Posted May 8, 2013 by John Shanks in Music

What Is Nerdcore? Five Music Videos Elucidate


It’s a musical iceberg and you are Lieutenant Will Murdoch

The wonderful, brilliant thing about the Internet is how it allows people with specific and often obscure or unpopular interests to connect. We at Geek Smash know a thing or two about niche hobbies—it’s right there in the name. And musicians around the world allow us to sing the praises of our geeky passions. Well, sing and rap their praises. In the shower. And the car. And the library.

Okay, perhaps consider lip syncing in the library unless you’re a bookish yet bubbly lady librarian, in which case sing out, sister. (Also, my contact information is at the bottom of this article.)

While individual artists may use the labels nerdcore hip-hop, geek rock, chiptunes or bit pop to describe their musical styles, I categorize them all as “nerdcore” based on what they have in common: content that speaks to my inner immortal nerd with a message that is positive and familiar.

Sure, sometimes artists that get big radio play might seem a little nerdy, and that’s fine, but where do I draw the line? The answer is—and I regret this phrasing already—I play it by ear.

Biggie Smalls dropping a reference to Duck Hunt in a rap that is otherwise about what it’s like to be Biggie Smalls? Not nerdcore. A song about guy who wears a hoodie over his plaid hunting shirt and tucks an NES Zapper in his belt before stepping out to meet a girl (who was playing Duck Hunt when he called and therefore also needs to be aware of how to contact me)? Pretty sure that’s nerdcore.

But there’s a surprising amount of breadth in what outsiders may view as an inflatable kiddie pool of a genre. So let’s dive in.


“Critical Hit” by MC Frontalot

The Front funded three music videos from his 2011 album “Solved” through Kickstarter. “Critical Hit” uses the familiar notion of the randomness of die rolls to attempt to explain the often perplexing roller coaster of success and failure in the music industry. (If you think that’s reading too much into it, the video for “Stoop Sale” uses puppets to teach us about regret. It’s pretty much the best thing.) The Dungeon Master is played by Brian Posehn, which is what is called damn good casting.


“Redshirt” by Jonathan Coulton

A fan assembled clips of The Original Series that best depicted the lyrics to Jonathan Coulton’s song about those unfortunate away team members. The clips are well-chosen and synced appropriately to the action described, so props to you, YouTube user trekpropguy (although for some reason I suspect you already have plenty of Trek-related props). Coulton wrote the song to celebrate the release of the John Scalzi novel “Redshirts,” the audiobook version of which is narrated by Wil Wheaton.


That’s two out of five and we’ve already touched on Dungeons & Dragons and Star Trek, two indisputable nerd domains. Read on to allow me to stretch my inflatable kiddie pool metaphor more than an owlbear in an inflatable kiddie pool.


John Shanks

John is an outdoor educator. He enjoys hard and soft science fiction, Eggs Benedict, cowboy folk songs, and old-time radio. His favorite rapper isn't debonair.