Apart from sexual conquests or a five-game beer pong winning streak, drunken sing-a-longs are the easiest way to distinguish one party from another. Were you at that kegger on October 8th? I don’t know. You know, the one where everyone got hammered and sang “Shout” by the Isley Brothers? Ohh yeah. That was wiggity-wiggity wack.
A few weeks ago, I challenged the Music Blend writing team to come up with the perfect list of songs for this evening’s staff New Year’s party. I was planning to get hammered and make sexually suggestive, borderline immoral comments to all the female employees, and I needed a nice backing soundtrack to drown out their outraged retorts. Unfortunately, I locked the writers inside my office (it’s the biggest), and they downed two pints of Jager. By the time I got back, they were fiddling with my iPod (it’s the best) and belting out the Dan Band’s cover of “Total Eclipse Of The Heart.” Assholes. Here are the five songs they played the most...
Cinema Blend Top 5: Tunes For A Drunk Sing-A-Long
5. You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling by Righteous Brothers
Nikki Pierce:Let me paint a picture: “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.” Maverick and Goose. Drunk. Is there a reason why this 1965 chart topper should not be on this list? Rolling Stone Magazine named this melody as one of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, making it to #34. Though written as a somewhat romantic song, the minute an intoxicated Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards garbled this tune at full volume, it was forever etched into the memories of American movie goers as one of the ultimate drunken love songs.
Stuart Wood:It's a true testament to 80s cinema the number of songs which have ultimately come to form pop-culture icons. No other decade spawned so many: Flashdance, An Officer and a Gentleman, Dirty Dancing to name but a couple all have signature tracks which identify them and which everyone can sing along to. Another of these is of course Top Gun. Top Gun did that rare thing. It seemed to turn something as awful as karaoke in to a smooth pick up method. Mav and Goose could pull it off to score with Kelly McGillis with ease. Sadly, for every young man who grew up with that movie and watched that scene, our egos would indeed start to write checks our vocal talents couldn't cash. The movie bred the belief in young impressionable men that, while in a club, if they were to get their drunk ass up on stage and start slurring The Righteous Brothers after a few too many Jager Bombs for Dutch courage the target lady's panties would drop faster than a Spears siblings' when she's fertile. Of course, sadly for most of us, we probably end up looking more like William Hung than Tom Cruise while up there, but for those four drunken minutes up on stage, you and your wingman believe that you are the US Navy's finest pilots and can thus score with any woman you choose.
Mack Rawden: Most drunk sing-a-longs aren’t coordinated. They’re spontaneous, an unplanned outpour of emotion that builds once a single inebriated alcoholic begins butchering a classic. “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” is the perfect length and volume to accommodate. It starts out slowly. The aforementioned drunk ass starts whispering You never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your lips along with The Righteous Brothers. The first chorus is understated, almost crooned in a librarian’s twelve inch voice. A few people notice the original vocalist and join in. Than around the half way point, the backing music starts to pick up. The voices get more desperate. The energy is building. Miserable patrons with droopy eyelids scan the room in confusion. Half the room starts screaming along. We had a love. A love you don’t find everyday. So, don’t....don’t...don’t let it slip away. Peer pressure kicks in. The impromptu barbershop one hundred-tet silently coordinates who will take echo responsibilities for the climax. Somehow verbal communication is sufficient for these bonding strangers. Baby (Baby!). Baby (Baby!). Please (Please!). Please (Please!). I need your love (I need your love!). Bring it on back (Bring it on back!). Now, that’s a fucking drunk sing-a-long.
4. Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
Nikki Pierce:Journey’s hit single from their 1981 album Escape is easily considered their signature song. As it is easy to sing and irritatingly catchy, the capacity in which this song is able to be sung by a drunken mob is far greater than most. I was only endeared to this song after hearing the string quartet version of it in the 90s cult classic that parodies 80s culture, The Wedding Singer. I never took Journey seriously--and I still really don’t--mainly because Steve Perry reminds me of Scott Baio. Nevertheless, “Don’t Stop Believing,” as cheesy as it may be, does just as it was intended: encourages drunken crooners to “hug it out” in a feel-good fest as they remember to just keep pushing forward despite the hopelessness that life seems bring.
Greg Rock: With a great bar song, people quickly forget they have the vocal range of a busted garbage compactor and imagine instead they possess the inhuman pipes of Journey's Steve Perry. With that fourth vodka tonic humming in your stomach, you're a lonely girl or boy on a midnight train heading anywhere, and who cares if you can't hit that high C, you're going to belt it out regardless. Such is the power of "Don't Stop Believin." Even before its infamous use in The Sopranos series finale, the song had nestled like a tick in the soft neck flesh of pop culture, utilized in dozens of feature films and TV shows as an easy emotional shortcut to elation. Despite the critical disdain that followed Journey through arena tour after arena tour, the song's staying power is assured, simply because everyone knows each line by heart, and there isn't a more positive message, outside of "We Are The Champions". So what if there's not really a "South Detroit," the song has bombast damn it, guitar licks, pounding drums, the kind of swaying rhythm that allows arms around shoulders and heavy shouting/screeching. It goes on and on and on and on.
Mack Rawden:Let’s get something straight right now: “Don’t Stop Believin’” is retarded. It’s probably one of the worst songs ever written. Ever. Its lyrics are nonsensical, possibly stolen from a Virginia Woolf novel. Its guitar licks are bland, possibly stolen from a bootleg Foreigner EP. But none of this matters to drunk people. They only need a few rum n cokes, come hither eyes, and a generic message to get behind. Midnight train to anywhere? That sounds like an activity I’d be on board with while inebriated. Plus, Steve Perry’s sick high notes practically rip my clothes off. I can’t even imagine what those vocals do to an aging, self-conscious soccer mom who wants to feel young and beautiful one more time. Don’t stop believin’, girl. I’ll pay anything to roll those dice.
3. To Be With You by Mr. Big
Jessica Grabert:Setting: It’s an end of the world party similar to the one featured in Bret Easton Ellis’ novel/movie The Rules of Attraction. One large fire. Check. Drunk-ass chicks mostly passed out, leaning against walls and assorted pieces of furniture. Check. Belligerent boys fighting, exchanging insults against the backdrop of one of the more irritating David Byrne songs (think "The Girls Want To Be With The Girls"). What are we missing? Well, it takes a large assortment of more functional drunks to perfect this scene. Turn off the Talking Heads and throw something on that’ll really get this party started. The song of choice, of course, is Mr. Big’s “To Be With You.” Combining adequately adept music with user-friendly lyrics, “To Be With You,” is an inebriated-palooza. C’mon, “deep inside, I hope you’ll feel it to...” And if you don’t believe me, look around. This end of the world party has turned into a Dionysus worthy endeavor, full of drunken revelry. I won’t even say I told you so.
Karl Spork:From the immediately recognizable bass slide to the first guitar strum, you know what you’re in for. The next beat the effeminately-voiced lead singer is singing a song to a girl. Shocker. He’s trying to build her up after a breakup so he can get at her, which is the surest path in the direction of Friend Territory and all the hellish purgatory that entails. We recognize what this guy is trying to do and we identify. Which guy among us hasn’t gotten close to a girl, but unintentionally erected a wall preventing us from reveling in her cherry orchard. So we sing along with the pain we know is inherent in every major chord of the song. And we know all the words. And we air-guitar the constipated donkey-fuck of a guitar solo because, hey, even that douche with the acoustic at every party usually has at least one girl sitting next to him.
Mack Rawden:Guy loves girl. Girl loves another guy who treats her like shit. Original guy consoles girl after break-up, dropping hints of his repressed love while she cries on his shoulder. Girl pretends not to notice but she knows. She fucking knows, man. Guy continues to subtly pour out his heart. Girl pretends not to notice but she knows. She fucking knows, man. Finally, it all shoots out– a stream of pent-up frustrations intermixed with naive concepts of love. Goddamnit. I’m the one who wants to be with you. Me. Not him. Who cares about little boys who talk too much? I can make you start to smile. Me. Not him. Girl pleads for guy to stop. But once the torrent of feelings is unleashed, it can’t be stopped. It can’t ever be the same. She can no longer pretend not to notice. Girl leaves. Guy grabs two beers and sings away the pain. It’s the oldest story in history, and it still fucking hurts.
2. Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen
Rema Rahman:Any-Bar, U.S.A.: A lonely 250-pound, 40-something woman with coke-can bifocals and a penchant for heavy metal music begins distortedly swaying to the sound of Mr. Freddie Mercury. With her arms jiggling above her, grasping her Jack and Coke in one hand, she pounds the other on the bar singing "Oh, won't you take me home tonight…" Unfortunately, no one will. A dive bar's answer to a swanky restaurant's "Fur Elise", Queen's hit, "Fat Bottom Girls" has dominated bars across the country since it made its debut on Jazz in 1978. With the singles cover sporting a naked woman's butt crack riding a bicycle (which was later half covered up with drawn-on panties when stores complained) this song has proved staying power much like the cellulite on any fat bottomed girl in the country. Hey, statistics don't lie.
Hanna Hurme: Far more important than having a power animal, is having a personal theme song. "Fat Bottomed Girls" celebrates one so-it-turned-out-flamingly gay man's love for the seemingly ever-growing populace of, how do I phrase this tactfully, husky women; a song so potent that when coupled with the standard-blearing properties of good ol' booze, it could have it's own "guaranteed or your money back" infomercial. All the mandatory components of an inebriated rock out are present: loud riffs (for executing the windmill air guitar maneuver a la Pete Townsend that will only stand a chance of looking cool when it's meant as a joke and everyone's drunk anyway), a steady tempo (so as not to disturb the precarious equilibrium already threatened by the alcohol), and lyrics that you don't really have to learn since you've already been shouting them for the past few hours ("won't you take me home tonight?"). It truly is a song of epic proportions, worth listening to sober, but then you have no excuse for what it might impel you to do.
Trevor Clippert: “Fat Bottom Girls”, driven by a pounding baseline and chronicling a man’s rise from innocent youth to full-fledged chubby-chaser, is the quintessential drinking song. This Queen classic features a catchy guitar riff, Freddy Mercury’s trademark stentorian vocals, and the greatest drum fill ever etched into vinyl. Like a chameleon or the blue chick from X-Men, this song adapts to fit the background of any social gathering. You’re hosting a raging kegger and you want to get the people on their feet? Even the clergyman in Footloose can’t sit idly in the path of Queen’s juggernaut rhythm section. Or maybe a quiet night in with close friends and a magnum of cold Riesling is more your speed. Well, the hard-driving axe work and suggestive lyrics of “Fat Bottom Girls” will get you out to the strip club in a hurry, pussy. Yes, this rock epic is apt in any social situation (so long as the Jager is a’ flowin’). It provides ample opportunity to sing loudly, drunkenly, and obnoxiously (the Holy Trinity of booze ballad adverbs), play a bevy of air instruments and raise your glass to, as Trent from Swingers would call them, the business class babies in your own life. So if there are no beauty queens in your locality, make a toast in honor of ample-assed Aphrodites and the men who love them. And, hey, hold the light beer.
1. Build Me Up, Buttercup by The Foundations
Karl Spork:This is the apogee of songs deserving to be drunkenly slurred on a voice mail at 4am. And now, my side of a conversation had with Mike d’Abo, writer of the song and former lead singer of Manfred Mann, circa 1969: “I’m your friend, man, I can see what’s happening. Dude, you want a beer? Why are you still holding out for that strumpet? All she does is jerk you around. Wow…do you want another beer? Alright, I’ll bring you two this time. Fine, fine, maybe you two are right for each other. But don’t forget that that is totally in your mind. I’m sure the beer will help this fantasy then. Here’s another. Keep begging her, that seems to be working, you idiot.” On the plus side, I’m of the personal opinion that, “Although you’re untrue I’m attracted to you,” was later co-opted by The Pixies for the classic lyric in “Bone Machine”: “You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me!”
Michael Fraiman:Alcohol and "Buttercup" are joined at the hip by one common factor: depression. Men will understand me when I say that half the fun of drinking is lounging around at three in the morning, finishing off the last few beers, contemplating, complaining about and trying to figure out women. Why do they build us up, just to let us down, and mess us around? And then worst of all, they never call, baby, when they say they will… But we love 'em still. Drinking is a social bond, an exclamation of how life sucks, women suck and we're all built up and broken-hearted. It's as universal as breathing. Add the facts the melody is inseparable from modern pop culture and the lyrics are easy to remember, and you've got yourself the most terribly harmonized but still soulful drunken sing-a-long around. Check out Rhymefest's hip-hop cover for a hysterical modernized rendition.
Mack Rawden:Going out on the weekends rarely, if ever, works out as originally planned. Optimism runs high early on, as everyone dreams of sexually enlightening a formerly frigid coed. Your buddies brag about how sick their game is and explain all the reasons why the most beautiful woman at the bar would be an idiot not to go home with him. Unfortunately, as the third Seagram Seven soaks into those breadsticks you had for dinner, emotions begin flowing out. It’s the ex-girlfriend, you still love her. Why won’t she call? Someone eventually decides this shitshow has long passed from amusing to pathetic, and a taxi is called. You all pile in with frustrated egos and sad penises. You mope around for a few minutes before someone turns on “Build Me Up, Buttercup”, and the group morale begins shooting North. At least you still have an off-key rhythm section of equally inept friends. Even as the girls you pine over change, The Foundations’ classic will always be the tune you drunkenly use to get over them. And that’s why it’s the only possible choice for Music Blend’s number one drunk sing-a-long.
Nominated but didn’t make the cut: ”Friends In Low Places”, “Centerfold”, “Santeria”, “Sweet Caroline”, “Tiny Dancer”, “Piano Man”, “Livin’ On A Prayer”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Complicated”, “The Boys Are Back In Town”, “Sweet Child Of Mine”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”, “Baba O’Reilly”, “Get Off My Cloud”, “Slow Ride”, “All Right Now”, “Born To Be Wild”, “Song 2", “Brown Eyed Girl”, “Lola”, “Should I Stay Or Should I Go”, “Sabotage”, “Jesse’s Girl”, “Come On Eileen”, “Scenario”, “Juke Box Hero”, “Hey Jude”, “More Than A Feeling”, “Mustang Sally”, “Beer”, “Free Fallin’”, “Champagne Supernova”, and “Let Her Cry.”
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