OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
We're playing games with Martin Courtney and Alex Bleeker from the band Real Estate. Are you ready for another game?
ALEX BLEEKER: Yes.
MARTIN COURTNEY: Yes.
EISENBERG: All right. So this is exciting because you both told us that you are into music from the '90s. So Jonathan Coulton will sing you the clues in this game called Other '90s.
JONATHAN COULTON: Yes, we took songs from the 1990s and rewrote them to be about things from the '90s. But the twist is those things could be from the '90s of any century - 1890s, 1790s, 1690s. I won't list all of them. You understand.
COULTON: So to earn the point, all you have to do is tell me the '90s thing that I'm singing about, the song I'm parodying or the artist who made it famous. And there's a bonus point if you also want to guess the century that the thing is from.
COULTON: So this first one is for you, Alex.
(Singing) I spin this to see what's near. The map's not flat 'cause it's a sphere. The equator goes round its girth. It sure is blue on this mini-Earth.
BLEEKER: OK, let me see how many I can do here...
BLEEKER: Harvey Danger, "Paranoid"...
COULTON: Uh-oh. Martin's shaking his head. That's - Harvey Danger is correct.
BLEEKER: Oh, I'm not sick. I mean, I know - (singing) I'm not sick, but I'm not well.
COULTON: Yeah, you know this song.
BLEEKER: OK, so it is Harvey Danger, but it's not "Paranoid."
COULTON: It is Harvey Danger. "Flagpole Sitta" is the name of the song.
BLEEKER: I would never have known the name of that song in my entire life.
BLEEKER: I always thought it was "Paranoid." OK. So that - 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Is that what we're singing about here?
COULTON: It's a good - I mean, that's a fine guess.
EISENBERG: Oh, I mean...
COULTON: You're actually putting a lot of things together. I'm just talking about a spherical map is called a...
BLEEKER: It's called a globe.
COULTON: A globe - that is correct.
COULTON: We actually don't know for sure when the first globe was created. But the oldest globe still in existence, in what '90s was that globe created?
BLEEKER: In the 1490s.
COULTON: Yeah, 1490s.
COULTON: All right, Martin, here's one for you.
(Singing) And all the mountains in the state are greening (ph). That snowboarder, she wears a tie-dyed beanie. I love maple syrup, and that Ben & Jerry's makes me want to kiss a cow.
COURTNEY: Well, that's "Wonderwall" by Oasis.
COULTON: That is correct. And what is the thing that I am singing about?
COURTNEY: Vermont, the state of Vermont.
COULTON: Vermont. The state of Vermont, that's right. Correct. And for a bonus point, in what '90s did Vermont join the union?
COURTNEY: OK. Well, that's 1790s, I'd have to guess.
COULTON: Yeah, that's correct - 1790s - 1791, in fact.
COURTNEY: Got it.
BLEEKER: I went to school in Vermont.
COULTON: Oh, yeah.
BLEEKER: And we're from New Jersey originally, as we probably mentioned earlier. And they have a little slogan up there. It says, don't Jersey Vermont, which makes...
COULTON: Oh, jeez.
BLEEKER: ...Aka, like - I don't know - don't pave for it over or something.
COULTON: Don't ruin it, is what they mean. Yeah.
BLEEKER: Yeah. I always took - yeah, that was a harsh one for me.
COULTON: Wow (laughter). All right, Alex, here's one for you. The name of this next song is a swearword, so you will have to figure out an NPR-friendly way to say the answer.
COULTON: (Singing) Legs the Frog, Flash the Dolphin, Squealer Pig, Spot the Dog, and I collected the whole crew, the belly stuffing zoo. Going to sell my whole stash. These things are worth that cash. Now I'm going to make a fortune on eBay.
BLEEKER: OK, it's the B-word.
COULTON: It is the B-word. That is correct.
EISENBERG: There you go.
BLEEKER: I actually forget who sings that song, though, but a great song.
COULTON: It is a great song. It is by Meredith Brooks.
BLEEKER: Thank you, Meredith, wherever you are. Were you singing about Beanie Babies?
COULTON: I was thinking about Beanie Babies. That's correct.
COULTON: This is probably going to be an easy bonus point for you, but what '90s are the Beanie Babies from?
COULTON: 1390s is correct.
EISENBERG: That's right.
EISENBERG: That's why those collections are so valuable.
COULTON: Worth a lot of money.
BLEEKER: It's funny because that brand, Ty, like, they still makes things, you know?
BLEEKER: And they're make - like, I have three kids. And like, every once in a while, you know, someone will give them a doll with the heart tag on it. And it's like...
BLEEKER: ...You still - like, it's, like, weirdly ingrained in me from being a kid in the '90s that, like, you can't take that tag off. Like, it's like...
BLEEKER: And then it's, like, so cathartic to actually just take it off. You're like, just take the tag off, like, you know.
COULTON: Right. All right, last one is for you, Martin.
(Singing) 'Cause I am hardly moving, and this is pretty sweet. I'm standing on a staircase, don't have to move my feet. You might think I'm lazy. I should use the stairs. But since I'm really out of shape, so out of shape, my answer is, who cares?
COURTNEY: All right. That was, like, my - I loved that song.
COULTON: Me, too.
COURTNEY: It was such a good song. That's Duncan Sheik, right?
COULTON: That's right.
COURTNEY: But I guess - I'm guessing that it's called, like, "I'm Barely Breathing." Is that what it's called?
COULTON: "Barely Breathing," that's what it's called. Exactly.
COURTNEY: OK, "Barely Breathing." And you're singing about an escalator.
COULTON: That is correct. Yeah, you got all three. That's right.
COURTNEY: All right.
COULTON: Bonus point is coming your way. When was the first earliest working escalator patented?
COURTNEY: Maybe 1890s.
COULTON: Yeah, you got it, 1890s, 1892. That's right.
COURTNEY: OK, great.
COULTON: And it was actually introduced to the public in 1896 as a ride at Coney Island - as a ride.
COURTNEY: Oh, that's fun.
COULTON: Whee (laughter).
EISENBERG: (Laughter), Fantastic. All the points - more points, so great job. Great job.
COULTON: Clean sweep.
EISENBERG: Real Estate's latest EP is called "Half A Human." Martin Courtney, Alex Bleeker, thank you so much for joining us.
BLEEKER: Thank you, guys.
BLEEKER: Thanks for having us.
COULTON: Thanks, guys.
EISENBERG: After the break, from "Will & Grace," it's Sean Hayes. He'll tell us what it was like to return to his character, Jack, in the revival of "Will & Grace." And we'll play a word game about sweet treats and medical conditions. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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