Ken Jennings Music Trivia

A little while ago I posted a tough music trivia question courtesy of Ken Jennings’ weekly trivia.   The question and now, the answer, are posted below, from Ken’s blog.   Jacob correctly pinned it down, suggesting, “no rhyming verses.”  In fact, there are no rhymes at all, in any of these songs. Good job, Jacob!

On last week’s Tuesday Trivia quiz, I asked what these songs have in common:

  • “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows
  • “White Room” by Cream
  • “It’s Not Easy Being Green” by Kermit the Frog
  • “Hand in My Pocket” by Alanis Morissette
  • “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam
  • “Karma Police” by Radiohead
  • “America” by Simon and Garfunkel
  • “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega

The answer is that these songs are all 100% free, as far as I could tell, of any exact rhyme. Alanis goes to great lengths not to rhyme anything in “Hand in My Pocket,” for example–it must have been tempting to “give the peace sign” at the end of those two choruses where everything’s going to be “fine fine fine.” But she doesn’t. She gives a peace sign, then hails a taxi cab.

I was annoyed that almost all the best-known unrhymed songs I could think up came from a five-year span in the 1990s. Did Spin magazine officially abolish rhyme in 1989 or something? I couldn’t find anything newer than “Karma Police.” I couldn’t think of anything from the 1970s. Most of the classic songs that are often thought of as rhymeless (“Stairway to Heaven,” for example, or “Mrs. Robinson”) actually do rhyme occasionally. The entire Beatles catalog, except for trivial cases like “Flying”, rhymes. “Across the Universe” comes closest to rhymelessness–it has no end rhymes, but a couple obvious internal ones (“inciting and inviting me”, “possessing and caressing me”).

And yet in 1995 you couldn’t turn on the radio without hearing wall-to-wall rhyme-free classics like that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” song. No idea why.

So help me out–what are the unrhymed hits that I missed, people? And no oratorios! You know how I hate oratorios.

About Janos Marton

Janos Marton is a lawyer, advocate and writer.
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