Singing Around The House

Mar 16, 2018
Originally published on August 10, 2018 9:32 am

In this music game, we've rewritten songs with the word "house" in the title to be about famous residences. Guess what house Jonathan Coulton is singing about, and, for a bonus point, guess the song he's parodying.

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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.



Thanks, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants, Danielle (ph) and Katie (ph). Soon, they'll play a music parody game. First, let's check in with our contestants. Danielle, you're a university administrator. Tell us what your job entails.

DANIELLE MEBERT: A lot of calming students down, particularly undergraduates.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. They come in freaked out?

MEBERT: Yeah. A lot of telling first-year students, no, we can't plan all four years of your schooling right now, but I'm happy to help you along the way.

EISENBERG: Oh, that's what they want to do? They want to just set out a whole plan?

MEBERT: Oh, by October 1 - yeah.

EISENBERG: OK. So it's not, I'm indecisive, and I'm not sure where I'm headed.

MEBERT: No. It's, I want to hit the ground running, and you will help me do so.


MEBERT: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Ambitious - and you're, like, no, no, no. Just see how you like it.

MEBERT: Just like, you know, calm down, you know, enjoy it a little bit. You know, we have four years.

EISENBERG: Yeah. And they're like, no enjoyment.


EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah.


EISENBERG: You remind them about the future.

MEBERT: Exactly.

EISENBERG: Katie, you recently visited a UFO watchtower?


EISENBERG: What is that?

EDWARDS: Well, so it's in the San Luis valley. It's an area in Colorado where there historically have been a lot of UFO sightings. So there's a woman who decided it might be profitable to turn her ranch into a watchtower for UFOs.

EISENBERG: And then you hang out and look for UFOs, right?

EDWARDS: Yeah. I didn't get to see any...


EDWARDS: ...Unfortunately.

EISENBERG: But it was cool.

EDWARDS: It was - yeah, it was cool.

EISENBERG: Are you often hunting for UFOs or extra...

EDWARDS: No, not often.

EISENBERG: You're a math person, right?


EISENBERG: Yeah. You're a math person.

EDWARDS: No - yeah. Science - yeah.

EISENBERG: I believe you. What have you calculated? When is it coming?

EDWARDS: (Laughter) That's not my field.


COULTON: Your next game is a music parody game called Singing Around The House. Danielle, you won the last game, so you win this, and you're in the final round. Katie, you need to win this, or we'll install a half-bath in your home, but it's the wrong half.


COULTON: We re-wrote songs about houses to be about real famous homes. Ring in to tell me what home I'm singing about. And if you're right, you can earn a bonus point by telling me the original song or artist. You ready?


COULTON: OK, here we go. (Singing) Palace, a hall with fancy mirrors. Our reign is really ending badly. If those peasants don't like gruel, let them eat brioche.


COULTON: Danielle?

MEBERT: Palace of Versailles?

COULTON: Versailles - that's right.


COULTON: For a bonus point, can you name the original song or artist?

MEBERT: Talking Heads, "Burning Down The House."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.


COULTON: (Singing) Who says it's not built right? It's over a creek, but my cantilever is tight. I can't be wrong, I was born a Frank Lloyd Wright.


COULTON: Danielle?

MEBERT: Fallingwater?

COULTON: Fallingwater. That's right - Frank Lloyd Wright house.


COULTON: Can you name the song or artist?

MEBERT: It's Jon Bon Jovi?

COULTON: Yeah, it is.


COULTON: It's called "Who Says You Can't Go Home."

(Singing) Because she's the monarch - she's waving weirdly, just letting her hand hang out. They call her Queen Liz. That lady reigns, wears gray hats, she ain't holding Charles back.


COULTON: Danielle?

MEBERT: Is it Buckingham Palace?

COULTON: It certainly is. Well done.


COULTON: Can you name the song or artist?

MEBERT: I believe it's "Brick House."

COULTON: It is "Brick House," yes.


COULTON: Here's your next one. (Singing) On the Potomac is a historical place where George and Martha can get to get their Potomac, baby.


COULTON: Danielle?

MEBERT: Is it the White House?

COULTON: It is not the White House.


COULTON: Do you know the answer, Katie?

EDWARDS: I do not.

COULTON: OK. It's George Washington's place. Mount Vernon is what we were looking for. Nobody gets...


COULTON: ...The bonus point.


COULTON: But it was the B-52s' "Love Shack."

EISENBERG: I was going to try to do an impression as a hint.

COULTON: Yeah, do it. Oh, right.

EISENBERG: False teeth - wooden.


EISENBERG: That's the worst.

COULTON: (Singing) Here above the clouds in California with the zebras I bought today.


COULTON: (Singing) Staring at the news, the heralds, the journals. While I count my fortune, play me Orson. Call this Xanadu. Citizen Kane.


COULTON: Danielle?

MEBERT: I thought I knew it, but I'm now just going to guess - Neverland Valley Ranch?

COULTON: I'm sorry, that is incorrect.


COULTON: Katie, don't make all the hard work I did learning this song for naught.


COULTON: Do you know the house we're talking about - the home we're talking about?

EDWARDS: Is it just Neverland?

COULTON: I'm sorry. That's incorrect. It was Hearst Castle.

EDWARDS: Man, I've been there.


COULTON: It was - William Randolph Hearst was who "Citizen Kane" was based on, so Xanadu was based on Hearst Castle. It doesn't matter. It's not important.


COULTON: That was "Our House" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. This is your last clue, you will be relieved to know.


COULTON: (Singing) There is a house in Tennessee that was the king's domain. It's where he shot a TV once and ate fried peanut butter sandwiches.


COULTON: (Laughter) Danielle.

MEBERT: Graceland.

COULTON: Graceland. You got it.


COULTON: Can you name the original song or artist?

MEBERT: "House Of The Rising Sun."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.


COULTON: Popularized by The Animals. Puzzle guru Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

ART CHUNG: Well done, Danielle. You won both games, and you're headed to the final round.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.