Every Friday, on Twitter, I publish a Friday Lyric Quiz. The format is simple; guess the lyric. There’s no prize, just the joy of getting it right.
I first started it ten years ago when I got the idea from Michael Vaughan, the cricketer. He posted a lyric one Friday and I recognised it (ABC, The Look of Love). It made me smile and forget I was stuck on a train.
Let’s spread that sort of escapism around a bit, I thought. The following Friday, I started. I didn’t imagine I’d get to 520 Friday Lyric Quiz tweets and still be going.
People respond in different ways but there are patterns, there are responder types and this is my attempt to categorise them. For you fellow researchers out there it’s a lyric quiz respondent segmentation, if you will!
I’ll use some lyrics to illustrate my points but, in true quiz format style, I won’t say what songs they are from until the end of the article. How many of the song lyrics can you recognize?
ONE: The Muso Response.
A muso is a music-obsessed person, with clear thoughts about what is cool and what isn’t. The Friday Lyric Quiz isn’t just for musos; it’s for Christmas hits, 80’s cheese, chart toppers, one hit wonders, boy bands and girl bands and everything in-between. I’m dealing in memories not refinement.
Occasionally I stray into muso territory. Here’s a recent example, “I met one man who was wounded in love, I met another man who was wounded with hatred”. (Recognise it? Write it down. Remember, answers are below).
Musos let me know they know it without condescending to answering directly. They might ‘like’ the tweet, for example, or make an observation to tell me they know about the song. For this reason it tends not to be the muso who wins on a muso week, but a general music enthusiast who follows up with the right answer.
TWO: The Original Artist Responder
The original artist responder can be a muso or just someone old enough to remember the original. There are a lot of cover versions out there, and often they’re the most famous.
The week I used Give Me Just a Little More Time (the week Brexit was delayed), someone said Kylie and was ticked off by Chairmen of the Board fans.
Of course, the older you get the more you spot cover versions – but I suspect you still go through life thinking some songs from your youth were originals. I grew up thinking Siouxsie wrote Dear Prudence. I know. So shoot me.
Here are lyrics from a quirky song that I associate with one artist, that I never realised was a cover version until I posted it: “You’re gonna need an ocean of Calamine Lotion”. I’ll even give you the original artist, which was The Coasters (1959), in case it helps.
THREE: The I-See-What-You-Did-There responder
On that Friday, nobody got my Give Me Just a Little More Time/Brexit-delay connection. I can’t blame them; it wasn’t the best. However, the day after the referendum someone did make the connection with The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum). And they have.
Most of the time I don’t try and link the lyric to anything going on. Sometimes, like the day after a terrible news event, I’m just mindful of the mood. As I don’t really plan the song choices they tend to reflect my mood anyway.
People do spot some deliberate choices; Snow Patrol when the snow came, Ashes to Ashes for the start of the cricket and, at Easter, Good Friday is a lyric day, of course. Admittedly, Good Friday is stretching my knowledge of songs about crucifixion (yes, I’ve done The Stone Roses and The Army of Lovers).
Sometimes the link is personal. I should probably be ashamed to admit I tweeted one Friday Lyric Quiz from the maternity suite the day my boy was born. This was the choice that day, “Friday’s child is full of soul”. And he is. And I’m biased.
FOUR: The “Tuuuune” Responder
Nothing can take you out of the present like music. I work at home with my old iPod on shuffle and my mind bounds between school, university and jobs and between summers, friends, parties and holidays.
If I post a lyric from a song that puts someone’s mind in a DeLorean Time Machine the response can be enthusiastic. “Tuuune”, is a typical response.
I think the one song that generated the strongest “Tuuuune” response from those responding has these lyrics: “Wipe your feet really good on the rhythm rug, If you feel the urge to freak, do the jitterbug”.
I think it’s a “Tuuuune” too.
FIVE: The Unsurprising Responder
In general responders fit a type, depending in the song choice. Some people have a favourite genre. I have a responder who will pop up for Soul, another for gay anthems and a usual suspect for Madchester.
Aside from genre lovers there are mums and dads who spot current chart toppers because they’ve lost control of the car radio.
Mostly responders are products of their age. Music dates us. Spotify data tells us we all over-play songs from our mid teens. My Twitter photo is now ten years old but I suspect my Friday Lyric Quiz dates me more accurately.
This one’s for those Mum or Dad Taxi responders, God bless them for the hours they put into driving their darlings, and their very up to date musical knowledge: “But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out. And I’m just like, “Hey, are you okay?”
SIX: The Surprising Responder
Some people are more surprising. One responder is a discerning gent and the very model of professionalism. However, cheese runs through him like a Philly Steak sandwich – from every era.
People who know him tell me they’re amazed he knows the songs he knows. “I know”, he told me, “I’ve got the musical taste of a twelve year old girl”.
But it’s more than that; he’s just got a great memory for lyrics and a broad knowledge of general radio airplay music, and not just from the Dad Taxi runs. It makes him a great ‘mopper-up’ of Friday wins.
I salute you, sir. This one’s for you: “Tank fly
boss walk jam nitty-gritty.
You’re listening to the boy from the big bad city”
SEVEN: The Horrified-at-Self Responder
The thing about my Surprising Responder is that he owns it, without shame. You’d be surprised how, on some weeks, I get DMs, via Twitter, from people who know the answer but don’t want to be seen to know it.
Others respond and then recoil when they realise what they’ve just admitted to knowing. An attempt at an explanation follows.
So, this one is for the responder who spotted this lyric immediately, to his enormous surprise and the surprise (and delight) of people in his network: “Paul’s gettin’ down on the floor, while Hannah’s screaming out for more”. He’s got an explanation (it was big when he was at uni), of course.
EIGHT: The My Town Responder
Moving on from shame to pride. No responder exhibits more triumphant pride than someone spotting a lyric from a hometown band.
The lyrics of Pulp’s Wickerman appeared in an A Level paper this year, illustrating a question about how music and art can influence someone’s perception of a place. Jarvis peppered his lyrics with Sheffield references and Sheffielders, like me, love it. I went to Forge Dam café too, Jarvis.
However, it’s not just about local references, it’s just about being from the same town as a credible band. I’ve discovered Mancunians are still fiercely proud of Madchester bands and people in my adopted borough of Greenwich still love a good Squeeze.
This song recently had the responder celebrating his hometown of Leeds: “She said that my chance has been and gone (Going out with) (Going out with) Cause I’ve been in for the same clothes far too long”.
NINE: The I-Can’t-Believe-I-Got-One Responder
I’ve thought about stopping the Friday Lyric Quiz. Ten years is a long time, after all.
Then I’ll meet someone, maybe at a conference, who says, “I know your name. Are you the Lyric Quiz guy?” If that’s who I am, this is what I do. They’ll also tell me they try and get the answer every week but haven’t got one yet.
Some people tell me I get up too early and so late risers stand less of a chance. Sorry!
Often I’ll get a responder who is delighted they’ve finally won one. I love these responders. This is for them: “I will be King. And you, you will be Queen”.
TEN: The Too-Easy Responder
Finally, there’s the Too Easy responder. They don’t rear their head up these days but were around a lot at the start. “Too easy”, they’d cry, but the fact I wouldn’t hear from them again suggests to me that music is very personal.
We all have our collections and our lives have different soundtracks. One person’s ‘too easy’ is another person’s ‘never heard of it’.
This one’s for them: “You see I begged, stole and I borrowed”
But my hat is off to all you responders. Thank you to all who took part in good humour and with enthusiasm for music. I’m sorry for the earworms but I’m happy to have stoked many wonderful memories from your lives, if I have. Every Friday should start with a song.
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. Bob Dylan
Poison Ivy. The Lambrettas (OK, The Coasters)
Through the Barricades. Spandau Ballet
Can I Kick It? A Tribe Called Quest
You Need to Calm Down. Taylor Swift
Dub Be Good To Me. Beats International
S Club Party. S Club 7
I Found Out. The Pigeon Detectives
Heroes. David Bowie