Five Songs We Must Stop Playing in Bars


Five Songs We Must Stop Playing in Bars

By Kevin DeLury

Call me old-fashioned, but there’s something great about a traditional jukebox in a bar. Local Chicago institutions like the L&L Tavern and Gingerman subscribe to this, hosting a variety of local artists, throwbacks and personally-made mixes that run the gamut. A jukebox playlist is a carefully-crafted statement of purpose—a way to state “this is who we are,” in no uncertain terms.

Who’s ready for some SLAayyyyyyYER?
Who’s ready for some SLAayyyyyyYER?

More and more, the standard  jukebox is becoming a relic in favor of the “new and improved” touchscreen models. Increasingly, fistfulls of quaters and crumpled dollar bills are a thing of the past, replaced by smartphone apps and credit cards.

In theory, this is kinda cool. You now have all the music of the world available at your fingertips to set the stage for a night of drunken merriment!

So why do I keep hearing the same five songs OVER AND OVER? To make the world a drunker, better-sounding place, I would ask that the following songs be stricken from jukeboxes Chicago-wide:

Journey- “Don’t Stop Believin’”

Who’s Playing This?

A  gaggle of first-year PR professionals who stumbled into the bar, loudly complaining to their friends that “there’s no dance floor,” and “this place smells so dank.”

Looking to evade the Chicago cold, (which is further exacerbated by an outfit choice consisting of heels and a swatch of fabric called a skirt,)  their friend Briana will object: “Let’s just have a drink here and then we’ll go to McDrinkalot Mahoneys.” The ladies will agree, but before they head out they’ll plunk 20 bucks more into the jukebox, effectively destroying your evening long after they’re gone.

Why It Must Be Stopped

This was a once-great power ballad that has been killed by mind-numbing repetition. Adopted as the White Sox rally cry, it has invaded the collective bro consciousness and become an instinctual reaction.

The song itself wouldn’t be so bad except for the fact that every Chad and Trixie four RBV’s deep thinks they have the register of Steve Perry. Just wait until  the song hits the 1:50 mark for the eardrum-rupturing out-of-key singalong of, “…in the NIIIIIIIIIIGHT!” and you’ll know why the terrorists hate us.

Preferable Alternative

A roadtrip to South Detroit.  Seeing as how it doesn’t actually exist, you can use the power of imagination!

Pictured: South Detriot
Pictured: South Detriot

Neil Diamond- “Sweet Caroline”

Who’s Playing This?

See above.

Why It Must Be Stopped

Basically, it’s the Boston version of  “Don’t Stop Believin’.” All the elements I hate are at play here. The chorus, punctuated with that godawful “BA BA BA” and “SO GOOD! SO GOOD!” just makes it that much worse.

Here’s a  decent barometer for the majority of bar music choices: Would you listen to this song outside of being wasted in public?  Ever been on a run or cleaning the apartment and suddenly thought “You know what I’ve got a hankering to hear? Sweet Caroline!”

No? Then why do you think a packed bar is a good time to let ’er rip? This is one of the rare occasions where alcohol is not an excuse.

Preferable Alternative

 An old-timey wild west bar fight. Who among us has never wanted to smash a bottle over the head of a prospector after they accused you of cheating at cards?

Thanksgiving at MBQ Headquarters
Thanksgiving at MBQ Headquarters

 

Dropkick Murphys- “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”

Who’s Playing This?

See that alpha bro in the Affliction shirt over there? The one pounding Coors Lite in tandem with chilled shots of Jager? That guy. Get familiar. Odds are, he’s gonna want to fight you later over some imagined transgression later on.

Sure, he may be a mid-level manager at his local Bank of America, but on Friday night he’s raring for a  throwdown and this is his preferred soundtrack. This is also the same  dude who’s suddenly 100% full-blood Irish on St.Patricks Day

Right off the boat.
Right off the boat.

Why It Must Be Stopped

I swear I’m not going intentionally going after Boston. Truth be told, I quite like Dropkick Murphys. I even understand the appeal of this song.  It paints a picture of hardscrabble, blue collar men doing manly things – precisely how homeboy playing this likes to view himself.

But somewhere between the impotence of the real world and the fantastical manliness of the song, the wires get crossed and you’re stuck with an ill-tempered douchebag eyeballing you whilst slurring, “I climbed up the topsails, I lost my leg!”

Preferable Alternative

Have all your friends over for a few pints of Guinness and reenact the last 15 minutes of “The Departed” together.

Wanna go again?
Wanna go again?

 

Anything by Radiohead

Who’s Playing This?

Probably a dude in a fedora and quirky t-shirt with the periodic table of elements on it. Yeah chief, we get it.

Nailed it.
Nailed it.

Why It Must Be Stopped

Radiohead is great. The Bends, Kid A, OK Computer, Amnesiac…these are classic albums. But good god, they are a bummer.

The last thing I want to hear when guzzling down depressants is the quivering voice of Thom Yorke exorcising  his personal demons over unconventional arrangements of feedback and electronic bleeps and boops.

Preferable Alternative

Radiohead makes an AA meeting look like a Jimmy Buffet concert. Just saying, maybe it’s time to start working towards that 30 day chip. It’s gotta be more entertaining than your current predicament.

WHOOOOOOO! Cheeseburger in paradise!
WHOOOOOOO! Cheeseburger in paradise!

 

Zac Brown Band- “Chicken Fried”

Who’s Playing This?

This song seems to resonate with 20-something graduates from any Big 10 school who’ve moved to Chicago for their first real job. I don’t understand it, but I know I hate it.

Why It Must Be Stopped

Much like “I’m Shipping Up To Boston,” this song is an exploration of a simpler time.  It’s a misty-eyed list of life’s awe-shucks simple pleasures: fried chicken, cold beer, sweet tea, a modest house, and sending your gay son to a conversion therapy camp.

Just when you think this song couldn’t pack more down-home warm and fuzzies into it, Zac Brown & Co. get you right in the gut with this line: “Salute the ones who died/The ones that give their lives.” Y’know, because ‘Merica.  It’s like a Chevy Truck advertisement exploded in my brain.

Actually guys, I’m more of a Radiohead fan…
Actually guys, I’m more of a Radiohead fan…

Preferable Alternative

Cutting your ears off.

6Comments

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  1. 1
    Egon

    Ohhhh come onnnnnnnnnn How can you possibly hate on Radiohead?

    The best thing about the new style Juke Boxes, its a rich mans game, you pump and dump a touch tunes full of enough play nows and you can right the ship while watching the underlings deal with they’re songs not being played.

    Other songs that should have made this list:
    Mumford and Sons
    anything New Metal or Screamo or “Suburban Punk”

    Great Alternatives:
    To Journey: Sweet Madame Blue by Styx, or anything by Boston
    To Neil: Rod Stewart (other than do you think im sexy) and James Taylor
    Radiohead: Pixies
    Zack Brown Band: IDK i think that song is the alternative for most country music played… basically if country is being played.. hope that song comes on

  2. 3
    John

    Amen…
    When I’m drinking metal does it for me… or silence. I try to go to places where the d-bags aren’t putting crap on the speakers and making us all suffer. They should be doused in Malort and set on fire.

    How’ve you been, Jesse?

  3. 4
    Patrick

    One time while i was drinking at quenchers someone played the entire Ritual de lo Habitual album. That album is a compilation of 8-minute bummers. I wanted to punch whoever that was in the face.

  4. 5
    Chili Powder

    This is why I hate the new digital jukeboxes. Sure you get the ability to search out the song you want, but it allows so much awfulness into the world as well. I love any bar that continues to hang on to the CD jukebox and takes the effort to keep good things in it and bad things out.

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