Monday, April 7, 2008

No Doubt About It

Since some of you may not be keeping up with the comments for posts that are over a week old, I wanted to alert you that OPC reader Gavin chimed in here to note that No Doubt's "Hey Baby" repeats its title phrase an astonishing 43 times. I checked a couple of sites that printed the lyrics, and I got only 39 or 41 instances, but you know how things are here at OPC: I will not rest until knowledge is verified.

To that end, I watched the video for "Hey Baby" and made tick marks every time I heard "Hey baby," and whaddya know, I got exactly 43 of them. Score one for Gavin. The amazing thing is that No Doubt manage to do this without sounding nearly as repetitive as Michael Jackson did on "Smooth Criminal."

Go ahead, check my (and Gavin's) math:


Gavin said...

I strongly suspect "Hey Baby" isn't the all-time champ, just our current leader.

Further research will be required.

T. Nawrocki said...

You are probably right. I suspect that the most important thing we've learned here is that it's easier to repeat a simple phrase like "hey baby" than it is a more complex one like "bird is the word." Someone should go check Yello's "Oh Yeah."

Gavin said...

I nominate you, Tom! For science!

Scraps said...

Gavin pointed me here, because I was made to lose productivity on questions like this.

By the count of the lyrics on this page, Michael Jackson's "Beat It" says "beat it" something like 52 times. I don't have access to my copy right now, so I don't know whether that counts the echoes (or whether they should count).

Scraps said...

This is an annoyingly pointless follow-up comment because I forgot to check off the email ticky box.

Gavin said...

I just listened to "Beat It," and counted =56= audible instances of the title. (But someone should double-check me.) Jackson works it in every way possible: in the verse, in the chorus, sung by him, sung by the backup singers, repeated in pairs and triplets, revisited on the fade-out.

One can only conclude that he was hoping to repeat the success of this repetition when he did "Smooth Criminal."

T. Nawrocki said...

Still, that only puts MJ into a tie with Weird Al Yankovic for "Eat It."

Scraps said...

I've been doing some desultory research. Another strong contender is John Sebastien's "Welcome Back", which logs 36 welcome backs. But the champion so far is Abba -- I figured there's be an Abba song that could play in the upper reaches here -- whose "Take a Chance on Me" repeats "take a chance" too quickly for me to count, but I'd be surprised if it doesn't top 56.

I'm also playing around with longer phrases. I've found one four-word phrase that tops "bird is the word"'s 21 count: Barry Manilow edges it out with 22 "I write the songs". At five words, the best I've found so far is Donna Summer, with 26 "Love to love you baby"s, though arguably a couple of them say "babe" rather than "baby".

Most impressive of all so far, I think, is Thin Lizzy's lead in the six-word race, with 26 repetitions of "The Boys Are Back in Town".

Scraps said...

Foxy's "Get Off" checks in with at least 43 get offs. There's a few more with a vocoder or something.

Eddie Rabbit's "I Love a Rainy Night" beats "Love to Love You Baby" in te five-word category, with 29 I love a rainy nights.

Scraps said...

47 repetitions of "Why can't we be friends"! It's going to be hard to top War in the five-word category.

Scraps said...

Yet the best four-word repeater I've been able to find is BTO's "Taking Care of Business", which takes care of business 27 times.

At three words, Sammy Davis Jr's 36 repetitions of "The Candy Man" is the closest I've come to Michael Jackson's 40 "Are you okay"s.

I think I'd better go to bed.

T. Nawrocki said...

Sorting the problem into phrases of specific numbers of words is an excellent way to frame this whole issue, and could provide us a way to waste literally thousands of additional man-hours.

Fortunately, you guys (especially Scraps) have proven to be way better at this stuff than I am. I have been checking such also-rans as Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" (25 times) and Southside Johnny's "I Don't Want to Go Home" (13 times). Clearly I need to start paying more attention to background singers.

MJN said...

You want a ten-word example? R.E.M., "It's the End of the World As We Know It", 22 times.

Scraps has got one impressive music collection.

T. Nawrocki said...

For an eight-word phrase, I've got "Percy's Song," by Bob Dylan, wherein he says "Turn, turn to the rain and the wind" 15 times. I gotta find me some more dance music.

rob said...

gentlemen, compliments all round. I'm in awe.

my small contribution to this exploding field of music scholarship: Mr. John Waite, who ain't "Missing You," and repeats the title 53 times.

"Voices Carry" = a mere 27, yet "hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry" takes a strong lead in the 8-word-phrase category with a score of 19.

T. Nawrocki said...

Thanks to all for their contributions to this thread. I will post an updated scoreboard over the weekend.

Rob said...

subjects for future research:

1. Bob Seger: "Night Moves" = 27. "Still the Same" = 24. "Old Time Rock & Roll" = only 15. He may have topped these totals at some point; I was surprised "Night Moves" doesn't score higher.

2. The mid-80s, the steroid era of the "repeat chorus for two minutes" fadeout. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" = 20 (not counting "girls, they want to have fun"). "We Are The World" = 19. "I want to know what love is, and I want you to show me" = 7 reps, 14 words.

T. Nawrocki said...

Mid-80s is a good call. "Owner of a Lonely Heart," five words, 19 times.

T. Nawrocki said...

How about this for a three-fer:

"Don't stand": 42 times
"Don't stand so": 30 times
"Don't stand so close to me": 18 times

MJN said...

Now that's a stroke of inspiration! If anyone can dominate this category, it's got to be Sting. Another three-fer from the master of repetition:

"Next to You": 27 times
"So Lonely": 60 times (not counting any background vocals)
"I Can't": 70 times in total (including 20 as part of "I can't stand losing", and 5 more as part of "I can't stand losing you")

All from the same album!

I think 70 is the total to beat so far.

To my surprise, the Beatles repeated "number nine" only 45 times in "Revolution . . .".

Gavin said...

Suddenly Green Day seem like pikers when it comes to repetition.

MJN said...

I didn't give Sting enough credit for "Next to You". It's actually the full nine-word phrase "All I want is to be next to you" that's repeated in its entirety 27 times.

Only too bad for me, 'cause it's been repeated some 27,000 times within my cranium since yesterday.