Posts Tagged ‘30DSC


30DSC: a song nobody would expect me to like

Day 14 of the 30 day song challenge. Today, a song which people might be surprised I enjoy.

The Geto Boys – Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Being a slightly snobbish plonker, I have quite a strong dislike for all gangster rap. It seems to me unironically materialistic and hollow. I like music with soul — or at least, something which doesn’t wear its lack of soul on its sleeve.

Damn it Feels Good feels like rap music with a soul, and it’s clever. The bait-and-switch of having the president suddenly talk in those terms about his life and activities allows the song to make a genuine point about the way we find different behaviour acceptable.

Drug dealers and gangsters might be making deals for their own benefit at the cost of others, but politicians do this all the time. I’m not convinced there’s a fair comparison in there, but it’s food for thought certainly.

It’s really not my genre, but just this once, it really does feel good to be a gangsta.


30DSC: A guilty pleasure

Day 13 of the 30 day song challenge. Today, a guilty pleasure.

Les Miserables – I Dreamed a Dream

I don’t have much to add to this one actually. It’s just a beautiful song, but usually if you asked me whether I liked it, I wouldn’t dream of saying so.


30DSC: My favourite film song

Day 14 of the 30 day song challenge. Today, a song which people might be surprised I enjoy.

Howard Shore ft. Annie Lennox – Into The West

I initially resisted the temptation to write about this song. It’s quite heavy, and I feel as though I’ve maybe covered that territory already. In fact I went so far as to write a post about another bit of music: Goldberg Variations & Aria, The Silence of the Lambs. I had all this stuff set out about how it was commissioned for an insomniac Count who wanted something to dull the maddening expanse of his sleepless nights, and the sheer beauty of the resulting composition. But as I read it back I knew that it was a lie. My favourite film song could only ever be one thing.

I love fantasy novels, and I most of all love the world J. R. R. Tolkien created in Middle Earth. Though the Lord of the Rings as a series of books is rather stuffy and perhaps not a fantastic read, they nonetheless set out a mythos which has dominated mainstream fantasy ever since. The films to me are a masterclass in how to successfully adapt a novel to the cinema, taking liberties with Tolkien’s plot whilst still retaining the refined essence of his messages and themes.

Into the West sits at the end of the trilogy, providing the punctuation at the end of a succession of lesser endings. Yet it’s not so much the context of the song as it is the song itself which makes me feel as I do about it. It’s just remarkable enough that it means something very real, just generic enough that it means something special to everyone for different reasons.

It’s a goodbye, written for budding New Zealand filmmaker Cameron Duncan who died, tragically young, from cancer. In memory of him, I curtail this blog post before it’s really begun.


30dsc: a song from a favourite band

Day 11 of the 30 Day Song Challenge. Today, a song from one of my favourite bands.

Arctic Monkeys – Mardy Bum

I really hate accent rock. I want artists who’re about their music or about their lyrics; I can’t for a moment even feign interest in artists who’re about their accent. The Kooks can sod off with their stupid accents. But if I asked you to name a current British band famous for their accents, you’d probably say the Arctic Monkeys — and if you thought that meant I didn’t like them, you’d be dead wrong.

They’re the best band of the noughties for me, and easily some of the best lyricists of all time. Alex Turner’s lyrics are poetry as song. They couldn’t be more evocative, and the historian in me appreciates how in thirty years time university students doing history are going to be able to reference the Arctic Monkeys.


30DSC: Favourite Music Video

Day 10 0f the 30 day song challenge. Today, the best music video.

Smashing Pumpkins – Tonight, Tonight

Music videos are ten a penny, and by now there are very few innovations possible in shooting them. The current trend seems to be staged performances with backing dancers and pyrotechnics. Thanks, R&B, for taking us back to the worst parts of the 1980s.

Still, that’s not to say that all music videos are bad. There are some great ones. I Am Kloot’s video for their song Proof — a steady close-up of the actor Christopher Ecclestone’s face as he slowly begins to smile — is one example of a recent one which I think is just a great concept.

It’s not my favourite ever though. That honour instead goes to Tonight, Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins. Inspired by the aesthetics and sense of wonderment in early silent films, particularly George Melieres’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, the Pumpkins’ video is visually stunning and has just a magical and otherworldly air.

It feels like a waste to talk too much about the video, so I won’t. If the other entries in this series are about sound, this one is about vision. So just watch it.


30DSC: My Favourite Classical Music

Day 9 of the 30 day song challenge. Today, a classical piece.

Beethoven – Appassionata

Classical music is what you might listen to as you relax. It can be soothing, or grandoise. It’s music which you might listen to when you’re sad. It’s artful and it’s mannered. But what about classical music as noise and storm? What about classical music which grips you, hurts you, shakes you? Beethoven can do that. “You’re hurting me, let go. I understand”, we might say, “I understand.” But the Appassionata won’t let you go, doesn’t care what you understand. It has you. Oh, it has you.

It teases you, the Appassionata. It opens with refined elegance, that oh-so-considered beauty of plinky-plonky piano. But then the bass notes kick in underneath, and soon the elegance is lost in the squall. When that melody reemerges, it’s thundering, plaintive. It means a storm is coming.

And what a storm. It’s dark and it’s terrible and it’s beautiful. You’re caught in it, whipped up. It’s emotion wrought as music; it churns, throws you about and makes you wish for the end which never quite comes. Play it louder, play the Appassionata louder.

It’s music in which you can’t help but get lost, deep and black as pitch. It’s music which says so much without a single word. I love it just as much as I’m disturbed by it.


30DSC: A Song I Know the Words to

Day 8 of the 30 day song challenge. Today, a song I know the lyrics to.

Weezer – Buddy Holly

I bear a striking resemblance to Buddy Holly, and gosh, but aren’t you Mary Tyler Moore? This is easily the most infectiously joyous song you’ll play today. Is it any wonder I know all the words?

I first remember hearing it in the early noughties, at a guess I would say probably around 2001. Ten years ago, then. Goodness, I feel old. But then I suppose I am old — at least, as old as it’s possible to say you are whilst in your early-mid twenties. I understand I’m still a bairn, all things told, but did you notice I put the word “early” into my previous sentence to soften the blow of “mid twenties”? Yeah.

The point is though, it’s an old song. Buddy Holly was released in 1994 on Weezer’s first and eponymous album. I am always a little surprised when I learn this again; it’s a remarkably fresh sound. Perhaps because it’s self-consciously a bit retro. If you’re clever then a retro sound can keep your song going well past its sell-by date. Trying to sound modern dates your music so quickly. Today’s cavalcade of heavily autotuned music will in just a few years sound as cheesey as the wibbly-wobbly vocoder on Cher’s Believe.

Yes it will. Trust me; I look just like Buddy Holly.

July 2018
« Apr