Follow TV Tropes

Following

Telephone Song

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bye_bye_birdie_telephone_hour_2.png
Have you heard about Hugo and Kim? Did they really get pinned?
Mr. Telephone Man
There's something wrong with my line
When I dial my baby's number
I get a click every time
New Edition, "Mr. Telephone Man"
Advertisement:

A popular way to sing about two people's relationship is to have the lyrics focus on telephone calls. While these types of Telephone Songs are popular, the genre also covers a wide range of situations involving telephone calls, including gossip, prank calls, and advertisements.

One person is often singing about how much they want to call another person, or for another person to call them. The singer acquires his true love's phone number and has to muster the courage to call her; or maybe he's nervous because she promised she would call him and he's starting to have doubts. The song might convey a call's dialogue with one or two people singing about their conversation. In addition, the song could take place in the aftermath of an attempted telephone call and describe its emotional toll.

As communication technology has evolved, so have songs about them. In many countries payphones and phone booths are disappearing, so songs that mention them are becoming rarer. Mobile phones are becoming more popular, though landline phones are still prevalent in popular culture.

Advertisement:

Often overlaps with Break-Up Song. Super-trope to Phone Number Jingle.


Music examples:

    open/close all folders 
     Music A-M 
  • ABBA: "Ring Ring" is was about someone being Stood Up.
  • AC/DC: "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" is about a hooligan who tells various subjects to call him so he can relieve certain issues.
  • Adele: "Hello" is a Break Up Song about trying to call to apologize for breaking one's heart.
  • Aquarium: "212-85-06" is a Russian rock song about calling another person's number to hear their voice.
  • Backstreet Boys: In "The Call", the narrator calls his girlfriend so she doesn't suspect he's cheated on her with a girl he just met in a club.
  • The Beach Boys: "Had To Phone Ya" has the singer trying to call his lover.
  • Blake Shelton's song "Austin" is about a woman calling a man she broke up with a year prior and only getting his answering machine - but to her surprise at the end of every message, he mentions her by nickname and says that he still loves her. At the end of the song he calls her back, and when she answers it, she echoes the messages he'd been leaving, confirming at the end that she still loves him.
  • Blondie: "Call Me" is about the day to day business of a call girl.
  • Brooklyn Queen: "Emoji" exhorts the audience to text the singer various emojis.
  • Luke Bryan's song "Light It Up" is about the narrator continually checking his phone for a message from his love interest after a fight.
  • Jason's Michael Carroll's "Hurry Home" has a man change his answering machine greeting to a plea for his runaway daughter to come back to him, so if she calls when he's not there to answer, the message will get through.
  • Checkmates, Ltd.: "All Alone By The Telephone" is about waiting for one's lover to call.
  • Neil Cicierega: "Numbers" takes samples from a bunch of other songs about telephones (most prominently Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" and the Ghostbusters theme), as well as ads for gimmicky 1-900 numbers, and mashes them all together.
  • City Boy's "5-7-0-5" is about the singer's significant other refusing to answer his calls.
  • Terri Clark's "Better Things to Do" is a phone conversation with her ex, who called hoping to find her miserable over the breakup. (Her response is to list mundane, tedious, or pointless things that are a better use of her time.)
  • Claude François: "Le Téléphone Pleure" (The Telephone Cries) which has the singer calling his estranged daughter who doesn't recognizes him.
  • Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show: "Sylvia's Mother" (written by Shel Silverstein) is a parody of teen breakup songs where a boy pleads over the phone to be allowed to speak to Sylvia, only to be stymied by her mother.
  • Elvis Costello: "No Action" (from This Year's Model) is from the perspective of a man who no longer feels anything for his girlfriend—mentioning several times how, every time they talk on the phone, all he wants to do is hang up.
  • Jim Croce: "Operator (That's Not The Way It Feels)" is an attempt by a man to get in contact with his ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend, the caller's former best friend, and let them know that he's gotten over the pain.
  • Dennis DeYoung: "Call Me" is about the singer asking a girl to call him on what's bothering her, which was implied to be about a "Dear John" Letter. The music video only shows him and his band taking a jam session at a Greasy Spoon.
  • Drake:
    • "Hotline Bling" is a Break Up Song about a guy angsting over how his girlfriend doesn't call him anymore for casual sex.
    • In general Drake is known for including voicemails on his songs, particularly in his older music.
  • Sheena Easton: "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" where the singer longs to call her boyfriend though long distance but he doesn't reply.
  • Electric Light Orchestra:
    • "Calling America" is about attempting calling a girl in America (the band is British), but she doesn't respond.
    • "Telephone Line" has the singer attempting to call his ex-girlfriend because he's lonely, but nobody answers.
  • Paul Evans: "Hello This Is Joannie" is about a man calling his titular girlfriend to apologize after a bad fight, only to get her answering machine. He then receives a phone call from a friend telling him Joannie died in a car crash.
  • Suzanne Fellini: "Love on the Phone" is about a woman who longs for the touch of her lover, but because of the distance, has to settle for phone sex.
  • Foreigner: "Love on the Telephone" is about nervously maintaining a long-distance relationship.
  • Fountains of Wayne: "Hung Up on You" tells the story of a guy who keeps calling his former lover from lots of different places, hoping to get through to her.
    I can't dial the phone just now even though I know your number [...]
    Ever since you hung up on me I'm hung up on you
  • Gabriel O Pensador: in "2345meia78" he goes to a payphone and calls every girl he knows, trying to get some action for the weekend.
  • Tom T. Hall: "Tulsa Telephone Book" is about a guy who has a one-night stand with a woman named Shirley. He winds up falling in love with her, but Shirley disappears before he can find out her full name. So now he's reading and rereading the phone book, calling everyone with the first name Shirley in desperate hope of finding her again.
  • Paul Misraki: The French song Tout va très bien, madame la marquise (incredibly popular in Russia and well known in Israel) is about a noblewoman (a man in the Israeli version) calling home to ask how things are, and receiving a Back to Front report about how everything is fine.
  • Parry Gripp:
    • "I'm A Crazy Weirdo" is, well... a song about a self-proclaimed "crazy weirdo" calling someone repeatedly.
    • "You're Driving Me Crazy" features someone complaining about someone who won't stop calling them.
    • "This Is My Ringtone" is a person's ringtone that seems to exist only to gloat about the fact that the phone it's on is an iPhone.
  • Rupert Holmes: "Answering Machine" was recorded in 1980, a song about an excited fiancee trying to phone his intended with a marriage proposal, but always getting her answering machine. That 30-second time limit is a real mood-killer.
  • Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson: The 1899 song "Hello! Ma Baby", popularized by the short One Froggy Evening, is probably Ur-Example. It has a man singing about his girlfriend, whom he only knows through the telephone.
  • Alan Jackson: "Wanted" is the narrator calling to place a "want ad" apologizing to the woman who left him and asking her to come back.
  • Carly Rae Jepsen: "Call Me Maybe" is about giving one's number to a love interest.
  • The Kinks: "Party Line" is about a shared telephone line. The singer wants to get acquainted with a girl he keeps hearing speaking on this line, but can't get the privacy to ask her more.
  • Kraftwerk: "The Telephone Call" is about maintaining a long distance relationship.
  • Lady Gaga: "Telephone" is a Break Up Song where the singer pretends the phone has bad service and then tells their ex to stop calling.
  • The Laurie Berkner Band: "Telephone" is about trying to call friends, only to find they aren't home to answer.
  • Logic, Khalid, and Alessia Cara: "1-800-273-8255" is about talking someone out of suicide. The title is the number of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, though it isn't actually mentioned in the song itself.
  • Madness's "Close Escape" from Absolutely is a black comedy number from the point of view of an obscene phone caller.
  • Maroon 5: "Payphone" has the singer "trying to call home" to find out how their relationship went wrong.
  • Milli Vanilli: In "Baby Don't Forget My Number", the singer urges his lover to call him if she needs him.

     Music N-Z 
  • New Edition: "Mr. Telephone Man" is about calling the telephone repairman because the singer hears a click when he dials his lover's number, probably because she keeps on hanging up on him.
  • Garth Brooks' "Callin' Baton Rouge" (originally recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys, and then by New Grass Revival who feature prominently on Brooks' version) is about a truck driver making regular stops to call a woman he'd met in Baton Rouge the night before.
  • Pink Floyd's "Nobody Home" from The Wall is about the singer trying to get in contact with his ex-wife over the telephone, only to find that there's nobody home.
  • Charlie Puth: In "One Call Away", the singer assures his lover he'll be there if she calls.
  • The RAH Band's "Clouds Across The Moon" is about an interplantary phone call from (presumably) Earth to Mars, and the technical difficulties such a thing entails.
  • R.E.M.: "Star 69" is about the *69 feature on the telephone to call back the last person who called. The singer uses this feature to call back prank callers while posing as law enforcement.
  • The Replacements: In "Answering Machine", the singer gets frustrated when he's trying to call someone but only gets the answering machine.
  • Ray Stevens: "It's Me Again, Margaret" is about a pervert who keeps making lewd calls to the eponymous Margaret. By the final verse, he's been tracked down and caught by the police. Guess who he calls with his One Phone Call...
  • Rixton: "Speakerphone" has the singer calling his baby only when he's drunk, and demanding that she uses speakerphone because he knows she's not alone.
  • Sully Sefil's "J'voulais" (I wanted) has the protagonist calling his girlfriend after a bank robbery that went wrong. He explains that he did it so they could have a better life and he didn't intend to kill anyone. At the end of the song, the man kills himself when cornered by the police.
  • Skyhooks' "Balwyn Calling": The subject makes the mistake of giving his phone number to a girl he had sex with.
  • Cole Swindell's "Dad's Old Number": the narrator reflexively calls the number years after his father passed away; the song is his conversation with the stranger who answers.
  • Tommy Tutone: "867-5309/Jenny" is about a guy who finds Jenny's number on some Bathroom Stall Graffiti and wants to call it.
  • Village People: "Sex Over the Phone", which is exactly that.
  • Torcadero: In "(617)" the singer generalizes his lovers based on their area code.
  • The White Stripes has a number of songs involving calling people, which is Lampshaded in the liner notes to their final album where they include the word "telephone" in a list of all the people that have helped them out.
    • "Wasting My Time" begins with a frustrating phone call where the narrator tries to get a straight answer from his lover on whether she's interested in him.
    • The first verse "Screwdriver" involves calling up a friend and trying to come up with something to do.
    • "Hello Operator":
      Hello Operator, can you give me number nine
      Can I see you later, can you give me back my dime?
    • The central conflict of "Effect And Cause", a break-up song of sorts about playing the Blame Game seems to be about the couple not returning each others calls.
    • "A Martyr for My Love For You" is told from the perspective of someone breaking up with their lover over the phone, recounting the story of their relationship and explaining why it won't work out.
  • Stevie Wonder: "I Just Called To Say I Love You" is about calling to express one's love even if there's no special occasion.
  • The Two Ronnies as Jehosophat and Jones: In "Stuttering Bum" the singer is calling his love on the telephone, trying to overcome a nervous stutter as he does so.

Advertisement:

Other examples:

    Film 
  • The theme of the Ghostbusters franchise urges listeners to call the ghost-hunting team.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Sesame Street
    • In "Telephone Rock", Little Jerry and the Monotones ask the operator to "put some rockin' and rollin' on the telephone." Eventually the operator calls the police on them.
    • Monty in "Watermelons and Cheese" advises the characters how to properly answer the telephone, saying you should't say "watermelons and cheese" (unless you're a watermelon or a cheese).

    Radio 
  • J-Si on The Kidd Kraddick Morning Show sung a parody of Taylor Swift's "Blank Space" about customer service calls titled "Outsourcing".

    Recorded Comedy 
  • Jim Backus' "Dirty Old Man" has a gentleman making obscene phone calls with his profanity and double entendres bleeped out with cartoon sound effects. The first woman he calls sounded like "an old walrus." When the second woman actually wants to take him up on a night of fun, he hangs up and stammers "What the (bleep) is the world coming to?? She was a pervert!!"
  • Nichols and May:
    • Their "Telephone Sketch" deals with a guy trying to get his dime refunded from a coin phone after he makes an errant call. He goes through red tape cut lengthwise and in the end is completely thwarted.
    • Their "Mother and Son" skit has an aerospace engineer having a guilt trip laid on him by his mother over the phone for not calling her frequently enough.

    Theatre 
  • In Bells Are Ringing, the song "A Perfect Relationship" is about how a telephone operator has a crush on one of her clients. They can only hear each other's voices, too bad she put on an old woman voice to talk to him at first and is now stuck.
  • "The Telephone Hour" in Bye Bye Birdie has a bunch of characters singing over the telephone that Hugo gave his fraternity pin to Kim, which symbolizes they're in a serious relationship.
  • "The Smart Phone Hour" from Be More Chill is a reference to the above song. It features Jenna, Brooke, and Chloe spreading gossip about the party from the night before—namely Rich setting a fire at the house.

    Video Games 
  • Undertale, has the "Wrong Number Song", a ditty which plays to affirm that you've reached the wrong number.
    Oh it's the wrong number! The wrong number song! We're very very sorry that we got it wrong! Oh it's the wrong number! The wrong number song! We're very very sorry that we got it wrong!

    Web Original 
  • CollegeHumor has a sketch called "The Other Side Of Adele's 'Hello'". Mike Trapp is Adele's ex-boyfriend and she keeps calling him during their meeting. He keeps picking up and talking to her because he's afraid... that she's gonna write a song about him.
    Adele: [singing] Hello, can you hear me?
    Mike: Barely. It sounds like you're calling from the middle of a windstorm or something.
    Adele: [singing] Hello from the ouuutsiiiiiiide.
    Mike: Go inside.

     Western Animation 
 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

The Wrong Number Song

In Room 70 pf Snowdin, the protagonist can dial a number and get a ditty saying it's the wrong number.

How well does it match the trope?

4 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / TelephoneSong

Media sources:

Main / TelephoneSong

Report