Top 100 singles of all time: from Bjork to the Beach Boys

367px-Björk_Rock_en_Seine_2007_by Bertrand

It’s an almost sad feeling as I wrap up this list – bundling in the top 40 in one final swoop – before tomorrow’s grand finale. I don’t even know what was going through my mind as I wrote the original list, beyond how far I agreed (or disagreed) with the traditional entries on such charts. Perhaps what surprised me was how orthodox my tastes are – perhaps simply because those songs are undeniably good – though I hope my more detailed individual postings have entertained, imparted a bit of trivia on your favourite songs, and maybe introduced you to something you hadn’t heard before.

With that in mind, I’m going to skip over the ones you already know well – Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir (which always sounds oddly weedy compared to the bowel-shreddingly heavy version in my head); River Deep, Mountain High; House of the Rising Sun, etc. (my top 40 is dominated by songs from the 60s). I’ll pause to mention Higher Than The Sun, because however many accolades have been awarded to Screamadelica, it still does not have the recognition such an otherworldly, transcendental song deserves.  Continue reading

Top 10 unpleasant facts about John Lennon

I’ve never worshipped John Lennon, and generally regarded The Beatles as overrated. I find Imagine dull and mawkish with horrible lyrics. I’ll give The Beatles their due as composers of a dozen or so truly great songs, though – and that’s taking into account my belief that their finest moments were “all in the production”. Certainly I Am The Walrus (about the Lewis Carroll poem, apparently) and Strawberry Fields Forever are triumphs of arrangement over mediocre songwriting. I’d generally rank them somewhere above the Everly Brothers and below The Kinks.

That said, I was sceptical when I saw Listverse’s fascinating article, Top 10 Unpleasant Facts About John Lennon, because I do think it would be easy to hop on a bandwagon of iconoclasm in the week when so many “national treasures” are being stripped of their crowns. Sir Jimmy Savile was a child molester who, according to his nephew, used to “borrow” kids from the local orphanage. I read that in a tabloid newspaper, so it’s easy to dismiss that as lurid nonsense, except that now police are investigating 120 allegations against the icon. Julie Burchill accused John Peel of exploiting under-aged girls, which would be too easy to ignore as the ramblings of an attention-seeking hack who lost her way a decade ago, but now news of his misconduct is everywhere. It’s not the same thing – the encounters were consensual – but it’s misconduct nonetheless. Whether or not we over-idolise them and hold them to impossible standards, it’s always upsetting when our heroes disappoint us, especially if they do so spectacularly. Perhaps that’s why we’re so eager to delve – to uncover those nightmarish secrets – before we become too attached to the people we admire.

As I said, I wasn’t much of a Lennon fan to start with, but I was appalled and intrigued by Listverse’s article, and before passing it on, I wanted to know one simple thing: was it trueContinue reading

Why artists shouldn’t stick to art


Written for Collapse Board

Everett True reckons that Artists Should Stick To Art instead of making mixtapes of obvious dad rock. If mixtapes made by artists are so disappointing in real life, I think we should invent some fantasy selections.

For example:  Continue reading

National Treasures Mixtape

I’m British like I’m Irish: when it suits me. I view the Royals with the same casual indifference as I view … peas. The Queen is a public servant, and provided she keeps on doing the job well and bringing in more than she costs, I’m quite happy for her to continue.

We’re going to spend the weekend munching miniature cupcakes on the village green with all those neighbours we’ve never said more than two words to. I did buy some tiny Scotch eggs, but I probably ought to have grabbed some sausage rolls, too, while I was at it. Oh well. It’s going to piss down anyway, so the whole thing will likely fizzle out after about half an hour. Why didn’t I buy any Pimms?

Having purchased a tiny Union Jack bowtie (for my baby daughter to wear as a headband) and fully loaded up with cucumber-and-cream-cheese sandwiches I’m about ready for a right royal knees-up. For which we’ll need a soundtrack …  Continue reading