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Manilow way too mellow to eradicate mall rats

Submitted by on Wednesday, 4 March 2009 6 Comments
musicTired of ranting at teens to straighten out? Burned out from complaining but never seeing any change result?

If you can't beat 'em, then drive them out with old fogey music.

That's the approach a New Zealand town is taking to rid an outdoor mall of trouble makers. Officials plan to pipe in "nice, easy listening" music like Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" and "Mandy" in hopes of soothing the savage teens.

"The intention is to change the environment in a positive way ... so nobody feels threatened or intimidated," Central City Business Association manager Paul Lonsdale told The Associated Press. "I did not say Barry Manilow is a weapon of mass destruction."

He's right about that. With the possible exception of "Copa Cabana" Manilow is just too mellow to drive away anyone, too saccharine to seriously annoy teens. Lull them into a nap, maybe, but it won't make them leave. Plus his "American Idol" cachet takes away the "what the hell is that" factor.

There are better ways.

They could easily pipe in kiddie music - one round of the "Barney" song would clear the mall, if not the city - but that would drive off older folks as well.

There's a huge cache of musical weapons of mass destruction to be found, though, and it won't even take government officials ginning up evidence to unearth it. I've narrowed the list to five.

1. Georgia Satellites, "Keep Your Hands to Yourself":

"I got a little change in my pocket going jingle lingle ling
Want to call you on the telephone baby I give you a ring
But each time we talk I get the same old thing
Always no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding ring"


You really don't get the full impact of this 1987, er, classic without the video. Too bad Warner Music's YouTube-cott has it off line right now.

Don't get me wrong: I have nothing against Southern Rock as a genre, if I can use those two words in the same sentence. I have something against stupid lyrics.

2. John Anderson, "Swingin"

"Her brother was on the sofa eatin chocolate pie
Her momma was in the kitchen cuttin' chicken up to fry
Her daddy was in the backyard rollin' up a garden hose
I was on the porch with Charlette feelin love down to my toes"


All the schmaltz of "Mandy" plus a twang. And to think it's in about.com's Top 500 country songs? Really? I can think of at least a thousand that are better.

"Swingin'" is from the same era as "Keep Your Hands to Yourself." Turning on the radio truly was torture in those days.

3. Sarah Brightman/Andrea Bocelli, "Time to Say Goodbye"

I actually like this song, in part because Bocelli is as easy on the eyes as he is on the ears. At least, he is when he combs his hair. It's included, though, because it drove Dad insane during his Italian restaurant years.

The owner would play the album incessantly in an effort to fake authenticity. It created atmosphere, all right, not to mention mental anguish for staff forced to listen eight hours a day. I think the legal term is "hostile work environment."

And I have to admit "Time to Say Goodbye" is the message Christchurch is trying to send.

4. Rick Dees & His Cast of Idiots: "Disco Duck"

"All of a sudden I began to change
I was on the dance floor acting strange
Flapping my arms I began to cluck
Look at me..I'm the disco duck"


So what if it was a No. 1 song 23 years ago. The mall rats will flee before the chorus.

5. Alvin and the Chipmunks, Witch Doctor:

"Ooh Eeh Ooh Ah Aah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing"

My mom had an original 45 of this one, so I learned it as a young'un. It amuses the guys for a few minutes before they cover their ears and screech, "That's enough!"

If it works with them, it will work in Christchurch.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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6 Comments »

  • Vanilla Cokehead said:

    Sounds like the McDonalds in downtown Seattle that started playing country music to drive away the teenage loiterers hanging out in front of the place. :)

    I prefer the constantly-played “mosquito buzz” sound – a little more “Dr. Evil” for my tastes. ;)

  • Debra said:

    Oh, man, that is evil. It’s a much better plan than anything on my play list, because if older folks can’t hear it, there are no corollary casualties.

  • Vanilla Cokehead said:

    speaking of the mosquito buzz sound, I did a little experiment with Jacob this morning – I tried playing the “buzz” sound and couldn’t hear it – then played it for Jacob and he said he could hear a “buzz”. I guess I AM getting old. :)

  • Debra said:

    Interesting research, Brian.

    I’d never heard of the “buzz” until your comment this morning, and I’d wondered if it was real. Glad to see it verified. Sort of. Because I’M getting old, too!

  • MtnMom1 said:

    Well, I’m no savage teen but with those music options I’d just smash the speakers hidden in the trees. Couple of rocks would do the trick.

    Sheesh! Manilow! That falls under cruel and unusual punishment and would certainly get the city a law suit!

  • Debra said:

    Be glad you’re on dial-up and probably resisted clicking the videos. I’ve had “Disco Duck” stuck in my head for two days. Good thing I was pretty covert when hunting for that link, too. I think it’s a song the guys would beg me to play repeatedly.