‘Boyz II Men make my ears bleed’ … Brian Baumgartner’s honest playlist

As Kevin in the US Office, he performed in a Police covers band, but what does the actor and writer rock out to when the cameras aren’t rolling?

The first album I ever bought
Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I had a little record player, and I remember playing the album over and over and over. I liked it, but it was everywhere. To answer with Michael Jackson, does that make me fall somewhere on a political spectrum? But it was the bestselling album of all time, which I guess makes me a cliche.

The song that is my karaoke go-to
At this point, given its connection to my character in The Office [Kevin Malone, who plays the drums and sings in a Police covers band Scrantonicity], it would have to be Roxanne. In a hugely public setting, that has become the one that I have to sing. But I would do it as me, not as Kevin.

The song I inexplicably know every lyric to
Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. In my college-days parties, it just became an absolute mainstay and the lyrics have never left my mind.

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The song I’ve streamed the most
Highwayman by the Highwaymen. I wasn’t overly familiar with them, but when I was travelling with a friend, we put this on. There is just something about the passion of the performance, the artistry, the soul and humanity. To me, it’s really not that far from Tom Waits and Bob Dylan – it’s about the heart, the poetry, the tune.

The song I tell people is my favourite
I was asked to name my favourite classic songs from the 70s, 80s, 90s this week and the ones I like are pretty big: Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’, John Mellencamp’s Jack & Diane.

Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’.

The song that is my actual favourite
I’ve been to many Willie Nelson concerts. I went to school in Texas and that’s where I was introduced to him; he was around, and I really grew to appreciate what he did and how he changed the face of not just country music, but music. But my all-time favourite song of his? I’ll say [his version of Ray Charles’s] Georgia on My Mind.

The song I can’t help singing
All I Do Is Win by DJ Khaled. I am sure that I screw up 90% of the words, but I like the energy of it. As well as the soulful lyricism.

The song I’d be happy to never hear again
Anything by Boyz II Men, or modern country. I can’t even tell you a song right now, but I know I don’t like it. To me, it’s whiny and vapid, it just makes my ears bleed.

The song I pretend to hate that I secretly like
Lizzo’s Truth Hurts. It doesn’t seem on brand for me, it seems like something I should hate. A grown man and Lizzo? It just seems weird. But that ding-ding-ding-ding piano intro, it’s almost funny. There’s a comedy to it that makes me smile.

Brian Baumgartner’s book, Welcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, is out now.


Elle Hunt

The GuardianTramp

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