site that question then links to :) ) A "title drop" is a completely well-known commonplace phrase in film (Eg: Yoda says: "Begun, the clone wars have..."). Ronan the OP is obviously asking for the equivalent "reverse" in pop music album naming conventions. – Fattie May 12 '14 at 10:38
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    lyric-titled is the only good suggestion here! Heh (Note it's exactly what I use below when discussing the phenomenon, for instance.) I can't think of any other way you could phrase it. There's song-titled, lyric-titled, band-titled, and concept-titled. I believe that covers all posibilities! :) – Fattie May 12 '14 at 20:39
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+50

Just for the record,

the only phrase I've ever heard used to describe this, even in the business, is simply

"The album title is taken from the lyrics..."

{Interestingly, nor is there a term for "album title taken from one particular song." Nor is there a word for "sentence-like title" (Eg "Never mind the bollocks...") Of course, for "album named after the band" it's "self-titled" (or "eponymous" if you want to sound "intelligent").}

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Album? What's that? ;-)

How about "title-songed" for a neologism? An album that has a title song is one whose title necessarily reflects one of its songs...

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The closest thing I know of is an incipit, but I believe that's reserved for works with no titles, where the fist line is used to refer to the work, like Emily Dickinson's poems.

Also, an "intertitle" is self-referential, much like a self-quoting album title, but I don't think it works.

What is an album? Should we consider it a collection of related --but independent-- essays, dependent chapters serving a larger work, or just a plain ol' archive?

Great question, by the way.

  • Black, your first two interesting-related-words are excellently interesting, but (as I think you say) nothing like what is being asked. Regarding your question "what is an album"? I find that strange .. do you not know what a popular music "album" is? (ie a "record", if you will.) famous examples include "Sgt Peppers" from the beatles, "dark side of the moon" from Pink Floyd, "an evening with john denver" from john denver, and so on. (the album title, like a book title, may be from one song, one lyric, or unrelated.) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albums_considered_the_greatest_ever – Fattie May 12 '14 at 7:16
  • "An Evening With John Denver"? Where did that come from? – blackappy May 12 '14 at 8:21
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    Heh lol dude :) I'm ancient - that was a hugely important album at the time in the industry, generally. Massive, enormous seller, key double-album, key live album, key moment in folk-rock industry, famous 70s cover, really an amazing production that set the sound of live albums as we know them (and presage of the "unplugged" idiocy) (As well as all that, a key moment for general limousin environmentalism!) Sort of the "sgt peppers" of country, i guess. (I am neither a fan nor un-fan of country, couldn't care less, but that's the scene on the album.) – Fattie May 12 '14 at 9:24
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    I'm sure my parents had that John Denver album, as well as Frampton Comes Alive. They probably had two copies of the Frampton (a party copy, and a personal one). – blackappy May 12 '14 at 9:37
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    You might have enough material for a book on this, by the way. – blackappy May 12 '14 at 9:55
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Ouroboric

From the mythology of Ouroboros, meaning something that is self-referring, self-reflexive, self-consuming; recursive.

The Ouroboros or Uroboros is an ancient symbol depicting a serpent or dragon eating its own tail and often symbolizes self-reflexivity or cyclicality, especially in the sense of something constantly re-creating itself, the eternal return, and other things such as the phoenix which operate in cycles that begin anew as soon as they end.

Did you know that there is a song that has an ouroboric reference to the album?


There is a word, but I think it's ugly and I hate it.

Metafiction: Also known as romantic irony in the context of Romantic works of literature, uses self-reference to draw attention to itself as a work of art.

Music related examples:

  • "These Words", a song by Natasha Bedingfield ("These words are my own / From my heart flow").
  • "You're So Vain", a song by Carly Simon ("You're so vain, I bet you think this song is about you").
  • "Your Song", a song by Elton John ("My gift is my song and this one's for you / And you can tell everybody this is your song").
  • "No Direction" by Bad Religion ("I don't believe in self-important folks who preach/No Bad Religion song can make your life complete").
  • "An Elpee's Worth of Toons", a song by Todd Rundgren
  • "The Worst Band in the World", a song by 10cc
  • "Someone Else's Song", a song by Wilco ("I know it sounds like someone else's song from along time ago").
  • "Cosmic", a song by Kylie Minogue, opening with the line "I wanted to write a song called 'Cosmic'".
  • "Glass Onion" by The Beatles; this is a song from their 1968 self-titled album known colloquially as The White Album that contains allusions to previous works by the band.

In context of your question, you would say that it is metafictional.

Did you know that the name of the album is also in the lyrics of a song? It's metafictional.

  • 2
    This is wrong. Almost every album title is self-referential. Track-named titles are self referential, eponymous titles are self-referential and "the type of title the OP is asking about" are self-referential. The OP wants the word for titles taken from lyrics. Regarding "metafiction", it's just Hofstaeder-esque "stories about writing a story" and so on (the wikipedia article is hopeless; it's even marked at the top as hopeless). – Fattie May 12 '14 at 7:23
  • @JoeBlow I disagree because the songs are self-referencing the album and visa-versa (recursive?), but I've modified my answer with another potentially acceptable word. Strangely, it was given to me by another user earlier today. – Tucker May 12 '14 at 14:06
  • You know, "ouroboric" is really not correct; it would be like saying the answer to the OP's question is: "humorous" or "clever" or "rude." It just doesn't make any sense; I'm sorry! It's completely wrong. (Note too that even in "the way you are using it" is wrong: band-titled albums, concept-titled albums, song-titled albums, lyric-titled albums, all completely fit your (incorrect) use of ouroboric. An actual example of a self-referential (ie, ouroboric) title is (example) "We couldn't think of a title so we used this." – Fattie May 12 '14 at 16:34
  • @JoeBlow Well, I disagree with you, but I respect your opinion. I think my word suits it, and I think my usage is correct as well. – Tucker May 12 '14 at 20:16
  • It's really not man; (ouroboric just literally means exactly "self-referential" - it's absolutely identical to your earlier suggestion.) Well now, when you say writing (or a film - whatever) is "self-referential", you're talking about exactly as in your excellent examples (the song cosmic, all of douglas hofstaeder's books, etc). It's a "quality" or "style" - exactly as if you said about a book "it's postmodern" or "it's really trendy" or "it's very old-fashioned" or "it's academic" or "it's fucking lame" or "it's pornographic" or "it's modern" .. you could say "it's self-referntial.".. – Fattie May 12 '14 at 20:33
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Strictly speaking, eponymous only indicates that it's named after something - and, in fact, the usage in music journalism is at odds with the general construction, namely that eponymous is applied to the person or thing giving the name, rather than the thing which is named after him, her, or it. So Charlie's Restaurant is presumably owned the eponymous Charlie, rather than the other way around.

You could, however, refer to an album's eponymous lyric or phrase in a particular song.

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    that's a great point about the more accurate meaning of eponymous, that correctly eponymous should be applied to the thing giving the name, not the thing which is named. Awesome. (Should it be more of a comment than an answer?) – Fattie May 12 '14 at 16:37
  • It's germane as an answer, since how you choose to interpret and use eponymous affects the optimal answer. With the historical definition of eponymous, a phrase like "eponymous lyric" will do, but if one surmises one's readership is too dense to figure out the meaning of that phrase in context, either a neologism or more laborious phrasing is required. – user2310967less May 18 '14 at 16:31

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