159: Boombox

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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And she's gonna feel like a jerk when she realizes it was actually Under Pressure.
Title text: And she's gonna feel like a jerk when she realizes it was actually Under Pressure.


We see Cueball declare his love for Megan in an oft-used setting, paying homage to similar events in classic literature, notably the "balcony scene" from William Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet (act 2, scene 2), and a similar situation in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac (act 3, scenes 6-7). In the former, Romeo, attempting to woo Juliet, stands beneath her balcony to profess his love for her. In the latter, an inarticulate cadet, Christian, professes his love for Roxane by arranging to use the words of a fellow soldier, Cyrano, who secretly also loves Roxane.

The 1989 movie "Say Anything..." contains a modern interpretation of this declaration of love, where John Cusack plays Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on a boombox outside the house of the girl he likes.

Parodying this iconic scene (video), Cueball is holding up a boombox (a self-contained semiportable stereo system, typically with cassette tape or CD player, and complete with integrated speakers) that is playing music while Cueball declares his love for Megan. She first is startled, embarrassed, then eventually confused by the 1990 hit single Ice Ice Baby (video) by Vanilla Ice playing on the boombox. Cueball then admits he is "not very good at this," attempting to recreate the classic romantic scene, but utterly failing to play music suitable for such an event.

The title text mentions that Cueball is actually playing "Under Pressure" (video), the 1981 hit song by Queen and David Bowie, but Megan has confused it with "Ice Ice Baby," which samples the bassline from "Under Pressure." It also may be that Cueball is having trouble holding the boombox, hence Cueball being 'under pressure.'

These two songs are again referenced together in 1561: Water Phase Diagram, and "Ice Ice Baby" is also lampooned in 210: 90's Flowchart. It is possible that this is the same couple as mentioned in 112: Baring My Heart, as the creator of that Venn diagram reveals to their romantic partner that their feelings towards their paramour are comparable to their feelings for Vanilla Ice.

This was the first time that the name "Megan" was used in xkcd. The next comic to use it was the much more depressing 215: Letting Go.


[Megan is looking out a second story window at Cueball holding a boombox over his head. Musical Notes are coming out of it.]
Cueball: Megan!
Megan: Oh my god, I can't believe this is happening.
Cueball: I love you!
Megan: Okay, that's great. Wait a second. Is... is that... Ice Ice Baby? What the hell?
Cueball: I'm not very good at this.

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The issue date on this comic is not given, as i don't know one. Can anyone fix this? Rikthoff (talk) 18:08, 3 August 2012 (EDT)

This is not a reference to Romeo and Juliet. It is a reference to the 80s movie Say Anything, where John Cusack plays Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" on a boombox outside the house of the girl he likes.

Just gonna leave this here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vr60RCuVUb0&feature=youtube_gdata_player 14:35, 13 October 2013 (UTC)

I agree. The most direct reference is clearly Say Anything. The more classical references are fine to include, but given that there's no detail particularly linking them to the comic, they should be de-emphasized in favor of the movie.- jerodast (talk) 23:35, 30 March 2015 (UTC)
I agree as well. The direct reference is to the film. The film references the play. This should be changed.Flewk (talk) 11:02, 25 December 2015 (UTC)

I think this comic should refer to the male character as "Rob", since it seems from other comics (e.g. 716: Time Machine and 782: Desecration) that Rob and Megan have a close and possibly romantic relationship. See here for more discussion on this topic. Djbrasier (talk) 13:37, 13 March 2015 (UTC)

I disagree. In none of the comics where Megan is named has Rob been named as well. So there is no indication that they are the same. Most of the time Megan and Cueball are not "named" character. In a few (three?) Megan is used for the xkcd Megan. And out of almost a 1000 cases Cueball has only been named Rob in 9. In a few of these he is together with the xkcd Megan. Viac versa in the three with Megans name, Cueball is also there, but then he is not named Rob. --Kynde (talk) 13:15, 15 March 2015 (UTC)
I think the name Rob should only be used when the comic specifically mentions the name, Cueball for every other generic stickman.--17jiangz1 (talk) 11:22, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

I think we need to make a distinction: the term "character" can refer to either a stick figure with distinguishing features (e.g. Black Hat, Cueball), or a real (or fictional person) which such a figure often represents (e.g. Randall, Rob). This distinction is often blurred, for example Megan is both a stick figure and a person. Hopefully this will help clear up some confusion! Richmond tudor (talk) 01:57, 16 March 2015 (UTC)

This conversation is occurring elsewhere, please weigh in here. Djbrasier (talk) 01:34, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

The joke gets referenced again in the first image's mouse-over text in this article. 22:45, 31 May 2015 (UTC)

Whoever wrote that part about Romeo beneath Juliet's balcony is confused about what is going on in that scene. 01:39, 20 November 2019 (UTC)

I feel like the explanation doesn't sufficiently explain. I don't understand the significance (humor?) of the specific song being played. If anyone can clarify, it would be appreciated.

In the romantic-comedy movie "Say Anything...", the famously romantic boombox scene has the guy playing a love-song on a boombox outside the girl's window. Cueball tries to emulate this romantic moment for Megan, but the humor is that he screws it up by playing a decidedly-non-romantic song instead, hence Megan's reaction ("What the hell?"). I'm not sure there's any significance to the specific song being played here, because I think any other reasonably-non-romantic song would have worked just as well. (For example, imagine if Cueball tried to romance Megan by playing "Raining Blood", or the Price is Right theme song -- she probably would have been equally unimpressed.)
The alt-text does have a side-joke specific to the song, though. At the time this comic was published, young adults who grew up in the 1990s might hear the intro to "Under Pressure" (early 1980s), and mistake it for "Ice Ice Baby" (early 1990s), which samples the bassline from "Under Pressure". I find it funny that someone could mistake such a great song ("Under Pressure") for such an arguably terrible song ("Ice Ice Baby") -- as I myself made this mistake, shamefully having never heard "Under Pressure" before "Ice Ice Baby" was released. The joke might be a commentary that people may not realize a lot of their popular music is derived from earlier works. For example, 2Pac's "California Love" (mid 1990s) comes to mind, as many fans at that time probably don't realize it sampled music from Joe Cocker's "Woman to Woman" (early 1970s) and lyrics from Ronnie Hudson's "West Coast Poplock" (early 1980s); even the music video is inspired by the Mad Max 2 and 3 movies (early-mid 1980s). -- Yfmcpxpj (talk) 05:53, 19 December 2019 (UTC)