Game shows have never been cool, per se, but the popular quiz show “Jeopardy!,” perhaps in an attempt to demonstrate how hip it can be, has recently offered several game clues that seem tailor made for your local record store clerk.
At face value, that may sound like an older parent slipping a pop culture reference into a conversation, bending over backwards to prove they “get it.” But the crack trivia writers at “Jeopardy!” — being crack trivia writers, after all — show they actually know their stuff.
Okay, the jam band Phish is fairly well known, as is their notoriously devout fanbase. They even reached the pop culture zenith -- along with late-night host Jimmy Fallon, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert and Grateful Dead singer Jerry Garcia — by inspiring a flavor of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (Phish Food).
But in this clip, uploaded to YouTube on Jan. 31, the show reaches back and breaks out Trey Anastasio’s legal name, Ernest Joseph Anastasio III. Sure, this little factoid can be procured with a few clicks on Wikipedia, but “Jeopardy!” could have just as easily gone to the papacy or the monarchy for famous names ending with the suffix III.
Fleet Foxes’ brand of indie folk, with towering Beach Boys-like melodies, is adored by fans in the know and critics alike. But remember that “cool dad” example from before? Well, that’s kind of how this clue reads (even though it’s a perfectly apt description, really). It seems to be a bit of a name check, as in, “Hey, we heard about this cool band on NPR.” Until...
There are dozens of ways to phrase a clue leading to the Don McLean song “American Pie,” and you go with a cover version by Wisconsin noise rock band Killdozer? You win, “Jeopardy!” writers. The ability to take a band from Touch and Go Records, the Chicago independent label that gave outsider music lovers releases by Big Black and the Jesus Lizard, and casually drop it into a game show that was first created in 1964 is the ultimate trump card.