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Iconic Song Request

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"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. A Black Sheep Hit tends to become one of these.


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  • In an AT&T U-Verse commercial, Phil the "Just Okay" March Madness announcer demonstrates his unsuitability by calling for the marching band to play "Freebird."

  • 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.

     Newspaper Comics 
  • A Gil Thorp strip introducing Gail Martin, "the rock'n'roll Carole King", had one concert goer call for "Tarzana Nights", and another one helpfully put this in context by asking "You think she'll forget to sing her biggest hit?"
  • A Rex Morgan, M.D. storyline had Fergus Murphy, previously introduced as an arrogant roots country singer called "Mud Mountain" Murphy, best known for the song "Muddy Boots", reinvent himself and become a lounge singer on a cruise ship, singing vaguely surreal easy listening songs. The entire passenger roster wanted him to sing "Muddy Boots", but it took learning that his spiritual guru was a conman and watching him attempt to murder someone him before he'd do so.

    Films — Animation 
  • On Cars someone shouts for "Freebird" during Lightning McQueen's sponsors' appearance.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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".
  • A variation appears in Step Brothers. The band hired to play at a fancy reception is very clear about being a strictly 80s 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.
  • Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga has a guy in the pub who always pesters Lars and Sigrit to play "Ja Ja Ding Dong".

    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".
  • A skit in sketch comedy show Big Train featured Kevin Eldon playing real musician Ralph McTell, who had a notable hit with the song "Streets Of London". He finishes playing it to a pub crowd, then tells them that he'd like to try a new song, causing Simon Pegg to drop his glass in horror while the audience begins calling for Streets Of London (again), ever louder and more insistently until he's forced to make a mid-song switch. As the audience cheers and claps along, his misery is palpable.
  • 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.
  • Israeli Sketch Comedy show The Jews Are Coming uses this trope in a sketch about Hayim Nahman Bialik, widely known as Israel's 'national poet' and the most prominent poet of the early days of the modern Hebrew language, who wrote some harrowing, beautiful poetry about love, faith and the horrors of war as well as some iconic children's nursery rhymes. Bialik is shown performing in a poetry cafe, dramatically reciting one of his epic poems about war and death, when audience members start shouting "'See-Saw'! Do 'See-Saw'!"

  • 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.
    • The Doubleclicks wrote the song "The Guy Who Yelled Freebird" in response to having heard this request a few too many times - apparently this just made people request it more. Eventually they did record a "Free Bird" cover as a treat for fans after successfully crowdfunding an album, which seems to have done the trick.
    • Bob Dylan actually played it, probably to fill any potential requests.
    • The band Request Freebird named themselves after this phenomenon.
    • Some versions of the Blue Man Group's show actually have a plant in the audience who shouts "Free Bird". The band will start to play the opening notes, and one of the Blue Men will start a Raised Lighter Tribute, only for the whole thing to be cut off as one of the other Blue Men puts the lighter out with a fire extinguisher.
  • 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 Engelbert Humperdinck song "Ten Guitars". Connolly's song is "Nine and a Half 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 Dżem. There are two types of guitarists - these who are playing "Whisky" and these who aren't playing it yet.
  • Among jazz bands, the cliche request is "Mack The Knife".
  • 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 time 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.
  • According to legend, Nat King Cole began his singing career when a drunken club patron requested he sing "Sweet Lorraine". Cole protested that he didn't sing, but the club's owner forced him to fulfill the request. That song would become his first hit in 1940 and the signature song of his Trio years.
  • The members of Pink Floyd were irritated by requests for "Money" after they hit it big.
  • Go to a Deep Purple concert, any concert. Chances are after every song, half the audience will be screaming for "Smoke on the Water".
  • Eric Bogle has a song called "Do You Play Any Dylan?" about his hatred of that request, considering he writes his own songs.
  • Eels started dropping their early hit "Novocaine For The Soul" from setlists once they had three albums worth of other original material to choose from, but continued hearing requests for it throughout the tour - they once trolled an audience about it by announcing they were going to play "a hit song" for their encore: They then had a surprise guest, rapper Afro Man, join them for an extended version of his hit, "Because I Got High".


    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 could never license Led Zeppelin songs for Guitar Hero or Rock Bandnote . Possibly even both.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Brian meets a bitter recluse who used to be a famous singer of commercial jingles. When she tried to pursue a career in opera, she was hounded by requests to sing her famous jingles and got booed off the stage, which made her disappear from the public eye.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Mutants Are Revolting", Devo pledge their support to the mutant revolt and promise to do "everything they can" to support it. A mutant yells "Play 'Whip It'!", to which Mark Mothersbaugh responds "No", and they play 'Beautiful World' instead.
  • The Simpsons:
    • 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.

    Real Life 
  • The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will play requests. Requests for most traditional songs are $2 each. But requests for "The Saints" cost $10.


Video Example(s):


Ja Ja Ding Dong

The song is completely full of innuendo, and it's the band's most popular song.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / IntercourseWithYou

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