"We on Award Tour with Mohammad my man.
Goin' each and every place with a mic in our hand.
A Music Trope
. So you're writing a new track and you want it to be a hit in Boston. One obvious way to do this is to make your song all about how awesome Boston is. This creates a special connection with listeners in Boston.
But what if you want your song to be a hit everywhere
? Since you can't write a song about how awesome every city in the world is, the next best thing is just to list off a bunch of random cities, regions, or whatever. This surprisingly popular tactic creates a momentary connection with people from many different places.
A type of List Song
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- The JAMs' (aka The KLF) "Grim Up North" lists towns in the north of England. No rhyming or anything.
- Also (as The KLF), the full-length version of America: What Time Is Love? has a lengthy section of Shout Outs to USA-an cities and states.
- Concrete Blonde's "Close to Home" lists a bunch of cities across the south of the United States - but none of them are home.
- "Going Nowhere Slow" by Bloodhound Gang lists an impressive amount of cities rather quickly.
- The first verse of Mayday Parade's "Get Up"
- Babyshambles' "Albion."
- "Flavor" by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion lists several cities where "The Blues is number one."
- Brazilian variations: band Os Paralamas do Sucesso lists three slums in the chorus for "Alagados" ("Alagados, Trenchtown note , Favela da Maré") and singer Tim Maia names a lot of Rio de Janeiro beaches in "Do Leme ao Pontal" (besides the two in the title, "Flamengo, Botafogo, Urca, Praia Vermelha!").
- The Amateur Transplants, when doing gigs, parody this trope by singing a song about how much they love the city, where the city in question turns out to be something along the lines of "Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Bournemouth and Crewe".
- "He Broke My Heart in Three Places" by Spike Jones starts off with big cities (Seattle, Chicago, and New York) and ends up with a long fast list of small towns and other locations.
- Mitch Benn's reaction to the Post Office deleting county names from its database was a song about postcode areas.
Too long it's been since I've last seen the hills of IV51 note ,
And from the shores of LL54 note for far too long I'm gone,
I long to wander over BA6note fields of green,
But I was stuck for years and years in SW16 note .
- Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie's "Toronto Song". Starts out on the subject of how much Toronto sucks, moves on to how much the rest of Ontario sucks, concludes with how much the rest of Canada sucks.
- Second verse of "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood:
From the lakes of Minnesota
To the hills of Tennessee
Across the plains of Texas
And from sea to shining sea
From Detroit down to Houston
And New York to LA
There's pride in every American heart
And it's time we stand and say...
- Rascal Flatts does the 'general area' type in "Me And My Gang".
- "Comin' to Your City" Big & Rich. Notable for not only including bigger cities like Buffalo and L.A., but also including lesser known cities such as Cincinnati and Jefferson City.
- The song "I've Been Everywhere" rattles off over 80 cities. It was originally written for Australia but has subsequently been rewritten for a number of other countries.
- "Fly Over States" by Jason Aldean mentions several states including Indiana, Oklahoma, amd Kansas, and other places such as Amarillo and The Badlands.
- Neal McCoy's "The Shake" does this, in the middle of a song about booty-shaking.
- The second verse of George Strait's "If You Can Do Anything Else".
- Several country songs are lists of places that the singer wants to go with his lover. Among them are "You Can Sleep While I Drive" by Trisha Yearwood, "Lipstick" by Rockie Lynne, "As Long as You're Going My Way" by The Parks, and "Anywhere with You" by Jake Owen.
- "Favorite State of Mind" by Josh Gracin goes the other way. He lists off a bunch of cities and states, but says that he'd rather be with her than anywhere else:
Hawaii's got big waves, Michigan Great Lakes
Colorado snowflakes, Georgia peaches
Louisiana hot food, New York attitude, Florida beaches
Tennessee whiskey, baby, are you with me
Texas chili, Virginia pine
It's hard to beat that California sunshine
But baby, you're my favorite, favorite state of mind
- "Wanted Man" by Johnny Cash (co-written by Bob Dylan) lists American states and cities in which the narrator is wanted.
- LMFAO did a variation on this by putting out a large amount of alternate versions of their single "I'm In Miami Trick", with the chorus re-dubbed to refer to other major US cities. Since the song is more about partying in general than any attributes of Miami itself, no other lyrical changes are made, however unlikely it might sound for one to be "in the sand with a Red Bull in my hand" in Boise, Idaho.
- "Get Ready" by R 2 Swing lists various cities and shows their patriotism by starting with Paris.
- "Breakfast in Berlin" by Julien K seems to be going for a "partying around the world" thing.
- Kraftwerk's "Trans Europe Express" lists the different cities one can go to on the train system.
Note there are many versions for many different countries.
- The British marching song "Over the Hills and Far Away" (made famous today by Sharpe) was written to cover the battlefields of the War of the Spanish Succession, but enjoyed a revival a century later in the Napoleonic Wars as British involvement in those conveniently also covered the same countries:
O'er the hills and o'er the main
Through Flanders, Portugal and Spain
King George commands and we obey
Over the hills and far away.
- Voltaire's song "Ex-Lover's Lover" lists the cities he's going to mail the body parts of his ex's new boyfriend to after chopping him up.
It would take the most brilliant private eye
the rest of his life just to put you together,
a piece in each mailbox all over the planet,
from Moscow, to Tokyo, to Guadalajara.
Hardcore Hip Hop
- The song "Raw Shit ft. MC Ren & Paris" from the Public Enemy album Rebirth Of A Nation includes Flava Flav listing "Public Enemy number one in X", X being, in order, New York, Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, Baltimore, Miami, Indiana, L.A., DC, New Jersey, Cleveland Ohio, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Philly, Atlanta and St. Louis.
- Hawkwind's "Damnation Alley", based on the Roger Zelazny novel, subverts this with a list of annihilated places:
No more Arizona now, Phoenix is fried up
Oklahoma City, what a pity it's gone
Louisiana's dealt it and the Missus Hip's dried up
No more Chattanooga, Cherokee, Lexington
- "Blood of the Kings" by Manowar features the shouts of various countries' names with such metal pathos as if they were ProudWarriorRaces (e.g. "SWITZERLAAAND!!! MONACOOO!!! etc.").
Our armies in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
Our brothers in Belgium, Holland and France
Will not fail
Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy
Back to the Glory of Germany
- Lil Kim's song "Lighters Up" lists a lot of places ranging from Bed-Stuy to Kingston, Jamaica
- MIMS' song "This is Why I'm Hot"
- "Country Grammar" also lists different cities (though it is one of the few songs to proudly proclaim love for St. Louis)
- What else would you expect from Nelly?
- As a variant, the opening of "Perfect Gentleman" by Wycleff Jean includes a list of what one must assume are the names of 'gentleman's clubs'- "Magic City, New York Dogs, Rolex"
- This trope was endemic with merengue hip-hop singers in the early 90's, specially Proyecto Uno and El General. They couldn't release an album without a song listing all the countries they were having (or hoping to have) success in.
- Sir Mix-A-Lot: "What's up Chicago, what's up? What's up Chicago what's up? Chicago, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it."
- And in "Square Dance Rap", he names off places that rock according to him: Seattle, L.A., Miami, D.C., Carolina, Houston, Texas, your momma and London, England.
- Tupac's "California Love" shouts out to just about every major city in California towards the end, and L.A., Watts, and Compton are called out to in the actual chorus. San Diego, though, is conspicuously absent...
- "The Good Life" by Kanye West. Apparently the good life feels like Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, D.C., Virginia Beach, and the Bay area.
- "7 Weeks" by Gym Class Heroes.
- Global Deejays - "The Sound of San Francisco": In addition to the titular San Francisco, this dance track repeatedly lists 14 other major world cities, such as Cape Town and Amsterdam.
- Saint Etienne had a song ("Girl VII") where singer Sarah Cracknell listed off in a monotone a large number of places, many of them London boroughs and places recognisable to Londoners, but also including Pakistan and Buffalo, for example.
- The titular character John from Lemon Jelly's Ramblin' Man has rambled to some 67 different locations.
- "Dard-e-Disco" from the film Om Shanti Om has "London Paris New York LA San Francisco"
- "The 50 States" by Sufjan Stevens seriously name-drops all 50 of the United States. He would use the song to open the show on the tour supporting his Illinois album.
- In "They Are Night Zombies", the backing singers name-drop a lot of Illinois cities over the chorus. Looking them up reveals that most of them are ghost towns, or on their way to becoming ghost towns.
- Girls Against Boys' "Tucked-in":
Chicago, Chicago, Chicago.
Chicago, Chicago, Chicago.
Los Angeles. There's something nice to be said.
- "On Earth" by Samael.
- "D.I.Y." by KMFDM
- "Pop Muzik" by M:
New York, London, Paris, Munich
Everybody talk about pop muzik
- "Hide the Beer, the Pastor's Here" by the Swirling Eddies is a variation. Instead of listing cities, they list seminaries. After the song was published, the Eddies got a bunch of mail from pastors angry that their alma mater was mentioned in the song... and just as many letters from pastors wishing their alma mater had been mentioned.
- Katy Perry's "California Gurls" pretty much lists off every major city in California with a beach.
- Manila by Filipino band Hotdog.
I keep coming back to Manila
Simply no place like Manila
I walked the streets of San Francisco
I've tried the rides in Disneyland
Dated a million girls in Sydney
Somehow I feel like I don't belong
Hinahanap-hanap kita Manila note
Ang ingay mong kay sarap sa tenga note
Mga jeepney mong nagliliparan note
Mga babae mong nagagandahan note
Take me back in your arms Manila
And promise me you'll never let go,
Promise me you'll never let go
- All Time Low's song "Hello Brooklyn" mentions...well. Brooklyn. And some other places.
- Marillion's The Invisible Man:
Cold as a ghost ..watching the streets, Sheltering in doorways of
Venice, Vienna, Budapest, Krakow, and Amsterdam
R & B
- James Brown - "Living in America": Lists 9 major U.S. cities in a row, with echoing backup vocals for good measure.
- "Night Train". It's pretty much an instrumental except for the city names.
- "Dancing in the Street" by Martha and the Vandellas, and by proxy the numerous cover versions there-of.
- A number of R&B or rap songs try to break the United States into three or four densely populated areas and give a shout out to each one, as in this quote from Nelly's "Dilemma":
East coast, I know you're shakin' right
Down south, I know you're bouncin' right
West coast, I know you're walkin' right
Midwest, I see you swingin' right
- Drake's song "Fancy" mentions Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
- The Beach Boys, "California Girls"
Well east coast girls are hip
And the southern girls with the way they talk
The mid-west farmers daughters really make you feel alright
And the northern girls with the way they kiss
The west coast has the sunshine
I dig a french bikini on Hawaii Island
- "Surfin' USA" listed a bunch of surfing locations through the US, for which Brian Wilson asked for help from his then-girlfriend's brother Jimmy Bowles, who was an avid surfer. The final tally includes almost every surfing spot in California, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay in Hawaii, and "Australia's Narrabeen", a beach in northern Sydney. (The band played at Narrabeen in November 1992, with "Surfin' USA" being the mandatory encore.)
- "Surfin USA" was a lyrical rewrite of Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen", which also did the listing cities thing.
They're really rockin' in Boston
In Pittsburgh, PA
Deep in the heart of Texas
And round the Frisco Bay
All over St Louis
And down in New Orleans
All the cats wanna dance with
Sweet little sixteen
- Huey Lewis's "Heart of Rock and Roll" does this. New York City and Los Angeles get their own verses, then there's this:
"D.C., San Antone and the Liberty Town
Boston and Baton Rouge
Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City,
Seattle, San Francisco, too"
- On Canadian radio it's almost customary to have a voice shout out "Toronto! Montreal!" at the end.
- The version played on one Central New York station during the song's run on the charts had "Syracuse! Albany!"
- The Beatles parodied the Beach Boys' "California Girls" in "Back in the USSR" (as well as referencing another song):
Well, the Ukraine girls really knock me out,
They leave the West behind;
And Moscow girls make me sing and shout,
- Billy Joel's "You're My Home":
Home can be the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Indiana early morning dew
High up in the hills of California
Home is just another word for you
- The Cross (a side project by Queen drummer Roger Taylor) has one of these entitled "Cowboys and Indians"
- Tom Cochrane's "Life is a Highway" (not strictly cities):
From Mozambique to those Memphis nights
- "Truckin'" by The Grateful Dead.
- Todd Rundgren's "Hot Espresso (All Jacked Up)" centers around a jetsetting band in their neverending search for coffee.
"In the morning it's a bus to Barcelona
fly a little side trip over to Roma
Then we all meet up in Cannes, Nice, and Monaco
Then we drive to Santa Fe, then Austin
And at the end of it all, if god is willing
We're sipping Turkish coffee in Greenwich Village...
- Bon Jovi's "Raise Your Hands"
- The Byrds' "The Bells of Rhymney" listed several Welsh locations such as Merthyr and Cardiff.
- U2's "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" name drops "Miami, New Orleans, London, Belfast, and Berlin" as places to which the protagonist can escape "with satellite television".
- In live performances of "Stay", the list of cities is usually changed to reflect where the concert is being played. When a Zoo TV concert in Sydney, Australia was filmed for global broadcast on television, Bono altered the line to "Miami, New Orleans, Sydney, to the rest of the world".
- Live performances of "Magnificent" during the 360° Tour generally began with Bono asking, "Where are we going?" He would then list several cities, before invariably ending the list with the current concert's location.
Rock and Roll
- "I've Been Everywhere"
- Multiple versions thereof. The American version is probably the most famous, but it was originally about Australian placenames.
- And this makes it easy to parody. The Simpsons had a version with all the fictional cities from the show, and there's an Alaskan version, in which the singer runs out of places in Alaska, and has to mention Anchorage several times.
- And there's also a Discworld version, in which Rincewind lists all the places he's fled from.
- There's also a version which lists several towns in Texas, sung by Johnny Cash, possibly some other singer. Really fast, too.
- Ian Dury's "Rhythm Stick" and Flanders and Swann's "Slow Train" do something similar. Played straight by the UK's 2007 Eurovision entry ("Flying the Flag for You", wasn't it?), probably to garner votes.
- Tommy Facenda recorded 28 different versions of his 1959 hit "High School U.S.A.," each one listing the names of local high schools in a different U.S. city.
- In Sublime's "April 29, 1992", there are 26, although the context is far different from what you would normally find with this trope.
- Gaita-turned-salsa band Guaco had two songs dedicated to the beauty of Caracas's girls. One mentions several cities of Venezuela that also had pretty girls, before the singer settles on Caracas, while the other lists some of the most notorious neighborhoods of the city as providers of the sexy.
- "Route 66", first recorded by Nat King Cole and covered by countless others, lists many of the cities along the eponymous road.
Examples from other media:
- Dustin the Turkey's "32 Counties" gives a line to every one of Ireland's traditional counties, although not all have a notable landmark or quality so he was forced to add "Laois has a prison", "Westmeath has a bypass" and "Leitrim's a mistake"...
- "We Open In Venice" from Kiss Me Kate. Lots of trope in Cremona.
- In The Music Man, the residents of the fictional River City, Iowa list a bunch of town names from Real Life Iowa at the end of "Iowa Stubborn."
- In Trouble in Tahiti, the Greek Chorus lists suburbs.
- In Follies, "Ah, Paree!" lists places around the world that don't have what Gay Paree has.
- Wakko Warner's 50 State Capitols Song from Animaniacs can be seen here.
- In the Simpsons episode Mobile Homer, a guy sings a version of I've Been Everywhere with all the fictional towns of the series.