Sieck: “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond—I don’t care who a person is: anyone who has ever consumed alcohol at a bar, wedding, or any kind of social event has a special relationship with this song. That person may not even like the song. It doesn’t matter. The little ditty epitomizes togetherness. The combination of friends and intoxication will turn “Sweet Caroline” into an anthem. It doesn’t matter if it’s being showcased by a completely disgusting cover band or “The Diamond” himself. It’s a guarantee that men, women and even stray children, who managed to steal a swig of Grandpop’s secret “cough medicine,” will sing along to this tune when it blares annoyingly over the sound system and think it’s the greatest moment of their lives. Anyone who doesn’t play along is simply dead inside.
However, the reality is that this song is TERRIBLE. It’s overplayed, grating, and simply conjures up awkward images of awkward folks trying to be cool and failing miserably. Additionally, if we’re talking Neil Diamond, I would much rather hear “Coming to America,” “Red Red Wine,” or even “Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show.” Better yet, I think I would much rather hear Barry Manilow. Actually, truth be told, I would much rather be deaf. I would gladly stab myself in the ears with the business ends of No. 2 pencils than to ever have to listen to this song again. Yes, the good times never seemed so good, and I would love to reach out and touch Caroline… and punch her squarely in the face.
Dave: “Closing Time” by Semisonic—Now don’t get me wrong this is a good song and it’s unfortunate that is makes this list. However, the fact is that DJs are d-bags and each one of them thinks they are the first DJ to play the song “Closing Time” when it’s actually “closing time.” Oh, it’s so clever and it must have taken them hours to come up with an idea like that. The fact is that this song has been ruined because of that. And I know it’s literally about closing time at a bar, but come on.
I wonder what the mindset was of that first DJ who actually did use it, “God, I look good in my 6-year-old brother’s T-shirt and I know the girls have been feelin’ me tonight, but it’s closing time and I gotta wrap this party up…wait, closing time? Oh my God I got it, this is awesome! I’ll play “Closing Time” to let people know it’s closing time – God I love me.” The he just sits back and adjusts his sunglasses as the iTunes bumps out this incredibly ground-breaking, ingenious – yet courageous – idea. In my experience, I have found that the best way to let people know its “closing time” is to (a) tell them over your mic (b) turn the lights on or (c) start playing really bad music. Any one of those ideas not only makes more sense but is much more effective and people don’t think about throwing their empty beer bottles at you as they leave.
Brian: “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC—Though it goes against everything I believe in to even type the letters ACDC in succession, this infamously horrendous band’s bar anthem deserves some ink in our column. Though my days of going to bars for the same reasons I did when I was 22 are long gone, fond reveries of all my time spent at Connie Mac’s (before it became overrun with WT), PJs, R Macs, and even my old bartending stomping ground, The Roadhouse are packaged with their own infinite play list. Appropriately (and sadly), “You Shook Me All Night Long” takes its rightful place alongside the songs my cohorts suggested because it does speak to a multigenerational audience. Hard partying rockers from the 80s, mullet optional, can grab the closest nubile (read: horrified) college sophomore and literally shake her all night long or at least until the bouncers remove the overzealous Angus Young fan. If you’re still on the fence about this one, check out this video that typifies the kind of impact AC/DC has had on guys who can’t get laid everywhere. DEVIL HORNS!