Prog Rock Bingo

Progressive rock (aka “prog rock” or “art rock”) lyrics have a somewhat different distribution of vocabulary than typical pop songs. Instead of words like “baby, “girl,” and “love,” prog rock lyrics have “epitaph” (“confusion will be my epitaph”), “undinal” (“undinal songs urge the sailors on”), and “love” (“dawn of love sent within us colours of awakening among the many”, not “Yeah, I will love you baby, always”).

So I invented a little game based on this: Prog Rock Bingo.


prog rock bingo


You probably know how to play traditional Bingo, but it’s pretty simple, so I’ll review the rules. Each player has a card with numbers randomly distributed in a 5×5 grid. The “caller” draws numbers randomly and calls them out. If your card has the number that has just been called, you mark that number. The central number is a freebie; everyone gets to mark that one. As soon as you have five in a row (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), you call out “bingo.” The first person to do so wins.

Prog Rock Bingo puts a little twist on the game. First of all, every player has the same card. Each space on the card contains a word that you might hear in a prog rock song. Each player constructs a playlist ahead of time. The players don’t need to be in the same physical location; they just need to agree on the length of the playlist and to start at the same time. I find that 30-40 minutes is a good length, i.e. 3 or 4 songs. As you listen to your playlist, you mark the words that you hear in the lyrics. The first person to mark five in a row, just like in traditional Bingo, wins. If you’re not all playing in the same location, you may have to agree to notify the other players via email.

The point of the game then becomes to construct the right playlist. Whereas in traditional Bingo all players listen to the same numbers being called out but have different cards, in this version of the game all have the same card but listen to different words being called out. The strategy of the game is to choose the best playlist based on the words on the card.

I’ve chosen words that are fairly generic; it would be too easy to design a winning playlist if the words were too specific like “epitaph” or “undinal.” By tweaking the words on the card, we could create versions of this game for other musical genres; e.g. I can easily imagine a hip hop or country version.

Challenge your prog rock friends across the miles. Have fun!

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