Saturday, September 12, 2009
Chances are, it's happened to you. You're out on the town, enjoying a tasty drink and good company when a song comes over the speakers that makes your skin absolutely crawl.
"It's okay," you say. "The next one will be better." But it's not. Some lush across the room has just pumped his life savings into the jukebox and the ear-torture shows no sign of ending. Ever.
As a public service announcement, we here at The Lonely Note have compiled a short list of the Top 10 Rules of the Jukebox, with the hope that this sort of behavior never has to happen again. Let the rules commence:
RULE #1. Pick songs that fit the general atmosphere of the establishment (ie: dive bar = classic rock/hair metal). You can't please everyone all the time, but don't go into a biker bar and play Spice Girls. Unless, of course, you enjoy getting your teeth kicked in.
RULE #2. Don't take over the jukebox by playing 10 songs in a row. Let someone else have a go at it. If you want to throw your money away, that's your prerogative. But, if you want to be a DJ so bad, throw a house party with your iPod or get a job with the local radio station.
RULE #3. Don't play more than a couple songs by the same artist, and when possible, try to space those apart. It just gets monotonous, and isn't terribly original.
RULE #4. If the jukebox has a "Play Next" option, use it sparingly. If the guy in front of you just played something, wait your turn. It's like jumping ahead in the line to the bathroom. Nobody wants to wait two hours and never hear their song. However, skipping someone else's song may be acceptable if that person has carelessly violated any of the rules on this list.
RULE #5. B-Sides and hit singles are both acceptable, but show some creativity and mix 'em up. The Rolling Stones have a lot of great songs, so don't feel obligated to play "Start Me Up" every single time.
RULE #6. Longer isn't always better. In other words, don't play "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" or "American Pie" unless the mood absolutely calls for it. It's probably one of the biggest jerk moves in the universe to monopolize an entire third of an hour with one long prog-rock song. Making somebody listen to a craptastic epic can be quite cruel.
RULE #7. Don't try to be an adjunct music professor by playing your obscure, super-niched music that nobody else has heard about. While you and your indie-trash friends may love to stay home and jam out to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or The Fiery Furnaces, most people's musical universes haven't expanded beyond Top 40 Radio. If they wanted to be schooled, they would have stayed home and watched Ken Burns' Jazz documentary on dvd instead of going out.
RULE #8. Don't be afraid to indulge your guilty side. So what if you want to spend your hard-earned dollar on the cliche jukebox song that everybody always seems to play whenever you're out? The reason some songs are constantly spun in bars is because they are timeless classics that everyone knows. These tunes may be cheesy, but they'll get the ladies (and fellas) dancing in no time. And that's the whole point of a jukebox, right?
RULE #9. Don't expect the neighborhood Irish pub to accommodate you when you experience a jukebox malfunction or other rip-off. Anymore, most of these machines are rented by the establishment, and complaints have to be taken up with the jukebox company itself.
RULE #10. When you step into a bar, you need to realize that you are likely to get screwed on the jukebox. Don't get too upset if it isn't playing your favorite music all of the time. Some people just have bad taste, but those people pay for songs too. And they have just as much right as you do to express that. So, stay calm. Your best bet to avoid this scenario is to frequent bars with old-school jukes - ones preloaded with good albums. Touch-screen internet machines are bound to have a wider selection, but the downfall is that other patrons can request just about anything they want.
Now, most of these "rules" are common courtesies and etiquette that you should have learned in grade school. However, when booze is involved and emotions run high, these rules are likely to be abused. Don't be that person. Take the higher path... and be a Juke. Box. Hero.
Do you have an important rule that we let slip through the cracks? Please share!