It’s not that hard to imagine, really. Weeks in the making or mere hours of planning, a great night out with your best friends at the bar/game/show typically involves more than just a simple plan to catch up and have a few drinks. What you never stop to think about is the soundtrack to your evening: music in the car on the way to and from hanging with friends; music at the bar/game/show you’ll attend; the music playing wherever you end up after your first round of drinks at aforementioned event. Unfortunately, everyone has had a run in with that guy: the one who puts $20 in the jukebox so you can listen to his music all night; the kind of guy that refuses to sing anything but “I’ve Got Friends (in Low Places)” by Garth Brooks every chance he gets; or the guy who gives his rousing a cappella rendition of “Living on a Prayer” and (incessantly) insists everyone sing along. Very few people can defend these acts of musical jerkitude, but what if you could have it your way?
Everyone enjoys playing “what if” and “would you rather” games, and a few friends of mine recently posed the question “What would be your top five songs to close out a bar?” Now, these friends are professional “what if” askers, so they had a few stipulations and conditions: These would be the last five songs played right after the perilous shout of “Last call!” Personally, I have a hard time choosing just five. I’m a very emotional music listener (as most of us are), associating certain songs with certain events in my life, and am able to appreciate music in different ways depending on the setting, event, or mood. I was told that setting, event, or mood could have no sway in my choices, despite the question being purely hypothetical. I’m always up for a challenge and also enjoy explaining the “why” behind my choices and opinions so, lucky you…here they are:
“Drunk Girls” by LCD Soundsystem | How can I help myself from kicking off the waning minutes of a night full of craziness, fun, beer, and memories? James Murphy essentially reads out of the drunk girl anthologies as he sing-speaks: “Drunk girls get invitations from nations/ drunk girls, they got the patience of saints/ drunk boys, they steal, they steal from the cupboards/ drunk girls, drunk girls like to file complaints.” Upon merely reading the lyrics, the song sounds like it may be from a modern country-pop song, but LCD Soundsystem injects the funkiest beats, effects, and up-tempo absurdity in to every one of their songs, this tune being no exception. I dare anyone to try and sit still or keep a straight face during this song If you’re going to close out a bar with five songs, this is the strongest contender—why not start on a danceable and lively note?
“Broken Bottle” by Alejandro Escovedo | Yeah, this would probably get me labeled as “that guy” for having a total buzz kill of a song, but this song digs deeper than the bar illusion given in the title. This song has just enough twang to make you feel like a saloon-sittin’ son of a gun, while your elbows are up to signify the drownin’ of yer sorrows. Too much? OK. Escovedo sings longingly, “So pour me a drink, from a broken bottle/ fill my glass with the dirty water/ what I’ve lost is gone/ what I’ve gained has no name…” From there, the gorgeous, twang-y, finger slide full waltz carries the listener to the bar stool right next to Escovedo to console him through booze.
“Come on Eileen” | by Save Ferris: I have to be completely, 100% honest about this choice: This is a throw away spot. If you’ve noticed, this is the third song thus far in the mix. Now, my friends made the rule that you can’t change your playlist depending on the venue or the type of event you participated in; I’m of the belief that that’s totally unfair. I change my favorite band/song/album like I change my socks (that’d be daily, thank you). At any rate, this third spot is what I’d like to consider the ever-changing sub spot, consistently swapping with one song/artist or another. Yes, I adore Save Ferris and I’m not ashamed to admit to it. This Dexy’s Midnight Runners tune is a classic that nearly everyone in the bar will know and (possibly begrudgingly) sing along to. And what’s not fun about that? Monique Powell’s voice soars in this version, so just raise a glass and go with it.
“Ballroom Blitz” by Sweet | Do you really need an explanation? If you don’t know the words to this song but like to kick back a few brews, there is absolutely something wrong with you. Clichéd? Maybe. Do I or anyone else who will undoubtedly sing along care? Nope, not one bit.
“Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen | The title says it all. Does anyone ever really want to get force-fed their last drink at a bar during last call? Of course not, but why not make the most of it during a raucous, glam-filled rock ’n’ roll classic served on a hedonistic platter by Freddie Mercury himself. “Don’t stop me now, ’cause I’m havin’ a good time/ I don’t wanna stop at all” are the quintessential lyrics of those who obviously haven’t filled their quota of an awesome night.
While it would have been easy to say something like “I’d just put a Girl Talk album on repeat” or “just a bunch of remixes by a DJ,” it does seem to take the fun out of choosing favorite songs you’ll never get tired of hearing, dancing to, and singing along with. Despite the strict guidelines imposed by my friend, I had a great time creating my list, however challenging it ended up, and encouraging other friends and family to choose their own favorites. I highly encourage you to do the same (and don’t cheat!), and feel free to post in the comments section with what your top five would be and why. Come on…make Rob Fleming (…really? The “Top 5” protagonist of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, remember?) proud. | Jenn Metzler