Music is a large part of pretty much every quiz night we run. We always have background music suitable for each round; we test teams on film and TV themes and various other questions involve music in some form. I play music before a quiz starts and during whatever breaks take place.
However, this post is, specifically, about putting together what is nearly always one of the most enjoyable rounds, the Music Round. More than any other round, the Music round serves a dual purpose, as both quiz competition and straight up rabble-rousing entertainment. Frankly, not every question within the music round needs to be a test – if it gets a roomful of people singing along to some mid-90s hip-hop one hit wonder, well that’s just fine.
I nearly always include a music quiz round, and my music round is nearly always heavy on clips of popular music. There can be a little bit of variation between our quizmasters on this – some might, occasionally, include music inside a larger, more general Entertainment round, some might include significantly more pieces of classical music and, say, songs from musicals. It always depends on the participants, of course. But I, for the most part, like a good solid “Name the artist” (with one or two variations) music round.
I really look forward to the music round in each quiz event. Most other rounds I’ll have mostly planned in advance, but I pretty much choose my musical clips on the night, thinking about what will work at that particular moment. Having said I really enjoy the music round, that isn’t necessarily because I actively like the music I’m playing! Sometimes quite the opposite.
It would be a big mistake if I actually played music I was into – failed singer-songwriters, 90s Scottish indie, 60s garage bands, and several Bob Dylan songs, that would be my music round. And it would be rubbish.
When I started running quizzes, I felt I had to remind myself of that. So I would deliberately start the quiz with something I loathed, just to separate my own taste from what I was playing – ‘It’s All Coming Back to Me Now’ by Celine Dion was usually the thing. Right, the only way is up from there, I’d think.
In putting together the music round, there are a few different reactions I’m looking for over the course of the round.
– I know that one, that one’s easy
– Ooh I have an urge to sing along to the chorus of this one
– Ooh, this one’s tricky, it could be this or that
– I’ve no idea about this one, oh actually is it …
– This is a really nice song actually
-Hmph, these songs aren’t from my era, oh no hang on this one is, this is the good stuff
– I recognise the song but I don’t quite remember the band
– What is this ridiculous nonsense?
– Is it Tamsin Archer or Tasmin Archer?
Those are just some of the reactions I’m hoping for – I want a good range of eras and styles (the temptation can be to stick to 80s/90s but I’d say one should try to fit in at least one from pretty much every decade, including this one), I want some sing-a-longs, I want the odd slow number, I want a horrible novelty song, I want time-specific dance moves.
The majority of my ideal music quiz round is ‘Name the artist’, but there are some other things thrown in – things like Rewinds, recognise the song from the 1st Note, Missing Link and Mystery Year. The first two of those work really well because, invariably, people think that is going to be very difficult but it turns out to be very gettable. Though the first note of ‘Come on Eileen’ does sound a lot like the first note of ‘Summer Lovin”.
The Mystery Year question, with which I usually finish the music round, is quite often the highlight of the whole quiz. I don’t know exactly why (well I do actually), but teams will always have debated at great length where they were when they first heard the songs from the mystery year, and someone will be convinced it was her first year at Uni so it must be 1986 and someone will be convinced it was the year his baby sister was born so it must be 1987, and when I announce the answer, the howls of delight/anger are something to behold.
So, that’s the music round. Not cleverly worded questions, but plenty of thought, not deep intellectual knowledge, just a good recollection of the songs you grew up with.