Power Ballads

Apr 13, 2018

It's time to feather your hair, layer on the schmaltz, and pack an extra phone charger: we rewrote classic power ballads to be about things that run on battery power. Ring in to identify what product Jonathan Coulton is singing about and, for a bonus point, name the song or artist he's parodying.

Heard on Ntare Guma Mbaho Mwine: Muse Clues

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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, Faith and Lance. Coming up, grab your hairspray. Put on your members-only jacket. And get ready to slow dance. It's time for some old-school Power Ballads. But first, let's check in with our contestants. Faith, what song would you pick to soundtrack a dramatic moment in your life?

FAITH KARG: Kelly Clarkson, "A Moment Like This."

EISENBERG: Really?

KARG: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah. OK. So a lot of very, like, lovely moments that are dramatic in your life. Very good. Lance, what song would you pick to soundtrack a dramatic moment in your life?

LANCE MERLO: "Terminator 2" theme song.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do you have a specific moment in mind?

MERLO: Du-du-du-du-du.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Very good.

MERLO: And then it clangs. The clanging is pretty cool.

EISENBERG: Yeah. Your next game is a music parody game called Power Ballads.

COULTON: We rewrote classic power ballads to make them about things that run on battery power.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Don't laugh. This is my job.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Ring in to identify what I'm singing about. And if you get that right, for a bonus point, you can name the song or the artist that I'm parodying.

EISENBERG: Lance, you won the last game. So you win this, and you are in the final round. Faith, you need to win this, or you have to lick a 9-volt battery.

COULTON: OK. Here we go.

(Singing, playing guitar) In my life, there's been heartache and pain. I can't stand watching the same show again. I just sat down. Please hand me that thing to change this channel now.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Faith.

KARG: Oh, OK. So it's a remote control.

COULTON: It is a remote control. That is correct. For a bonus point, can you name the song or the artist?

KARG: "I Want To Know What Love Is."

COULTON: Yeah, that's right. By Foreigner. You've got it.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: OK. Here we go.

(Singing, playing guitar) Did you ever know that I can see you? I fastened a camera to this hunk. And it can fly high up to your window. A personal aircraft sees your junk.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Faith.

KARG: Is it a drone?

COULTON: It is a drone. That's correct.

KARG: And "The Wind Beneath My Wings."

COULTON: Yeah, that is correct. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: By junk, we mean the stuff in your garage.

COULTON: Yeah, just like old junk you have laying around.

EISENBERG: Yep.

COULTON: (Singing, playing guitar) You're motoring, a big-shot wealthy tool who needs no needs fossil fuel. That Elon Musk's no fool.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Lance.

MERLO: Tesla?

COULTON: A Tesla is the answer. That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

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

MERLO: Is it Just Motor In?

COULTON: That's not the title of the song, no.

MERLO: Price For Flight.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: No, that's - those are also lyrics in the song.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: But that's not the title. It was "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger.

(Singing, playing guitar) And I don't want the world to see me. It's a personal act. Dim the lights. Press on, and the head starts to quiver. Then, I start to clean my pearly whites.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Faith.

KARG: Electric toothbrush?

COULTON: Electric toothbrush is the answer.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: The sexiest electric...

COULTON: The sexiest.

EISENBERG: ...Toothbrush.

COULTON: It's a very suggestive description of an electric toothbrush.

EISENBERG: That's right.

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

KARG: So it's the Goo Goo Dolls.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.

KARG: Yeah.

COULTON: Do you know the name of the song? I'd be impressed if you did.

KARG: I'm trying to think.

COULTON: I'm just curious. You have the point. I'm just curious.

KARG: No. Just want you to know who...

COULTON: The title's - the title is not in the lyrics.

ART CHUNG: The title is not in the lyrics.

COULTON: It's called "Iris." I've heard that song a million times. This is the first time I've ever learned the name of it.

(Singing, playing guitar) At last, my smoke alarm isn't alone. I've got protection from the silent killer. Odorless gas could fill my home. But this makes a loud beeping tone, extremely loud beeping tone.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Faith.

KARG: Carbon monoxide detector.

COULTON: Yeah, that's correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Can you get the bonus point?

KARG: Oh, it's got to be an '80s band. It's big hair.

COULTON: Can you be more specific?

(LAUGHTER)

KARG: Air Supply?

COULTON: Sorry. No, it was - that was Heart.

KARG: OK.

COULTON: The song is "Alone." (Singing, playing guitar)

Hybrid has all that I want, docking station or a touch screen, got Mario's new odyssey with my Joy-Con.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Lance.

MERLO: Nintendo Switch.

COULTON: Oh, yeah, Nintendo Switch.

(APPLAUSE)

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

MERLO: We're in heaven?

COULTON: Yeah, I'll give it to you. It's "Heaven" by Bryan Adams. That's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This is your last clue. (Singing, playing guitar) Once upon a time, I was using my phone. Now I'm in the E.R. with burns.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: (Singing, playing guitar) It's too late to sue. I hope Samsung takes returns.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Lance?

MERLO: Was that the Galaxy Note S7?

COULTON: It's the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. That is correct.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: Yeah, they used to catch on fire.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah. One clue.

COULTON: It was not a feature.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) When they said your phone's blowing up, they meant it.

COULTON: They meant it...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: ...For sure. Yeah. Bonus point - can you name the song or artist?

MERLO: It already left my head. I'm sorry.

COULTON: I didn't do it in a very memorable way.

MERLO: (Laughter).

COULTON: That was "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler.

MERLO: Yeah.

COULTON: Art Chung, how did our contestants do?

CHUNG: Congratulations, Faith. You won that game.

(APPLAUSE)

CHUNG: You each won a game, so it's time for a quick Game 3. I'm going to give you a category, and you'll go back and forth, naming things that fall under that category. The first contestant to mess up will be eliminated. Buzz in to answer first. Here's your category - name the seven Harry Potter books.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

CHUNG: Lance, you're up.

MERLO: "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone."

CHUNG: That is correct. Faith?

KARG: "Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix."

CHUNG: That is correct. Lance?

MERLO: "Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets."

CHUNG: Correct. Faith?

KARG: "Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows."

CHUNG: Correct. Lance?

MERLO: "Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban."

CHUNG: Correct. Faith?

KARG: "Harry Potter..."

(LAUGHTER)

KARG: ...And it's, like, Triwizard Tournament? No.

CHUNG: I'm sorry. The other two books were "Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire" and "Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince." Faith, we're sorry to see you go. Lance, you're headed to the final round.

KARG: Good job.

(SOUNDBITE OF CECIL TAYLOR SONG, "AZURE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.