Friday 6 June 2008

kill me and kill me and kill me....

Earworms of the week.

Today's earworms are very much brought to you in association with the "Readers Recommend" column in the Guardian. For those not in the know, this is where a theme is picked every week, and bloggers post suggestions of songs that fit the topic. At the end of the week, a list of the ten best is published in the paper. The catch is that once a song has appeared in one of the final playlists, it can never be used again. This makes things increasingly tricky, as no sooner have you thought of something perfect than you realise that it's already sitting in the A-Z. Today's topic is "Surreal Songs", and my immediate thought was "The Intro and the Outro" by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.... only to find that it's already been used. Pah.

Anyway. If some of this week's earworms seem a little surreal, then you'll now understand how they popped into my head in the first place.

(Incidentally, I've only ever had one song I nominated selected for the final ten - the week they did "Songs that make you cry", I suggested "climbing to the moon" by Eels. But you live in hope of getting another one, eh?)

> Canyons of your Mind - Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

"The Intro and the Outro" was taken, but someone else has nominated this one by the Bonzos, and now I can't shake it out of my head. "To the ventricles of your heart..." and so on. Silly.

> Straighten Up and Fly Right - Nat King Cole

I'm not sure if this is exactly surreal, but it's undeniably extremely catchy. Irritatingly so, in fact. I'm having to concentrate really hard for this to be the Nat King Cole version and not the Robbie Williams version from "Swing When You're Winning". Robbie Williams should be illegal.

> Birdhouse in your soul - They Might Be Giants

I think this song was written about a nightlight or something, wasn't it? Absurdly catchy. Also, and not to put too fine a point on it, that lyric about bees in bonnets chimes with the chosen fancy dress theme for the test match tomorrow - we're going as beekeepers - and so this might as well be our theme tune.

> Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend.

Yes, they're a slightly bizarre mix of NY indie and African guitar rhythms, but somehow it all works, and this is probably the best song about punctuation ever written. Killer chorus too, even if it's inevitably slightly neutered when you hear it on the radio. On my "to see" list at Glastonbury, even if it looks as though I run the risk of catching the tail end of Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong in doing so, which is normally something to be avoided at all costs.

> The Justified and the Ancient - The KLF

They're justified. And they're ancient. They drive an ice cream van. What more could you possibly need? All aboard for Mu Mu Land. Actually, on the subject of the KLF, it's high time that I dug out the album "Chill Out" - 45 minutes of ambient noise, cows lowing and Elvis Presley singing "In The Ghetto" in the distance. It's brilliant.

> Skip to the End - The Futureheads

Inspired by Tuesday's gig at the Rescue Rooms rather than by any inherent surreality in the song. By far and away the best thing on the otherwise terribly disapppointing "News & Tributes". This is good though, and they were pretty good live to. That reminds me: I must give their new album a proper listen next week.

> One Day Like This - Elbow

The gig of the year so far, and I'm really looking forward to the sing-song that this will get when they play it at Glastonbury later on this month.

"So throw those curtains wide
One day like this a year'd see me right"

It's a wonderfully upbeat song describing a feeling that everyone should have at least once in their life. Great band.

> The Electrician - The Walker Brothers

Taken from their album "Nite Flights" when the band were given free reign creatively as their record company imploded. This gave Scott Walker a chance to move into the musical territory that really interested him and was to dominate his solo career. If you want to know where "Tilt" came from, then you need to start here. This song in particular is a thing of puzzling beauty. I *think* that it's about a torturer and his victim, but the song is so fragmented that it's almost impossible to say. In some ways it's barely a song at all, and if you've ever watched "30 Century Man", the film on Scott Walker, then this is the song that prompted Brian Eno to suggest that it was all so very frustrating because in the last 30 years, music has advanced no further than this. Walker's a genius, but some of his later stuff (like the use of a side of pork as a percussion instrument on Tilt's "Jolson & Jones") can be a bit impenetrable, but this is still enthralling listening.... not easy listening... but enthralling. Of course, the sequencing of the album means that after we've spent four songs enjoying the fractured visions of Scott, we then go straight into a bouncy song about hanging out with girls and stuff written by one of the other 'brothers'. Bizarre.

[even more bizarre when you listen to this on YouTube soundtracking Battlestar Galactica clips]

Right. Cricket weekend for me, so I'm off for some cocktails to warm up.

Have fun y'all.


  1. That Vampire Weekend CD is my most played album at the moment - I absolutely love it.

    But now, I am earworming They Might Be Giants. Thanks for that. No doubt I'll move onto their Istanbul next, as the two go hand in hand for me for some reason. I think that one's catchier though...

  2. "Chill Out" is fantastic. Must listen to it more. Though I think little is more selfconsciously weird than "Disco Volante" by Mr Bungle.

  3. In further agreement with Chill Out. Quite comfortably in my Top 10 albums of all time, and I don't say such things lightly.

    Vampire Weekend are wonderful live, really really good. I'll see you down the front for both them and Elbow!

    I was sat at the adjacent table to Joe Lean outside a pub the other night. I can confirm that he has the skinniest legs I have ever seen on a human being. Actually disturbing. And yes, the music is truly awful.