Best Unpredictable, Random, and Amazing Jukebox

The Sovereign

Critics' Picks

When my friends and I walked in here recently to the strains of the Buzzcocks' "Harmony in My Head," I imagined that we were making a triumphant entrance. In truth, no one looked up from their drinks. This is a place that can politely be described as understated—stucco walls, ball games on muted TVs in the corners, beer by the can and bottle only, bartenders who'll offer an extra shot just because it's 7:47 PM on a Thursday, cases of High Life and Old Style stacked in the hallway to the john. It's a good spot to have a conversation, or to listen to the guy next to you talk about the girl who got away, and then the other girl who got away. Best of all is the jukebox. A few years ago the bar's owners added some of their own mix CDs to the selections. Then regulars started bringing in their mixes, as did their friends. Now the jukebox is stocked almost entirely with these collections of hits, favorites, oddities, and anything else that seemed to work at the time. Donovan sounded really good to us that night, and Nina Simone sounds good every night, but we also picked what we thought might be an obscure song by Veruca Salt. It turned out to be a clip of the character Veruca Salt from the original Willie Wonka movie that culminates with the Oompa Loompa song—and almost everybody in the bar felt compelled to join in.