Pun-DMC

Mar 2, 2018
Originally published on August 3, 2018 9:25 am

It's the ultimate musical challenge: we've changed artists' names by one letter and revised one of their famous songs to reflect that change. Based on Jonathan Coulton's performance of that new-and-maybe-improved song, can you figure out the artist's modified name? For example, if we played a Christmas-themed cover of "We Didn't Start the Fire," you'd answer "Billy Noel."

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton here with puzzle guru Art Chung. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(APPLAUSE)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thank you, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants Jamie (ph) and Mark (ph). Soon they'll play a music parody game that's also a word game called Pun-DMC.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Jamie, you once took part in a ridiculous college tradition.

JAMIE MERCADO: I went to college in rural New Hampshire, and the - my college maintains a 50-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail. So about 10 years before I got there, a couple of people decided it would make sense to get a bunch of students to hike those 50 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but also without stopping ever. So you leave at, like, noon on a Friday, and then you just walk for 30 hours.

EISENBERG: Thirty hours.

MERCADO: Yes.

EISENBERG: How many people did that hike?

MERCADO: So about 30 started it.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And how many people finished?

MERCADO: It depends.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: It's hard to really (laughter) answer that question.

MERCADO: Yes.

EISENBERG: What is finishing? You're right.

MERCADO: Yeah. yeah.

EISENBERG: Mark, speaking of climbing, you found out something about yourself while climbing to the top of the Statue of Liberty. What did you find out?

MARK LERNER: I did. I found out that what I refer to as my mild, incipient claustrophobia was full-on claustrophobia.

(LAUGHTER)

LERNER: Yeah, I got up, like, one turn of the spiral staircase inside of the Statue of Liberty and I couldn't go a step further. And my, you know, heart was pounding inside my chest. And I turned around and said to my 7-year-old, like, I can't do this. (Laughter) And we went downstairs, and I made my husband take him up to the crown. And he had already been up to the top with our 12-year-old, so...

EISENBERG: He had to do it again.

LERNER: ...He got to do it twice. yes.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Good. So you're going to play an extra-tough music parody game - even harder than when we asked two millennials to identify songs by The Monkees.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That did not go well. Mark, you won the last game, so you win this and you are off to the final round. Jamie, you need to win this or you'll have to identify songs by The Monkees.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: In this game, all of the answers are musical artists with one letter changed in their name. Each clue is a song famously performed by that artist with the lyrics changed to reflect the changed name. I know.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I said a lot of words. For example, if I sang a parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" about a Christmas tree that caught on fire, you would answer Billy Noel...

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Oh.

COULTON: ...Changing one letter.

MERCADO: Oh, boy.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Oh, you look panicked. It's going to be OK.

MERCADO: OK.

COULTON: And here we go. (Singing) I'm your pyromaniac. I'm way into fire, even though arson's taboo. I'm your pyromaniac, can't quench my desire. Any old fire will do.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Just jump in, everybody.

ART CHUNG: So the original song was called "Private Dancer." The artist also sang "What's Love Got To Do With It."

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Mark.

LERNER: Tina Burner.

COULTON: Tina Burner...

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: ...Is correct. That's right. The lyrics were about fire. It's a song by Tina Turner. You change Turner to Burner. Now we know how the game is played.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: (Singing) She's a real Debbie Downer, complainer and a frowner. She's a real Debbie Downer, so she's hard to be around. I like the...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: ...Eerie silence that - yes. Mark, go ahead.

LERNER: All right. So I'm going to have to work it through.

COULTON: Sure.

LERNER: "She Works Hard For The Money" is the song. I believe it was by Donna Summer. So Debbie Downer (laughter)...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: People are twisting in their seats.

LERNER: I know.

(LAUGHTER)

LERNER: Down-a Summer?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Oh, that's so good, though. That's really...

COULTON: That's pretty good, but that's not what we were looking for, I'm afraid. Jamie, can you steal?

MERCADO: Donna Bummer.

COULTON: Donna Bummer.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: That's right.

LERNER: I thought I could work it through.

COULTON: (Singing) Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jamie.

MERCADO: Feline Dion.

COULTON: Feline Dion. You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: That's right. That was "My Heart Will Go On," but all meows - so obviously Feline Dion.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: I will say that we would also have accepted Celine Lion if...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: (Singing) Let's connect two things together. Sign up for a club or the Army. United like birds of a feather, we're part of a community. Who's got the guts for it (laughter)?

CHUNG: I'll give some hints. So the song was "Tiny Dancer." Everyone's, like, yeah, OK. And the lyrics were about signing up for something.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jamie?

MERCADO: Elton Join.

COULTON: Elton Join. You got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Here's your next one. (Singing) You put the M at the end of a word - an interrogative pronoun you might have heard. The new word isn't the same. It's the object of a verb, and it sounds arcane.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Mark.

LERNER: Whom.

COULTON: Whom - that's right.

(CHEERING)

COULTON: Yeah.

(CHEERING)

COULTON: That was like - that was like doing a triple backflip and sticking the landing, Mark. Well done. That was Wham! "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go." Here's your last clue. You are relieved to hear that.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: (Singing) It is too tough to keep all this stuff. I know it sounds rough but enough is enough. The trash is piling up. Our house is so full of stuff. Throw it into a truck. I'm up for calling a hauler - boop-boop-boop-boop-boop-ba-doop-be (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la.

CHUNG: So the original song was "Get Lucky." The band is Daft Punk. And the lyrics are about...

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Jamie.

MERCADO: Daft Junk.

COULTON: Daft Junk - that's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Art Chung, how did they do on this one?

CHUNG: Well done, Jamie. You won that game.

(CHEERING)

CHUNG: You each won a game, so it's time for a quick game three. I'm going to give you a category, and you'll go back and forth naming things that fall into that category. First contestant to mess up will be eliminated. Buzz in to answer first. Here's your category - name the six noble gases.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

CHUNG: Mark, you're first.

LERNER: Helium.

CHUNG: Helium is correct. Jamie.

MERCADO: Carbon.

CHUNG: No, I'm sorry. That's not a gas. The other ones were neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon.

MERCADO: Oh, I would not have gotten any of those.

CHUNG: Jamie.

(LAUGHTER)

CHUNG: Jamie, we're sorry to see you go. Mark, congratulations, you're headed to the final round.

(CHEERING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.