We don't just talk any more.
February 7, 2012 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I need a question that prompts extended conversation. There should be no actual answer to the question. It should probably be about music.

My friends and I go to New Orleans once a year for a long weekend. We are a helicopter pilot, a bartender, a stay at home dad, a system administrator and a food safety inspector. Beyond 20 years of friendship, the common thread among us is music.

Last year I had a question ready to prompt conversation: "What is the worst song by a band in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to make the Billboard Top 40."* Discussing this question in the right bars drew others in and resulted in good fun.

I am drawing a blank on a question for this year and I need help.

*Monterey by the Animals
posted by donpardo to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Which albums of the past few years are the modern classics that will still be remembered and played in 20 years (or more)? Which albums from 20 years ago seem to have ascended to that level, and which ones should have?
posted by PercussivePaul at 6:42 AM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: What's the best song from a One Hit Wonder?
posted by inturnaround at 6:44 AM on February 7, 2012

Create a lineup for the following:
1. Most musically talented supergroup
2. Most commercially successful supergroup
3. Supergroup perfectly balanced between talent and success
Age/time/death is not a barrier, ie. you can have 70s Clapton in the same band as 90s Grohl. However, rivalries and personalities must be accounted for, ie. you cannot realistically have people who hate each other in the same band.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:47 AM on February 7, 2012 [3 favorites]

So in my circles, an appropriate question would be "What is the next musical movement going to be based on historical trends?" But I run with classical musicians. Perhaps you could do the same thing with pop music? I know it evolves and grows in the same way (though significantly faster) as classical music. Perhaps you could also discuss schisms that appear to be developing in one or more genre, and where they might be leading performers in the future.
posted by jph at 6:49 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What covers are better than the original song?
posted by punchtothehead at 6:49 AM on February 7, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Those these would all work, punchtothehead and inturnaround are on the right track. Ideally the question has a finite list of possibilities. I probably should have mentioned that. Remember, we'll be drinking.
posted by donpardo at 6:51 AM on February 7, 2012

Who is the greatest behind the scenes/unsung hero of popular music in the second half of the 20thC?

The supergroup questions are awesome, though-- I'd go with those!

The Low Times Podcast recently did a march-madness style Worst Lyrics tourney that is likely to be of interest to your group. That's a potential topic as well.
posted by activitystory at 6:52 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rock bands/singers/artists who produced their best work over the age of 30.
posted by empath at 7:00 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Who are currently popular artists who will be asked to play the halftime show at the Superbowl 30 years from now? Discuss the various criteria for Superbowl halftime show performance artists, staying power of current musicians, and whether Madonna is over the hill.
posted by decathecting at 7:26 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you could travel back in time to any year of music, what would it be?
posted by knile at 7:31 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

What album from our youth (assuming the group is all about the same age) that we thought was an instant classic in high school turned out to be not so special when we revisited the record as adults.

Likewise, which instant classics from high school actually held up is another angle.
posted by COD at 7:31 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best and worst concert experiences are always a fun topic and the resulting conversation can be very long and interesting.

For a shorter topic, instead of fantasy football, I play fantasy band. I take my favorite musicians from different bands and imagine them together. Might lead to an interesting discussion.
posted by myselfasme at 7:44 AM on February 7, 2012

* I work at a music booking agency in Baton Rouge. Feel free to message me if you need any suggestions on where to go or who to see while in New Orleans. :)
posted by myselfasme at 7:45 AM on February 7, 2012

My friends and I have had a 'king, queen, jack' addendum to questions. The easiest way is to just pick the top three people but the trickier way is to pick the top man, top woman and then the bad boy/charming knave.

So if you're talking about concert experiences - top male performer, top female and performer you kind of wanted to hate but who ended up charming the pants off you (metaphorically or otherwise).
posted by hydrobatidae at 8:06 AM on February 7, 2012

What's the best band that's steadily produced music for more than two decades?
posted by entropone at 8:13 AM on February 7, 2012

Best example of genre fusion. Guilty pleasure song/group/artist you're not afraid to admit to. Guilty pleasure song/group/artist you're embarrassed to admit loving.

Very eponysterical question, donpardo! (Formerly announced KFOG's 10 at 10)
posted by smirkette at 9:19 AM on February 7, 2012

Best answer: Hundreds of years ago, Trouser Press magazine would invite readers into such discussions every month. The one I remember fondly is, "worst song on great album." (Mine was Moods for Moderns, from Elvis Costello's Armed Forces.)
posted by Superfrankenstein at 9:29 AM on February 7, 2012

What are, in order, the top 10 cities (alternately, states/countries) for music? Once you've got NYC and LA placed in 1 and 2, it gets interesting.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:48 AM on February 7, 2012

what's wrong with you?
posted by sexyrobot at 11:13 AM on February 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You might be interested in the AV Club's long-running Q&A feature, which throws various thought-provoking pop-cultural questions out to their writers and commenters to hash out. It covers more than music alone, but many are music-related. Some recent ones:

Whether you’re trying to blast a dictator out of hiding or exacerbate a feud with your neighbors, what music would you use to punish your enemies? 

Worst lyrical rhymes in popular music

What songs can you never shake once you get them in your head?

What’s the first piece of music you remember truly loving?
posted by Rhaomi at 11:36 AM on February 7, 2012

What's the best American band/artist to have been big in Japan (or Europe), but unknown in the US?
posted by Kattullus at 12:44 PM on February 7, 2012

What songs/bands/musicians should have been more popular than they actually were?

What is the most overrated song/band/musician?

What's the one song you like by an artist you normally don't?
posted by SisterHavana at 1:35 PM on February 7, 2012

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