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Drunken Song

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"That's what he, Cpt. Haddock, do.. he's the drunken sailor!"
"There are some songs which are never sung sober. "Nellie Dean" is one. So is any song beginning '"As I was a walking ...'"

A simple way to indicate that a person is drunk is to have them sing a drunken song. It may be bawdy or weepily sentimental, but it indicates inebriation even before you notice the slurred phrasing and lurching walk.

This was such a recurring trope in old British comedies that anyone who was drunk sang "Nellie Dean" and anyone singing "Nellie Dean" was drunk. It was useful cultural shorthand in the days before you could show a grown man pissing or puking in public.

See Ode to Intoxication for songs about getting drunk. Contrast Ode to Sobriety… well, usually.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In The Fantastic Adventures of Unico Baron De Ghost gives Katy the cat turned into a human girl wine, she quickly gulps down each glass and gets drunk, he asks her to sing her signature cat song, she sings very off key and forgets some of the lyrics and eventually passes out.
  • Tamagotchi Honto no Hanashi: When Oyajitchi gets it drunk on sake, the Tamagotchi Planet starts to sing to itself, using a giant sign that was on it as a microphone.

  • Robin Williams improvised one of these. "Oh... that night you said my wife was fat, I knocked ya down, and shit in yer hat..."

    Comic Books 
  • Constantine from Hellblazer tends to sing the bawdy kind when pissed out of his mind.
  • Haddock and Tintin start singing a Belgian song after they get drunk off wine-fumes in The Crab with the Golden Claws.
  • Fun With Milk & Cheese: Milk & Cheese serenading an unfortunate Renaissance Fayre with their "Lusty Drinking Song". "Hear our Lusty Drinking Song! Blaah blaah blaah blaah! La la la, Drinking Song! Drinka-drinka Sonnnnnnggggg!"

    Comic Strips 
  • In an old Punch! cartoon, the natives of a Pacific Island hear the strains of Nellie Dean echoing from the crater of the local volcano and comment, "The gods are drunk again".

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Jaws, the sailors bond over booze and "Show Me The Way To Go Home".
  • Hellboy and Abe get drunk and sing Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" in Hellboy II: The Golden Army.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
    • "A Pirate's Life For Me"
    • And Gibbs singing "The Derelict" at the beginning of Dead Man's Chest.
  • Many Ealing comedies and similar, for example in The Bargee, Harry H. Corbett is able to get out of his girlfriend's bed before her large, violent father gets home from the pub because he's singing Nellie Dean loudly.
  • In Euro Trip, the American protagonists accidentally stumble into a private bar for burly, belligerent Manchester United fans. After narrowly avoiding getting their asses kicked by singing an altered version of "My Baby Takes the Morning Train" (It Makes Sense in Context), the liquor starts flowing and the thugs join them in a rendition.
  • In Animal House Delta Tau Chi sings "Louie Louie" completely unintelligibly.note 
  • Possibly inspired by the above, the crew in Down Periscope also sing "Louie Louie" while pretending to be drunk fishermen.
  • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Hagrid and Professor Slughorn get drunk and sing after Aragog's funeral.

  • Agatha H. and the Airship City: Chapter 4 opens with a hilarious drinking song about Castle Wulfenbach, which is laden with innuendo about how large and powerful the Baron's "great big thing" is.
    Hide the women! Hide the beer!
    The Baron's great big thing is here!
    It's huge and fat and long and round
    And you can see it from the ground.
    It flies way high up in the air
    He rides it here, he rides it there.
    And every mad boy lives in fear
    That Klaus will stick it in his ear.
  • Discworld:
    • "A Wizard's Staff Has A Knob On The End", and the once heard, never forgotten Hedgehog Song. (Fans have worked out full sets of lyrics for both - the Hedgehog Song has, in canon, at least seventeen verses.) The full title of "the hedgehog song" is The Hedgehog Can Never Be Buggered At All. That should give you an idea why it is never sung while sober.
    • Played for Laughs in Sourcery when the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse get drunk and start singing "We are poor little lambs who have lost our way"; indeed, they are so drunk that they forget most of the words not to mention horses. Trivia 
    • Gaspode also sings "We are poor little lambs who have lost our way" after a pub crawl in Moving Pictures.
  • Male characters in The Belgariad never sing while sober. We're never told what exactly they're singing, but it tends to scare off any birds in the vicinity.
  • Hagrid and Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince get drunk after Aragog's funeral and sing a song called "Odo the Hero". In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hagrid, Charlie and another wizard sing the song after getting drunk at Bill and Fleur's wedding.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • One Eighth Doctor Adventures novel has Fitz waking up on a bench, trying to reconstruct what he did last night: "The last thing he remembered was joining in a singsong with a group of drunken tourists at Il-Eruk's Tavern. He'd sung the song about the turnip fish." This could be a reference to the actual song, "Turnip Fish" by The Sultans Of Ping.
    • In Sky Pirates!, a footnote reveals a proverb common to many planets that Bernice Summerfield has visited:
      If a strange dark woman, after the tenth drink, suddenly begins to sing
      What's that I hear? (put your hand to your ear)
      Upstairs in the attic? (point up)
      It is an elephant (make like a trunk)
      Riding around on a bicycle (stomp stupidly)
      It is an elephant (ditto last line but one)
      So chic and elegant (flounce!)
      With one trunk here and one tail there (thing with the trunk again, and then bump and grind)
      do not under any circumstances approach her for she shall immediately fall over and be violently and spectacularly ill on you.
  • In Gone with the Wind, when Gerald O'Hara is drunk, he sings a song called "Peg in a Low-Backed Car".
  • In The Saga of Darren Shan, the titular vampire gets drunk at a vampire festival and sings an ode to ale.
  • In Thalia's Musings, Thalia's sisters Terpsichore and Euterpe compose one of these during a Wild Teen Party. Any rhythmic resemblance to contemporary drinking songs is entirely coincidental.
    "All the mortals lining up 'cause they wanting to snag us,
    But we throw them to the wolves unless they look like Priapus."
  • In The Witchlands, the prophetic poem called Eridysi's Lament is most commonly known as that one song you can hear drunken sailors sing in every port.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happens several times in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, e.g. Miles O'Brien and Julian Bashir singing "Jerusalem", or Worf singing Yet Another Klingon Battle Song with Miles or some grizzled Klingon veteran he's trying to cozy up to.
    • All the Klingon songs are either opera or this. Both types are spectacularly gory.
      • A TNG episode had Picard and his older brother get drunk and sing after they have a big fist fight.
  • Blackadder:
    • "See the little goblin, see his little feet..."
    • Also, "I'm Merlin, the Happy Pig".
    • Both of which are probably also Bawdy Songs.
    • This also leads Blackadder to a diagnosis as to why Lord Merchett is 'dying':
      Queen: He was banging on the castle gate, falling over, and singing a strange song about a girl who possessed something called a...dicky-di-do?
      Edmund: Oh, yes, it's a lovely old hymn, isn't it...
    • During the end credits the Balladeer is also "well and truly plastered" during his song. By the end he's screeching lyrics completely off-key.
  • In Lost, after Desmond drinks some bottles of (expensive) wine, he starts singing "The Celtic Song".
  • "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen," the song Ryley sings (badly) over the intercom in Star Trek: TOS during "The Naked Time."
  • In one episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Joel and Archie drunkenly sing Tom Lehrer's "Be Prepared" at a bar, but mistakenly attribute it to "Franz Fuckin' Schubert".
  • A game is made out of this on Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Irish Drinking song.
    "Oh, high-dee-dye-dee-dye-dee-dye-dee-dye-dee-dye-dee-dye!"
  • In Babylon 5, Garabaldi sings "Show Me The Way To Go Home" on one occasion when drunk.
  • The crew of Red Dwarf (minus Kryten), having been celebrating Rimmer's deathday, return to the ship singing "Show Me the Way to Go Home" while tracing three-dimensional esses in space. Later in the same episode, Rimmer sings "Someone to Watch Over Me" in a very plaintive manner. He then degenerates into high-pitched, tuneless humming.
  • One episode of Black Books has Bernard visit some friends and singing a very Irish drinking song to their young son. The outtakes reveal that not only did Dylan Moran improvise it, he improvised a whole bunch of them.
  • A season one episode of Mission: Impossible had Briggs wake up a man in a guarded hotel room by staggering down the hall outside the man's room while loudly singing a song of this nature. He wasn't actually drunk, but everyone else on that floor assumed he was.
  • In the Parks and Recreation episode "The Fight", Andy makes up a rock song while drunk on snake juice.
    "Farts and boobs and love and stuff... macaroni salad!"
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Band Candy" the adults of Sunnydale are magically reverted to their teen years. Buffy and Willow enter the Bronze to find Willow's middle-aged doctor and two other men up on the stage drunkenly singing "Louie, Louie" a capella. Buffy declares their performance scarier than any vampire.
  • The Day of the Triffids (1981). A group of blind football hooligans are singing an Arsenal football chant while they roam the streets drunk. In a later episode we hear "Show Me The Way To Go Home" but the singers are sober and are using the protagonist Bill Masen to guide them as they're also blind.
  • In an episode of The West Wing, Toby learns that he has to write a eulogy for a former president whom he despises. He gets a little tipsy on Air Force One and, in the middle of rambling incoherently, starts singing "Suicide is painless".
  • Loki (2021): In "Lamentis", Sylvie awakes from a brief nap to find that Loki got drunk on champagne and is now singing loudly in a mixture of English and "Asgardian" (actually Norwegian) for the entertainment of the other passengers on the train. Sylvie isn't amused as they were supposed to be keeping a low profile as stowaways and his performance has drawn the guards' attention.
  • M*A*S*H: In Colonel Potter's first episode, BJ and Hawkeye bond with him over their homemade gin while singing several refrains of "There's a Long, Long Trail.
  • Jayne sings his own song after getting drunk in Firefly "Jaynestown".
    Jayne:: My love for me ain't hard to explain…I'm the hero of Canton, the man they call me!
  • Young Sheldon: In S5 E3, Dr. Linkletter and Dr. Sturgis drink liquor on a park bench and sing "Lollipop". Georgie and Jana drive close enough to hear; Jana assumes the two drunks are high school dropouts.
  • In a Saturday Night Live commercial parody that promoted a CD of "Irish Drinking Songs", among the offerings were "The Slurring Song" and "The Incoherent Song", both of which were Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

  • Folk Punk singer Pat the Bunny is the king of this trope, with references to getting smashed turning up in pretty much every johnny hobo and the freight trains. Perhaps the most straightforward of these is "Whiskey is My Kind of Lullaby"
  • Subverted by Richard Thompson's "God Loves A Drunk."
  • Pretty much anything by The Pogues, but most particularly "A Pair of Brown Eyes".
    • The Wild Rover is an older song performed by the Pogues among many others. The lyrics make it an Ode to Sobriety, but it's almost always sung ironically.
      • Their celtic-rock brethern in general fall in this trope, particularly Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping Up to Boston" and Flogging Molly's "Drunken Lullabies."
      • The Dropkick Murphys also have the aptly titled "Kiss me, I'm Shitfaced"
    • If you want more folk, The Ramblin Rover by Silly Wizard probably should never be sung sober.
    • The band Gaelic Storm is taking the drinking song tradition to a new generation.
  • Forty-Seven Ginger-Headed Sailors.
  • "Hold My Liquor" by Kanye West.
    • "Addiction" as well, for the drunk-like stuttering in his cadence, for the trippy production, and particularly for the woozy outro.
  • Tom Waits' The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) from Small Change is a tragicomic take on the drunken song. The pianist denies his own inebriation, anthropomorphizing various objects to pin the blame on, e.g: "The carpet needs a haircut..." while the vocals are slurred and the melody loops over itself intentionally to imitate a drunk pianist.
  • The Irish folk song "Seven Drunken Nights", most famously performed by The Dubliners. A man who comes home "as drunk as drunk could be" for seven consecutive nights to find evidence of his wife cheating, though she insists he's misunderstanding the situation because he's drunk. The song gets very bawdy at the end, though how much depends on the particular version of it.
  • Done in this Songs to Wear Pants To song where the instructions were to "[Not] sing the lyrics. Shout them out in a drunken sort of way."
  • Bondo has a song called "Fuck you I'm Drunk", which is probably more well known than they are.
  • The Dead Kennedys "Too Drunk To Fuck". Nouvelle Vague's cover took this to the next level: the lead singer actually sounded like she was hammered when they recorded it.
  • Damien Rice's "Cheers, Darlin'" is a perfect example of this trope. Rice often makes a show of drinking while performing this song live.
  • hide's solo song "Drink or Die." Also taken to the next level in that he was likely drunk most of the time he performed it, and sort of a Harsher in Hindsight in that alcohol would later be a part of why he did actually die.
  • "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors from Morrison Hotel. In true blues fashion, Jim Morrison was totally smashed when he recorded it.
    • "Five to One" from Waiting For The Sun might also count, if only because Morrison was plastered when he sang/shouted that, too.
      • When was Morrison not plastered?
  • During the intro track for Running Wild's "Port Royal", one can hear some drunk singing "Under Jolly Roger" from the band's last album.
  • "Cold Gin" by KISS.
  • A lot of Steely Dan songs mention some kind of alcoholic beverage, or sound like they're either from the point of view of a morose drunk or about the results of a bender.
  • Bob Dylan has a few, although the most obvious is "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" from Highway 61 Revisited: it has a kind of drunken vibe from the very beginning, but the final verse confirms it:
    I started out on burgundy
    But soon hit the harder stuff
    Everybody said they'd stand behind me
    When the game got rough
    But the joke was on me
    There was nobody even there to bluff
    I'm going back to New York City
    I do believe I've had enough.
  • Joni Mitchell's song "Talk to Me" from "Wild Things Run Fast", about begging for conversation from someone not willing to speak, gains entirely new context from its opening line:
    There was a moon and a streetlamp
    I didn't think I drank such a lot
    Till I pissed a tequila anaconda the full length of the parking lot.
  • Rob Dougan's "Drinking Song" is the weepily sentimental type, complete with descent into incoherent mumbling on the final chorus.
  • "The 9th Scotch" by Nautilus Pompilius.
  • "If Drinking Don't Kill Me (Her Memory Will)" by George Jones.
  • An old example: "To Anacreon In Heaven" was written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a group of amateur musicians in 18th-century London to which he belonged, for their convivial gatherings involving music and song. It was dedicated to their namesake, the jovial Greek poet Anacreon, and celebrated "Bacchus's vine" (particularly how it "intwined" with "the myrtle of Venus"). The song was the group's semi-official drinking song, and spread around the taverns of London, and then Britain and then the Empire, as it was not only rather catchy but also rather good as a measure of whether someone was drunk: as written, it required certain vocal acrobatics that your average person could handle sober, but would find more difficult as they grew more intoxicated. This song would, however, be a mere historical footnote were it not for one little thing: in 1814, an American, a resident of Baltimore, named Francis Scott Key felt inspired to write a poem about the British shelling of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812—a poem whose meter perfectly fit Stafford Smith's tune. Thus "To Anacreon In Heaven" was the tune to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
  • German comedian Frank Zander has "Ich trink auf dein Wohl, Marie". The cheer to Mary quickly turns into a Break-Up Song.
  • Speaking of German, there is a whole genre "Stimmungssong" for parties (that you can only bear when stuffed to the gills - the party as well as the song). Even more "serious" stars like Peter Alexander did it. Hear him sing completely askew to the music.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Dungeons & Dragons Hanseath is the Dwarvern god of War, Carousing and Alcohol. Prayers to him are generally sung or chanted and contain simple rhymes and frequent choruses. In other words, prayers to him are generally drinking songs.

  • In The Producers, Max and Leo (along with some random drunk) sing "By the Light Of the Silvery Moon."
  • As with everything else, Shakespeare got there first:
    • In Henry IV Part II, Falstaff and assorted cronies get drunk and sing a song with a nonsensical refrain.
    • And in Othello, Iago leads the singing in the Cyprus officers' mess. It's debatable whether he himself is drunk or just pretending, but both the songs are classic drunken efforts. King Stephen was a worthy peer, his breeches cost him half a crown ...
    • In Twelfth Night, Sir Toby Belch and Sir Anderew Ague-Cheek sing drunken songs in the middle of the night until interrupted by the Countess's manservant Malvolio.
  • "The Same Old Music" from Vanities.
  • "If I Were a Bell" from Guys and Dolls.
  • "Hot Lover" from the musical version of Two Gentlemen of Verona.
  • "Let's Toast" from the musical version of The Prince and the Pauper.
  • "Oom-Pah-Pah" from Oliver!: "There's a little ditty they're singing in the city, espec'lly when they've been on the gin or the beer..."
  • "The Story Of Tonight (Reprise)" from Hamilton, in which the main crew celebrate Hamilton's new marriage rather spiritedly. (In addition, Laurens is even drunk back when he introduces "Satisfied", possibly as a subtle Drowning My Sorrows over Hamilton's marriage, given that some performances have him and Angelica share a meaningful glance right before the event.)
    Lafayette: Raise a glass to freedom! (Hey!)
    Laurens and Mulligan: Something you will never see again!
    Mulligan: No matter what she tells you!
    Lafayette: Let's have another round tonight!
    Laurens: Raise a glass to the four of us! (Ho!)
    Mulligan: To the newly not poor of us! (Ahhh!)
    Lafayette: We'll tell the story of tonight!
    Mulligan: Let's have another round...

    Video Games 
  • In Mafia II, Joe and Eddie at one point drunkenly sing along to Dean Martin's "Return to Me" on the radio.
  • In Jak II: Renegade, Daxter offers to "help" Tess behind the bar and ends up getting totally wasted within the span of about thirty seconds, leading to him singing drunkenly for a little bit while Jak and Krew discuss the next mission.
  • Betrayal in Antara has three different drinking songs in it, each of which has four verses. You can find people singing one verse of one song in many of the taverns/inns in the game. One is a celebration of the fact that the singer isn't famous. The second is a Bawdy Song about a farmer's daughter. And the third is about a man honoring the gods by buying each of them a drink - but since the gods never show up to drink them, he has to do it himself.
    Well, I bought them a cup,
    But they haven't shown up.
    So the day that I die,
    I'll just look in their eye
    And say "Hey! Where were you?
    When the man poured the brew?"
    And I guess I'll be drinking their share.
  • Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards has no songs, but "poor little lamb who has lost his way" is quoted to describe a drunk.
  • Reverend Swanson in Red Dead Redemption 2 is quite fond of singing these when drunk...which is to say most of his waking hours.
    My face was red as a lobster,
    I fell and broke my poor knob, sir...

    Western Animation 
  • For some odd reason, "Sweet Adeline" is rarely performed sober in cartoons.
    • Slightly subverted in the "Homer's Barbershop Quartet episode of The Simpsons: the Be Sharps sing it, but then, the lead vocalist is Barney.
  • At the end of the Goofy short How to Play Golf, at the "19th hole", Goofy joins the diagram stick figure and a bull that was chasing them for a drink and a rousing rendition of "Auld Lang Syne".
  • Looney Tunes:
    • "The Near Future" is heard often during drunken antics.
    • In Porky's Duck Hunt, a group of fish get drunk from a leaking beer barrel, hop into a rowboat and sing a chorus of "Moonlight Bay".
    • In Trap-Happy Porky, a group of cats Porky hired to rid him of mice end up getting drunk and start singing "Moonlight Bay". ("*hic* Yer flat!") Porky tries to get rid of them by bringing in a bulldog, only for him to sing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" with the cats. At this point, Porky gives up and joins the chorus as the cartoon ends.
  • At the beginning of the Tom and Jerry short "Sleepy-Time Tom", Tom and his cat friends stumble home, loudly singing, somehow in perfect four-part harmony, "Goodnight Ladies" and "We Won't Be Home Till Morning". While it is never mentioned if they are in fact inebriated, it is certainly implied.
  • In a case of Early-Installment Weirdness, in the first season episode of The Simpsons "There's No Disgrace Like Home", Marge, who has been drinking a lot of spiked punch, leads some women in a rousing rendition of Dean Martin's "Hey, Brother, Pour the Wine".


Video Example(s):


The Story of Tonight (Reprise)

Laurens, Lafayette, and Mulligan all sing a song congratulating Hamilton's wedding, all while being completely hammered.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DrunkenSong

Media sources: