Odes To Codes

May 10, 2019

Contestants get crackin' in this music parody where song lyrics have been changed to different types of code.

Heard on Taylor Schilling: Orange Is The New Clown.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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 Errik and Leo. Errik, you have a puggle.

ERRIK HOOD: Mmm hmm. His name is Murphy.

EISENBERG: Murphy - but sometimes you call him by another pet name.

HOOD: Well, he's, like, the kind of cute that's very ugly.


HOOD: So I call him ugly. In a very loving way.

EISENBERG: Yeah, how does that go over in the real world?

HOOD: Often not well.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

HOOD: Recently I was letting him out into the backyard, which is fenced in. So I let him do his thing. He was taking forever, so I open the door, and I just yelled, hurry up, ugly. And I saw a small child walk faster.


HOOD: And so I tried to yell out - I was talking to my puggle. But he was too far away, and so now I, like, worry that they drive by my house, like, that's the man who thinks I'm ugly.


EISENBERG: Leo, you used to be the president of a community garden, but you resigned.

LEO JONES: I did, yes.

EISENBERG: Too much work?

JONES: Yes 'cause you - in, like, a volunteer nonprofit...


JONES: ...If you're in charge, you end up doing pretty much everything.

EISENBERG: Everything.

JONES: Yeah.

EISENBERG: And now you're getting into gardening, though. You...

JONES: Yes. I never gardened while being the president of a community garden 'cause I never had the time. So now I'm learning, like, you know, how to grow tomatoes. And they are the most impressive but take the least amount of work. People are amazed by, you know, the bounty, but I really just go there every other week and just make sure they're not, like, dying.

EISENBERG: That's the perfect relationship with the plant...

JONES: Yeah, yeah.

EISENBERG: ...I would say, yes. So this is a music parody game called Odes to Codes.

COULTON: We have replaced song lyrics with different types of codes. Ring in and tell me what code we're using. And if you can get that right, you can earn a bonus point by identifying the original song or the artist who made it famous.

EISENBERG: Errik, stay in the lead, and you're in the final round. Leo, you need to get more points, or when you publish your webpage, everything will be weirdly off to the right, and you won't be able to figure out why.


EISENBERG: Ring in to answer. Here we go.

COULTON: (Singing) So when you're near me - dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot, dot. When you're gone - dot, dot, dot, dash, dash, dash, dot, dot, dot.



JONES: Morse code.

COULTON: Morse code is correct.


COULTON: And for a bonus point, can you name the song or the artist that made it famous?

JONES: I cannot.

COULTON: That song was "S.O.S" by ABBA.

JONES: OK, thank you.

COULTON: You're welcome.


COULTON: Here's your next one. (Singing) Romeo, echo, Sierra, papa, Charlie, tango, Romeo, echo, Sierra. Take care, tango, Charlie, bravo.



JONES: Like, the military code - military alphabet.

COULTON: Yeah, we could take that. That's called the NATO phonetic alphabet - is what it's called.

JONES: Yes, that.

COULTON: Yeah, we'll take that. For a bonus point, can you name the song or artist?



JONES: No, I don't...

COULTON: That's a weird guess to make based on what the answer to the last one was.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

JONES: It was stuck in my head for some reason.

COULTON: No, that was "Respect" by Aretha Franklin.

HOOD: Yeah.


EISENBERG: I got to say also, does anyone else do this? I call up - you know, customer service situations, sometimes the phone line is not great. And then I have a weird name, and they always want to know your name, and then they will say spell it to me. And so I feel like if I just spell out my name - so I try to use the phonetic alphabet to spell it, but I forget what everything - I forget what it is. So I just start making it up and, it becomes bizarre.


EISENBERG: Like ostrich, pine cone, hairnet...


COULTON: Hepatitis.


EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly - rah-rah.

COULTON: (Singing) I've been to 89433, 60647, 58107, 14207, 67052, 74107, 33601, 99349, 78586, 04401, 21207, 79117.



HOOD: Latitude, longitude.

COULTON: Oh, that's a really good guess. That would've been a good one to do. But no, that's incorrect.

HOOD: Good, great.

COULTON: Leo, do you have a guess?

JONES: The Fibonacci sequence, which is not a code, so - no.

COULTON: I'm sorry. That's incorrect. Those were ZIP codes.



COULTON: And that was Johnny Cash "I've Been Everywhere."

EISENBERG: I feel like if I wrote that song, it would be, like, 10003, 10004, 10005...


EISENBERG: ...10019, 11217 - like, (laughter) super boring.

COULTON: (Laughter) I've been hardly anywhere.


EISENBERG: Yeah, exactly.

COULTON: I've just been in this one place.

EISENBERG: I'm on the R line.


COULTON: Barely outside this burrow, don't like to go to Queens.


COULTON: OK, here's your next one. (Singing) at first u+1F622 - it makes me u+1, yeah, F600 At worst, I feel bad for a while, but then I just u+1F600.



HOOD: Like international codes - phone codes, area codes, national codes.

COULTON: Sorry, that is incorrect.

HOOD: Great.

COULTON: Leo, do you know the answer?




COULTON: It was a unicode emojis.



HOOD: That's what I meant.

COULTON: I know.


COULTON: Deep cut, everybody - deep cut.

EISENBERG: I know. Yeah. Yeah. That's intense.

COULTON: And that, of course, was "Smile" by Lily Allen. OK. This is your last clue. (Singing) I'm going to 816 - 816 - here I come. I'm going to 913 - 913 - here I come. They got a crazy way of loving there. I'm going to get me some.



JONES: Area codes?

COULTON: Area codes is the answer. That's correct.


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

JONES: I swear I do listen to music.


JONES: But I do not know the...

COULTON: I totally believe you.

JONES: I don't...

COULTON: This is a weird context...


COULTON: ...In which to hear a song. That's for sure.

JONES: I - and I also love your voice.

COULTON: Oh, thanks so much.


JONES: But I don't know the answer to it.

COULTON: It's not - I still can't give you the point.


COULTON: It was "Kansas City" by lots of people.


COULTON: Ophira, how did our contestants do?

EISENBERG: Leo did amazing in that second game. But Errik still came out ahead and is going to our final round.

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