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Ring Tone Bemoan

Josh bought a ring tone for his new phone — a first for us because we usually just use the free copy of “The Entertainer” that comes on every phone (yes, we are the ones emitting the synthesized version of that American classic).  In order to justify getting one for himself, he first offered to get one for me.

“I could download ‘Sister Goldenhair‘ by America straight into your phone,” he said.

“Sister Goldenhair” is one of my favourite songs, but I’m not sure it’s the best choice for a ring tone.  Your ring tone is used to annoy everyone around you, and people make snap judgments about the phone-owner based on the song being used to annoy them.  Do I want people thinking that I’m a slighty-dusty-in-the-nether-regions-8-track-playing-socks-with-Birkenstocks woman?  Because that’s sort of what “Sister Goldenhair” says to people when it starts playing from someone’s purse.

This is a big decision, so I started constructing a short list that speaks to different truisms of my personality.  There are some that were considered, but I discarded them because I felt like they were too on the nose for a ring tone.  Such as the Beastie Boys doing “Sure Shot” from Ill Communication.  Or would just depress the fuck out of everyone around me, such as “Don’t Change Your Plans” by Ben Folds.  By the way, I’m accepting ring tone suggestions too.

1. “Who Is Johnny” by El Debarge

Why: It’s a happy song asking a simple question: who is Johnny?  It’s a question that people can answer, therefore, it’s a welcome reprise from other questions floating through the universe such as “how do we solve the social security conundrum” or “how can I get more people to read my blog?”  Plus, it speaks to my tendency to always be behind with reading People magazine.  In my world, Brittany just broke up with K-Fed.  So it’s a nod to being behind the times with celebrity news, such as the fact that El Debarge isn’t a hot new band anymore.


2. “Know Your Enemy” by Green Day

Why: Beyond my scorching crush on Billie Joe Armstrong (Josh always asks me, “would Billie Joe scrape the ice off your windshield?  Because I did this morning.”  No, he probably wouldn’t.  Josh is more perfect than Billie Joe, BUT he doesn’t wear eyeliner.  If Josh wore eyeliner, he’d seriously be King of the World), it speaks to my aggressive/angry side.  I can get pretty internally rage-y, so this song lets everyone know that it might not be a good idea to fuck with me.  Again, it asks a simple question, “do you know the enemy?”  And the beauty is that everyone has their own enemy even if Billie Joe supplies the answer. (Silence?  Really?  We can’t come up with a better enemy?  My enemy is phone solicitors.  They are much more destructive than silence.)  So this ring tone is also a good conversation starter.


3. “The Pit” by The Dead Milkmen

Why: I liked them a lot back in high school and college and this would be a way to embrace my youthful je ne sais quoi.  It isn’t enough that I’m still wearing Spiderman shirts.  It isn’t enough that I can still recite whole issues of Sassy magazine.  Plus, I think it would give people something to think about when they hear lines such as “I’m covered with slime and ick and goo / and that’s okay ’cause my woman is too / and we live in the stench of a dirt-walled hole / and we don’t give a damn about pest control” because I am so open about my fear of crickets.  So it’s a contradiction.  And it keeps them guessing.  Is she freaked out by crickets?  Is she not?  Is she?  “The Pit” would be my first choice, but my second choice would be “Punk Rock Girl” since everyone loves that song and it would make people happy to hear it.  And I like making people happy.


4. “I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany

Why: Yes, I could go with the classic Tommy James version, but this one makes me do the “pony” — that move they taught in my Little Feet aerobics class in 6th grade.  And that speaks to my desire for good health and a daily cardio workout.  Plus, it makes people think about teens having sex.  And we should all be focusing on the problem of teens having sex.  So my ring tone would sort of be a public service announcement.  And Tiffany makes people think of shopping malls, so I would be supporting the economy by playing it.


5. “Waiting Room” by Fugazi

Why: I’m a DC girl and this is a DC band.  It states my roots.  Plus, I have spent a lot of time in waiting rooms despite the fact that my clinic moves people quickly in and out of the blood taking/sonogram peeking rooms.  And we live pretty far outside the city therefore making these lines resonate: “Sitting outside of town / Everybody’s always down / (Tell me why) / Because they can’t get up.”  Lastly, people don’t touch enough anymore and this would move people to form mosh pits in public spaces and bang against each other.  And don’t you think that only good could come of that?


6. “The Mesopotamians” by They Might Be Giants

Why: I used to teach a class on world mythology, so it celebrates that bit of Melissa history by reminding people around me about “Sargon, Hammurabi, Ashurbanipal, and Gilgamesh.”  Plus, Mesopotamia was part of modern-day Iraq and Syria — obviously the Middle East — and my people come from the Middle East.  We’re not Mesopotamians, but it’s sort of like hummus — I can eat hummus from an Israeli restaurant or I can eat hummus from a Syrian restaurant, and it’s all hummus (whereas some hummus that we get from the appetizer menu in certain establishments is known as “the paste that white people think is hummus” or “white people hummus” for short).  Lastly, I would like to form a band and drive around in an Econoline van, so it makes a small nod towards one of my life goals.


What do you think of my choices?  Give me more suggestions and I’ll choose some and tell you whether or not they’ll work.  Please don’t feel that you need to stick to these genres of music.  The best ring tones are often ones off the beaten track.

In making this, I thought of three more that would be perfect (as well as one that would not).  But in the interest of time, I’ll explain them in a post later this week along with any contenders you suggest.


1 tash { 01.23.11 at 7:50 am }

I have the twister music from Wizard of Oz because it sounds frantic and crazy, which is usually how I am and why I’m needing to answer my phone. I’m also partial to “You’re never there” by Cake because if I’m not frantically answering my phone, it’s buried in my bag, sans batteries.

I love the last two — waiting room, because how hilarious would that be! I’d laugh if I heard it. And I’m v. partial to TMBG.

2 coffeegrl { 01.23.11 at 8:03 am }

I love “Who’s Johnny?” !! What a trip! Also the Green Day tune is a clever choice. But They Might Be Giants are pretty cool right? Choices, choices! I’m still using bad synthesizer tunes on my phone. I can never choose. Actually I want Barney Stinson saying “In my body, where the shame gland should be, there is a second awesome gland. True story,” mostly because I think that’s exactly the kind of thing that would pump me up on a down day. But that’s not particularly melodic is it? 🙂 Can’t wait to hear what you choose!

3 N { 01.23.11 at 8:28 am }

The key with ringtones is not just that it should be something you like (or like to annoy people with), but it needs to sound good AS a ringtone, and some phones only let you a certain amount of time for it. I ended up d/ling a program that lets me make my own ringtones (for the iPhone, though), and went through several songs I like that just didn’t work. I ended up with the first little bit of the Discovery Channel’s version of I love the whole world… I smile every time my phone rings. 🙂

4 JJ { 01.23.11 at 8:54 am }

Love this 🙂 I am incredibly choosy when it comes to picking ring tones for friends and family–so I know how important this decision is 🙂
Do you happen to watch The Big Bang Theory? I love the “Soft Kitty” lullaby–if you dont watch the show, at least google it and listen 🙂 Youll have it stuck in your head! :love ya:

5 Sushigirl { 01.23.11 at 8:56 am }

‘White people hummus’? I am intrigued. What’s the difference between that and authentic hummus?

6 Jenny { 01.23.11 at 9:15 am }

I’ve got Rock Lobster by the B-52s as my ringtone. The opening chords make me very happy, and the song is nice to listen to while fumbling through your purse. Before that I had Baby Got Back as performed by Richard Cheese (look it up – you’ll be glad you did). This was basically awesome to have, except when I didn’t get to the phone in time and the waiting room was treated to: “Oh my god Becky, look at her butt! It is So Big!”

7 Lucy { 01.23.11 at 9:22 am }

I’ve never done a real ringtone either….I think if I did, I’d probably be the first to get annoyed by it though! 😉

8 Mrs. Hope { 01.23.11 at 9:32 am }

Ringtone advice? Well, I use 3 different songs for ring tones. My husband sent them through Garage Band and trimmed them “just so”. They need to be loud (so you can hear them in most places with other people), and I prefer word-less – mostly so that not everyone recognizes the song. Three different songs – my “everyone” ring tone is from a White Stripes song, the ring tone for my husband is Cake’s “Love you madly”, and yes, for my clinic, “Supermassive Black Hole”.

9 GS { 01.23.11 at 10:11 am }

If defense of Tiffany
I’ve had I think we’re alone now (by Tiffany) for the last 10 years or so.
First, I love 80’s music, so whenever the phone rings and I’m alone it makes me happy.
But more importantly I have the actual lyrics from the chorus (starting with I think we’re alone now). The beauty of this is that when the phone rings in a public place it is the phone’s mistake, not mine. I certainly didn’t choose to go off and annoy lots of people by blaring loud music. The phone just didn’t realize we were actually in public. It’s also distinctive enough that I know it really is my phone.

I do, perhaps, personify my phone too much, however, since my voicemail ringtone is pretend to be nice by joise and the pussycats (Why do you do what you do to me baby . . .
Please don’t ignore me cause you know I adore you)

10 Kristin (kekis) { 01.23.11 at 10:23 am }

The intro to Paradise City by Guns N Roses is my primary ringtone. Such good stuff that it makes it difficult to answer my calls because I want to keep jamming. 🙂

11 magpie { 01.23.11 at 10:29 am }

My main one is Two Left Feet (Richard Thompson). But the ringtone for my sister is some Bhangra music; it was a free ring-tone that came as a promo for a Brooklyn based world music eclectic Indian jazz group – and she likes Bhangra, so…

(How did you link in the music like that? I can’t ever figure out how to do that.)

12 mijk { 01.23.11 at 10:30 am }

My first instinct would be I’m still alive because well that is a thing to celebrate. Because I think things through to much I descarded it, because if i had an accident and was killed it would be completely traumatic to witnesses if my phone rang. It curently is a bikebell. Which makes me turnaround everytime my phone rings when I am biking..

13 Another Dreamer { 01.23.11 at 10:42 am }

I never put that much thought into my ringtone- I just picked something I liked and went with it. I actually have game music on mine (from The Legend of Zelda)… and I have the missed call/text/vmail sounds matching that theme by using the sound effects from the game. I’m sure that says a lot about me… lol.

14 Tara { 01.23.11 at 11:01 am }

I have the theme from The Muppet Show…most people say, “Oh I love that! What is it again?” they just can’t place it…

15 Tracy { 01.23.11 at 11:28 am }

The horror is, the only two songs I recognize are the Tiffany song and sister golden hair. My total lack of cool ( is that even a good word any more?) is cause for weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

16 a { 01.23.11 at 11:28 am }

My problem is that I can’t figure out what my signature ringtone should be. Also, having listened to Red, Red Wine on my coworker’s phone for the last 5 years, they ALL get annoying. Thus, I have gone with the old school phone ring for most people and some random pre-load for my husband.

I say, get all of them, so you can switch it up when you get bored.

17 Megan (acorndreamung) { 01.23.11 at 12:23 pm }

The opening of Waiting Room would be a fantastic ring tone. I’d just worry that I would start getting tired of that song eventually which would be tragic because it is a great song. (Love me some Fugazi. I’m a DC girl, too.)

My current ring tone is the Yip Yips from Sesame Street making phone ringing noises. Makes me laugh everytime.

18 Foxy { 01.23.11 at 12:46 pm }

Love Tiffany – and love you even more since you are considering that as a ring tone! You RAWK mel!

Last year as part of my effort to ‘get a grip’ I changed up all of my ring tones to be happy and uplifting. I currently have:
Imagine by John Lennon – for calls from my work (I like to think that my work makes the world a better place 🙂
Joy by Phish (the part that says “We want you to be HAPPY!”) as my general ring tone
Principles of Lust by Enigma – for my Bestie
The Grid by Mike and Leo – for family
Now that we are moving forward with IVF in March I need to choose a ringtone for my clinic… Hmmm. Something to think about.

How cool are the little audio links that you embedded into this post. I want to know how to be so cool!

19 HereWeGoAJen { 01.23.11 at 1:04 pm }

My phone only cost $10 (and that’s not $10 with a two year contract, that is a $10 retail value phone) so it doesn’t have ring tones. It just rings.

20 Warrior Woman { 01.23.11 at 1:17 pm }

Right now I am just using a pre-made ringtone for my iPhone, but I used to have “The Final Countdown” by Europe, mostly because it reminded me of Arrested Development and made me smile. My husband has the music from Final Fantasy VII that plays when you win a fight, so every time he answers the phone it’s a triumph. 🙂

21 Sarah { 01.23.11 at 1:55 pm }

My favorite ringtones in the recent years:
Erasure – A Little Respect
Flight of the Conchords Theme Song
IT Crowd Theme Song
Kanye West – Golddigger

Of course, I love my special ring tones for certain callers, most especially The Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) for our old realtore :).

22 M3Mut { 01.23.11 at 2:00 pm }

Ooooh. Good call on those ringtones. The ones I tend to use as of late are.. Try A Little Tenderness (Otis, who doesn’t love some Otis?), Love 2012 (3OH!3) and So Obvious (Runner Runner). And when I’m feeling extra cheesy I like to tag my Hubby’s number with Lucky (Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat)

23 Erica { 01.23.11 at 2:52 pm }

I’m all for TMBG. I have two special tones on my phone – the one for family & close friends is, predictably, “We are Family,” & my honey gets the Pink Panther theme song.

Good luck with the decisions!

24 BigP's Heather { 01.23.11 at 4:24 pm }

BigP has Ice Ice Baby for me because that is the best song of all times.

I used to have “My Girl” as my ring tone because it ALWAYS makes me smile and is wouldn’t embarrass me no matter where it went off. But that was my old phone and I haven’t found it free for my current phone…I”m cheap and don’t pay for ring tones.

My rule for ring tones is that is has to be something that would be ok if it went off anywhere. In church? Bookstore? Daycare? No foul language for me…

Right now I have the “Carol of the Bells” and I need to change it but no idea what to change it to…

25 Hairy Farmer Family { 01.23.11 at 5:10 pm }

Ahh, I’ve stopped putting favourite songs onto my phone, particularly my work phone. I eventually realised that it was ultimately ruining the song vibe for me, because the slightly-panicky-start reaction I have when my phone rings (it’s never anyone trying to give me anything nice!) was becoming pavlovian to the song, even after I’d taken it off. I’m now Nokia Theme forever!

26 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 01.23.11 at 7:00 pm }

Waiting Room all the way. #1, great riff for first 30 seconds which is as long as the ring tone needs to be. #2, lyrical meaning. #3, badass.

27 Gail { 01.23.11 at 7:24 pm }

I’d go with “Know your Enemy”. Also, you can program the ring tone to ring any part of the song, not just the first 15-30 seconds. So, if the beginning of a song sucks, you can always pull from the middle.

28 Jonelle { 01.23.11 at 7:36 pm }

I think ringtones should be fun. My ringtone for years was “Hedwig’s Theme” from Harry Potter. I switched to a Droid phone but it was too soft and I could never hear it. My current ringtone is the guitar intro of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”. My husband’s ringtone is the guitar intro to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. (Yes we are medal heads). So my vote is Green Day…or Tiffany.

29 Christa { 01.23.11 at 10:01 pm }

I stuck with comedy for my ringtone…it’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time sung by Brian Griffin from Family Guy 🙂 But I also had the first clip of AC/DC Thunderstruck as my ringtone for a while

30 Alexicographer { 01.23.11 at 10:19 pm }

I love the thinking you’re putting into this. I have my phone’s original ringtone as my ringtone (showing you how much thought I put into it) and my DH has a clip from Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog (Hey hey mama, said the way you move …), which for a man of his social status (married old fart is I think the technical term for it) is entirely inappropriate for any situation, or in other words, perfect for him. Also, it definitely gets your attention.

Some years back we had one of my family member’s tone (when they called us on our phone) as the Flight of the Bumblebee and another as the William Tell Overture (Lone Ranger theme song). Both were apt and now that we no longer have a landline, I miss them.

31 Mrs. Gamgee { 01.23.11 at 10:31 pm }

I’m pretty boring when it comes to ring tones… I use one of the little chirpy things that came on the phone for most things. My one nod to being an individual is that I’ve got “As Long As You’re Mine” from Wicked as the ring tone for my Beloved.

32 April { 01.24.11 at 9:13 am }

My ringtone is Bach’s “Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor”. At Halloween, everyone thinks I’m so into the season and it’s great. Those that know me know that my enjoyment of talking on the phone is not that high so it’s more of a warning to me that I’m going to have to talk on the phone, at least for a few minutes.

33 Melody { 01.24.11 at 10:10 am }

I have “Somebody’s Watching Me” programmed in for my mother, “I don’t wanna work (just wanna bang on my drum all day” for a certain ex, and Tears for Fears “The Hurting” for my bff (what? Its her fave band, and she drove me batty w/it in high school). My ringtone on my girlfriend’s phone is “Business Time” by Flight of the Conchords. 🙂

34 Melody { 01.24.11 at 10:12 am }

And BTW– “Sister Goldenhair” is one of my favorite songs. But then I’m blond, and someone dedicated it to me once on the radio. The flattery goes straight to my head all over again every time it comes on, even though that ended up being not a very healthy relationship. Listen to the words of that song– go figure.

35 Shana { 01.24.11 at 12:59 pm }

I’ve got Ring Ring by ABBA as my primary ringtone. ABBA because… hello, it’s ABBA, who doesn’t like ABBA? What’s a more happy-making band than ABBA? And Ring Ring just to be cute.

I’m a big fan of individualized ringtones for particular people in my life. My husband gets Soul Bossa Nova (aka the themesong to Austin Powers). My co-workers all hate me for this. I can accept that. My BFF gets Valley Girl because she still totally is one – totally. My sister gets When I Hear Music by Debbie Deb, because I love freaking people out with 80s dance tunes whenever she calls, and it’s my way of paying tribute to her “glory days” so to speak.

36 Kristi { 01.24.11 at 2:30 pm }

How about the sound of Crickets? You love crickets and other little bugs.

37 Christina { 01.24.11 at 5:07 pm }

Suggesting a whole genre: I love TV theme songs. A good classic ringtone is the theme to Night Rider…but I recently just heard someone with “The facts of life” themesong which made me smile. I also love Diffrent Strokes! 🙂

38 Kris { 01.24.11 at 10:07 pm }

Although, I am not a DC girl–you should definitely go with Fugazi. Great choice! Punk Rock Girl does make me smile everytime 🙂

39 Alexicographer { 01.24.11 at 10:50 pm }

I just wanted to come back and thank you for this post. It totally livened up my drive to work as I listened to the assortment of songs on the radio and mulled over how they’d work as ringtones and for whom.

Anyone reading this comment whose experience of infertility hasn’t already ruined pop music for them may want to stop reading here, but let me just say: infertility ruined (most) pop music for me. Even though I mostly feel like I’m safely out on the other side (albeit with one kid fewer than I’d hoped for) and despite having skipped entirely many of the sports in the Pain Olympics, I still cannot listen to, say, “Baby Come Back” or “Hold on … just a little bit tighter now, baby” or “hold on loosely, but don’t let go” without thinking of (a) loss and (b) impending loss or (c) those early (or late) worried days of pregnancy. Margaritaville was my BFN song because — hello, that was how I observed BFNs. And there are so many others, but I’ll stop there before I ruin pop radio for the rest of you. So thinking of ringtones is way, way better than what I’ve been doing.

40 Sarah { 01.24.11 at 11:39 pm }

You’ve got me thinking about my ringtone now….I got a new phone at Christmas and I love your attitude (a ringtone is there to annoy other people) but me being me I think ‘a ringtone is there to make me turn the rosiest shade of red and get me to answer it as quickly as possible to make it stop’. So at the moment I’ve got chiming bells that sound a bit like Big Ben because I’m a Brit in the middle of Arizona and it makes people laugh and talk to me about London….I used to have My Chemical Romance I’m Not OK because I love it and it used to make people edge away from sitting to close to me on the bus when it went off in case I was unhinged (which I am :)). I think I might have to check out some of yours and other suggestions.

41 Grace { 01.25.11 at 3:14 am }

You have just made me decide that when my phone rings I want to hear, “Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick! Everybody knows. . . .”

42 Bea { 01.25.11 at 6:36 am }

Mesopotamians. Mesopotamians. Do you need a reason?


43 Kristin { 01.25.11 at 9:39 am }

I don’t know what to suggest for you. Right now, I have the main ringtone on my crackberry set for Bach Fugue in D Minor. For a call from home, I have it set for Our House by Madness. For calls from Joey, it is set for Star Wars Imperial March. And, for Marty, well, lets just say it’s a warped and twisted ringtone.

44 Jill { 01.25.11 at 3:28 pm }

Ringtone?! Now all I can do is wonder whether the “hummus” I love is white people hummus!

45 Billy { 02.07.11 at 2:26 am }

FINALLY, I now know what רינגטון means!!! (never thought of ring & tone LOL)

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