Anytime this song came on the radio at the restaurant where my roommate and I worked it was a like a scene from “Glee” but if the characters in “Glee” were closer to 30 than 21 and more like Quinn Fabray when she starts smoking cigarettes under the bleachers than Rachel Berry.
“Spill the Wine”
Nothing makes me feel more like Diane Keaton than wearing an apron over a giant — like all the way to the floor probably — white button-down shirt, wooden spoon in hand, feet firmly planted, but hips bopping to the sweet banger that is Spill the Wine. Put it on, tell me you don’t feel like a mom who just put her kids to bed and bastes the turkey while “Boogie Nights” is on in the living room.
The EPIC and oft-forgotten Mandy Moore version. That’s right folks. Before “This is Us” and that weird makeup they’ve tried to “old” Mandy Moore with she was but a Volkswagen Beetle-driving teen with a CD player hitched to the waistband of her two-tone Gap maxi skirt. Oh oh. Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah. There it is. The faint smell of Limited Too lip gloss and Auntie Anne’s mall pretzels.
“Eat Your Vegetables”
Who knew a routine visit to my local crystal and punk rock bumper sticker shop would result in the finding of a band created by two of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) very own. Separately they are Dom the Matrix and Barz Mitsvah but together they are Matchbox 420 and their reminder to eat your veggies sounds like if the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and “Veggie Tales” got high at a sleepover and wrote this song.
I’m not a monster so of course this song is on the list. It’s a classic. I want it played at my funeral. In fact, play all of these, but start with this one. I want it performed by Mandy Moore.
“Cheeseburger in Paradise”
I assume that every child grew up listening to this song on repeat unless it was briefly interrupted by “Margaritaville” so we could all take a break from scream singing, “I like mine with lettuce and tomata, Heinz 57 and french fried potatoes” to instead briefly but also loudly sing, “Wastin’ away again in Margaritaville, searchin’ for my lost shaker of salt.” How many Jimmy Buffett concerts have y’all been to? I’ve been to three so I’m going to call myself the expert here and let you know that this Jimmy Buffett is one of the greatest poets of our time and “Cheeseburger in Paradise” is appropriate for any and all occasions.
My first memory of this song is the scene in “Spice World” where the band is on a boat with two girls who won a sweepstakes to spend a day with them. They’re all having casual, dreary London-kind-of-day fun on a giant boat being followed by Allan Cumming in a smaller boat while he tries TO DO HIS JOB and make a beautiful documentary about them. The boat makes a sharp turn to avoid some debris in the water and the two girls PLUS POSH SPICE fall into the water. And you know how Posh hates to be inconvenienced. Ever since that moment I’ve associated that song with a totally normal and not at all strange fear of water.
This song is a cheer. That’s all there is to it. Cheers are fun and this is a missed opportunity by every high school ever to appoint a banana as a mascot and watch the entire student body have a really nice time. This shit is bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. It’s right there in the title.
Yes I know. This song is on the list for that iconic moment in “Bring it On” when a very talented young woman and dancer auditions for a spot on the Rancho Carne Toros but is turned down for some reason we never find out because her scene is cut brutally short by one of the squad members’ very bored, very young sisters who is serving a fierce eye roll during her entire audition. Also, think about making a pie by yourself to this song at home in your kitchen. Cherry pie filling all over the place. Flour covering the countertops. The oven at 450˚. The smoke alarm beeping along in time. The entire place is on fire. Wait…
Booker T. & the M.G.’s
When a ragtag group of mismatched kids who just love baseball face off against the rich kids with their rich-kid bikes and their top-notch gear what song could be more perfect a backdrop to the “underdog proves they’re up to snuff” moment than Green Onions. I dare you to listen to it in the morning on your way to catch the train and just try not to feel like the coolest person on their morning commute. It’s impossible.
“If I Knew You Were Comin’ (I’d Have Baked a Cake)”
Get out those cake pans and those piping bags, ladies, because this one’s extra special. If you’ve never heard this song you’re in for a real treat because Eileen Barton is serving up some massive shade with these lyrics. When she sweetly sings that if her love had let her know he was coming around she would have baked a cake, hired a band, and spread out the welcome mat what she’s really saying is “look mister, you done me wrong and now you come sniffin’ around expecting me to lay out the red carpet for you? Fat chance.” This adorable bop is the 1950 Dixieland pop version of “new phone, who’s this?”
“She Don’t Use Jelly”
The Flaming Lips
I don’t know if you know this but The Flaming Lips are still very very cool. Wayne Coyne is not of this world, and not only that but he and Miley Cyrus are best friends. Plus, he lives in a four-home compound in Oklahoma where he grew up and word on the internet is that every year he dresses up for Halloween and scares neighborhood children because he thinks it’s good for them. This is the very best song for when you’re finished with dessert and you need to put on your fat pants and let yourself absorb into the carpet. Become one with the food. Float on a wave of whipped cream.
The Beach Boys
Brian Wilson is a musical genius. Those are just facts. And yes, this song might be about eating your vegetables and yes, the celery crunch sounds are rumored to be made by none other than Paul McCartney. Ridiculous though it may be, it’s lovely. The trademark harmonies are unmatched by any band to date (save for maybe Of Montreal) and accompanied by signature Brian Wilson composition. Childlike, health-conscious, perfect.
The Pizza Underground
Macaulay Culkin was in a band called The Pizza Underground, meant to be a parody of the Velvet Underground, and they played Velvet Underground songs but reworked them to include pizza-based lyrics. That’s all. Order your day-after-Thanksgiving pizza in peace and remember this happened.
It is absolutely impossible to listen to this romantic, day-at-the-park, happy-go-lucky song about one of the world’s most blessed inventions without smiling. The chips we know and love were invented by George Crum in 1853 when a naggy customer wouldn’t stop complaining about their potatoes being too thick. Crum sliced them extra thin, fried them up, and added extra salt. Many bags and variations later, here we are. This is the perfect song to play when you’re setting up snacks for post-holiday movie night. Thank you George Crum.
Honorable Mention: “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”
The song is over 18 minutes long. My mother made us listen to the entire thing every Thanksgiving and now if I don’t listen to it I feel like I’ve forgotten something very very important the whole day. It’s actually not bad. Arlo Guthrie is the son of famous protest and social injustice singer/songwriter Woodie Guthrie. This song is inspired by the very real events of Arlo’s life when on Thanksgiving in 1965 he received a citation for littering that led to him being drafted by the Army. The song is about Alice, Thanksgiving, and resistance to war and the draft. Party.