Style Conversational Week 1045: Ask me any sing: Playing the B-side

October 31, 2013

As you can tell from some of today’s results from Week 1041, this week’s new contest overlaps a wee bit with it, since I ran some answers to song-questions that were questions in themselves. But given the vast universe of source material you can turn to for Week 1045, I don’t think that will be a problem at all. Nor do I worry that readers won’t be interested four weeks from now in seeing a set of results that have the same sort of jokes we show this week: I posted the Week 1041 results online a few minutes ago, and already got a comment from Loser Ward Kay — who did not get ink — that there are “too many laugh out loud entries to mention. Destined to be an SI classic.”

I had toyed with the idea of doing this week’s contest like one of our many, many Ask Backwards contests, in which I supply a dozen or so phrases and ask for questions they could answer: I’d started to compile a list of lines from various songs, and have everyone do the same ones. But I ultimately decided that it was more fun to see the wide variety of songs that contestants submitted.

As it was when I judged Week 1041 — I got question-lines from everything from Christmas carols to sexually explicit raps. I was a bit surprised, though, to see how many songs were each used by a lot of contestants: “Why don’t we do it in the road?” was submitted 28 times.

I can’t give a scientific analysis of all the songs used in the contest, but I did look over the ones that got ink today: The largest number of them date from the 1960s, with almost as many from the 1970s (or both, since “When Will I Be Loved” was a hit first for the Everly Brothers and then Linda Ronstadt). But others are from the ’20s, ’30s, ’50s, ’80s, ’90s and 2010s.

Did I favor the ’60s-’70s songs over the others because I know that pop music era better? Again, I can’t measure my choices against the data for the 1,000-plus entries I didn’t choose, but I don’t think so. Instead, I think there’s a lot of boomer music merely because we have so many boomer contestants; I’m guessing that they turned to their own collections of albums for inspiration. But it also seems that songs from that era have become well known and loved by the next generation as well.

I knew most of the songs referred to in the entries in general, and also in the inking entries, though not all of them: Frank Osen used the 1930s pop standard “A Song Is You” for his decidedly less romantic rectal-thermometer joke; that was a new one for me, as was the 1950s Dean Martin song “Speak to an Angel.” And I'd heard the recent “Blurred Lines” a million times, but had never heard the fabulously stupid line “What rhymes with ‘hug me’?” (I’m actually sorry to have looked up the lyrics to this song, by the way; the song’s beat is so exuberant and catchy that I was appalled to read the really vile, violent third verse.)

So was it my familiarity with most of the lyrics that led me to get more of a laugh from the entries based on them? I don’t know; see what you think: Read over today’s results and see if you find they’re funnier if you know and love the source.

It’s the first win ever for Loser Trevor Kerr, who had a fantastic week: His previous total of 28 blots of ink since Week 863 jumps by three this week, including the Inkin’ Memorial (his fifth win “above the fold”); I also had several more entries from Trevor on my short­list.

And it’s another boffo week for Jeff Contompasis — not that much of a surprise, since he regularly shares bad or poorly rhyming lyrics to current pop songs on the Style Invitational Devotees page. Though Jeff gets the second-place animal-butt magnets for the Christmas carol, his other two inks are for “Blurred Lines” and the recent Katy Perry earworm idiocy “Firework.” Jeff’s three inking entries plus his “Next week’s results” line (which runs online only, and was momentarily published last Thursday when I lost track of the calendar) gives him a total of 334 blots of ink as he marches inexorably toward the doors of the Hall of Fame.

Brendan Beary, who’s been lounging around the Hall for years, also had three inks plus several more on the short­list; and Long-Longtime Loser Harold Mantle — his first ink was in Week 5 — gets his fifth ink above the fold, for 36 in all.

This week I ran an entry that I didn’t immediately get: It was David Leveton’s entry “What becomes of the brokenhearted? They purchase laxatives.” But I asked around, and just about every male person I talked to, including the Royal Consort here at Mount Vermin, figured it out instantly. And once I understood it, I liked the understated way the joke was worded.

With Malitz toward ... Today’s fave of Sunday Style Editor David Malitz was Rob Huffman’s “Have you ever seen the rain?” (a line submitted by 10 entrants). That could well be because David just interviewed Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty; his Q&A will be in this week’s Sunday Style (so after you’re finished looking at the back page, you can go back and read that; it’s not online yet but should be by Friday).

See you November 17?

I’m planning to go to the Loser brunch at Kilroy’s — right off the Beltway in Northern Virginia — and hope to see you there. Yes, you. It’s at noon, so you can even pre-repent in the morning for the buffet overeating. RSVP to Elden Carnahan at nrars.org.

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