Iconic Song Request

"Life is too fucking short to play or hear Free Bird."

There are songs so famous (or infamous) that they're universally adored (or reviled) in certain circles, constantly being requested (possibly to the point of annoyance) on the radio, at a concert or in a lounge. Of course, Small Reference Pools mean these tend to be the same songs across different genres. This is a Cyclic Trope, as time marches on and these songs go into and out of style.


Examples:

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     Film  
  • Casablanca: "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By'." Referenced all the time, usually mangled as "Play it again, Sam"
  • Wayne's World: The guitar store has a sign that says "No Stairway".
  • On Cars someone shouts for "Freebird" during Lightning McQueen's sponsors' appearance.
  • A variation appears in Step Brothers. The band hired to play at a fancy reception is very clear about being a strictly 80's doo-wop Billy Joel cover-band. One member of the audience keeps drunkenly (and abusively) yelling requests for other Billy Joel songs until the leader of the band flips out and they all storm off. Their reaction seems to imply they get heckled like this a lot.

     Live Action TV  
  • If watching Live-Action TV Sit Coms from The '60s has taught anyone anything, it's that the drunk in the piano bar will always ask for "Melancholy Baby".
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Riker is giving a trombone concert and Troi insists that he play a fictional tune "Nightbird". He reluctantly agrees, and then is saved by a summons to the bridge.
    • Although this is less this trope, and more Troi teasing Riker because "Nightbird" is implied to be an incredibly difficult song, as she comments to the person she's attending the performance with that Riker has never been able to make it through the solo section.

     Music  
  • Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird", of course. On the Modest Mouse live album Baron Von Bullshit Rides Again, when an audience member shouts for the band to play "Freebird," the lead singer Isaac Brock responds with this speech.
    • A common angry response is Flipping the Bird - "Here's your free bird!".
    • Richard Cheese had this on an album.
  • On the Bomb the Music Industry! album Album Minus Band is a song called "FRRRREEEEEE BIIIIIIRRRRRD! FRRRREEEEEE BIIIIIIRD!!!!," which is about playing oft requested cover songs to bad crowds.
  • On his album Too Close For Comfort, comedian/folksinger Martin Pearson talks about drunks hassling him for requests (which he doesn't do). The funniest one is being asked to play "Tubular Bells" (Martin is a guitarist).
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers have "Give It Away" and "Under the Bridge", both from Blood Sugar Sex Magik. They've played each song no less than 700 times live since 1991. During the album promotion tour for their ninth album, Stadium Arcadium, the band left both songs off of their setlists to focus on their new material more, which didn't sit well with audiences.
  • Billy Connolly has a song about being hassled to play the song "Ten Guitars".
  • Do not ask Ryan Adams to play a Bryan Adams song. Especially "Summer Of 69".note 
  • In Brazil, the equivalent of "Freebird!" is "Toca Raul!
  • In Finland, it's a cliche to shout a request for "Paranoid"
  • The Australian equivalent is "Play 'Khe Sanh'!"
  • And in Sweden, it's "Play 'Shoreline'!"
  • Though it mostly applies to acoustic, in Poland you listen to Dzemnote . There are two types of guitarists - these who are playing "Whisky" and these who aren't playing it yet.
  • Hawkwind can get shirty when the demand goes up for Silver Machine, their only major single hit, from forty-four years ago. A live version from a released LP starts with Dave Brock muttering "Yeah, my mum's got a washing machine!", and the track fades into a simulated explosion just as it gets to the first chorus.note 
  • Comedian Sean Hughes used to shout "do Titanic Motives" at every Julian Cope gig he attended. He made the song title up, but allegedly Cope started to believe it was real and that he'd simply forgotten it.
  • If you're at a Marillion concert or a Fish solo concert, chances are that someone will ask for "Grendel".
  • In his review of Semisonic's "Closing Time", Todd in the Shadows says that said song is one, along with a few others:
    There are a few songs that every piano player just knows, just as sure as your average guitar player needs to learn "Smoke on the Water". "Don't Stop Believing" is one of them; "Imagine", that's a good one; the really obvious one is "Piano Man". So just for your own sanity, learn that one because you will hear a lot of requests for that one. I swear, one day I'm gonna put up a Wayne's World-style sign that says "Absolutely No 'Piano Man'".
  • Radiohead once couldn't get through a concert without someone demanding "Creep". They pulled it from their playlist after noticing people would walk out once they heard it.
  • "PLAY SOME HIP!" Was a frequent cry in Canadian bars in the 1990s; some musicians covered The Tragically Hip and some didn't, though all were pretty annoyed by the request.
  • Frank Zappa once heard someone request Caravan by Duke Ellington, but with a drum solo. He referenced this bizarre request on his albums Freak Out and Absolutely Free.
    • One times Zappa and his band performed somewhere in Europe when a fan requested Whippin' Post by The Allman Brothers Band. As Zappa or none of his band members knew the song they couldn't fulfill this bizarre request, though Zappa did try to find out what the song was like, learned to play it, added it to his concert tours and included it on CD soon afterwards.

     Stand Up Comedy  
  • One of Bill Hicks' most infamous rants (the "Hitler had the right idea, he was just an underachiever!" one) was triggered by a heckler repeatedly shouting "Freebird".
  • Stand-up comedians suffer from a similar fate when audience members shout requests for them to repeat their iconic bits.
    • In one of Robin Williams's later comedy albums, someone shouts a request for him to do Mork from Mork & Mindy. He declines, saying, "I don't 'nanoo' no more!"
    • On one of his earlier albums recorded at the height of "Mork and Mindy"'s popularity, he turns down the same request by saying "I'm not doing Mork tonight because this is why I perform HERE, to do something different." The audience applauds in appreciation.
    • In a Patton Oswalt comedy double album, he gets demands for his "piss drinkers" routine, and fields a number of other requests. At first he reacts to the barrage of demands by saying that it's his version of hell, but then decides that it's actually great to have people begging for his material.
    • For a while, Jay Mohr could barely get through a show without someone demanding his Christopher Walken impression.

     Video Games  
  • Guitar Hero: The audience is occasionally heard trolling your band with requests for "Free Bird". Lampshaded in a loading screen tip which reads "They don't really want you to play 'Free Bird', they're just heckling you."
    • Fast forward to Guitar Hero II, and what's the final encore in career mode? Guess.
  • In Guitar Hero II, one of the random loading screen messages says, "Remember, NO STAIRWAY!", possibly calling back to Wayne's World. Or commenting on the fact that Harmonix had/has yet to license Led Zeppelin songs for Guitar Hero or Rock Band. Possibly even both.

     Webcomics  

     Western Animation  
  • The Simpsons (variant): Barney wants to see the Red Hot Chili Peppers play, and so starts a chant for "Chilly Willy".
    • On another occasion, Homer is at a Bachman-Turner Overdrive concert and demands they play "Taking Care of Business". When they grudgingly oblige, he then wants them to skip to the "Working Overtime" part.
  • On Time Squad, someone in the audience asks Ludwig van Beethoven to play "Freebird". Beethoven wails on him, and subsequently quits music for a career in wrestling.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/IconicSongRequest