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The Story of How I Accidentally Learned Red Solo Cup

2012 April 1
by Mike Vial

Anyone who believes the phrase, "You sir do not have a pair of testicles/ if you prefer drinking from glass," either (1.) is an idiot, (2.) doesn't drink good beer, or (3.) is a wuss who is scared to break their glass. The fact is beer, like wine, always tastes better in glass. Respect your beer.

There are certain song requests that make a musician cringe; however, embracing these songs allows for a musician to make more in tips. Sadly, money speaks.

The new song that has already placed itself in the “I can’t believe I’m playing this…” category is “Red Solo Cup.” The first time I heard about this song was actually at a cover gig last year. A lady requested it, and then she was angry that I had never heard of this tune. “It’s the top download on the country charts in iTunes! How have you not heard of it?” I shrugged my shoulders, lied, and said I would check it out when I got home.

Unfortunately, I heard this song a few months later on the radio, so I could no longer deny knowing of its existence. I still could deny knowing how to play it, but that’s half of the problem. When you know OF a song, people still expect you to play it at the bars. You see, being a musician in some patrons’ eyes is like being a “living jukebox*.” (*Hannah Fralick coined this phrase last summer.)

So in December, I was playing at a bar in the Lansing area for a 40th Birthday Party. It was a rowdy crowd, and the birthday boy requested “Red Solo Cup.” I told him I didn’t know the chords of the song, but maybe I could look it up on a set break; then the birthday boy started swearing at me from his table for not playing the song he “demanded.” He was giving me that drunken look that told me it was now or never.

So I cracked: I looked up the song’s chords and lyrics on my iPhone, improv’d my way through the four chords and stumbled through the drunken, half-spoken, half cheered lyrics.  Like the flip of a light switch, anger switched to toasts. The bar patrons and birthday celebration cheered PBRs together and the song accidentally became part of my possible cover lists.

Now, I find myself in an interesting debacle. “Red Solo Cup” is getting requested weekly, and I no longer can say I don’t know how to play it.

I have resorted to a new tactic, and it might get me in trouble: You see, my favorite aspect about playing “Red Solo Cup” is not getting everyone singing along, but changing the lyrics of the fourth verse where I make fun of myself for playing such a “ridiculous song that is making a lot of money with four chords and lyrics about plastic cups, beer, and sharpies.” Making fun of a song at a cover gig is risky business; it always offends at least two patrons who  will yell out, “Hey! I like that song!”

However, I have discovered most people on earth will admit they too hate themselves a little bit  for liking this Toby Keith travesty. While a few lone wolves sincerely yell at me for criticizing the song, the rest of the bar applauds my acknowledgment that “Red Solo Cup” is, indeed, ridiculous.

It’s a win, win. Proceed to party.

* * * A Possible Fourth Verse Substitution * * *

Now you see I know I’m singing this song, and you indeed enjoy singing along,
But let’s take a pause, not for too long, let’s agree that this song is stupid.
It’s got lyrics that were written, by a sixth grader,
And I don’t mean to sound like a stick-in-the-mud-hater,
But drinking beer from a plastic is for those who drink tasteless beer.

So order some Founders, or maybe some Bells,
Glass pints of Darkhorse or MBC will work well,
Just grow a pair of taste buds and stop ordering your beer

based on how you like the commercial.

* * * Note for musicians, do a mash-up and save some pride * * *

If you would like to save some pride and avoid singing all the verses, you could mash-up this song with “Margaritaville” or “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”  in the key of A. I actually might start jumping into “Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard,” “Wagon Wheel,” “Whisky in a Jar,” or the Irish tune “All for Me Grog.”

* * * Chords * * *

Capo 2, key of A, chords relative to capo:

(G)  Red Solo cup,  (G) I fill you up,

(G) let’s have a (Am) party   let’s have a (D) party

[I love you] (G) Red Solo cup,  (G) I fill you up,

proceed to (Am) party, proceed to (D) party!


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