Closing Time You make me feel like a Natural... Wonders? In this music parody game, contestants identify retail chains that went out of business.

Closing Time

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JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now, here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.



Thank you, Jonathan. Before the break, we met our contestants, Steve and Eli. Soon, they'll play a game about bygone retail chains. You know, I used to go to the mall to get everything - clothes, pizza, boyfriends. Now, I just order them all online.


EISENBERG: Let's check in with our contestants. Stephen, a year ago, you taught yourself how to knit.

STEPHEN POWELL: Yes. It's very fun. Everyone should do it.

EISENBERG: What have you made?

POWELL: I made a hat that I have with me tonight.


POWELL: I made two baby blankets.


POWELL: And I've made a couple scarves.


POWELL: But don't do it, because all you'll end up doing is - all your free time, you're like, yeah, I'm watching TV, but I could be knitting too. Like, you always feel like you could be doing something.

EISENBERG: But that's great. I think that's good.

POWELL: Yeah, until you drop a stitch.

EISENBERG: I know, and then you have to go back.


EISENBERG: Yeah. Let's go to your next game. Eli, what store do you wish would just close and go away?

ELI ROBINSON: I'd have to say the IHOP.


ROBINSON: Well, I'm a big Waffle House guy.


ROBINSON: Yeah. And I'm kind of tired of people thinking that they're comparable.

EISENBERG: So what's the main difference for you?

ROBINSON: Well, there's the waffles and pancakes thing, but...

EISENBERG: You can't...

ROBINSON: How about getting your hash browns got smothered, covered, chunked, topped, diced and peppered at the Waffle House? Like...


ROBINSON: Come on. That's the real deal.

EISENBERG: So this is a music parody game about stores that went bust.

COULTON: Each clue is a pop song rewritten to be about a popular brick-and-mortar retail chain that went out of business. As a clue, each song charted in the year the store closed.

ROBINSON: Oh, yeah.

COULTON: Well, that'll definitely help you.


COULTON: Just ring in and tell me the retailer that I'm singing about, and if you get that right, you can earn a bonus point if you name the original song or the artist who made it famous. You ready?

POWELL: Let's do it.

COULTON: All right. This song is from 2011. (Singing) Brick-and-mortars really losing dough, though my friends preferred your coffee shop to Barnes and Noble's. They bought you and you're gone now, so you're a bookstore bathroom where I used to go. Just a bookstore bathroom where I used to go.


COULTON: Stephen?

POWELL: Borders.

COULTON: Borders is correct.


COULTON: And for a bonus point, can you name the original song or artist?

POWELL: The lovely Gotye.

COULTON: Yeah, that's right. Yeah.


COULTON: This song is from 2008. (Singing) Na na na na na na na, I need a garbage can. Na na na na na na na, I need a bedroom fan. So, so what about a duvet? Also a bath mat, egg separator. You're out, but Bed Bath & Beyond's the store that's not gone. Got 50 coupons, all right.



ROBINSON: Brown Squirrel Furniture?


ROBINSON: We used to have one in Tennessee. I don't know if it's still there.

POWELL: If that's right, I'm going to be upset.


ROBINSON: It was worth a shot.

COULTON: That's a fine answer. It is incorrect.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

EISENBERG: I like the idea, though, that some of these have been written about your hometown.


ROBINSON: I didn't know it wasn't other places.


COULTON: Stephen, do you have a bizarre local store that you'd like to name?


POWELL: Is it Brookstone?

COULTON: No, I'm sorry. It's not Brookstone either. It's Linens and Things.

ROBINSON: Oh, wow. A lot of...

COULTON: Big competitor to Brown Squirrel.

ROBINSON: Yeah, that's right.


COULTON: Okay, so that song was "So What" by P!nk. This song is from 2017. (Singing) Mercury - so that's a synonym for the surf shop that's gone, though. All you teens pretending to be surfers spent, oh, buying your board shorts and your flip-flops here, bro. Mercury, yo.


COULTON: Stephen?

POWELL: Quiksilver?

COULTON: Yeah, Quiksilver is right.



COULTON: It's a surf shop. For a bonus point, can you name the song or artist?

POWELL: Despacito.

COULTON: Yes, that's correct. Si. This song is from 2017. (Singing) Oh, need a power suit for women. I've been selling them since 1963 then. Sensible attire for the mall's adults. Oh, well, my store name means restricted. Made a tween store, too, that's somewhat contradictive. They're no longer there. Try Ann Taylor Loft.



ROBINSON: Limited?

COULTON: Yeah, The Limited. That's right.


COULTON: Bonus point if you name the song or the artist.

ROBINSON: (Singing) 1970.

COULTON: (Vocalizing).

ROBINSON: It sounds like, (singing) oh, I'm a rebel.


COULTON: We'll edit all this out later.

ROBINSON: "Rebel Just For Kicks" is probably not the name of the song.

COULTON: No. I'm sorry, that's incorrect.


COULTON: That was "Feel It Still" by Portugal. the Man.

ROBINSON: Yeah, yeah. Of course it was.

COULTON: Of course it was.


COULTON: This is your last clue. This song is from 2008. (Singing) You're white and you're red. You failed and you're dead. You sold us TVs, Walkmen, and CDs. Poor metropolis of electronics where no one would shop. Now, Best Buy's on top.



ROBINSON: Circuit City.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.


COULTON: Can you name the song or artist?

ROBINSON: (Singing) In then you're out. You're up, then you're down. You're wrong when you're right.


ROBINSON: Katy Perry?

COULTON: Yeah, that's right.


ROBINSON: Feels good.

COULTON: How'd they do, Ophira?

EISENBERG: All right. Great set of games. And congratulations, Stephen, you are moving on to our final round.


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