Not On The List

Dec 5, 2013
Originally published on April 16, 2014 3:46 pm

There are songs that express heartfelt emotions, telling stories of love or loss that are both universal and deeply personal. Then there are songs that are pretty much just lists of things. This game covers those songs, though house musician Jonathan Coulton and VIP Nellie McKay have cheekily swapped out some of the items. Raindrops on roses and what on what, again?

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Let's bring out our next two contestants, Leah Fox and Doug Freedman.


EISENBERG: Now, Leah, you are also visiting us. Where are you visiting from?

LEAH FOX: Ypsilanti, Michigan.

EISENBERG: Ypsilanti, Michigan. Have you ever been part of a trivia game, trivia match?

FOX: Only a couple of other times. The first time I played was on a rooftop in Khartoum, Sudan where I lived for a few years and my friend organized a game for us. Yeah.


FOX: Because that's normal, right?

EISENBERG: Yeah. Sure. I have never had that answer to a question. That was great, fantastic. Playing trivia in Sudan. And so what's on your list to do while you're here in New York?

FOX: Well, I leave tomorrow so I guess the only thing left would be to have a room of strangers buy me drinks after I win a trivia game.




EISENBERG: I like the way you think.

COULTON: A little trash talk. I get it.

FOX: Look out, Doug.

EISENBERG: Doug, I'm told that you are really into doing, like, fun costumes for birthday parties and things like that.

DOUG FREEDMAN: We've been - my wife and I have had a few costume parties for my birthday. For my 40th I was Ed Asner and she was Mary Tyler Moore.

EISENBERG: That's awesome. Do you have a favorite on the list? Was that the favorite or did you...

FREEDMAN: That's was definitely the favorite.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That's an amazing one.

FREEDMAN: I could just pretty much be myself.


EISENBERG: Excellent. This game is called Not On the List and it's a music game. So let's bring back our VIP Nellie McKay.


EISENBERG: Now, there are songs that express heartfelt emotions that tell stories of love or loss that are both universal and deeply personal. And there are songs that are just pretty much lists of things.

COULTON: That's right. It's a handy shortcut when you don't feel like actually writing a song. So this game is about those songs. Nellie and I are going to sing songs that feature a musical list, also known as patter songs, but one of the items in each song is going to be wrong. So ring in and tell us what the wrong item is and what the correct lyric should be. So, for example...


COULTON: (singing) Eight maids a'milking, seven squids a'squeezing, six geese a'laying, five golden rings.

So you would say squids a'squeezing is incorrect.

FOX: Oh. Right.

COULTON: You would point that out. That would give you one point. And then you would tell me swans a'swimming is the correct lyric and you would get a second point for that.

FOX: Oh. OK.

COULTON: I know. These are two point questions. And if you can't answer at any point, your opponent will have the chance to answer and get whatever points remain. OK?



COULTON: OK. Here we go.


NELLIE MCKAY: (singing) Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and dumbbells and schnitzel with noodles. Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings, these are a few of my favorite things.



FOX: Doorbells and dumbbells is wrong - dumbbells is wrong. It should be...

COULTON: Dumbbells is wrong. That's right. Yes. And what should the correct lyric...

FOX: Doorbells and sleigh bells?

COULTON: That's right.

FOX: Yes.


COULTON: That's two points.


MCKAY: All those years in Sudan paid off.

FOX: I know.


FOX: There's a lot of "Sound of Music" fans there. You'd be surprised.

EISENBERG: I felt like too you just pulled it out. I felt like it was right in the back of your head and you just, yeah, you made a vise and then it came to the front.


COULTON: (singing) I'm very well acquainted to with matters mathematical. I understand equations both the simple and quadratical, about binomial theorem I am teeming with a lot of news. With many cheerful facts about my purple ballerina shoes.


FOX: Go for it, Doug.

COULTON: You're both looking at me like I'm crazy.

FOX: I hate Gilbert and Sullivan so it's all you.


COULTON: Doug, who loves Gilbert and Sullivan more than anything, has rung in. What do you say, Doug?

FREEDMAN: I'm guessing the pearl ballerina shoes are wrong.

COULTON: You are correct. The purple ballerina shoes is wrong. Do you know what it is?

FREEDMAN: I haven't a clue.

COULTON: We're looking for the square of the hypotenuse is the answer.



FREEDMAN: I'll take the one point.

EISENBERG: Wow. That really divided the crowd and the contestants.


COULTON: Everybody's pretty mad about that.

EISENBERG: Gilbert and Sullivan. Just, like, wow.

COULTON: Which is worse, Gilbert and Sullivan or math, you know?

FOX: Gilbert and Sullivan definitely worse than math.


COULTON: Leah has no hesitation. All right. Here's your next one.


MCKAY: (singing) Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Mama's going to buy a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird won't sing, mama's going to buy you a diamond ring. And if that diamond turns brass mama's going to buy you some laughing gas. And if that laughing gas should break, mama's going to buy you a chocolate cake.



FOX: Laughing gas is wrong. You're going to buy a looking glass.

COULTON: Yes. Well done. Well done. That's both of them.



COULTON: (singing) A little bit of Monica in my life. A little bit of Erica by my side. A little bit of Rita's all I need. A little bit of Tony's what I see.


COULTON: Yes, Doug.

FREEDMAN: Tony was wrong.


EISENBERG: I like the way you say that.

COULTON: All right. Tony was wrong.

FREEDMAN: Tony was definitely wrong.

COULTON: What would be the right lyric?

FREEDMAN: I'm thinking maybe Barbara.

COULTON: You wish. You wish.

MCKAY: Barbara?


COULTON: Leah, do you know what should be there instead of Tony?

FOX: Jessica?

COULTON: No. Do you guys want to just keep naming ladies' names all night? No. Audience, do you know what it is?


COULTON: Tina. Yes. They're shaking their heads like obviously.

FREEDMAN: It sounds obvious now.

EISENBERG: We're very proud.

MCKAY: I'm laughing because I don't know any of these songs.



COULTON: (singing) G...

MCKAY: (singing) You look to me.

COULTON: (singing) H...

MCKAY: (singing) You're so heavenly.

COULTON: (singing) I...

MCKAY: (singing) You're the one I idolize.

COULTON: (singing) J...

MCKAY: (singing) We're like Jack and Jill.

COULTON: (singing) K...

MCKAY: (singing) You're so kickable.

COULTON: (singing) L...

MCKAY: (singing) Is the love light in your eyes?



FREEDMAN: Kickable and kissable.

COULTON: Kickable and kissable. You got them both. That's right.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo-whoo!

COULTON: The wife.


COULTON: It is true, the word kickable sticks out like a sore thumb in a love song.

EISENBERG: Although the way Nellie sings it, it was like, yeah, beautiful.

COULTON: It's so good it's almost... OK. Here we go.


COULTON: (singing) Grace Kelly; Harlowe, Jean, picture of a beauty queen. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Patrick Swayze dance on air.



FREEDMAN: Patrick Swayze is wrong.

COULTON: I'll say.

FREEDMAN: Ginger Rogers.

COULTON: Ginger Rogers. You got it.


COULTON: I just like the statement Patrick Swayze is wrong.


COULTON: Just generally. OK. This is your last clue.


MCKAY: (singing) Ooh, slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don't need to be coy, Roy. Just listen to me. Hop on the bus, Gus. You don't need to discuss much. Just drop off the key, Siri, and get yourself free.



FREEDMAN: Siri is definitely wrong.

COULTON: Mm-hmm.

FREEDMAN: And Lee is correct.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it. That's two right there.


COULTON: And it looks like Doug is our winner for this game.


EISENBERG: Doug, you'll be moving on to our Ask Me One More final round at the end of the show.

FREEDMAN: Thank you.


(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.