Happy 2022: It’s the Not-by-Weezer Challenge!

Happy New Year, everyone.

I don’t have a whole lot of time to write at the moment, but with 2022 finally here, I’m going have a whole bunch of new essays and announcements in the upcoming months. December has been quite busy, to say the least.

Anyway, no sooner had I come out of retirement with the Not-by-the-Cure challenge had I already written half of the clues about Weezer. I owe a tip of the hat to the Wizard and the Bruiser, who did a great episode of their podcast recently that put me into a more positive frame of mind about Rivers Cuomo and his compatriots. Also, Jake Young referred to Matt Sharp (who I long considered the band’s secret weapon early on) as an “alpha-Chad,” and I haven’t been able to think of anything else regarding Weezer since.

Here you go! Tell a friend, make sure to hashtag it #NotByWeezer, spread some New Years’ cheer with power-chords and songs about nerd stuff, and never forget to bring home the turkey if they bring home the bacon.

The “Not by The Cure” Song-a-Day Challenge

Happy November, everyone. To many, that means we’ve just passed another Halloween celebration. Also to many, that means that Dia de los Muertos is fast approaching. To infinitely fewer, that means a new Song-a-Day challenge from Sonic Geography.

I should elaborate; I retired from building these things months ago. A pair of my friends from DC who began a supportive Facebook group during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 gladly took over delegating the responsibility once I told them I was stepping down from the monthly task. But, never content to let sleeping dogs lie, I decided to reverse my “retirement” for a month. This is hardly a Jordan/HaĊĦek/Eminem/Jay-Z move on my part; I merely had another set of Not-By song cues ready to go last year that I never got around to building into a full month.

With no further ado, I give you: THE NOT-BY-THE CURE song-a-day challenge for November!

There’s no real November connection I can ascertain for The Cure. Robert Smith was born in April, and Faith came out in April 1981, so it’s not like there’s a major anniversary here. Why can’t we just use November to celebrate the existence of one of the greatest and most unique British rock bands of the past fifty years, anyway?

So, please do download the image to your phone, play along, use the hashtag #NotbytheCure, and just try to see in the dark. Just try to make it work.

The Not-by-Fleetwood Mac Song Challenge!

Happy Saturday and Happy Mayday, everybody! It’s the end of the semester for me, so that means a deluge of grading and then a deluge of new posts (currently gathering dust in the drafts folder) for this site!

Thank you profusely to those of you who enjoyed the #NotbyBlur challenge for April. I regret not posting my full list this time around, but there are so many lists on the way that even I may get sick of them. For now, enjoy the song challenge for May: (NOT BY) FLEETWOOD MAC.

#NotByFleetwoodMac

One of my co-creators, Matt Gever, already claimed the June challenge for his own nefarious purposes, and I will be grateful for the month off. But he and Marissa reached out to me recently, and we realized the May challenge should be a female artist or at least a band with prominent female membership. Of course, the eternally relevant (more than five decades!) and endlessly dramatic Fleetwood Mac fit the bill, so hopefully this strikes a chord across generations of music fans. It sure would for Nathan Apodaca and all the lucky music academics with whom I got to participate in the Rumours livetweet party back in February.

So, I would imagine you all know the drill by this point. Download, share, have fun on whichever platform suits your fancy, and don’t forget to hashtag it #NotByFleetwoodMac.

It’s the Inevitable #NotByBlur Song Challenge for April!

Depending on your age, Britpop acumen, knowledge of my musical preferences, and awareness of Blur’s early, commendable but not quite brilliant debut album Leisure, you may have immediately known what April’s challenge was going to be when you saw the word “bang” in yesterday’s post. Either way, nobody involved in these challenges could possibly have thought they’d make it out of the pandemic year without a tribute to the collective works of Damon, Alex, Dave, and (most of the time) Graham.

Despite how Gorillaz has now technically been a longer-going concern for (genius) Albarn, making goat cheese is a bigger priority for Alex James than plucking the bass strings or hosting BBC documentaries about cocaine, and Graham Coxon has made more solo albums than Blur records, the Essex foursome will always be at the fore for me. So, in the interest of celebrating my birthday in the only obnoxious, ostentatious way I will ever bring myself to, it’s the Not-by-Blur song challenge!

Per usual, there’s only one rule (Gorillaz and other Albarn material are fair game). Make sure to share, have fun, and hashtag it with #NotbyBlur. Also, on the 9th, don’t hesitate to message or tweet at me with your pick! Or, any other day I suppose, but especially on that day. The mind gets short-y as you get closer to forty.

My #NotbytheMisfits Song Challenge Results

I haven’t kept up with these for the most part, but March was a special month. Not only did it mark the one-year Anniversary of (most of us) being in ostensible lockdown, but it also featured the first three-way collaboration on one of these song challenges. I’m grateful that the pandemic brought me together with Matt Gever and back together with Marissa Tisch. Both have been fun bouncing songs off each morning, and they’ve also been great about reminding me of when Jewish holidays have come around. Happy belated Passover, by the way. I hope those of you celebrating found that afikoman.

Below you can find my selections for 30 songs this month that were not written by Glenn Danzig or the Caiafa brothers (though let’s be honest, the number of great Misfits songs that Danzig had nothing to do with number in the single digits).

  1. Mean Jeans – “Life on Mars”
  2. Converge – “Eagles Become Vultures”
  3. The Putz – “She’s a Brat”
  4. The Rezillos – “No”
  5. The Offspring – “Want You Bad”
  6. The Libertines – “Horror Show”
  7. Indochine – “Marilyn”
  8. The Gaslight Anthem – “’45′”
  9. Chixdiggit – “323”
  10. The McRackins – “Candy”
  11. Los Nikis – “El Imperio Contraataca”
  12. Nothing – “Blue Line Baby”
  13. Sweet – “Ballroom Blitz”
  14. Klaus Nomi – “Total Eclipse”
  15. Frustration – “Assassination”
  16. Schlitz – “Destroy Babylon”
  17. Fastway – “Trick or Treat”
  18. Oasis – “Digsy’s Dinner” (seriously; that band was not meant to outlive Tony McCarroll)
  19. Against Me! – “Scream Until You’re Coughing Up Blood”
  20. Choking Victim – “Infested (the Lindane Conspiracy Vol. 1)”
  21. Tyler Childers – “Born Again”
  22. Tom Waits – “Dirt in the Ground”
  23. Ween – “Push th’ Little Daisies”
  24. Jerry Reed – “Eastbound and Down”
  25. The Muffs – “Lucky Guy”
  26. Green Day – “Brain Stew”
  27. Randy – “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Punk Rock Flu”
  28. Aerosmith – “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”
  29. Def Leppard – “Rock of Ages”
  30. Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Manic Depression”

Now that we are coming up on the one-year anniversary of these song challenges, I may retire them (or at least pass the torch) for a bit. HOWEVER, since April is my birthday month, I couldn’t resist the urge to hijack the thing to go out with a bang. That’s all you’re getting until it goes live tomorrow morning at 8am ET.

Beware the #NotByTheMisfits Song Challenge for March!

If you wanna scream, SCREAM WITH ME. In honor of Glenn, Jerry, Doyle, Bobby, and the various other players who composed New Jersey’s greatest horror-punk export (Michale Graves excepted), this month’s challenge issues 30 days of pure, uncut horror business with a side of brains (which can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, or brunch).

I should probably explain where I’ve been.

Living, mainly. As I mentioned last month, I got somewhat burned out and decided to let some other maniacs take the wheel. In my stead, my internet-friend Matt (who I met through a Facebook group of DC-diaspora friends who really took to these song-a-day challenges) stepped in and filled the gap for February with his excellent Not-by-ABBA challenge. Like a man after my own heart, Matt turned right around from one of the glitziest, poppiest pop groups in history and suggested “Misfits March.” The result is what you see up there.

I’m excited to have a new song-a-day challenge up here of my own co-creation. Per usual, download it, share it, tell a friend (or foe), and remember there’s only one rule. Don’t forget to hashtag it #NotByTheMisfits!

BONUS CHALLENGE
My friend Marissa, who has been running similar photo challenges on her pandemic Facebook group, has once again collaborated with the Not-By theme for this month. It is the Misfits-based photo challenge! No photos of any of the Misfits necessary.

Three (count ’em) Song Challenges for February (which I Inspired, but Didn’t Make)

Back at the beginning of the pandemic “lockdown” (as much it can be called that in the United States), when I put together a matrix for the #SonicGeographySongChallenge, I didn’t imagine my idea for the following month, #NotbyBillyJoel, would lead to a new challenge every remaining month in 2020. Over the New Year, I decided to take January off. I had a couple of ideas in the works for February, but before I could follow through, I got contacted by [NAME REDACTED] of a (mainly DC expats) Facebook group I’m in asking if he could use my matrix for his own idea. I gladly said yes and sent the Photoshop file over to Matt… uh, I mean [redacted].

Imagine my surprise when I logged into Facebook on Monday morning and saw not only the #NotbyAbbaChallenge, but also two others: one by Paul, a teacher down in Miami, and another by my friend Mike and his buddy challenging people to NOT post love songs all month.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post them all here. I should have done that yesterday, but the day got away from me for various reasons. Anyway, enjoy the “Not by ABBA” Challenge, the “Not a Love Song” challenge, and the “Not by Queen” challenge, all to keep your February filled with music in its 28 days.

In case anybody is wondering, my Day-1 choices for all three challenges were Refused songs. If you can guess which three, then more power to you.

It’s the #NotByTomWaits Song Challenge for December!

Grab your $29, fill your jockey full of bourbon, and clap hands while whistling through the graveyard, it’s the NOT-BY-TOM-WAITS SONG-A-DAY CHALLENGE!

Tom Waits playing a grizzled old prospector in 2018’s ‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’ (as much as I’m partially convinced they just set up hidden cameras and filmed what he was doing that week anyway).

As I hinted yesterday, for most Tom Waits fans, the mere mention of Little Anthony and the Imperials elicits thoughts of “Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis,” one of the truly saddest and funniest and most beautiful songs ever written. It’s also not the only Minneapolis song I drew directly from for this challenge; “9th and Hennepin,” a standout track from ‘Rain Dogs,’ gave me an excuse to ask everyone for songs about intersections (the topic of one of the first episodes of The Casual Geographer). Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out his songwriting (and life) partner Kathleen Brennan, since she co-wrote or inspired many of these alluded classics.

In honor of Mr. Waits’ birthday on the 7th of the final month of a year in which we all felt, at points, like the Earth was dying screaming, I couldn’t resist this. DIG IN:

Per usual, there is only one rule, and it’s self-explanatory. Be careful with this one, though; Tom is all over pop culture in places you may not expect. Download the matrix, have fun, don’t forget to tag it #NotByTomWaits, and keep asking around regarding where Mr. Knickerbocker’s at (even if nobody’s sure).

I try to refrain from using profanity on this site, but as your special treat for this unveiling, enjoy my favorite Tom Waits Letterman interview, which is probably the funniest fucking thing I’ve ever seen.

“Notice how he worked around that hinge!”

My #NotaShowtune Song Challenge Results for November

Thanks again to Courtney for coming up with the vast majority of these! I’m so glad to be able to collaborate with her, even from afar. Since I’m hardly a Broadway expert, I wasn’t at all tempted to break this month’s rule, but it also sent me down a musicological path where I started wondering “what IS a showtune?” Because you could make arguments that certain pop songs that were never technically in stage musicals are still showtunes in the sense that ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie.

Anyway, here is the matrix, for reference, and my list, below:

  1. Spinal Tap – “Gimme Some Money”
  2. Airiel – “In Your Room”
  3. The Coup / Dead Prez – “Get Up”
  4. Leadbelly – “The Bourgeois Blues”
  5. Richard Marx – “Endless Summer Nights”
  6. Carl Douglas – “Dance the Kung Fu” (the little-remembered miiiiilking-it follow-up to his legendary one hit wonder)
  7. American Steel – “Maria” (this song is so good, I’ll go out of my way to link it here)
  8. The Stone Roses – “I Wanna be Adored”
  9. The Field Mice – “Emma’s House”
  10. Rob Zombie – “Dragula”
  11. ABBA – “Mamma Mia”
  12. Scissor Sisters – “Take Your Mama”
  13. The Zombies – “Beechwood Park”
  14. Steve Martin – “Late for School”
  15. The Chicks – “Gaslighter”
  16. The Queers – “Everything’s OK”
  17. Gang of Four – “Guns or Butter”
  18. Red City Radio – “Where We’re Going We Don’t Need Roads”
  19. The Pietasters – “Girl Take It Easy”
  20. A.C. Newman – “Drink to Me Babe Then”
  21. Groovie Ghoulies – “Hair of Gold (and Skin of Blue)”
  22. The Hextalls – “I’m the Best (in Bed)”
  23. Fountains of Wayne – “Valley Winter Song” (RIP Adam Schlesinger)
  24. Jens Lekman – “I Know What Love Isn’t” (feat. Busman’s Holiday!)
  25. Jaya the Cat – “Shit Jobs for Rock”
  26. The Get Up Kids – “I’m a Loner, Dottie, a Rebel”
  27. Lungfish – “Put Your Hand in my Hand” (I had to go with Moss Icon on Instagram, since Dischord’s catalog isn’t on there)
  28. New Order – “Touched by the Hand of God”
  29. Poison – “Talk Dirty to Me”
  30. Jets to Brazil – “Cat Heaven”

Thanks for playing and your continued support, everybody. The December Song Challenge will go up here tomorrow at 8am ET. Here is a clue to your December theme, below. It’s a bad clue, because almost everybody who loves the featured artist will immediately get it, but a clue nonetheless. NO (public) GUESSES.

The ‘NOT-A-SHOWTUNE’ Song Challenge for November!

I’ve gone on the record, more than once, that I’m not a big fan of musicals. I especially dislike those “Oh, but you’ll like THIS musical, Tyler” musicals. The only musical I genuinely love is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Otherwise, there are a handful I will tolerate because people close to me love them, but even then I will still periodically wince when the belting begins. God, I hate when singers belt, especially with those assembly line vocal styles that the Andrew Lloyd Webbers of the world have forced us to agree are “good.”

But, I digress. This is why, among other reasons, that this month is a collaboration! My great friend Courtney, who lives in the DC area with her husband, small son, and slightly smaller dog, happens to be a Broadway fanatic. In fact, the last time we collaborated on anything, it was in the DC theatre scene, notably the 2008 Hexagon show (for which she did plenty of the heavy vocal lifting, and I hid in the chorus with my mic turned down).

Anyway, ye grande lockdown(e) of 2020 gave us an excuse to collaborate once again. Her sister Marissa (also a DC friend, with whom I bonded over Sunny Day Real Estate and the Dismemberment Plan) started a Facebook group in which these song-a-day challenges have assumed a whole new life. It only made sense that Courtney draw from her musical theatre past and create a 30-day-challenge. Also, it was her birthday this past Thursday, so…

Download this, share it with your friends, make sure to hashtag #NotAShowtune, and wish Courtney a Happy Belated Birthday! Her Instagram handle is next to mine under the title.

The only rule is… just as obvious in the past few months. And yes, musicals that became more famous as movies count, too. You theatre nerds should know!