Friday 12 December 2008

a new winter coat and shoes for the wife....

Earworms of the Week.

[keep reading - Earworms of the Year 2008 information at the bottom, and I need your help so.....]

> "Elisabeth on the Bathroom Floor" - Eels

I think the Eels must be my most listened to band of 2008 (closely followed by Elbow, Fleet Foxes and...erm.... Flight of the Conchords). I've owned a number of the albums for some time, but it was only this year that they really clicked with me, and I found myself listening to them over and over again. It's not always happy listening, with this song being a case in point, but Mark "E" Everett almost never allows himself to slip into self-pity, and ultimately his songs are about life and not about death. Well, except this one, which is quite astonishingly bleak and about the suicide of his sister. It's oddly beautiful though.

"My name's Elisabeth
My life is shit and piss

Great song.

> "Love Machine" - Girls Aloud

For some reason, my wife was very keen to go and watch Coldplay at Wembley Stadium on the day that they are supported by Girls Aloud rather than the day that they are backed by Jay-Z. Funny that. Does anyone care now that they were an entirely manufactured band? Do you think One True Voice ever watch them on telly and dare to think that they could have been as big or as good if they had got to number one that week? Even they must realise that they were dealing with pop perfection - something that has been apparent since "sound of the underground".

I think W.A.S.P. did a song by the same name, but I'm fairly sure they did it quite differently.

> "Owner of a Lonely Heart" - Yes

I'm blaming Sarah for this one as it popped up on a "Genius" playlist that started with "Mr. Blue Sky". I'm not quite sure how Simple Minds ended up in the mix, but there you go. This is a very silly song by a very silly band. Proof positive that Prog bands could occasionally write snappy singles (although, in this case, only after Rick Wakeman had packed up his capes and left the band).

> "Apply Some Pressure" - Maximo Park

Still one of the most played songs on my iPod, and a real pleasure whenever it comes on. "Our Earthly Pleasures" was my album of 2007, so they must be due some new material in 2009, no?

> "Fire" - Jimi Hendrix / Joan as Policewoman

The original, loose-limbed version by Hendrix remains my favourite, but Joan Wasser and her band produced a version of this song at the Rescue Rooms on Wednesday night that sounded as though they were paying homage to PJ Harvey: intense and frankly terrifying. An awfully long way from the good humoured original, but actually none the worse for that.

> "Skinny Love" - Bon Iver

"For Emma, Forever Ago" is being widely acclaimed as one of the finest albums to be released this year. Typically, I've only just discovered it. I'm always slightly suspicious of those polls, for one thing: I bought the last TV on the Radio album on the basis of one of those, and I've only played it once and I'm not sure I made it all the way through. This year's polls are also recommending TV on the Radio's new album, but I've decided to ignore all of their rave reviews this time around. Once bitten and all that. Bon Iver, however, has sucked me in. I'm only a few listens in, but it seems to be a lovely, delicate record that I hope will grow with every play.

> "If I had $1,000,000" - Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies are a band that I sometimes have nightmares about. In common with Ben Folds, they have an unmistakeable air of smugness and self-satisfaction about them, and they almost certainly think they are funnier than they actually are. It's also hard to escape the memory, whenever I hear them, of the worst party that I have ever attended where someone got out a guitar and everyone - bar me - sang along to Barenaked Ladies songs... moments after the most pretentious cod-philosophical conversation about death I have ever had the misfortune to hear. As I recall, they all liked Ben Folds too.

I heard this song in the car this morning, as it featured on Alan's 2007 Shuffleathon that he was kind enough to mail me a copy of. Yes, it's vaguely annoying, but it's undeniably catchy, and there were even one or two lyrics that made me smile ("but not a real green dress, that's cruel"). Credit where credit is due. I quite like "one week" as well.

> "Suzanne" - Leonard Cohen

I've been listening to Cohen at work today, and as always, I am absolutely awestruck by the sheer poetry of his lyrics. There is no one, no one, who writes lyrics as good as this.

"And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water

And he spent a long time watching

From his lonely wooden tower

And when he knew for certain

Only drowning men could see him

He said all men will be sailors then

Until the sea shall free them

But he himself was broken

Long before the sky would open

Forsaken, almost human

He sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

And you want to travel with him

And you want to travel blind

And you think maybe youll trust him

For hes touched your perfect body with his mind

Set against a subtle, acoustic backing and sung in Cohen's rich, deep voice, that song haunts me.

> "Chemical World" - Blur

"Modern Life is Rubbish" was an extremely important album in my musical development. I discovered it in my first year at University, and I had it on a tape that I think had some Suede on the other side. I thought the quality dropped off sharply after "Villa Rosie", but songs like "Sunday, Sunday", "Blue Jeans" "For Tomorrow" and this one still sound pretty good today. I loved "Parklife" (even if I snobbishly hated that fact that almost everyone else did too), but I fell out of love with them around "The Great Escape" and only came back to them when they were on the verge of splitting up. Good band. I have never seen them live, so I hope they manage to squeak onto the Glastonbury bill this year. I can see what's in it for the others (££££), but I was wondering what Damon Albarn was hoping to achieve through reforming his old band... but then I heard him talking about the reunion, and it was clear that the most important thing to him was that he had salvaged his relationship with Graham Coxon and was simply delighted to have his old friend back - playing together in public was secondary. I liked that. Life's too short, isn't it?

> "Shipbuilding" - Suede

Another song on Alan's 2007 Shuffleathon (the 2008 one is even better), and an absolute cracker from the first "Help" album. As I'm sure everybody knows, it was written by Elvis Costello during the Falklands War and highlights the contradiction of how building warships brings prosperity back to the shipyards, whilst their children lose their lives serving on the same ships. Robert Wyatt recorded the original version of the song, but I really like the Suede version as, for once, Brett Anderson's anguished yelp works really well. The lyrics are absolutely superb. Costello is a pretty good lyricist, although not in the Leonard Cohen class, but here he really outdoes himself.

"It's just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard

Within weeks they'll be re-opening the shipyards

And notifying the next of kin

Once again
It's all were skilled in

We will be shipbuilding

With all the will in the world

Diving for dear life

When we could be diving for pearls

Gorgeous song.


Earworms of the Year 2008

“Ohrwurm” - a german word that literally translates into English as “earworm”, and refers to a song or tune that becomes lodged in one’s head.

It's time to start voting for your earworms of the year......Last year saw 430 different songs nominated by 335 different artists.... I'm going to start putting together the list for 2008, but as always, I need your help!

Here's how it works:

I will exhaustively compile all of the songs that have appeared in the weekly Earworm slot that appears here every Friday -- both the ones that I have done, and the ones that any Guest Editors have done. I will also be accepting votes from anyone who can be bothered to send me an email.

I need you to email in your votes for your 5 Earworms of the Year.

This shouldn't necessarily be the songs that you have liked the most over the last twelve months though: I'm interested in the songs that you simply haven't been able to shake off throughout the year. It would be nice if you could include a short comment about each one, as I like to include a selection when I do the run down at the end of the year.

Got it?

Email me (via the address in my profile) the five tunes - in order - that have been most stuck in your head this year.

Easy, right?

Need some inspiration?

2008 in music
2008 in British music
Albums released in 2008

I'll put up the list in the New Year.

Roll of honour.

2005 Coldplay - "Speed of Sound"

2006 Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy"

Rihanna - "Umbrella"

I love lists and I love making work for myself, so.....


  1. wow, you're still posting, awesome! :D

  2. Yeah. I sure am. Bloody hell. How are you? Long time no see....

  3. I have to admit, that the Robert Wyatt version of Shipbuilding remains the definitive one for me, probably because (showing my age here) it seemed to capture the mood perfectly at the time. Away from all the flag-waving jingoism, and lost Empire nostalgia the real dilemma faced by the working class: the temporary income boost, temporary employment security brought by armed conflict (in the Thatcher years of overt class conflict and her general contempt for "Red" trades, such as mining and labouring in the dockyards, as bastions of union support and opposition, her ruthless determination to break the power of the unions and impose her will on a recalcitrant populace - yep, as a Scot, being used as a Guinea pig for the poll tax, perceived as a purely disciplinary measure - she did it because she could and, in spite of the almost total absence of Tory constituencies north of the border, there was nothing we could do to stop her - she exulted in rubbing our noses in our own impotence) set against the terrible cost in (working class) lives, cannon fodder. Small luxuries bought in blood.
    Of course, these are all intended as purely subjective impressions, imperfect recollections of the past.
    Brilliant stuff.