Welcome to Top 5 Fun Friday, a regularly-occurring blog feature where I give you a list of extremely specific pointless shit from my life no one asked for. Why? Because the internet is incredibly un-fun in 2020 and I miss blogging. It’s Friday and these will be fun! This week’s list…
Top 5 Favorite Lines My Wife Sings from Songs on SiriusXM’s Lithium Channel
Do you remember that viral video from a few years ago where a guy films his wife singing along to “None of Your Business” by Salt N Pepa? That video was so popular, the woman in it ended up booking an Acura commercial based pretty much entirely on that one video and one other audition tape she had to make.
It’s an undeniably charming video, and one that’s stuck with me because that’s basically what it’s like to ride in the car with my own wife. I’ve written about this before, but my wife seems to know every word to every song, ever. She’s like the Marilu Henner of music lyrics. Pop music, grunge era, classic hits, obscure punk shit… she truly knows it all. It’s absolutely mystifying.
But it also yields little unexpected moments of joy because my wife puts some extra English on some of the delivery as if she’s verbally picking up a spare in a bowling frame. In order to keep this to five entries, I’m limiting this to only songs that appear on Lithium, which is 90s grunge and alternative for you non-satellite radio owners. Come drink beers with us if you want to hear absolutely delightful versions of “I Try” by Macy Gray, “Shoop” by Salt N Pepa, “Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground or “Area Codes” by Ludacris.
But for the rest of you, here are five songs my wife sings like the charming and adorable musical savant she is.
“Our love is… like water” from “All Over You” by Live
The thing about my wife is, she’s like the Spanish Inquisition. I never expect her. She snipes in when I’m convinced she’s either not paying attention or distracted by something else, and it hits me like a Mack truck every single time.
I have never liked Live. I didn’t like them when I was in high school and they were at the height of their popularity, and I probably like them even less now. I was by myself listening to Lithium one day, and occasionally they’ll have artists from the time like Gavin Rossdale or Shirley Manson or whoever pop on and share a memory or insight about one of their hits before the station plays it. It’s fun to listen to.
So Ed Kowalczyk comes on and starts explaining the origin and meaning of “Lightning Crashes,” my least favorite song in Live’s catalog. I think to myself, Ok let’s hear it. Give the guy a shot to explain it and maybe you missed something that’ll turn you around on it. Not only did his explanation not turn me around on “Lightning Crashes,” it somehow made me hate this pretentious, insipid song even more. What a load of shit that song is, and it never even starts rocking. It just trudges across the finish line like a grumpy fat man lumbering through an airport terminal to the gate at the end of the concourse.
I wasn’t paying attention while out doing errands – me driving, wife in the passenger seat doing whatever – and “All Over You” comes on. I know it’s the opening line, but it wasn’t until 2:50 in the song that Kristin snipes in with “Our love is… like WAH-turrrr” perfectly matching that weird way Kowalczyk says the last word of the line in perfect rhythm. It almost sounds like he’s saying “Our love is… like WALTER” which is hilarious. Who the hell is Walter? And what’s his love like? And I’m not sure what accent Kowalczyk is affecting in that line, but it sure is stupid, albeit distinctive. I have tried for months to do it myself, but can’t, which makes my wife’s flawless mimicry of both the delivery and the tone that much funnier and makes me laugh every single time I think about it.
“Buried in my SHIT” from “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains
Of course, “All Over You” isn’t even close to the first time she’s coldcocked me with unexpected delivery. From March 4, 2013:
After the opening “baugh-waugh, waugh-waugh-waugh, waugh-waugh-waugh-waughhhhh” guitar riff, Layne Staley was all set to chime in with his dead-voiced delivery of the opening line, and like she was auditioning for Lorne Michaels, Kristin, with alarming and pitch perfect mimicry, lazily offers up, “Iiiiii’m the man… in the BOX.”
I didn’t even realize she was paying attention, so I turned to look at her. She didn’t notice, kept doing whatever on her phone and just jumped right into, “Buuuurrrrried iiiiiiinnnnn… my SHIT.”
Just busy with whatever else, but so good at picking out a tune she wastes a flawless Layne Staley impression on a nothing car ride when she thinks no one’s paying attention.
I’ve read about all-female cover bands like Hell’s Belles, Lez Zeppelin, and others. If ever there were a female Alice In Chains cover band (Allison Chainz?), I think my wife could front it. But what would the market for such a band be? Layne Staley has such a distinctive voice, and at least when she’s singing along to it, she’s a dead fucking ringer for him. Whenever she busts it out, I am both impressed and slightly unnerved. That’s a nice feeling (in a non-malevolent way) to still get after being together for 16 years.
“And I am feeling… a little peculiar” from “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes
I used to hate this song so much when I was in middle school. Why I’m not sure because I think it rules now. It’s such a weird song sung by a weird lady. OK, I don’t actually know if she’s weird or not. In fact, all I really know about her is that she was married to Sara Gilbert and they had a son together. But, based on this song, she sure seems weird.
That’s why Kristin going up a register and peppering her delivery of the word peculiar with a hint of impish mystery always lands for me. She’s like Brittany Murphy going “I’ll never tell” all creepy in that one trailer from like 20 years ago, but y’know, more playful and not bone chilling. This whole song goes through a billion tempo changes, and the first few times you hear it, you sort of never know what’s coming.
That’s particularly true of the line, “And I am feeling… a little peculiar.” First of all, “peculiar” isn’t a word that makes its way into many songs because how the hell are you going to rhyme that? Second, it’s just a weird word. I’ve been thinking about it for the last half hour now, and now it looks totally fucking alien. Third, that little half rest after “feeling” is such a pregnant pause, that you have no idea what’s coming next, and with all the connotations of the word “peculiar,” you really don’t know where this weird chick is going with this.
I can listen to this song from start to finish and still biff the lines even though I’ve heard it a zillion times. Kristin could step in the car after running a 5k, listen for less than 3 seconds, and pick up the correct part with flawless delivery of ALL the weird weirdo lines delivered weirdly in this weird song probably a hundred times out of a hundred. As someone who has an encyclopedic vocabulary for movie and TV quotes (and how idiotically proud I am of this skill), it’s difficult to express how deeply envious I am of her abilities, how much fun it is to watch, and how incredibly annoying it is that she can do this all so effortlessly. But mostly it’s just fun.
“Cuz I got one hand in my pocket, and the other one is playing a PIANO” from “Hand In My Pocket” by Alanis Morrissette
Before we get started on this formally, I think Jagged Little Pill has aged incredibly well. That whole album is nothing but killers up and down the record. Now then, with that out of the way, there are two super noteworthy things going on in this one. The first is that Alanis lists five different things her other hand is doing while the one hand is in her pocket. Do you remember where playing a piano falls? I sure as hell didn’t. It’s fourth. First is giving a high five, second is flicking a cigarette, third is giving a peace sign, fourth is the piano, and last is hailing a taxicab. Since I suck so bad at remembering lyrics and reciting them, I hate when there’s a sequence because inevitably I’m going to fuck it up and sing the wrong line. Not like that’s a big deal or anything, but it’s personally annoying because more often than not I’m next to the Secretariat of this skill.
The other thing is that each of those five things are delivered in a way unique from each other. Giving a high five! is very staccato, punchy, and weirdly hilarious. Flicking a cigarette is way too many syllables and shouldn’t work, but impossibly does. Giving a peace sign is probably most similar to the high five line, but also sounds like she’s fighting off a sneeze in the delivery. Lastly, hailing a taxicab sounds like she’s drunk at the end of a long night and overexplaining her next move. I’m not going to further belabor the point about Kristin’s impeccable delivery of each one, but suffice to say they’re all charming in their own way.
My favorite one is playing a piano for two reasons. The first is picturing the absurdity of someone playing a piano one-handed while the other is in her pocket for some reason. The second is that Kristin not only takes Alanis’s eccentric delivery of the word “piano,” but she moves it up an octave into falsetto. The girl has range, and she reaches the upper registers in her delivery of this line.
“I am smellin’ like a rose that somebody gave me on my birthday deathbed!” from “Dead and Bloated” by Stone Temple Pilots
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got this song. These are the very first lines on the album Core. There’s no music, no other noise, just Scott Weiland grunting out these bizarre words that, quality-wise, sound like they were lifted from an answering machine recording.
I am never prepared for Kristin to sing along to this. And it’s such a weird sentence, I’m surprised by each word as it’s delivered as if I’m hearing it for the first time, every time. Read it again. What the fuck does that even mean? And then he says it like 20 more times throughout the song, which makes me feel like I’m stuck in an inside joke I don’t get.
And then there’s my wife who can go an octave above Alanis Morrissette in “Hand In My Pocket” then, one song later, reach down and grab this guttural voice from the depths of downtown Hell and punch out its weird, halting cadence with the surly, brusque confidence of a hard-living Teamster. This is probably the weirdest compliment I have ever given my wife. But it’s one I mean sincerely because literally every single time I’ve heard her do this, I’ve laughed my ass off. She is an absolute chameleon when it comes to singing along on the radio, and it brings me such joy, I just had to write about it.
Tomorrow is our 11th wedding anniversary. We have been together for 16 years. I still watch her. I am still surprised by her. I love her more now than I ever have, and I will love her tomorrow more than I do today. I’ve mentioned to her my affection for her singalong skills, but I doubt she knew just how deep it went. Well, until now, anyway.
And I hesitated even writing this because I don’t want to make her self-conscious about it. I would be absolutely crushed if this went away. But it’s also just so fun and so pure, I thought the world deserved to know something extremely specific, uniquely beautiful, and delightfully off-kilter that I love about my wife.
Happy Anniversary, Kristin. I look forward to taking all my rides with you.