Hi, here’s this season’s edition of Trying to Predict The Winner of Survivor Based On How It Syncs Up To Whatever album thing, I don’t remember what the title was last season.
Last season, I tried to determine the winner of Survivor: Davids vs. Goliaths by watching the premiere set to Pink Floyd’s seminal album Dark Side of the Moon, to see if the clues provided by the song lyrics would sync up to footage from the show and point the way to the victor. It did no such thing and I failed, miserably. Seeing as how I am not one to let a mildly clever premise die, I decided to try it again, to diminishing returns of amusement. This time around, I felt that watching along to Dark Side of the Moon would be a little bit repetitive since there’s only so many jokes to mine from a 45-minute album that is at least 33% instrumental, and also let’s be honest: Edge of Extinction is not exactly worthy of Dark Side of the Moon. This season is really more like Karaoke Survivor: all the hits, belted out off-key while drunkenly stumbling around. It’s had its entertaining moments, many of us in the audience have reasonably enjoyed ourselves, and who would have guessed Wardog to have the best singing voice (his rendition of Deep Purple’s “Child In Time” was impeccable)? Keeping all that in mind, it felt right that this rewatch of the premiere should be set to the music of Styx.
Styx is one of the all-time great bands for karaoke: their songs all have soft fluffy cushions of harmonies, so you can hide your lead vocal amongst them if necessary. Lead singers Dennis DeYoung and Tommy Shaw were more than a little histrionic in their performances, which gives you a lot to work with. If you like to really go for it when singing karaoke, look no further than Styx. Finally, and this may be the most important reason: Styx aren’t very good and their songs are mostly awful. Personally, I like to sing Styx at karaoke because haha, screw everyone else there, now they have to listen to Styx. Their songs are generally a verse or two and a chorus followed by two minutes of DeYoung’s keyboard noodling which allows you to go get another beer before the final chorus comes back in to wrap things up. Anyway, for the purposes of this article, here are the songs I compiled together in a playlist:
“Come Sail Away” – really, the only Styx song that gets its due in terms of people singing it at karaoke. It’s a little played out, but not as played out as that one couple that gets up to sing and the guy has perfect five o’clock shadow and so much product in his hair that you’re pretty sure you could crack huge chunks of it off with a hammer, and the woman is nervously giggle-shouting offstage “Shut up, Debbie!” and even before the song starts you’re like, “Oh no, not that goddamn Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow song again.” So, you know, at least it’s not *that*.
“Crystal Ball” – this is a good karaoke song. You get to really stretch out the singing of the word “ball,” which is always a plus, in my opinion.
“Lady” – this is a great karaoke song. Like, if you define successful karaoke by how much of an a-hole you can be while singing (i.e. lots of hand gestures and rock star posing), this is the song choice for you.
“Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)” – this is a great karaoke song. You get to pretend like you’re imparting wisdom onto the audience. My advice: find some random guy in the crowd and sing directly to him. Make him uncomfortable. He probably deserves it.
“Renegade” – this is a great karaoke song, and a genuinely good song on top of that. As a bonus, you can start singing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” over the keyboard part in this. It mostly lines up. Listen for it in Supernatural, season 2, episode 12 (“Nightshifter”).
“Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)” – this is a good karaoke song, and would be a great one if you happened to be playing to a crowd of Styx-adoring karaoke fans, who would in theory sing the response part that is the whole chorus, but that isn’t likely to ever happen.
“Man In The Wilderness” – this is a great karaoke song, though I don’t know if it will show up in too many karaoke books. Listen for it in Supernatural, season 8, episode 1 (“We Need To Talk About Kevin”). This is also a pretty good song on its own, separated from karaoke.
“Mr. Roboto” – this is a good karaoke song. It’s a little over-the-top though. I’ll be honest, this song is just a touch too silly.
“Too Much Time On My Hands” – this is a great karaoke song, and one of the better Styx songs. True story: I won a karaoke contest once, winning tickets to see the musical Rock of Ages, and this song was in it. I think. It feels like it was. It should have been, if not.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into the show. I am operating under the assumption that no one on EoE currently will win. Wardog could win in theory, but only in theory, because there’s no way he can win any challenge in situations that exist outside of the hypothetical. It’s honestly hard to picture him winning anything even in a hypothetical scenario. So for the purposes of this experiment, I have limited myself to only watching for moments that include one or more of Rick, Lauren, Gavin, Victoria, or the other person still in the game. Except for when I didn’t.
We begin with “Come Sail Away,” and the line “I’m sailing away” comes up right as we get the shot of the boat featuring our potential winners. “We lived happily forever, so the story goes” happens over a shot of the cast cheering, followed by the line “But somehow we missed out on the pot of gold,” which matches up with quick shots of Keith, Aurora, and Victoria. Sorry, Victoria fans. Next up, a bunch more of the song happens, and then comes the line “A gathering of angels appeared above my head,” during which we get a shot of Lauren. It would be folly for me to jump to conclusions and declare that Lauren is the winner of the season based solely on this, but really, I’m powerless not to. Lauren’s winning! The angels have appeared above her head! Season’s over, we can all go home!
Some keyboard noodling happens for a while, where not much is going on in the show except discussion of the returnees, who were certainly the keyboard noodling of this season. Then another mention of angels, this time over a shot of Joe. APPROPRIATE. And, for the record, the full line is “I thought that they were angels, but much to my surprise, we climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies.” To recap, this song starts out like it’s a metaphorical journey, but no, apparently it’s about someone on a boat, who meets some aliens and flies off with them. I’m starting to think that Ron Howard stole the premise of this song for the movie Cocoon.
We move on to “Crystal Ball,” and there’s not a whole lot that this song can offer in the way of help figuring out the winner, or eliminating the other players. There is the line “All alone entrapped in time” over a shot of Rick, which shows that Rick is…all alone, with no one willing to work with him, and also entrapped in time, most likely 1987, a time when his “jokes” probably would have been slightly less corny. From there we move on to “Lady,” and the line “Lady, from the moment I saw you, standing woh-oh-all alone,” and we have a shot of Victoria. I *could* derive from this that she is standing woh-oh-all alone because she’s the sole Survivor, but with the earlier indication that she somehow missed out on the pot of gold, my only conclusion is that she’s all alone because she’s been voted out after the Edge of Extinction returnee gets back in the game, and is the only one at Ponderosa because everyone else is still stuck in a pit (#ReemPitTheory).
Next, on the chorus of the song, we have “You’re my lady of the morning” and a shot of Julie. Julie! She’s the “other person,” and now I remember her. Yay! I guess this means that Julie is a morning person? Not sure what that has to do with anything. Styx may not be the greatest band to do this experiment with, now that I’m well into it. Their lyrics just don’t have the impressive visual imagery that Pink Floyd’s do. Styx is far more direct and straightforward, which makes this a lot harder. Next time I’ll have to go with Dio.
For “Fooling Yourself” we get a lot of Ron. Like, almost all Ron. Ron being a spaz, Ron and his stupid advantage, Ron, Ron, Ron. Eventually the chorus rolls around and for the line “You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it,” we have a shot of Gavin. Gavin’s winning, people! They can’t beat him! Season’s over, we can all go home! A second chorus happens a few minutes later and this time “You’re the one they can’t beat and you know it” is over a shot of Rick. Rick’s winning, people! They can’t beat him! Season’s over, we can all go home! Hmm. I’m going to move on while I try to sort this one out.
“Renegade” and “Blue Collar Man” didn’t have too much to discuss, although the line “Hangman is coming down from the gallows” appears over a shot of Lauren. Hard to tell if she’s the executioner or executionee. I’m going to revise my guess about why the angels are appearing above her head earlier: Lauren is the recipient of the Survivior Season 38 Mike White Memorial Award, whereupon she is the person who dies in this season’s finale. This is further illustrated by “Man In The Wilderness,” and the lines “I’m still in the dark” and “Sent away to die, never quite knowing why” coincide with shots of Lauren or with Lauren in them. Then we have “Mr. Roboto,” which has an awesome moment where Kelley blinks her eyes at Tribal right in time with a synthesized whip-crack percussion effect. And then in “Too Much Time On My Hands,” the title line of “Too much time on my hands” happens right as Reem gets her torch snuffed.
Here is a summary of my findings:
Winner candidates: Rick and Gavin
Potentially dies: Lauren
Struggling to find anything remarkable to say about them: Victoria and Julie
My winner pick is going to be Rick, because he was the last person shown when the “You’re the one they can’t beat” line came around. Congratulations, Rick! And, I suppose also congratulations, Gavin, for nearly being that person!
Mike Hirsch first started watching Survivor at the merge episode of Borneo, and was hooked through Fiji. He then stopped watching until his wife got him back into the show for San Juan Del Sur, and he dutifully caught up on his missed seasons. He hasn’t seen a movie in 20 years.
Favorite seasons: HvV, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cagayan, Cambodia
Favorite players: Earl Cole, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Kelley Wentworth, Boston Rob, Jay Starrett