Literally Geographic

May 4, 2018
Originally published on May 4, 2018 11:43 am

If you can't place the name of that popular band, you'll have a hard time with this game about bands named for places. In this music parody, Jonathan Coulton sings about various geographic locations, to the tune of songs performed by bands named after those locations. It's a thing!

Heard on Jenn Colella And The Phantom Broadway Tattoo.

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton here with puzzle guru Art Chung. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thank you, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants, Michelle and Jacob. Soon they'll play a music parody game. And if you can't place the name of that band, you're going to have a hard time with this game about bands named for places. So let's check in with our contestants. Michelle, what was your favorite city to visit but you'd never want to live there?

MICHELLE SZPILZINGER: New Orleans.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's - yeah. Really? You don't want to live right down on Bourbon Street?

SZPILZINGER: That's not even the issue. It's more that it's the treifest (ph) city that I've ever been to, and I keep kosher. So...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

SZPILZINGER: Kind of a problem.

EISENBERG: Right. They put, like, pork in your water.

SZPILZINGER: Everything has shellfish or pig or alligator. I don't even know what, but it's definitely not anything I can eat.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) The treifest city of all time.

JACOB BERMAN: New tagline.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: (Speaking French).

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jacob, what is your favorite city to visit but you would never want to live there?

BERMAN: I love London, which is great. But, you know - and everyone speaks English. There's a lot to see and do. But it's just dreary, which - I don't know. Maybe - I hope that doesn't offend anyone, but - yeah.

EISENBERG: I mean, they know. They live there. There's not a lot of sunshine.

BERMAN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: They're like, yeah, you're right. It rains all the time. Your next game is a music parody game called Literally Geographic. Jacob, you won the last game, so you win this, and you are in the final round. Michelle, you need to win this, or you have to start a band and name your band by throwing a dart at a map. So we're looking forward to hearing your debut album, "Breezewood Interchange."

COULTON: We rewrote songs by geographically named bands so that now the songs are about the places the bands are named after. So ring in, and tell me which band I'm parodying which contains the place that I'm singing about. Here we go. (Singing) Watching checkpoint Charlie doesn't matter anymore. Brandenburg Gate is just a pretty place to tour - used to be divided till that big wall's bricks came off. Don't thank Ronald Reagan. Just thank David Hasselhoff.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Michelle.

SZPILZINGER: Berlin.

COULTON: Berlin - that's right - "Take My Breath Away." (Singing) Sears no more - now it's called Willis Tower. It's confusing. I know. But the deep dish pizza's great - can't believe how much I ate. I gained some weight.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jacob.

BERMAN: Chicago.

COULTON: Chicago - that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: (Playing guitar) That's all you need, really, but I'm going to do the...

(LAUGHTER)

SZPILZINGER: Can I...

COULTON: I'm going to do the whole clip. (Singing) I close my eyes, open them again, and I see lots of wheat - also cows stretching from Topeka down to Wichita. This isn't us. This is very clearly not us.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jacob.

BERMAN: Kansas.

COULTON: Kansas is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: (Singing) Well, I drove to Carolina from California. It's too big to cross in one day. I seen a canyon, the twinkling lights of Broadway. My car is filled with fast food garbage that I won't throw away.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Michelle.

SZPILZINGER: Ohio.

COULTON: No, I'm sorry. That's incorrect. Jacob, do you know the answer?

BERMAN: The United States of America.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: No, I guess I can't accept that, no. We're looking for just America - is the name of the band. [(Singing) Let's go travel to Quebec, watch ice hockey games and eat poutine. Down to Rue Saint Paul we'll trek. Let's speak French, or else there might be mean.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jacob.

BERMAN: Canada.

COULTON: I'm sorry. That's not the answer we were looking for. Michelle, do you know?

SZPILZINGER: Montreal - no.

COULTON: The name of the band.

SZPILZINGER: No.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's killing me. It's killing me. The name of the band is of Montreal. But you were right that we were - I was singing about Montreal. (Singing) Name rings a bell in Israel. Northern part near the Sea of Galilee. In the New Testament, it says that Jesus spent his younger days round here. Now pilgrims frequent.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jacob.

BERMAN: Nazareth.

COULTON: Nazareth - that's right. It was "Love Hurts."

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This is your last clue. (Singing) There's cars on the Mass Pike. They're all heading to Fenway for a game. Take the T or bike to the bar where they all know my name. Yeah, there's a bar where they all know my name.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Michelle.

SZPILZINGER: Boston.

COULTON: Boston - you got it.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

ART CHUNG: Well done, Jacob. You won both games, and you're headed to the final round.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.