Body Parts In Song: From Hands To Eyes Visual artists Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg see, and hear, the beauty in the human body. They've analyzed roughly 10,000 songs in many genres of music, and they've created a catalog titled Listen, which illustrates how the human form inspires, amuses or repulses musicians.

Body Parts In Song: From Hands To Eyes

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This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Coming up, the case of karaoke murder in Cape May, but first...

(Soundbite of song "What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?")

Mr. FRANK ZAPPA & THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION: (Singing) What's the ugliest part of your body? Some say your nose, and some say your toes. I think it's your mind, your mind. I think it's your mind.

SIMON: That's Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention with a meditation on body parts. And now artists Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg have analyzed roughly 10,000 songs of all different musical types to create a catalog called "Listen." It documents how the human form has been celebrated, sentimentalized, or mocked Frank Zappa-style in music.

The eyes have first place among body parts that make it into music: brown eyes, blue eyes, sad eyes, angel eyes, all kinds of eyes. Beautiful faces and loving arms appear in genres from country to jazz. Then there are songs like this one from Paul Anka that venerate practical uses for body parts.

(Soundbite of song "Put Your Head On My Shoulder")

Mr. PAUL ANKA: (Singing) Put your head on my shoulder...

SIMON: Or this rocker from Robert Palmer.

(Soundbite of song "Addicted To Love")

Mr. ROBERT PALMER: (Singing) Your throat is tight, you can't breathe. Another kiss is all you need.

SIMON: While putting together the "Listen" project, Viegas and Wattenberg found that gospel and the blues seem to focus on the hands, either lifting them in praise, or keeping them away from temptations to flesh. But among hip-hop artists, the human feature that seems to be most fascinating is, in fact, just south of the hip.

(Soundbite of song "Baby Got Back")

SIX MIX-A-LOT: (Singing) So, fellas! (Yeah!) Fellas! (Yeah!) Has your girlfriend got the butt? (Hell yeah!) Tell 'em to shake it! (Shake it!) Shake it! (Shake it!) Shake that healthy butt! Baby got back!

SIMON: You can view the "Listen" project online at

(Soundbite of song "Baby Got Back")

SIX MIX-A-LOT: (Singing) Baby got back! (LA face with Oakland Booty) I like 'em round and big.

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