The Vampire Weekipedia: A Glossary of Terms
Over the past six years, the Vampire Weekend songbook has been defined by its pinballing pop arrangements as well as by the band's wide-ranging and oblique lyrical references — whether he's making mention of Lil Jon or medieval Latin hymns, frontman Ezra Koenig has revealed himself to be a cultural omnivore possessed of an insatiable appetite. With the arrival this week of the band's third and arguably finest outing, Modern Vampires of the City, the New York ensemble has grown yet more intrepid, with Koenig directing his curiosity toward questions of, among other things, life and death. Here's a comprehensive glossary of the unusual people, places, and things that he's referenced in song since 2007, replete with correct pronunciations for each.
See also: The Animal Collective Centipedia
Correct pronunciations by Julia Walker
1. The Vampire Weekipedia: A Glossary of Terms
2. "19th Nervous Breakdown" ("Ya Hey")
1966 single by the Rolling Stones, one of three songs played by the band on The Ed Sullivan Show that year.
:audio=0:113656:song:"19th Nervous Breakdown":
3. 96 Point Futura ("Holiday")
The sans-serif, German-born typeface whose geometric shape would become visually synonymous with the Bauhaus school after its creation in 1926.
:audio=0:113657:song:96 Point Futura:
4. Angkor Wat ("Step")
The largest religious monument in the world, a Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the 12th century in what is now Cambodia.
5. Aranciata ("Horchata")
The orange-flavored variant produced by the Italian mineral-water company, San Pellegrino.
6. Babylon ("Ya Hey")
Akkadian city-state in ancient Mesopotamia, just south of what is now Baghdad. Birthplace to Hammurabi, the Babylonian king responsible for one of the first written codes of law in recorded history.
7. Balaclava ("Horchata")
Cloth headgear designed to expose only the eyes or mouth. Also known as a ski mask.
8. Crise Cardiaque ("Finger Back")
French term for heart attack and/or cardiac arrest.
9. Dar es Salaam ("Step")
The largest city in Tanzania.
:audio=0:113664:song:Dar Es Salaam:
10. Darjeeling ("One (Blake's Got A New Face)")
A city in the Indian state of West Bengal, famous for the tea with which it shares a name.
11. Dharamsala ("Oxford Comma")
Both a city and municipal council in the mountainous Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. One of the state's villages, McLeod Ganj, is the site of the Dalai Lama's residence and headquarters of the Central Tibetan Administration and exiled Tibetan government.
12. "Dies Irae" ("Everlasting Arms")
Latin hymn and medieval poem from the 13th century best known for its description of the day of judgment and for its use in Roman Catholicism's Requiem Mass.
13. Dome of the Rock ("Finger Back")
The ancient Muslim shrine located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
:audio=0:113668:song:Dome of the Rock:
14. Hapa Club ("California English")
Typically an on-campus organization dedicated to students of half-Asian, Pacific-American descent.
15. Holy Roman Empire ("Walcott")
An intricate union of political territories in Central Europe between 962 and 1806 that included the whole of modern-day Switzerland, Austria, and Germany.
:audio=0:113670:song:Holy Roman Empire:
16. Horchata ("Horchata")
Spanish name for the variety of beverages prepared — depending on the region — with ground almonds, rice, sesame seeds, barley, and/or tigernuts. In Mexico, it is commonly made with rice, vanilla, and cinnamon.
17. Hyannis Port ("One (Blake's Got A New Face)")
Site of the Kennedy family compound on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
18. "Israelites" ("Ya Hey")
A 1968 reggae hit by Jamaican star Desmond Dekker & the Aces, the first song of its kind to reach No. 1 on the U.K. pop charts.
19. Keffiyeh ("Campus")
A traditional Arab headdress fashioned from a cotton scarf. Often associated with the Palestinian resistance movement, it's also been used as a popular fashion accessory in the United States and Japan.
20. Kefir ("Campus")
A fermented milk drink made with grains of the same name, popular in Russia, Eastern Europe, and now the probiotic-friendly health-food set in the rest of the world.
21. Khyber Pass ("M79")
A historic mountain pass connecting Pakistan and Afghanistan through the northwestern stretch of the Spin Ghar range, a vital part of the ancient Silk Road, a trade route between Asia, Europe, and Africa.
22. Kwassa Kwassa ("Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa")
A dance rhythm from the Congo, created and popularized in the 1970s by Pepe Kalle.
23. Bleeding Madras ("M79")
Madras, the lightweight fabric that takes its name from the Indian city now known as Chennai, took on a new bent in the 1960s when its plaid patterns were produced with non-colorfast dyes, resulting in colors that both bled and faded.
24. Mansard Roof ("Mansard Roof")
The double-sloped, gambrel-style roof popularized in 17th-century France by architect Francois Mansart.
25. Masada ("Horchata")
An ancient fortress in Israel where Jewish rebels committed mass suicide rather than succumb to Roman forces in 73 A.D.
26. Mechanicsburg ("Step")
A borough in southeastern Pennsylvania's Cumberland County, just eight miles west of the state capital in Harrisburg. Named for a settlement of mechanics who repaired Conestoga wagons in the early 19th century, it is also the birthplace of Poison frontman Bret Michaels and drummer Rikki Rockett.
27. Old San Juan ("One (Blake's Got A New Face)")
The historic colonial sector of San Juan, capital of Puerto Rico.
:audio=0:113682:song:Old San Juan:
28. Oxford Comma ("Oxford Comma")
The comma positioned immediately before the coordinating conjunction in a series of three or more terms, usually nouns. Also known as a "serial comma" and, less frequently, a "Harvard comma."
29. Pueblo Huts of New Mexico ("A-Punk")
A reference to the dwellings and communities by which the Native American people of the same name are also known, usually built of adobe mud and stone. There are 19 pueblo villages in New Mexico alone, including Hopi, Zuni, Taos, and Acoma.
:audio=0:113684:song:Pueblo Huts of New Mexico:
30. Richard Serra ("White Sky")
Minimalist American sculptor known for his work with sheet metal.
31. Robert Smithson ("Giant")
The American artist best-known for his land art, most notably the earthwork sculpture, Spiral Jetty.
32. Sloan-Kettering ("A-Punk")
Shorthand for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the esteemed treatment and research institution founded in 1884 as the New York Cancer Hospital and located on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
33. Spiral Jetty ("Giant")
A coiled earthwork sculpture along the northeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the best-known work by American land artist, Robert Smithson.
34. Tom's ("California English")
Of Maine. The manufacturer of environmentally friendly personal-hygiene products — in this case, all-natural toothpaste.
35. Wolford ("White Sky")
A premium brand of hosiery.
36. Zion ("Ya Hey")
The Hebrew word for the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and the most holy location in the world for Jews; the word is additionally understood to stand for the ideal Jewish homeland. "Zion" is also used in Rastafarianism to denote a spiritual utopia.