Time for another one of these.
Write down the first 25 random songs that come up on your MP3 player, iPod etc. I used Last.fm set to My Library station.
I thought I’d give it a go, using Last.fm, just to see what would happen. I found it interesting because it was forcing me to listen to things that I hadn’t heard in a while or given a particularly fair listen, and playing things out of the context of how I usually hear them. There’s some good songs here …
1. Foetus – Verklemmt
Bit of a no-brainer for me, considering how much I’ve been listening to this lately. I find the video hard-going (made by Alex Winter from Bill & Ted, it’s got literally thousands of cuts), but it’s a great song from the album GASH.
2. The Kinks – Dead End Street
Ah, I never tire of this song. I used to play it a lot when I was unemployed and starving-broke, living in a miserable bedsit in one of the rougher parts of South London.
3. Steroid Maximus – Chaiste
JG Thirlwell is the Da Vinci of music – he can do anything and do it well. This is catchy spy noir funk with lush strings and vibrant brass. It’s as joyful and light as Verklemmt is angry and dark.
4. Aylim Aslim – Gelinlik Sarhoslugu
This is one of Gulyabani‘s weaker tracks, sounding like one of the Sugarcubes’ more dubious moments, but represents some of the diversity on the Turkish popster’s second album.
5. Depeche Mode – Policy of Truth
This is either from the copy of Violator I nicked off Him Indoors’s bandmate Graham, or from the greatest hits album I bought. It’s one of my preferred songs by Depeche Mode – not as good as anything from Ultra, but definitely something I can enjoy.
6. Front Line Assembly – Angriff
This must belong to Him Indoors, because it’s not one of mine. He was always the Frontline fan; I was more a Puppy person, though we each bought records by both bands. The song’s OK – Rammstein-lite as HI puts it. It’s catchy, but hardly progressive.
7. The Cure – Lullaby
This is just a simply wonderful song. It’s hauntingly memorable with a great tune and deeply unsettling lyrics. I used to consider Robert Smith my style icon. Note to 16 year-old self: he looks ridiculous, and so do you.
8. Gwen Stefani – Early Winter
The most intriguing thing about this song is that it’s co-written by Tim Rice-Oxley from Keane, which just goes to show that insipid, sappy ballads by indie bands sound pretty good when sung by quirky pop singers. Stefani had called him up because she wanted something like Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time, and this has the same kind of appeal. I think it’s a great song, but stopped listening to it out of superstition when the weather turned unseasonably cold after I first heard it.
9. System of a Down – Bubbles
SOAD are a band that I always felt I should like a lot more because I like the sort of bands that sound like they do, but I tend not to connect with their music on an emotional level. This is one of about two of their songs that I do like, but I’m still left feeling a little cold and indifferent towards it, even as I admire the sort of sound they’re making.
10. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Maps
I think everyone’s seen that video by now, of Karen O weeping Sinead O’Connor style. It’s quite affecting and the song is good in a Pretenders-meets-PJ-Harvey way.
11. Pigface – Hagseed
Pigface were always more about the idea than the song, and more about the personnel than the music. This song’s not terrible, but I can’t remember how it went even after hearing it.
12. Pig – Prayer Praise & Profit
This was, for me, the turning point in my Pig fandom, because it represents when Raymond stopped progressing musically and just started copying his own sound. Pig’s early stuff sounded like Foetus (which was great) or like KMFDM (which was also great), and the slightly later stuff sounded like Metallica with electronics, and there was nowt wrong with that either. Genuine American Monster is Pig trying to sound like Pig, and that’s self-parody.
13. Kelis – Milkshake
The bass on this song is just incredible – you recognise it from the first couple of bars and it’s as distinctive and unforgettable an intro as Dancing In The Streets. Of course, it’s nowhere near as brilliant as Martha Reeves’ classic, but it is still a very good song in spite of its silly lyrics and sillier video. The melody twists and turns, and Kelis’s husky voice gives it an extra kick that lifts it miles above practically the whole of early-noughties R&B.
14. Nine Inch Nails – Demon Seed
I never quite understood why NIN released a pisspoor album for money and then gave away a comparatively strong album for free, but The Slip was their best album since The Fragile. It was still pretty weak by early-NIN standards, again a sort of self-parody – NIN sounding like NIN, rather than the intriguing Bowie-meets-Skinny Puppy blend of their early material. This song is one of my favourite tracks from The Slip, but it wouldn’t even have made a b-side on anything from The Downward Spiral.
15. Foetus – Not In Yr Hands
This is one of the most perverse songs that Foetus has ever done. No, I don’t mean in terms of something rude like Butter or Hot Horse, but because the song is so sweet and melodious that if he’d have released it as a single and got the right backing behind it, it could have ended up as some huge hit. That would have inevitably been followed by people seeking out the rest of his 30-year back catalogue, after which they’d be standing there whey-faced and trembling, muttering “the man’s sick” and having nightmares for weeks.
16. Primal Scream – Slip Inside This House
A stand-out track from a stand-out album. This is a psychedelic house music cover of a 13th Floor Elevators song.
17. Kelly Clarkson – Gone
Youtube user SupaSpaceMonkeyMafia asks “Is it a sin for a power metal fan to be? listening to this?”
No, Supa, it’s not. It’s a satisfyingly well-written, intricately-arranged light rock song with a great vocal delivery. Kelly Clarkson is like Avril Lavigne before her and, latterly, Taylor Momsen – not quite good enough to make me think about them very much but just good enough for me to root for them. It’s too interesting to really be bland, but too bland to be truly interesting: the verses and bridge are superb but the chorus is a let-down. If all talent show winners made music of this standard, the charts might be worth listening to.
18. Lady Gaga – LoveGame
Apparently she actually said that to someone once.
19. Madonna – Nothing Really Matters
Ah, when Madonna had class. One of my all-time favourite Madonna songs: it’s just a very, very good track with a striking video. I love the strings on this, and that lovely Bowie-inspired piano break in the middle. I think the only reason the track is not more well-regarded is because Madonna sang it – if Massive Attack had released it, everyone would be all over it.
20. Stone Sour – Get Inside
Other than a lack of masks, what marks this out from Corey Taylor’s other band (Slipknot) is the gorgeous close-part harmonies. It’s pretty tight and solid, but lacks Slipknot’s musical ambition.
21. Slipknot – Vermillion
And this is why I love Slipknot. This song captures the ferocity and beauty and downright intensity of the band at their best. It shifts and twists as much as Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, but moves with more subtlety and cohesion. It dances its dark waltz while making you feel as though you’re being crushed by the sheer weight of the music, and at the same time moved by its poignancy and desperation.
22. The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog
Needs no introduction. An abridged clip, but you know how it goes.
23. Robbie Williams – Bodies
Long before the anti-X Factor campaigns, I made my own silent protest against the rubbish in the charts. It was simple: if I heard a good single, I bought it, and if I didn’t like something, I didn’t. This is not a great record by any stretch, and the chorus is fairly bland, but I figured I had a choice. Williams is frustrating: some of what he does is very, very good and a lot of it is utter toss. I thought that if this – his big comeback single – tanked, then he’d just go back to releasing awful sappy ballads. I wanted to encourage risks like this, which is definitely on the unusual side. Well, bad lyrics aside, it sounds like a Tears for Fears single, which is fine because I always quite liked Tears for Fears. I always hated Take That, and it seems I lost my 79p gamble, since he rejoined that insipid boy band shortly after this.
24. Ministry – The Dick Song
Al Jourgensen is not such a fan of Dick Cheney.
25. Rihanna – Shut Up and Drive
This is an unremarkably enjoyable song on an album full of catchy pop tracks.