Friday 10 April 2009

two hours of pushin' broom....

Earworms of the Week

I think it's only fitting that the final words on our wonderful holiday in Canada are set aside for the music. Canada is many things, but based upon what we heard when we were over there, it is not the best place in the world to hear cutting edge tunes. You know the old joke about New Zealand? That if you climb to the very top of Mount Cook, their tallest mountain, and look out, on a really clear day you can see as far as the 1950s? Well, Canada is sort of the same with music. It was everywhere: in the shops, in the restaurants.... even out on the piste and on ski lifts, but up to date, it was not. Do you know what though? I even love them for that. Here are some of the tunes that I heard when I was out there last week that I haven't really been able to shift since.

Check it out.

> "Photograph" - Def Leppard

How often do you get to hear really old school, pre-Hysteria, Def Leppard? Not as often as you should, I say. I was reminded of the mock-German beginning to "Rock of Ages" when I heard "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)" the other day, and then there I was, minding my own business in a ski lodge somewhere in Canada, and they started to play this early-80s classic. Rock on. Great steak, great skiing, beautiful scenery.... and a taste for probably-best-forgotten 80s metal. What's not to like?

> "The Sign" - Ace of Base

OK, so it's not all rock. Whilst Ian and Keith were off having some lessons, I spent three days in the company of the three girls. Just as the four of us were getting onto a chair lift at Norquay, we heard the very beginning segment of a song before we were swept uphill. Lisa sat there for a couple of minutes, and then chirped up that she'd finally remembered what the song was.... and it was Ace of Base. On the one hand, I was quite impressed that she'd managed to dredge it up from somewhere deep in her memory on the basis of a ten second snippet. On the other hand, it's Ace of Base. It's not even "All She Wants" either. Not an earworm you'd volunteer to be lumbered with for several hours on the side of a mountain, but there you go.

> "I'll Be There for You" - Bon Jovi

Ah, back to the safer territory of 80s hair metal. As you'd expect, I heard a few Jovi songs whilst over in Canada, although interestingly they only seem to have got as far as the "New Jersey" album, so presumably they all stopped listening when JBJ got his hair cut. I recognised this ridiculous power ballad disturbingly early in the introduction too. The shame.

> "Fernando" - Abba

I hate Abba, as you know, so imagine my horror when I was busted singing this as we ascended the Larch quad at Lake Louise.

> "When You're Gone" - Bryan Adams feat. Mel C.

Adams is pretty high up on the list of famous Canadians, so it probably wasn't all that surprising that we heard quite a lot of his music whilst in Canada, with this duet with Melanie Chisholm proving especially popular. I quite like this song, actually. She always was my favourite of the Spice Girls, you know.

> "Jessica" - Allman Brothers

The Top Gear theme, no less, and a song that fans of Guitar Hero II will be able to tell you contains a surprisingly long and complicated guitar solo. This came on when we were having our lunch at the Temple Lodge in Lake Louise. I had a big hot chocolate and a bowl of chili, and I think this song lasted for the entire duration of the pit stop. Well, you can't beat a good red-neck guitar instrumental, can you?

> "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" - Shania Twain

A chance hearing of this out on the mountainside prompted an immediate debate about whether or not Shania Twain could join "those two blokes who invented Trivial Pursuit" on our list of famous Canadians. In the end, although our gut instinct told us she was, we couldn't be sure enough to add her on. We should have known better - she was, of course, born in Windsor, Ontario and is thus a card carrying Canuck and the second best selling Canadian artist of all time, behind Sealion. Dreadful song, mind.

> "Constant Craving" - kd lang

Definitely Canadian, and definitely a much better song than the above.

> "Ironic" - Alanis Morissette

Another Canuck, and another artist who we heard quite a lot of whilst out on the slopes. "You Oughta Know" was popular, and was always played in its full sweary glory, but this one was everywhere. As always, it prompted the not-very-insightful debate into how little Alanis seems to actually understand what the word means. Or was she being ironic?

> "The Spirit of Radio" - Rush

The widdly guitar opening to this song greeted us as we stepped off the bus at Lake Louise for the first time, although it was apparently wasted on everyone except Keith and me, who both recognised it instantly for what it was, in all its double-headed guitar genius. What I did not know, however, was that Rush are a Canadian band.... presumably they are as hallowed in their homeland as Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. If not, then why not? They must be more revered than Nickelback though, right?

> "More than a Feeling" - Boston

I heard this playing not once, but twice when I was out on the mountain one day. And each time I did, it managed to put a massive smile on my face underneath my face mask. This is one of the best songs ever recorded. Full stop. It features one of the best guitar solos ever too. Any country that loves this song is okay by me.

> "Everything in its Right Place" - Radiohead

It took me a while to pick it out, but amidst this carnival of 70s and 80s rock, I was actually astonished to hear a bit of Radiohead from their difficult period (which is, of course, ongoing). We were in a lovely restaurant in Banff called the Bison, and when I worked out what I was listening to, I nearly fell off my chair, such was my surprise at hearing a song that was so good, so cool and so up-to-date (well, it was recorded in 2000, but by the standards of everything else we'd heard, that was pretty much contemporary). Great record. To be fair it stands out a mile in almost any company, never mind amidst a pile of Shania Twain and Barenaked Ladies records.

> "King of the Road" - Roger Miller

I didn't actually hear this in Canada, but it became embedded in my head in the car journey down to Heathrow and I was totally and utterly unable to shake it, in spite of a collective failure of the whole party to remember most of the words. Terrible record, right? Wrong. It's a work of brilliance, and was somehow an entirely fitting soundtrack to the whole ten days we were there.


So there you go, more reasons to love Canada. I didn't hear any Leona Lewis or any Tinchy Stryder or any Akon or anything when I was over there, and that in itself was utterly blissful. Getting to listen to a bit of Leppard, Rush, Jovi, Boston and the Allman Brothers was just the icing on the cake. I even heard Nik Kershaw's "The Riddle" when I was having my breakfast one morning, and what's not to love about that? I might take an iPod full of kicking hits from the 80s and 90s and set myself up as a bleeding edge DJ on Canadian radio. I could be their John Peel......


  1. YES!

    One of my songs in my latest Shuffleathon attempt has made it on to one of your earworm lists! (Finally).

    The tune?

    Jessica by The Allman Brothers.

  2. Canada did that to me with 'Dust in the Wind' by Kansas (not once but twice!) Unfortunately my travel companion was unable to share my delight.

  3. One of my coworkers was earworming Ace of Base the other day. Everyone in the store was singing it. I wanted to cry. There's a lot of bad earworms running around my restaurant. It comes from playing the local pop station on the radio in the back, I think. KD Lang is a genius and I love her. Now I'm going to have to dig out my "All You Can Eat" album. Love that one.