Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 10 - 1

10. Rammstein - Sonne
Lazily described as "music to invade Poland to", Rammstein are...just Rammstein. Industrial dance metal in German. Incredibly over the top. This song/video was the first to get me into them. It famously made it into Kerrang's top 100 singles of all time despite never being released over here.

9. Ash - Burn Baby Burn
Sometimes you want songs that are intricate in their beauty, swooping and diving and incorporating half a dozen different genres in 7 minutes. Other times you just want something fun to jump around to. Ash fill the latter rather well.

8. Snow Patrol - Chasing Cars
Oh piss off, I'm not a heartless beast. I like this song.

You don't have to listen to it if you don't want to, no embedding.

7. The Streets - Dry Your Eyes
That one threw you, didn't it? This song struck a chord with me over the summer of 2004 and probably helped me man the fuck up. That, and it managed to be single of the week on BBC Radio 2.

6. The Libertines - Can't Stand Me Now
Whatever you may think of Pete Doherty as a person, he co-wrote the odd great song. I think it may have been Phonogram who described this song as "you & me vs the world and each other" - it's a post pub pissed up celebration of all things fun.

5. William Shatner - Common People
Let's get one thing straight - the 15 year old original is a classic. However, sometimes a cover comes along that lends a new voice to it, and improves on it. The extra guitars on this make it the second best cover of the decade.

4. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
The most heartbreakingly beautiful love song I've ever heard, and then I heard the acoustic version.

3. Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Pepper and Spinderella
If you're thinking "why is a so-so indie band in the top three of the decade?" listen to this song and wait until 1:43 when the tempo really starts.

2. Johnny Cash - Hurt
If this video and song don't make you cry, you're not human.

1. Rilo Kiley - Portions For Foxes
If I had to pick a song that would be the only one I'd listen to for the rest of my life, it would be this one.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 20 - 11

20. Jimmy Eat World - The Middle
If this music video were a Friends episode, it would be "the one with the underwear party". The partial nudity of the video hides a surprisingly upbeat message for a band considered to be emo, and a cracking guitar solo at 1:38. Trivia: the album that this is from was originally titled Bleed American upon its release in July 2001. Any guesses why it was renamed Jimmy Eat World two months later?

19. Nathan Fillion - Everyone's a Hero
Gosh, two upbeat songs in a row! This is the show stopping, crowd rousing number from last summer's Doctor Horrible's Sing Along Blog. Made for about fourpence ha'penny, and featuring singing, Joss Whedon's writing, Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion, it was obviously going to be popular with me.

18. Jenny Lewis - See Fernando
Jenny Lewis is one of only two women I've ever been rendered completely speechless by their beauty. (Summer Glau doesn't count - she scares me into silence.) Here's the stunningly gorgeous redhead singing undoubtedly the highlight of her (hit and miss) second solo album - if you don't dance, you're inhuman.

17. Blood Red Shoes - This Is Not For You
Hah! I bet you thought they'd be higher, didn't you? Well, don't try and second guess me again. An absolutely blinding, powerful song, with a great video in which you're never too sure whether Steve and Laura-Mary are going to kill each other or fuck each other. The second best single from the album, and if the original video for Say Something Say Anything had been released, that would probably have taken top spot. As it happens, click the link below, and enjoy this.

Embedding disabled by request.

16. Amanda Palmer - Oasis
A jaunty, Beach Boys style poppy number about date rape, abortion and Britpop bands. Sure to be in the Daily Mail's top ten of the decade.

15. Garbage - Tell Me Where It Hurts
Hah! Fool you again! The lead-off single from their long awaited Greatest Hits album, it's not as good as their mid 90s heights but it's still a beautiful song. Now slightly tarnished by the fact that every time I watch this video my mind is thinking "OMG she's a Terminator save John Connor run stop Skynet!"

14. Rosie And The Goldbug - Lover
Every so often you'll hear a song by a band you've never heard of before that, as soon as it ends, makes you think "I need to hear that again". You'll end up spending an entire evening listening to it on repeat and forcing people to hear it so that they enjoy its awesomey goodness. Last December, this was that song.

13. Embrace - Ashes
I didn't put this song in here because of the cricket in 2005. While it does lead to good memories, uplifting feelings and a general happy emotion, that's not what I associate with this song. If, the moment you hear the opening bars, you think of Kristen Bell on the back of a custom bike riding along a clifftop highway towards a limo pulled in by a broken crash barrier, and a hoard of moneyed teens gaping at a floating school bus, then I'm right there with you. It's played at the end of the season two opener of Veronica Mars, probably one of the best episodes of television this decade. (Oooh, idea!)

12. Duke Spirit - Lion Rip
This is a song I usually close mix CDs with. It's an absolutely freight train of a song, thundering towards the end, building and building to an apocalyptic climax aided and abetted by some fantastic machine gun guitar work.

11. Raveonettes - That Great Love Sound
The first boy/girl duo I ever fell for. Both impossibly pretty, this video plays on the mythical sexual tension that lazy journalists invent whenever there's a girl in the band.

So with Garbage, Blood Red Shoes, Los Campesinos, Rose Elinor Dougall, Dr Horrible, Buffy all out of the way, who on earth will make up the top ten? Expect a few that'll make you go "seriously? wtf?" and a pair that'll make you go "oh, of course!" in the top ten.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 30 - 21

30. Metric - Dead Disco
No, not Little Boots' former band, but a track by Canadian rockers Metric. Almost disco-rock in combining the synths and guitars, this was what broke them in the UK.

29. Goldfrapp - Strict Machine
Back when I was at uni we used to spend all our lunchtimes in the Penny Theatre (a Scream pub) round the corner abusing their cheap burgers. On the video jukebox they used to play a random selection and on came this kaleidoscopicly surreal track. One of those songs that you can't help to dance to.

Go here and have a listen.

28. Dandy Warhols - We Used To Be Friends
I remember downloading this in 2003 when it was originally released. It lay undisturbed on an old playlist CD for years before being dug out again when I started watching Veronica Mars - this being the extremely apt title song. Again, it dropped off my radar until September this year - walking into HMV in town I spotted someone from school who, let's say, the intervening years have not been kind to - just as this song came on the in-store PA system. Perfect timing.

27. OK Go - Get Over It
Possibly the only music video to ever use the lyrics of the song as a starting point for content. Go watch it here.

26. Distillers - City Of Angels
Way back in 2002, towards the end of the beautifulgarbage era, Garbage were supporting No Doubt on their USA arena tour. Kerrang magazine had an interview along the lines of women in rock (always a good thing with me) and interviewed Shirley Manson & Gwen Stefani, the lead singers of the two bands, as well as Brody Armstrong (as she was then) of the opening band The Distillers. As I sat down to read it at home this video came on Kerrang TV (I was themed back then). In 2009 I saw Spinnerette (Brody's new band) in London, and she's still as cool as fuck.

25. Donnas - Take It Off
Four girls who grew up listening to classic rock bands such as Kiss, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, and AC/DC. If you were to analyse my entire music tastes from the last 25 years and portion them out between the various factors, this band would be the result. Now enjoying a resurgence due to Rock Band/Guitar Hero needing bands with female vocalists.

Go listen to it here.

24. Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing!
A few years ago I was made to listen to this band by Katy. I'm glad I did. A hectic multinational seven piece, there's more imagination and variety in this one song than in the entire musical output of a lot of chart bands.

23. Glee - Don't Stop Believin'
Most people reading this won't have heard of Glee. It's like High School Musical (no! come back!) if it were written by Tina Fey - full of snark and wit that holds up on repeated viewing. The pilot is showing on E4 on Tuesday 15th December at 9pm, and this cover of the Journey classic closes that episode.

Again, no embedding.

22. Florence & The Machine - Kiss With A Fist
I have to say that the rest of Florence's album didn't do it for me, but it's so different to the opening promise shown by this song that it's understandable. First promoted to me by Hannah, I lost the mp3 during a tidy of my computer, before hearing it again at Lounge on the Farm before Los Campesinos!'s set. It's not about spousal abuse, apparently.

No embedding.

21. Rose Elinor Dougall - Fallen Over
As the Manics' song at number 61 was the oldest song on this decade list, this one is the newest, being released only three days ago. However, I've loved it since the first time I stalked saw Rose live back in April. Due to the low budget nature of the label, there's not even a video for me to link to, so check it out at Rose's Myspace.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 40 - 31

40. The Barbs - Massive Crush
Pop-punk band, with boy/girl lyrics, and a hot chick bassist? No, it's not the Subways - the Barbs actually came first and had the Subways support them on an early tour. What's more odd is that half of the band come from Chatham in Kent, not really known for being an indie hotspot.

39. Auf der Maur - Followed The Waves
Hot redheaded bassist. One of only two lead singers who play bass as well, alongside Lemmy (although I'm sure people will no doubt contradict me on that). The last time I saw her live was in 2004, after the August Bank Holiday weekend, at the Astoria. The band opening that gig were a small-time three piece outfit called The Subways.

No embedding once again.

38. Queens Of The Stone Age - Go With The Flow
A quite brilliant, possibly racist, definitely sexual video. Josh Homme is the lucky sod married to Brody Dalle (formerly of The Distillers, and now of Spinnerette) and allegedly kicked his childhood friend out of his band for spousal abuse.

Another one Universal don't want me to embed.

37. Easyworld - Bleach
Self described as "the only young people in Eastbourne who aren't Toploader", this track was the first I heard by them and is still a cracking song to jump around to. The follow-up album, Kill The Last Romantic, was criminally depressing, and the band called it a day in 2004, after a decent slot at the V festival and joining up with Mark Lamarr to insult me on Radio 2.

36. Feeder - Just A Day
"We need a new video to promote our new single, but we're away on tour!" "I know, lets get the fans to film themselves singing along and making fools of themselves!"

35. Avril Lavigne - He Wasn't
I'm fairly certain that this is the last pop act on my list. Another one of those songs to jump around to and have fun with.

34. Bruce Springsteen - Outlaw Pete
There won't be many end-of-decade lists that have Avril Lavigne and Bruce Springsteen concurrently. The opening track from The Boss's latest album, it's an 8 minute epic which may or may not steal the riff from I Was Made For Lovin' You by Kiss.

33. Jace Everett - Bad Things
If you've been keeping up with the popular vampire thing based on the series of books that everybody loves, featuring a shapeshifter and a vampire competing for the heroine's affections, and a telepath finding love with someone they finally can't read, then you'll know all about this song. If you think the above sentence refers to Twilight and not True Blood, then congratulations, you've got a fantastic series of well-written vampire/shapeshifter/werewolf/weretiger/faerie/etc books ahead of you.

32. Nu - Any Other Girl
Nu were a Norwegian disco-pop band who I got into in the early part of this decade. I believe they've split up now (their site produces a 404) but due to their amazingly un-Google-friendly name I've not been able to find out much else. I can't even find a proper music video - just this fan vid (featuring Cordelia Chase).

31. Pretty Girls Make Graves - Speakers Push The Air
Possibly the most beautiful opening few bars of a song ever.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 50 - 41

50. Long Blondes - Separated By Motorways
I saw the Long Blondes live twice. Both times they bored me. That didn't stop them being quite excellent on record, however, and this is still a cracking song. Never mind that the band just remind me of Laura from the Phonogram Singles Club series of comic books.

49. Be Your Own Pet - Take That Walk
BYOP were the first band I followed from underground through press stardom to breakup. I saw them in nearly every London gig they ever played, and they helped me gain some cracking friends. I first heard of them on a radio show about female singers - the complete history of me and them has been better covered here.

48. The Subways - Oh Yeah
Mind you, if I thought BYOP had an effect on my life, it's nothing compared to the Subways. Granted, I may have had my disagreements with the lead singer, but they're the band I've seen the most live (so far) and they introduced me to a fuckload of cool people, and other bands indirectly from them.

Still can't help but sing "Cal's Mum" instead of the title though.

47. Maximo Park - Apply Some Pressure
Maximo are one of those bands that I feel I really ought to listen to more, but I've tried and I've never really had that connection to them. That said, Maximo were great the only time I've seen them live (and that despite being cold, wet and pissed off with Glastonbury) and I do like this song.

46. Graham Coxon - Freakin' Out
Met him once, at a festival in Finsbury Park. Incredibly tall man. Used to be in Blur, don't you know?

45. The Kills - The Good Ones
Sleazy, bluesy, but oh so sexy. Makes a bassline sound like a sexual predator.

44. Dragonforce - Through The Fire & The Flames
Any comment I post won't do it the justice that this link will do. Go there, it explains everything.

43. Go Home Productions - Ray Of Gob
In the early part of this decade mashups were the craze. The vocals from one song mixed with the instruments of another. The trend was killed off rather expertly by the Sugababes (in their 65465465th incarnation) mashing Gary Numan with Tubelord's "Are Friends Electric?" but before that we had some fantastic mashes, including this one of Madonna's Ray Of Light with the Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen.

42. Dresden Dolls - Coin Operated Boy
From the sublime to the quite frankly bonkers. Two musicians, one drummer who plays the instrument like he's afraid they'll rise up and overpower him, and one pianist who sings. Words can't do it justice.

It's not about sex toys.

41. Charlotte Hatherley - Bastardo
Spot the stars! Simon Pegg! David Walliams! Emma Frost! Directed by the guy who did Hot Fuzz/Shaun Of The Dead/Scott Pilgrim! The fabricated tale of which earnt me a 1st for a presentation on eBay, which was the only 1st I ever got during four years at university!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 60 - 51

60. She & Him - Why Did You Let Me Stay Here?
She is a kooky indie actress who has been in several under-appreciated films (and sleep walked her way through M.Night Shyamallamadingdong's The Happening). Him is a renowned producer of the Bright Eyes/Rilo Kiley/Elected stable. Together they make sweet country songs. The video stars She (Zooey Deschanel) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the set of (500) Days of Summer.

59. Rolo Tomassi - I Love Turbulence
And from light melodic country stylings to screamo northern metal. Not so much loud-quiet-loud as scary-sweet-terrifying. Rolo Tomassi are a bit of a Marmite band - people don't tend to feel indifferent about them, they either love them or can't stand them.

58. Miley Cyrus - Fly On The Wall
I was sent the video embedded below by a friend who thought it was funny. Trying not to like anything Disney, I gave it a listen for the mistake (which proves she was singing live, and not miming either...) and to my dismay actually enjoyed the song. The album's not bad either. Give it a listen before pouring scorn.

57. Metallica - The Day That Never Comes
Metallica have only released two albums this decade, and St. Anger was utter tripe, so have the epic lead off single from Death Magnetic. It's one of those songs that starts off like Fade To Black and finishes like One. The video is worth checking out too, as it uses the song like a film score to build up tension and can be found here, but as they're on a major label embedding is impossible. So, have the band performing live on Later With Jools Holland.

56. Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl
You know the one. It was everywhere last summer. Good, fun pop music from a girl who counts Shirley Manson as one of her heroes.

Embedding disabled by request, so find it here.

55. Alphabeat - Fascination
I had this song stuck in my head throughout pretty much the whole of the Lounge on the Farm festival last summer. As I had a great time there, the song's got good connotations. There's an awful lot of pop songs on this list, isn't there?

54. Paramore - Crushcrushcrush
Hot female redhead singer, rock band. Of course this would appeal to me. Not only did I get to see them for just a fiver at a tiny fan club gig earlier this year, but being a good half a foot taller than everyone else in the crowd and able to pick up on new lyrics easily, me and Hayley had a moment of connection.

53. Operator Please - Leave It Alone
More bands need a violin section. OP would be a fairly normal indie band without the strings accompanying this song. Granted, they're all about 13 so they're not that normal, but still it adds something to it.

52. The Pipettes - Really That Bad
Of all the possible Pipettes songs I had to choose from, I've gone for a b-side. It's a song about the bad boy in class and wanting to tame him, and Rose takes lead vocals. Pretty obvious why I've chosen it. The video is from April 2007, almost a year before Rose left to pursue her solo career, and Becki was fired. The band's gone through more lineup changes than the Sugababes.

51. My Chemical Romance - Teenagers
Gerard Way plays a lead singer/fascist leader of a band. The Nazi style arm bands have two crossed hammers on. The video shows a rush of teens breaking through the door at the beginning. Now you may have read that and thought it sounded familiar. As Way has stated several times that the album this song is taken from (The Black Parade) is heavily based upon Pink Floyd's The Wall, even to the point where the album loops (the album starts with the second half of a sentence found at the end of the album) it's obviously a loving homage rather than a shameless ripoff.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 70 - 61

70. Tatu - All The Things She Said
Divebombing guitars meet Russian "lesbian" pop. Another band I look at this and think "christ, whatever happened to?"

69. Tsunami Bomb - Take The Reins
Wayyyyy back in the early days of Sky Digital, in the doldrums of the music channels there was a nu-metal/punk channel which played a lot of American artists I hadn't even heard of. This track, with the machine gun instruments and juxtaposing female vocals (oh look, another female vocalist) was one of the few that actually stood out amongst the fledgling emo/Me First & The Gimme Gimmes tracks.

68. Sarah Michelle Gellar - Something To Sing About
Life's a show, and we all play our parts. When the music starts, we open up our hearts... so, there's one of the tracks from the Buffy musical on here. I know Ms Geller's not the best of singers but it's my favourite of the songs featured. Strangely for a Very Special Musical Episode it actually fits in the story, advances the plot and isn't just an excuse for the cast members to sing contemporary tracks.

67. JJ72 - Snow
Possibly the earliest released song on this list, this is one of those "whiny indie vocals with a token hot girl" bands I was into in the early part of this decade. Six years after this song was released I met lead singer Mark Greaney after a Garbage gig where they supported and he gave me his backstage pass. I made it briefly on stage before being humorously removed by a security guard who at least saw the funny side of my pretend rockstardom.

66. Spinnerette - Sex Bomb
Not as good as Distillers, but very few bands would be. Motherhood matured Brody, and the newer releases show a richer, fuller sound. She's still as cool as fuck on stage.

65. Sky Larkin - Keepsakes
Sky Larkin are one of those bands that I got into accidentally. I knew them as part of the Los Campesinos/Johnny Foreigner stable, and when they were playing in a pub 30 seconds from work I went along because it was local. I enjoyed the gig, and saw them again with Petra a few months later, but it wasn't until I saw them at Cargo last month that I really fell in love with them.

Keepsakes is, annoyingly, nowhere to be found, so have the last single Antibodies instead.

64. Shirley Manson - In The Snow
Shirley Manson. Long term idol. One of three people I'll gladly follow blindly without question. (The other two being Andy Hessenthaler and Joss Whedon.) Occasional Terminator. Possible solo artist now that Garbage are on hiatus. She posted this demo on Facebook back in April, and it manages to be haunting, powerful, soaring, depressing and realistic at once.

63. Lily Allen - Not Fair
Lily Allen sings about orgasms. Or a lack of them.

Major label, no embedding. You've probably heard this already anyway.

62. Answering Machine - You Should Have Called
The song that made me realise that people can still be friends even after a breakup.

As it's never been released as a single, there's no video for it on YouTube. So have Cliffer instead.

61. Manic Street Preachers - The Masses Against The Classes
The first new number 1 of this decade, and it knocked Westlife off the top spot. It's the last Manics single that I've liked, as it's like a more polished version of the older, rawer, scarier, Holy Bible era Manics.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 80 - 71

Apologies for being late, I've been travelling. It will return to being a Wednesday night feature soon, I don't have that much of a life.

80. Giant Drag - Kevin Is Gay
One of many duos on this list, and definitely the most bonkers. Towards the end Annie forgets the words and just ends up meowing along. An odd video to go with an odd but kooky song.

It can be found here.

79. MGMT - Time To Pretend
You know this song. Even if you've just read that and thought "no way James, you're talking out of your buttocks once again. I have no idea who or what MGMT be, and I've never heard of this song in my life" you're wrong. (Unless you've been in a coma for the last 10 years and recently woke up, in which case hi Auntie Gwenno!) Just play it and listen, and you'll see. (Note: not the official video. But this one's just so cool.)

78. Eisley - Telescope Eyes
Yeah, it sounds like Avril Lavigne. I don't care. I like them, despite them reminding me of my ex. Bonus points: add this to a playlist with a New Found Glory song and Misery Business by Paramore to pay tribute to American love triangles.

77. Delays - Long Time Coming
Back story. I bought this single on the day of release on the say-so of a girl I had a thing for at the time. Listened to it a few times, wasn't grabbed by it, then sold the vinyl when me and girl had a falling out. Fast forward a few years and it soundtracks a scene in my favourite ever Veronica Mars episode. Suddenly I realise just how awesome it is. (So awesome, that there are 76 better songs released in the last 10 years.)

76. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Ain't No Easy Way
Sometimes you need a bit of a bluesy sounding steel guitar. I loved this song so much I had it on my mp3 player twice, and considering it was only a 512mb capacity back then that shows my devotion.

Listen to it here.

75. Wolfman feat. Pete Doherty - For Lovers
I'm not Pete Doherty's biggest fan. Not by a long shot. However, this song tugs at the heartstrings. Maybe it's the Francophile in me loving the location of the video, but still it snuck onto this list.

74. Tilly And The Wall - Reckless
Instead of a rhythm section, Tilly and the Wall have a tap dancer. Sadly I felt that they didn't live up to the standards on the album set by this song, but that doesn't stop this track from managing to be cute, sweet, hopeful and depressing at once.

73. TV On The Radio - Staring At The Sun
I have to say, I first heard this song via the Subways' cover of it on an early single. Way back when I adored the band and didn't just follow them on Twitter to argue with the lead singer, I hunted down the original and liked it even more. It's a very original sound, difficult to describe but worth listening to.

72. The Stills - Still In Love Song

Way back when I was mooning over the girl mentioned in #77 this was on MTV2 all the bloody time. It was one of those songs that just happened to sync up perfectly with my mood.

71. Sons And Daughters - Johnny Cash
I first downloaded this song thinking it was a mislabelled mp3 on Limewire in early 2004. It wasn't, but I gave it a listen anyway. I'm fairly sure it wasn't intended as a tribute to the man in black, but the freight train beat, the dry country sound and the dark lyrics means it's damn near as good an epitaph as a song which will feature higher in this list. Much, much higher.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 90 - 81

90. Muse - Feeling Good
I've never really bought into the hype about Muse (the only time I saw them live, at Reading 2006, I was more interested in my cheesy chips) but I do love myself a nice interesting cover version.

89. Katy Rose - Overdrive
Katy Rose was one of those in the same mould as Avril Lavigne and Ashlee Simpson - one of those 'edgy' but tween safe female pop stars who have the guitars turned up higher in the mix than normal. For whatever reason Katy didn't quite work out, but then we did get this gem from the Mean Girls soundtrack:

88. Polly Scattergood - I Hate The Way
From the popular, teen comedy soundtrack songs directly to Little Boots' evil younger sister. Ok, they're not actually related, but it's electro-synth-pop with an extremely dark edge to it. This song, and a track in the low 30s, are the reasons why I'll blindly accept any music Hannah sends me.

87. Coldplay - Fix You
Despite most of their output being bland and dull (I spent 40 minutes of Parachutes thinking "ok, the guitars'll kick in now, and it'll get better) this song really touched me at Glastonbury in 2005, standing in a soggy field drunk up to the eyeballs on vodka.

Big band, proper record label, no embedding. Boo.

86. Lady Gaga - Paparazzi
One of those songs that I like despite myself. I blame hearing it too much at work. Mind you, it does have a proper vampire in the video (real vampires don't sparkle!). Bonus fun fact: this video was directed by the same guy who directed Rammstein's latest, somewhat naughty, music video.

Major act, no embedding.

85. The Knife - Girls Night Out
More electro-pop. I'm noticing a theme here. Me liking this band is completely down to club night Never On A Sunday - what's even more impressive is that the club night doesn't exist outside of a comic book series called Phonogram.

84. White Stripes - I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
I'm not even going to comment on the song, just let the video do the talking.

83. AC/DC - Rock n Roll Train
Sometimes you want cheery electro-pop, sometimes weepy music. Others, you just want to rock the fuck out, and who better than AC/DC?

82. We Are Scientists - Ram It Home
And from genuine cock rock double entendre bands, to those taking the piss with a lack of subtlety. California's We Are Scientists performing their cock rock pisstake at The Old Blue Last.

81. Hellsongs - Paranoid
This week's section is topped and tailed with a pair of covers. The first one was a rocked up version of a mellow song, so it's only fitting that the closer is a mellow version of Black Sabbath's most famous hit/wrist-killer on Guitar Hero.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Songs of the Decade: 100 - 91

A few weeks ago in a copy of the Times that I found on a train I noticed that they did their own run down of the best 100 songs from this decade (1st January 2000 to 31st December 2009). Lacking in inspiration I nicked the idea and have been compiling my own top 100 as a counterpoint. Aside from the obvious chronological restraints I also set myself another rule: each named artist can only appear once. As per normal I bent this rule, as you'll see with 64 & 16, 42 & 17, and 19 & 1.

100. Shakira - Hips Don't Lie
I will admit, the first ten are somewhat shaky, as I had the top 90 easily, and then scrabbled around looking for filler. But it's still a fun song, even if it does remind me of the pre-Google days of youtube, when it had banner ads on the site that would start playing songs when loaded. This is one of the songs played.

As embedding's been disabled, you'll have to click through to watch the video on YouTube itself, here.

99. Pixie Lott - Mama Do (Uh Oh Uh Oh)
It's not all going to be industrial German metal and female fronted indie bands. Occasionally I go for female fronted pop acts too.

Another one that I can't embed. Spoilsports.

98. Harry - Imagination
By now you might be wondering "is this list just going to be blondes cavorting around in their underwear?" to which my answer would be "no, there'll be some brunettes and redheads too". In all seriousness, I can link my introduction to Auf der Maur, The Subways and Blood Red Shoes (and all the weird and wonderful people thereafter) directly back to this artist. If the list was calculated on importance of songs rather than song quality, this would probably be number one. But it isn't, so it's not.

97. Robin Sparkles - Lets Go To The Mall
We've had latin American pop. We've had Kentish pop. Now, we have Canadian pop! Not the only one-hit wonder on this list, but this song from early in the decade is just fun in every way. Trivia - since leaving the music business, Robin's since become a news anchorwoman on a New York TV station.

96. Papa Roach - Last Resort
Ah, nu-metal. While this fad gave us some truely atrocious songs, there was a time when you couldn't put Kerrang TV on without hearing this song. Yes, this list is driven by nostalgia too.

More anti-embedding from UMG, spoilsports.

95. Kylie Minogue - Can't Get You Out Of My Head
More unashamed pop. It's designed to seduce new readers in with familiar acts, before blindsiding them with obscure acts like Metallica, Paramore, Girls Aloud...

Again, no embedding. No fun.

94. Girls Aloud - Sound Of The Underground
After overcoming my initial disappointment that it wasn't 3 minutes of tube trains, "mind the gap" and "there is a part closure on all London Underground lines", it's a rather rocky song. Especially for a group described as "the new Hear'say".

93. Beyonce feat. Jay Z - Crazy In Love
Pop with an r'n'b flavour. One of those summer songs that everyone seems to like, regardless of stereotype.

More lack of embedding. Boo.

92. Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
"Wow, what a fun and inventive new band!" we all thought when we first heard it. It got a bit tiresome being rereleased a dozen more times under different song names though.

Yet more lack of embedding. It'll get better when the bands get smaller.

91. Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)
Unlike others, I've never bought into the hype around this band. However, I do love my big, epic songs, and so this appears on the list. Despite not having on my computer until last month.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bandwidth Abusing

Next Autumn looks like I'll be downloading shows every morning from the States.

Monday morning: The Simpsons, Mad Men
Tuesday morning: How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, Castle, Chuck
Wednesday morning: Leverage
Thursday morning: Glee
Friday morning: 30 Rock
Saturday morning: Dollhouse

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gigs of 2009 pt 1

As I've not done massive big long updates for any of my gigs this year, I thought I'd squeeze them all in to one.

February 4th - Amanda Palmer (Electric Ballroom, London)
I didn't really have much time to get excited about this gig as most of it was spent arranging to meet up with Hannah. Once that was done I realised that there was still a main performer to see, and it was much better than I anticipated. It wasn't like your usual straightforward gig in that there was a LOT of audience interaction - an auction mid set, actors in the crowd, some fucking strange people beforehand with masks on giving out playing cards.

And then we got the rant about how none of the UK radio stations would play the jaunty upbeat song making light of abortion/date rape as it might offend someone, so she played a slow tempo version. And couldn't keep a straight face.

Great fun, especially with the Dresden Dolls songs played unexpectedly. 8.5/10

February 13th - Rosie & The Goldbug (Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes, London)
I had been looking forward to this gig for two months ever since I got the album. It took place in a bowling alley, which is still a very strange place to see a gig - with bowling and karaoke taking place behind and to the side of the stage. The pre-gig DJ (VV from the Kills) played some excellent tunes - Bikini Kill's Rebel Yell and White Stripes - Hand Springs being the highlights. Unfortunately, due to the band not coming on stage until 10:15 and having to get the coach home we missed some of the set, but what we did see was absolutely excellent and I would see them again in a heartbeat.

Superb live band, on top of their game. 9.3/10

February 23rd - Spinnerette (Islington Academy, London)
After two great gigs, Spinnerette had a lot to live up to. Given that I'd seen the Distillers in their prime comparisons would be inevitable, no matter how hard I tried not to make them. Support band Future of the Left weren't as bad as I remembered them to be, and Steve and Laura from Blood Red Shoes came up to us and had a chat between the two. Once I'd got it into my head that these weren't the Distillers I had a great time, Brody's still as cool as fuck even after six years away from performing live, and the new stuff sounds good. Even though one song had a note for note identical intro to Manic Street Preachers - Judge Y'rself which had me singing along to the wrong song.

Material sounds good, but they'd only played 3 live gigs and it showed. 7.5/10

March 10th - Blood Red Shoes (Chinnerys, Southend)
Firstly, I never want to visit Southend again as long as I live. It makes Margate look beautiful. If Garbage announced a one off final gig there supported by the original Pipettes and Rilo Kiley, I'd still have reservations. That said, the gig itself was fun. Was good to see people again, the alcohol was reasonably priced (which may have contributed to my enjoyment), the new songs sounded good and I got a t-shirt. The stage invasion was actually rather funny - Southend crowds aren't as enthusiastic as London ones.

They can always be relied upon for a good gig, but as nothing stuck out in my mind, 8.0/10

April 5th - Rose Elinor Dougall (The Old Queens Head, London)
This was a spur of the moment gig - literally the night before I was talking to Dana about her and idly wondered when Rose was playing in London next. As it was the following day and I had the Monday afterwards off I took myself off to London to see her. After sitting in the beer garden near to her reading my book while eating my dinner (and being the only person outside not smoking) I took myself upstairs to the venue, and nabbed myself an amazingly comfortably leather armchair with a great view of the stage. It was the most comfortable I've ever been at a gig and being in a relaxed seating position worked well with her music. Every song was great, especially the live version of May Holiday.

Probably what kick started my crush on her. 9.8/10

April 25th - Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Shepherd's Bush Empire, London)
I was not excited about this gig at all beforehand. The Gills had ground out a 0-0 draw that ended our automatic promotion hopes, and I was not impressed with the material from the third album. In the end I was only going up for Laura and Rob but I'd forgotten one crucial thing - the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are always good live. Every single thing about the set crackled, especially hearing Pin and Art Star. Really glad I went.

Another fantastic live set. 8/10

May 18th - Johnny Foreigner (Flowerpot, London)
Random free gig that I entered for the hell of it. Wanted to see them again as I hadn't seen them since September and it was the longest I'd gone without seeing them since I first heard of them. The new stuff was great, Kelly looked hot as a redhead (but then again I would say that, wouldn't I?) and I'm really looking forward to the album. The JoFo fangirls over on Kelly's side actually freaked the band out too.

By the numbers - good, but nothing special. 7.5/10

May 21st - Rosie & The Goldbug (Water Rats, London)
After Johnny Foreigner I was too shattered to go to Metric the following night, and so wasn't too up for this gig either. Another late stage time for the band but I timed my travel well enough so that I arrived down the centre just as the band got on stage, saw a brief 8 song set, then buggered off home again. Still, Rosie was pleased to have someone to sing along with (having someone that pretty singing "you and me, lets fuck forever" to me was a definite highlight) - I just wish they'd played for longer.

Still want to see them again, another gig left unfulfilled. 8.0/10

June 8th - Rose Elinor Dougall (Luminaire, Kilburn)
I was in a strange mood before this gig. A can of super strength Strongbow on top of a can of Relentless left me shaken, and the proggy sounds of the support band combined with the heat in the venue sent me back outside for fresh air and to calm down, where Rose was having a fag. I ended up having a conversation with her which at times veered dangerously close to Jeff Murdock territory. Back in the gig and another excellent set, which was closed by a very guitar led Falling Over - not the sort of song you'd expect given the previous half an hour of a more psychedelic Rilo Kiley style music. That was followed by her first ever solo encore.

Given that as soon as I got home I was straight on the myspace looking for her next date in London, 9/10

June 9th - Rose Elinor Dougall (Puregroove records, London)
Well, it just happened to be the day after. Half day of holiday booked and I was up off to London to see her again. I popped in to Forbidden Planet on the off chance they had a copy of the Pipettes based comic book that I bought a few months previously, and luckily they did. I picked up a copy, still unsure as to how well it would go down, and walked from Covent Garden to Barbican to find a cafe masquerading as a record shop. There were only about a dozen people there to see her, it having been announced very late on, but she remembered me from the previous night and thanked me for coming two nights in a row (fnarr) and then found out I was from Canterbury, so was even more impressed with my attendance. I don't know if it was put upon or real but it was nice that she said it anyway.

The gig was way more stripped down than the previous night, but just as fun. 9/10

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Phone Box Blues

As I haven't updated about work fun lately:

As part of the order process we're supposed to ask customers if they want their telephone number in the phone book. Yesterday I was setting up a 'phone line for an old dear who was doddering about in the background while I was chatting to her daughter.

"So, do you want your mum's number in the phone book?"
"MUM! Do you want your number in the phone book?"
"Why would I want my number in the phone box? I'll get all sorts of pervy calls from dirty old men thinking I'm a prostitute! I don't mind the pervy calls but I don't want them thinking I'm a whore!"

I was so glad the daughter couldn't see me struggling to keep a straight face.

Then, today, I was sat reading Veronica Mars quotes I'd emailed to myself to stop myself getting bored when I hear from the chap next to me:

"No, don't worry, I'll do it as fast as I can."
"No, you won't run out of air, don't worry."
"Don't worry, our phone boxes are not airtight. You'll be fine."
"You're not in a vacuum! Our phone boxes aren't air tight, you won't run out of oxygen."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

My Day at Wembley by James Tong (aged 24 and 3/4)

Well, that was fun.

The day started ridiculously early at 8:03am, when I woke up to Dave Lee Roth's "Just Like Paradise" on the radio. Unsure as to whether this was portentious or grimly ironic, I got myself ready, and we made our way to the station. We stopped off at Macknade service station for a bar of Galaxy Cookie Crunch - a superstition from earlier in the season, I'd gotten one before the games against Bury, Dagenham & Redbridge and Rochdale, and we hadn't lost those games (winning two and drawing one) and I'm a superstitious bastard.

We got to the station in time for the train half an hour before the one we intended to get, and as Phil had made that one from Canterbury as well we got in early, bagging a seat with a table. At Faversham the train was pretty full - by Sittingbourne, an hour away from London, every seat was taken and there were even people sitting in the aisles. At Rainham there were people three deep at the platform edge - not a hope in hell of getting everyone in. It got worse further up the line. A group of 13/14 year old lads got on with us at Faversham and were being somewhat boisterous, until surrounded by Gills fans at which point they were rather quiet.

We got into Victoria and the train spewed out wave after wave of blue, yellow and white clad Gills fans. As we made our way round to the cashpoints we could hear the chants from the Wetherspoons echoing round the concourse - even in the toilets deep underground I could tell which chant it was. We got on an extremely rammed Victoria line train and then changed to go to Baker Street, where we went in search of food and alcohol. We took a picture outside Brian Moore's Head the London Planetarium (leave me be) and found a KFC to scoff. Sitting in the KFC 100+ yards from the pub on the corner opposite Baker Street station we could hear Gills chants down the street! Seeing people walking past with alcohol I remembered a Tesco down the road and we headed there just after midday so I could get myself a cider to drink on the tube. Unfortunately, due to the actions of some drunk Cambridge fans the previous weekend, Baker Street was completely dry between the hours of 12 and 3. Arse.

We got down to the platform just as an Uxbridge train pulled in and we jumped on, with around 20 other Gills fans standing in our carriage which became so hot sweat was dripping down the inside of the doors. At Wembley Park we found Coca-Cola fan people who were giving out wristbands - one poor sod made the mistake of pronouncing our club's name as Gillingham with a hard G and got booed by half a dozen Gills fans in a light hearted way. We walked up Wembley Way surrounded by fans in blue and white, and blue and yellow. The new Wembley looks a lot nicer than the old dump, and took pictures like the tourists we are - including the Gills flags in front of the Bobby Moore statue. Walking round the concourse we saw a mounted policeman on a white horse - by this time I was getting rather hyper and got excited about a white horse at Wembley.

When we got into the stadium itself I was rather taken by the resemblence to Tropicana Field in Tampa, where the Rays play their home baseball games, but when we walked through the barrier into the stand I was very impressed. We sat chilling and soaking up the atmosphere, before the under 11s cup final took place in the centre of the pitch. The 6000 odd fans in the stadium took it to heart and were cheering on both sides, with the blue team scoring in the last minute from a left sided corner. Hmm. After that we were impressed that Doug Hudson, the normal announcer at Priestfield, read out our lineup and then lead the 38,000+ Gills fans in a singalong of The Last Waltz. I wasted £3.80 on a pint of Carlsberg (Carlsberg evidently don't do beer, either) before watching the team warm up and alternating between excited and nervous.

The teams came out to an amazing atmosphere. The Gills had the better of the first half against a clearly nervous Shrewsbury, with a corner swept in by Nutter and pushed over the bar by their keeper, and a Josh Wright shot pushed round the post. The first half swept past very quickly, and the teams went in at half time with the Shrews lucky to be level. The half time break took its time to pass, and we discussed the fact that the Gills would be attacking the goal in front of us in the second half. We started the second half as we finished the first, pressuring the Shrewsbury defence but being hindered by the fact that their keeper is a bit good. Then, something changed. Suddenly the Gills became unable to string more than two passes together and Shrewsbury started pressing. The second half dragged on and on, with both teams tiring and gradually slowing down. Dennis Oli, who had turned their left back in and out so much the guy had twisted blood, was visibly knackered towards the end.

Then, suddenly, Barcham broke down the left, speeding past the defender and slicing his cross behind the goal, as the defender slid in. The ref gave a corner, which we weren't too displeased about, as 89:50 showed on the clock. As the ball was returned I noticed that we'd left three defenders and the goalkeeper back in case of a breakaway. Nutter swung the ball in, it was flicked on by Weston and Jackson headed goalwards towards the defender on the line. The defender headed it onto the post and behind him into the roof of the net - the keeper scrambled it away but the linesman had spotted the goal (as did we) and the south stand with the Gills in went absolutely mental. 49 games over the season, and it had come down to the last second of the last minute of the last game. The two minutes of injury time took approximately an hour to tick down, and as their keeper hoofed it forward, the referee blew his whistle and we were back up to League 1, a year after we left it!

After the trophy was lifted we left sharpish, and caught the tube back to Victoria in time to get the 18:03 train home. After running for food and for the train I was absolutely knackered, and stood on the train swaying and seeing blue sheep scampering in the fields. The food perked me up and kept me going until Faversham where, 10 hours after we arrived there, we returned tired and happy.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Buffy people on Twitter

I just realised that I'm now following more Buffy related people on Twitter than actual real life people I know.

Whedonverse people
@adambusch - Adam Busch (Warren in Buffy)
@alydenisof - Alyson Hannigan (Willow, in Buffy and Angel)
@amber_benson - Amber Benson (Tara in Buffy, also co-writer of spin off comic books)
@AnthonySHead - Anthony Stewart Head (Giles in Buffy)
@BrianLynch - Brian Lynch (Angel comic book writer)
@CapricaSeven - Jane Espenson (Angel, Buffy, Dollhouse writer)
@Chris_Gorham - Christopher Gorham (James in the Buffy episode "I Only Have Eyes For You")
@ClareBerry - Clare Kramer (Glory/Oh most naughty sweaty feelings causing one on Buffy)
@Dichenlachman - Dichen Lachman (Sierra on Dollhouse)
@drhorrible - Dr Horrible official tweet (mostly Jed/Maurissa Whedon)
@ElizaPatricia - Eliza Dushku (Buffy/Faith on Buffy, Faith on Angel, Echo/Caroline on Dollhouse)
@EmmaCaulfield - Emma Caulfield (Anya Christina Emmanuella Made-up-maiden-name Jenkins in Buffy)
@feliciaday - Felicia Day (Vi in Buffy, Penny in Dr Horrible, and as yet untitled character in Dollhouse)
@jamesleary73 - James C. Leary (Clem in Buffy)
@JewelStaite - Jewel Staite (Kaylee on Firefly)
@juliebenz - Julie Benz (Darla on Buffy and Angel)
@julietlandau - Juliet Landau (Drusilla in Buffy and Angel)
@kdaubert1 - K.D. Aubert (Nikki Wood in Buffy season 7)
@Mark_Sheppard - Mark Sheppard (Badger on Firefly, Tanaka on Dollhouse)
@MeredthSalenger - Meredith Salenger (Grace Newman in Buffy - I Only Have Eyes For You)
@MoTancharoen - Maurissa Tancharoen (Groupie #1 in Dr Horrible, writer on Dollhouse and Mrs Jed Whedon)
@miraclelaurie - Miracle Laurie (Mellie in Dollhouse)
@NathanFillion - Nathan Fillion (Caleb in Buffy, Mal in Firefly/Serenity, Captain Hammer in Dr Horrible)
@SarahPaulson - Sarah Paulson (Researcher on Miranda in Serenity)
@Tomlenk - Tom Lenk (Andrew in Buffy)
@Whedonesque - Whedonesque (an unofficial blog, listing news items related to practically anyone who has been in or worked on Buffy (film and TV series), Angel, Firefly, Serenity, Dr Horrible, Dollhouse, spin-off comics, get the idea)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

10 x 10

Top 5 saddest songs I own (in no particular order):

Johnny Cash - Hurt

The cover that could make a Terminator cry.

easyworld - Tonight

Plaintive and heartbreakingly hopeful at the same time.

Dresden Dolls - Sing

Always chokes me up. I don't know why.

Blood Red Shoes - Say Something, Say Anything

A song about losing someone, and wishing you'd done more.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps (acoustic)

You'll struggle to find a simpler, more heartbreaking lyric than "wait, they don't love you like I love you". Although I'm sure someone will try, purely to contradict me.

And, to even it out, the top 5 happiest songs I own.

Feeder - Just A Day

Pretty much impossible to listen to and not want to jump around.

Manic Street Preachers - Faster

Well, it's happy if you don't listen too closely to the lyrics.

Johnny Foreigner - Salt, Pepper and Spinderella

Johnny Foreigner- Salt, peppa and spinderella from Best Before Records on Vimeo.

Starts off slow, but a great feeling of release when it kicks in.

Travis - Turn

Not what you'd expect from a happy song list. But this was always played, without fail, before every Gillingham home game in the season 1999-2000, which was also the last year the Gills went up. It brings back great memories of sitting in the sun on the shiny new Rainham End, watching the Gills charge forth decimating teams.

Los Campesinos - Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks

The sort of song that should be played over the end credits of a John Hughes movie, where everybody's happy, and having a party.