Some Australians may not be aware of Desert Island Discs, a popular british radio program whereby guests appear on the show and are asked to choose their favourite seven ‘discs’ that, if they where to be stuck on a desert island for the rest of their natural life, they would choose to listen to.
The show is fantastic because it is a real insight into the lives of the famous and infamous (the show has had on it such heralded guests such as Imran Khan, Elvis Costello, Morrissey and Stephen Sondheim to name a few), but it also allows the guests to choose a ‘luxury item’ and a book that they would choose to take with them for all of their stay. The variant answers not only show us a real window into the deeper personalities of these people, but also perhaps shockingly reveal how many people would die if allowed preparation to travel to a desert island, despite being thoroughly entertained.
I am also a huge fan of the popular television show LOST, so it should come as no surprise that I have spent many days and weeks theorising that if I were in fact to be marooned on a desert island, choosing my ‘Desert Island Discs‘ would be a nigh on impossible task, but one I have attempted quite often.
Yet the more I think about it, the more I simply cannot do it. Not only is the task almost impossible, but the true reality, the real reality of choosing songs which would hold up to scrutiny over a whole human life is almost unfathomable. But how could anyone prove this theory? How could one devote a life to listening to a set of songs to see if they pass the eternal litmus test?
Well as a primer to this, and to also get over my slight / crippling claustrophobia I have found the smallest, barest room at the hotel where I work, locked myself in there and decided to take with me only my iPod, stocked with 20 songs. I plan to stay awake for 20 hours listening to every song over the journey. Some songs I love, a few of them I appreciate and one of them I hate. At the end of the journey it will be very interesting to see which songs are ‘Island worthy’ and which songs will only serve as triggers for murderous rage in my future.
*This experiment took place on the 29th of April so any discrepancies with release dates of albums, etc are due to this fact. I tried to stick to the notes as closely as possible, which of course meant not changing tense.
The rules are relatively simple. I have 20 songs on my playlist, and I have to listen to each song on repeat for half an hour, until I have reached 10 hours. After that, I have 10 hours free time, whereby I can revisit any song I choose.
I can never leave the room, except for designated bathroom breaks. In my infinite wisdom I have chosen a room very close to the bathroom, making the likelihood of human contact very small.
I must not take off my headphones, or turn the music off, at any point…even when I visit the bathroom (I will be throwing my headphones away as soon as I finish the 20 hours).
The article must stick to the notes as much as possible to try an replicate the experience as closely as possible. I will only edit out superfluous sentences and notes which don’t make sense.
My luxury item is my guitar and in lieu of a book (although with music constantly playing I will just be practising chord shapes) and I have chosen to bring in a small amount of food and water. Despite my room having an over abundance of ambiance and serenity it is severely lacking in small springs and coconut trees.
If/when I go crazy…I have to try and continue to take notes.
- Impossible Soul – Sufjan Stevens (The Age Of Adz)
- Good Girl – Panda Bear (Person Pitch)
- Carolina – Girls (Broken Dreams Club E.P)
- Wilhelms Scream – James Blake (James Blake)
- Kaputt – Destroyer (Kaputt)
- Undertow – Warpaint (The Fool)
- Bastard – Tyler, The Creator ( Bastard)
- It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home)
- Tender – Blur (13)
- Paranoid Android – Radiohead ( OK Computer)
- Sun God – Cut Copy (Zonoscope)
- Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (The Sugarhill Gang)
- Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea)
- Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (Astral Weeks)
- California Gurls (Ft. Snoop Dogg) – Katy Perry (Teenage Dream)
- 505 – Arctic Monkeys (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
- Bros – Panda Bear (Person Pitch)
- Let’s Not Shit Ourselves ( To Love Or To Be Loved) – Bright Eyes (Lifted, Or the Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground)
- Round and Round – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti ( Before Today)
- Siberian Breaks – MGMT ( Congratulations)
Impossible Soul – Sufjan Stevens (The Age Of Adz)
Like all good beginnings, I have started with an end (I am 100% sure that is not a saying). The rapturous closer to Sufjan Stevens electronic and eclectic Age of Adz feels like the perfect place to start, as not only is it an amazing song, but at almost 26 full minutes (and one half minute) it almost feels like I am taking the teachers edition textbook into an exam. This was my theory behind a few of the songs on the list actually. While it may have lost out in quality to some of the songs on Pet Sounds or Nevermind, you can’t beat the running time of Cut Copy’s Sun God when you have to kill 20 hours. I also was a bit more careful when choosing songs. There was some fear in me that I was in fact going to get sick of every single song on this playlist and (and have Vietnam like flashbacks every time I heard one) so I was very careful in choosing songs. I made sure I knew the songs I chose would hold up over the journey, but I did not choose all of my all time favourites (or songs which I would conceivably pick on Desert Island Discs, as I did not want them ruined for me. 20 hours and a lifetime are a very different time span (according to my calculator).
Ten minutes have already flown buy in an electro-pop haze. And now, Sufjan is singing ‘Auto-tune’!
Why is it that I can accept this as an artistic expression from a man like Sufjan, but when a walking punchline like T-Pain decides to profess his ‘lurve’ to a stripper in a voice resembling a robot from Tron all I do is get angry? Funnily enough, the musical highlight of my year this year was seeing Impossible Soul performed live at the Arts Centre, and I remember hearing faint laughter from the audience at this portion of the song. They either were not familiar with the song, or where simply confounded by the fact that the man who once cooed so gently about Abraham and other religious figures over a gently plucked banjo now had something in common with Akon.
Seriously, that refrain ‘boy we can do much more together’ is unbelievable. Catchy, finely crafted but it has the faintest hint of sounding like an N’Sync song, but not enough so it isn’t taken seriously. An important pop moment.
9.19 am Tuesday
And so ends the first song! The first 20 minutes of this song is so exhilarating that often forget how delicate and beautiful the acoustic part at the end of the song is. I still have five minutes to kill in my first half an hour, and that part is going on again for sure.
Good Girl – Panda Bear (Person Pitch)
We are continuing the countdown now with the incomparable Panda Bear from Animal Collective. This song, off the seminal 2007 album Person Pitch, is simply indescribable. But seeing as I am awake for a god-damn day I am going to describe it to you. Whenever conversations about Animal Collective and Panda Bear come up, inevitably comparisons are made with the Beach Boys. In fact I remember writing once that Brian Wilson was correct in his assertion that he ‘wasn’t made for these times’ and if he was somehow transported to the future in all his weirdness, he would slot perfectly into Animal Collective amongst the perfect pop sensibilities of Panda Bear and the eclecticisms’ of Avey Tare.
This part of the song is where the ‘money’ is, as everyone says, ever. About five minutes in the tempo switch is fantastic and it actually becomes this weird mix of a Beach Boys inspired ballad mixed with a hint of dub-step groove. The third tempo change is also a welcome change, and what is especially noticeable at this point is all of the action that is happening in the background. While the vocals and hooks at this point are exemplary, it is all the explosions, bangs and other weird comic book noises in the background which add to the general ambiance of the song and really set the mood. I remember having a conversation with a friend once, and discussing the way Animal Collective and Panda Bear write songs. It still baffles me how they would come to a creative decision about how the music is made.
Since I have some time, I presume the actual conversation would go something like this.
“Hey Avey….do you think we need the noise of a zipper being done up there at 8.01?
“Yeh no worries P-Money (I presume that is his nickname), but as long as, and I will fight you on this, we close out the song with the sound of crickets in the distance”
“We just made a hit record”
“Did you ever write those lyrics?”
“Not important…I’m focusing on inserting the exact sound of the Hindenburg disaster’s crash into my next solo project.
Well we are back around, Good Girl has begun again, and I am not sure if it is the solitude sending me crazy or I am just literally experiencing a true feeling, but I have to go to the bathroom. I may just cut down on how much water I am drinking. So, just like Bachman Turner Overdrive, I am going to TCB and be right back…with Panda Bear with me the whole time.
9.44 am Tuesday
So I am back. No human contact, nothing has changed, in fact it was like I never left. This part may not survive editing.
The song has started once more, yet I only have three minutes left before we hit the hour mark and move on. So far I feel everything is going well, I have picked two fantastic, long songs which have piqued my interest and not dragged, and I fully intend to listen to them both later. However these two songs were slam dunks, songs I have either loved for a long time or played often and love unconditionally anyway. The next stretch of time will get interesting though, because for the next two and a half hours are songs that, while at the moment I love, I have either just discovered or am warming to. Who knows, the harsh microscope of repetition could prove both the songs and my undoing.
Carolina – Girls (Broken Dreams Club E.P)
The discovery of Girls came way too late to me, as thy have become one of my favourite bands. This angers me, as I missed the boat not only only on their Australian tour, but over two years of valuable time wasted that could I could have been listening to their first album, ‘Album’. (Why did I choose to watch every episode of Clarissa Explains It All three times!) However I can’t be too upset, as I was introduced to them via their unbelievable E.P, which features the wonderful Carolina, a song I have deemed good enough to be in my playlist. But it isn’t just ‘good enough’, it is brilliant. A song that just keeps going. I have said before that this is a song which literally disappoints me every time it finishes, as while it feels like it goes forever, I never want it to stop. I guess today I am going to get the best of both worlds today.
“Do Run Run Run Do Run Run Run Do Run Run Run Do Run Run Run.” This never should of worked so well.
About five minutes into the second trip around Carolina. This song, in fact all Girls songs fascinate me, as I am always searching for deeper lyrical content in light of learning that lead singer, Christopher Owens, grew up in a staunchly religious…. well, cult (called the Children of God). Songs such as Lust for Life and this one to an extent all tend to exhibit a yearning for escape, for a world outside, and are essentially positive about the outside world, viewing anything but his current conditions as some sort of Utopia, which is somewhat refreshing. Whether his songwriting is coming from this perspective or not, this piece of information has changed my interpretation of some or most of the Girls songs forever.
“I’m gonna pick you up baby throw you over my shoulder, get outta here I’m gonna carry you home to Carolina”
The third time around, and Girls’ Carolina shows no sign of waning. I wonder if he means North or South Carolina? Lazy songwriting, he really needs an editor.
Just heard ‘Southern Carolina’ lyric. That will teach me to be a smart ass. I may need to edit this superfluous insert. “He who is without sin” huh!
Wilhelms Scream – James Blake (James Blake)
It took me a while to get into James Blake…not because I couldn’t recognise that he had talent, but because I struggled to find a proper forum to actually listen to him. Anytime I put him on in the car, he put me to sleep, which endangered the lives of others. Anytime I chucked him on headphones in bed, he’d put me to sleep, which meant I knew and loved the first two songs very well, and would wake up to James Blake every night blasting in my ears at about 4am. Anytime I put him on amongst friends he would unfortunately be lost in the background to conversation which is less than this very talented individual deserves. I however, found a great fix for my problem, I started listening to his hypnotic faux-dupstep ballads at work where sleep is slightly less tolerated than in my bed or behind the wheel of a car. Ever since then I have been an unabashed member of the James Blake bandwagon, and am looking very much to seeing him at Flow Festival in Finland, although it would have been great to see him at Splendour.
Started the third spin of this song and oddly enough not even sick of it a little bit yet. It s repetitive in nature anyway, but it is the subtle mood shifts which happen in the background that make this a brilliant song, not just the repeated chorus.
I just came to the rather sobering realisation that it has only been 1.5 hours. This is going to be soooooo hard.
That’s what he said.
I can’t confirm it, but after six listens, I am relatively sure that James Blake doesn’t know about about his dreams. Will have to listen one more time to come up with a definitive conclusion. He may also be fallin’, but again, i will need to do some more research.
Kaputt – Destroyer (Kaputt)
Well we have a song change, and as much as I love Wilhelm’s Scream, I have to say towards the end it got a bit grating. Whether it was its short length or its repetitive lyrics it was just making me a bit angry. So on comes indie-electro group Destroyer with a weird 70’s dance groover Kaputt. I love this track, and especially the bass line and how it works with the synths. The horns, while seemingly superfluous on first listen, also are a necessary part of this songs magic the more familiar you become with it.
I also highly recommend you watch the video clip to this song if you have the time or volition. It is incredibly weird, and a likely companion piece to this song. I kind of can’t describe it without giving it away, but it is most definitely worth a watch.
This song is actually quite relaxing. It settles in so nicely into its groove, and the lead singer has a very nice voice. While some dismiss it, I find it almost perfect for the kind of sound they are trying to create. But I tell you what, this song is a ‘head bopper’ if there ever was one or if that is even a thing.
This is where it gets hard. I am finding myself hitting a wall about 20 minutes into the allocated time, especially with the smaller songs. It is often no reflection on the songs, just the repetition. I get depressed, sad and think about quitting the whole thing altogether. But after four or five minutes of feeling sorry for myself and pondering my own existence, we have only three minutes until the next song. And I tell you, when that next song hits it is like….whoah…the feeling is indescribable. But it doesn’t last long enough. You want more new songs. You start going over your head what you would and wouldn’t do for a new song (hand stuff, showing naughty parts, etc.). Oh crap….yep. I am a junkie.
Undertow – Warpaint (The Fool)
At the date I am writing this, Undertow is my FSATM (favourite song at the moment). Warpaint are just next in a list of amazing bands almost entirely comprised of talented females that I am currently obsessed with (Beach House, Dum Dum Girls). There is some thing about the female vocal singing hooky dream pop vocal and guitar driven rock which just melts my earlobes and my heart. This song is no different. In layman’s terms I would equate it to being almost an equal song to Foals’ Spanish Sahara, if not just a little lacking in a more powerful emotional crescendo around the five minute mark (whereas Foals blows the roof off). The song however expertly uses tension and release to create a wonderful indie-pop ballad on their impressive debut-album The Fool.
Now listening to the third time. I am almost ¼ of the way through the structured part of the countdown where I am being told by myself of a week ago what to listen to, not my whims. All I have decided is that I cannot wait to hear this song live, as I would imagine it would be a real ‘moment’ song at a festival. I am lucky enough to be heading to Flow Festival in Finland, where Warpaint are playing and are sure to be a highlight.
Time has gone much faster with Warpaint that the repetitive James Blake and the meditative Destroyer. One would assume that this is a comment on the strength of the song, but I am going to give Mr Blake the benefit of the doubt in assuming that he didn’t create Wilhelm’s Scream with the intent listeners would play it seven times in a row.
Bastard – Tyler, The Creator ( Bastard)
Time will go much faster now I think, not only because almost every one of the songs on the list from now specifically in this case because I have been listening to this song at least three times a day anyway. This song is of course by Tyler the Creator, the leader of L.A rap collective Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All. While I have a great appreciation for rap music, I mostly rely on friends information for new rap music, as I prefer to listen to older or ‘classic’ rap from the early 90’s because I am slightly disillusioned by the state of popular rap music today (While I don’t mind a bit of pointless gentle misogyny, it seems ‘move bitch get out the way’ passes as polite dinner conversation in mainstream rap music these days). But it has been a long time since the blogosphere has been so active about a band. After the bands performance on Jimmy Fallon, I could not help but take notice, and immediately delved into their back-catalogue. Mostly, the guys from Odd Future make me feel inadequate. They are incredibly talented, very funny, have a strong sense of direction (mostly instilled by their ‘leader’ Tyler, The Creator) and have recorded a group of albums which have a huge amount of depth. What’s even more surprising is that they are almost all younger than me and have put out all this music in less than two years.
“I created OF because we are more talented than 40 year old rappers talking about Gucci”
Not a real rhyme, but you can tell that Tyler wanted to make this point, and an important point it is.
The genre, especially in the mainstream, is dominated by poorly used Auto-Tune, misogyny, and ego, and most songs seem to be a public service announcement about the relative benefits of owning a ‘benzo’ or the wonderful taste of Hennesey liquor. It’s almost as if Don Draper and his Madison Avenue cronies came to the realisation that the only way to get at youth culture was through rap music, after realising that tugging at their heartstrings and sleeping with their mothers and girlfriends stopped working around 1985.
I don’t think I have been as exited for the release of an album (Tyler’s Goblin) since the Arctic Monkey’s Humbug (I am greeting the bands latest album release with both excitement and just the right amount of trepidation).
The impending release of Tyler, The Creator’s first label album Goblin looms as a red letter day for the future direction of rap. So called experts are referring to OFWKTA as the ‘new Nirvana‘ and think that Tyler and his cronies will take over the world. Personally, I think this is just lazy writing. The violent imagery, posturing misogyny and sexually explicit lyrics that Tyler and his collective seemingly spit with reckless abandon make radio play a relative impossibility. But I have no doubt that Tyler has the capacity to put out a game changing album that will be incredibly commercially successful. A mainstream crossover, however, in the manner of Smells Like Teen Spirit, for a song like Yonkers with lines which talk about ‘stabbing Bruno Mars in his god damn oesophagus’ and not stopping until stopped by the authorities does seem unlikely.
There is no doubt that Tyler is very talented. Listening to this self produced track that he created at the mere age of 18 is proof of this. He is multi-instrumental, writes incredibly deep and funny rhymes and refuses to sample on his albums, instead creating his own beats. He is everything I wish for the future direction of rap music, bringing together all the best parts of the 90’s for the new generation. The excitement and danger of the LA scene, the anger and psychosis of a young Eminem and the business sense and calculation of a young Dr. Dre. With Tyler at the helm, there is no doubt that Odd Future may in fact heal my misgivings about the future of the rap game, and spawn a new generation of creative, musical emulators less interested in ‘making it rain’ and more interested in making powerful, emotive rap songs and winning awards for musical achievement.
What is amazing is how expressive and relatable, while also violent and shocking the lyrics of Tyler and Odd Future’s music can be. Some detractors claim that Tyler’s lyrics are too misogynistic, homophobic and evil to be ignored, and while it is a strong argument, what cannot be ignored are a couple of facts. One, he is a kid trying to express himself, not a calculating racist on a podium. Most of the stuff he says is either sarcasm, posturing or shock. Secondly, he is trying to emulate his heroes, like Eminem, who spat equally disturbing lyrics in their time in the spotlight. If you look through the all the posturing however, you can see real hurt and emotion expressed quite beautifully. It is fantastic to see rap meaning something again.
As Tyler says in the title track of his Bastard album, his goal in life is a Grammy, and hopefully his mum can attend the ceremony, but again, ‘fuck a deal, I just want my father’s email, so I can tell him how much I fucking hate him in detail’
For me these lyrics cut a little deeper than “to the window, to the wall, to the sweat drips down my balls”
But that’s just my opinion of course.
Bastard is a great song.
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) – Bob Dylan (Bringing It All Back Home)
Here we have the first song which was not spawned in he 21st century. Bringing It All Back Home is one of my favourite albums of all time, and this song is without doubt one of the finest pieces of poetry Dylan ever committed to tape. There is not much more you can say about song which has been written about almost as much it has been played (probably 10,000 at rough count) so hopefully I come up with an amazing point about the bridge the fourth time I listen to this song. For now though, I’m just going to listen to it and enjoy it.
I am starting to feel really tired. I thing its a mix of lethargy from doing nothing all day so far and work catching up with me yesterday. I may have to exercise in the small amount in this room. But I’m not resorting to that yet (or ever).
How good was this song choice in the finale of The Sopranos? Alright, I guess that wasn’t a spoiler.
Fine. Meadow killed Tony……’s Insurance premiums because she crashed into three cars trying to fit into that car space. Anyone who has seen the last episode of The Sopranos is now searching in the White Pages for my address to personally come and shake my hand for being such a comedic genius.
You reckon Dylan can play the Guitar?
One of the things I love about of this song is that he pulls it off seemingly without breaking a sweat. His voice sounds as if it is first gear and he sounds almost apathetic. But this is clearly foolish, as this is an important song, and the subject matter is obviously very important to him.
Tender – Blur (13)
This song is bloody good. There is no other way to describe it (apart from the thousands of more eloquent ways to describe it). But for me that stupid, simple description suits this amazing ballad. While in essence it is the combination of two songs (one written by Albarn and a simple, elegant hook written by Coxon) and it sounds very much like the Gorillaz song Demon Days (more a comment on the repeated use of gospel choir by Albarn, not the limits of his songwriting), Tender never fails to send shivers down my spine. Watching their performance (online, mind) at Glastonbury makes me so freaking jealous as it looks as if it were a religious experience.
This song is god damn heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. I love this song, and I’ll be damned if it isn’t holding up very well to repeated listens. This is a song I cannot wait to revisit and definitely a song I would take to a desert island.
I would actually attend the Royal Wedding, then deconstruct the every detail of the whole event with an old English person for a full six hours to see Blur live.
Paranoid Android – Radiohead ( OK Computer)
This song is the Helen Mirren of music. It simply does not age. Much of the reason for this, I believe is its magnificent three part structure, inspired by The Beatles‘ Happiness is A Warm Gun (it’s about time The Beatles did something for popular music). This song, and the rest of OK Computer still feels futuristic and fresh, even 14 years later, which is a testament to its true brilliance.
OHH. Even the second time that solo is face melting. But while I was listening to this song, my mind did wander a bit. I was thinking about The King of Limbs, Radiohead’s release this year. While it had echoes of Kid A and Amnesiac, I do think it was entirely it’s own animal. However people (when I say people I of course mean the internet) began calling for Radiohead to return to the good old days of The Bends and OK Computer….guitar music, a move they were apparently slowly creeping towards with the more than acceptable free 2007 download In Rainbows. This is something I despise. And it is not isolated to Radiohead either (“what? The Strokes are using keyboards?”, “What? Arctic Monkeys aren’t singing about being 16 and not getting let into pubs?”)
Whenever a band makes it huge with either a huge debut or a breakthrough album, it becomes classified as ‘their sound’ and any attempt at artistic expression will be seen as an attempt to break away from their core fan-base or just be weird. I hate this so much. Jesus Christ, musicians are creative, and in a job where they can express that creativity. If you don’t like it, then just continue not paying for their music and shut-up.
There is nothing else I can say about Paranoid Android that you don’t already know. Unless I were to bring up something like, ‘Did you know Tony Danza’s second nephew recorded a Xylophone solo in the 6th minute?’, which I of course can’t, then I think its best if we just enjoy the song together. I know I will.
Sun God – Cut Copy (Zonoscope)
1.53 pm Tuesday
It is the mark of a good musician, and the mark of a good instrumental songwriter to hold any audiences attention for any time longer than six or seven minutes. And I have an especially short attention span (which, as every minute ticks by, is making today’s effort seem like more and more of an incalculable mistake) so to keep me interested is nothing short of a miracle. Cut Copy’s good yet ‘samey’ new album is closed out by an awesome track, Sun God, which again went up in my books when I saw it performed live. This track is simply a standout, and it shows of the talent and song crafting skills of the Melbourne electro superstars.
2.09 pm Tuesday
This really is a song of two halves. The typical Cut Copy song at the start, catchy, beat driven and 80’s inspired, with enough tension to build with a final release, but I have never noticed until listening just then the subtle differences between the last half and the first half. Maybe its because they mix so well into each other, but the ambient second half could work as a second song. I am glad that it doesn’t though.
Dudes trying to sound like Morrissey. “You got to live…”
2.20 pm Tuesday
After starting the song again, and hearing the cutters go about their business for almost 25 minutes now, it is interesting to note that I have not hit that interminable ’20 minute’ wall yet. Now whether it be because this is such a long song, or because dance music lends itself better to repetition is up for debate, but one thing is for sure I am loving this track.
2.23 pm Tuesday
Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (The Sugarhill Gang)
This could have been my first (of two) miscalculations. I have chosen the full FOURTEEN minute version of what was essentially one of the first popular rap songs, Rapper’s Delight, by the Sugarhill Gang. It is a very catchy little guilty pleasure. My plan was to learn every lyric as some awesome party trick (people are sick of seeing me swallow swords of fire) but after hearing Tyler, The Creator’s Bastard six times and still not knowing most of the words I can’t really imagine I will learn this one. It is just too hard to hand-write notes, listen intently to the music and try and memorise “bang bang da boogie da beat”….. well at least I have that part down pat.
Man he is really leaning on “Hip Hip a Hippy” in lieu of most English words. I can forgive him though…. he has to really pad this one out. I can’t believe this song is actually fourteen minutes. I wonder if the crowd at their concerts keeps that hand-clap going for the whole time.
Got the first minute down. I have officially caught up with the Grandma in The Wedding Singer.
Lines that they should teach in schools:
“I got a colour TV so I can see, the n—s play Basketball”
“If your girl starts acting up, then you take her friend”
“He can’t satisfy you with his little worm, but I can bust you out with my super sperm”
“Like boogie to the boogie without the boogie bang”
“Have you ever been over to a friends house and the food just ain’t just no good? / The macaroni’s soggy the pea’s all mushed and the chicken tastes like wood / So you try to play it of like you think you can so you say that you are full, and then your friends say’s momma he ain’t finished at all and you think man that’s bull / and your heart starts pumpin’ and you think of a lie and you say that you already ate / and your friend says man their is plenty of food and he piles some more on your plate / so while the stinky foods steamin’ your heart starts a dreamin’ of the time that you can leave / and you look at your plate and your chicken slowly rotting into something that looks like cheese.”
Full disclosure, above was a copy/paste job, I just noted the verse as one of the strangest verses in the history of rap music.
I have decided that MC Hank is my favourite for calling Superman a ‘fairy’, ‘flying through the air in pantyhose’, just beating out Wonder Mike for his eternally polite dinner story. I also hate Master G. His name may be ‘unforgettable’ (according to himself) but his lyrics and flow most certainly are not.
Master G just called one of his rhymes his MASTERpeice…..OH I C WAT U DID THERE.
That was not nearly as bad as I thought…in fact I rather enjoyed it. But I could imagine Rapper’s Delight getting grating after a while. I think the only thing that saved it was its length and novelty value after 11 boring amazing songs. Back to those songs with damn artistic merit again (yawn).
Oh Comely – Neutral Milk Hotel (In The Aeroplane Over The Sea)
I can’t believe that I yawned before a Neutral Milk Hotel song, even in jest. For those who care, In the Aeroplane Over The Sea is my favourite album of all time. It is an almost flawless album, so lyrically brilliant and emotive, and one I have listened to at least fortnightly if not weekly since discovering it in 2003. That is a lot of times listening to each track, so I have a lot of faith that Oh Comely will hold up after being played three or so times.
This song has such mind-blowing poetry. I call it that because it seems dismissive, even blasphemous, to describe any of Jeff Mangum’s words merely as lyrics. Some are beautiful, yet some are absolutely haunting, and it is all carried off so perfectly by Mangum’s perfect vocal. This song comes with an interesting story, in fact. If you listen hard enough, at the end of the song, which for me will be coming up in about one minute, you can hear the sound technician or producer exclaim ‘Holy SHIT’ after Magnum nails this song in ONE take.
The thing I love about this song and album is that it is so lyrically dense, but the fact that the whole album is some sort of ode to/ concept album about Anne Frank is so ridiculously complex that every time you listen to each song you are listening hard for another allusion to the war, to the period or to Anne. Not only is this album layered with these complicated lyrical themes, but to perform them with so melodically, and often times sound so beautiful yet so haunting is a tribute to the band and a testament to Mangum’s vision.
Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (Astral Weeks)
Going over what I’ve written feel like every song I come across I hear it for the first time, get a quarter-chub because I hear a new song and just write ‘DIS SONG GEWD’. As every second elapses it becomes less and less the exploratory physiological study of both the staying power of music and the sheer will of the human mind and more ‘Corey hears music he enjoys and transmits said fact onto paper.’ Your welcome.
Surely one of the only songs to use the word viaduct and be taken seriously.
Not only is this song amazing for its deep, spiritual lyrics ( which if Van is to be believed, mostly came from improvisation) and instrumentation (Whatever that thing is, pan flute….whatever….it should be minted in the rock and roll hall of fame), but also the way it trails off at the end. The song is expertly paced to feel like a journey and it has piques and troughs at exactly the right places… and I love how it just lingers around at the end….it kind of feels insistent.
“In another taaaahm…..In ahhhnother plaaaace….In aaahhhnother faaaaace”
Eh alright Van Morrison I’m incredibly thrilled about your current spiritual journey. Congratulations…. but there are bigger problems here. I am actually beginning to face the reality that this will in fact be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do…and I have watched The Circle. I can’t believe how many things I do regularly that I’m kind of addicted to. Basic freedom’s such as checking my phone, checking my Facebook, checking the Internet, I really want to know who is winning the football..all of these elementary things I miss heaps and it is taking all of my self control not to just leave the room and do them.
Another thing I miss already, perhaps because I have forced myself away from it, is basic social interaction. I can’t remember another time in my life when I was awake for eight hours in my life with when I had the power of speech that I didn’t at least say hello to someone in passing, or on the phone. It honestly feels weird to keep my mouth shut for this long (I just under-arm lobbed every one of my past teachers / parents / authority figures the easiest home run dad joke of all time). I really wish I didn’t give up a book for food and water.
At least the next song is OH MY GOD.
California Gurls (Ft Snoop Dogg) – Katy Perry (Teenage Dream)
I really don’t remember what I was thinking when I added this song to the list. From memory it was ‘lets add a song to the list which will make me go CRAZY’. Who thinks that? What kid of a masochist puts himself through that? Originally it was going to be something more horrific like that Friday song (a song I have gained an affection for lately, but couldn’t listen to more than once a fortnight with a large dose of irony) or Pink (a singer I loathe so much that putting her on this list would have resulted in an unfathomable / dangerous amount of self-harm) so I decided to meet myself halfway. Katy Perry kinda sucks but I mean she is not that bad when you compare her to what people are buying in the mainstream charts…and that Teenage Dream song wasn’t bad, plus the songs title is an apparently an allusion to the Big Star song September Gurls. So maybe I am not that masochistic after all.
Nope…I’m that masochistic. As Snoop once again asks me ,a ‘loved one’, to take a journey with him, apparently begging me to make a sex offender comparison, I cannot fathom going through this nine more times, I feel like ripping my headphones out of the iPod and implanting them into the wall.
The chorus is garbage, the song is catchy, but then again so was Tik Tok, the song this one blatantly copies almost beat for beat. Remember way back when Sufjan used a weird Auto-Tune and I loved it…well just then Katy just kept repeating ‘California’ endlesslyfor no reason in a robot voice. This song has no allusion to robots, spaceships, the future…in fact it is insistent in its commitment to alluding to only California. Now if I am missing some kind of huge link between California and the movie Tron then please let me know.
Snoop just made himself laugh by saying ‘I really wish you all could be could be California Girls.’ Either he has never heard of the Beach Boys and thinks he is a genius or apparently he is unaware of the force, weight and gravity ratio which would see three billion women sending the State of California straight underwater, which would see the Human Race into extinction. The man is a maniac doomsday-er and must be stopped.
Please…If I have to hear ‘we freak…in my jeep (toot toot)’ one more time I’m afraid my brain might reset itself.
This only saving grace of this song is it is perhaps the first song since 1994 whereby the crux of Snoop Dogg’s rap has not been:
I’m Snoop Dogg, Snoop D
You know me, D-O-G-G
If you want to see Snoopy D
Snoop Dogg will be, Snoop Snoop Snoopy Snoop Doggy D.
While this may be a little unfair to the d-o-g-g (he may have littered this rap with the word fuck and weed every now and again) he’s getting payed plenty to do it, so good on him. However, I cannot decide if Katy Perry is a genuinely good pop singer or a gimmick.
This song is of course just a Dr Luke pop song which is custom build to sell to the mass populace and annoy idiots who decide to irrationally listen to it nine times in a row, but Katy has put out some top vocal performances over the years, namely Teenage Dream….ahem….that song Firework was OK)
But the thing is she also suffers (in my opinion) with a lack of artistic integrity. Song choices like Ur So Gay (‘it just totally means lame”), I Kissed a Girl (“I didn’t really’) and Firework (While the song isn’t to bad, it felt like it was cashing in on the whole ‘It Gets Better’ campaign) are perplexing at best. If they were all sincere, then great…if they were all manipulative career choices….then that smacks of marketing and makes me as a savvy consumer hate her.
505 – Arctic Monkeys (Favourite Worst Nightmare)
In porn they call it the money shot. In the world of music they call it ‘any Arctic Monkey’s song which closes one of their albums’. Just like the hot jet of man gravy that flies across the woman’s face, the Arctic Monkeys shoot a hot jet of awesome (see A Certain Romance, 505, The Jewellers Hands) music right across your face and into your earlobe at the end of each album, a perfect cap to a usually incredibly satisfying album (OK maybe its not ‘just’ like it). The song which is being shot into my earlobes at the moment is of course the magnificent 505, penned on a late night journey by Alex Turner from Philadelphia to New York to meet his then girlfriend who was waiting in the hotel room of the same name. Just once I would like words this brilliant written about me. Instead all I get is “175 dollar fine, drunk and disorderly behaviour, driving a vehicle without pants etc”. Hardly the kind of lyrics you could build an album closer around.
Just got a huge burst of energy at the emotional crescendo of the song and began rocking out. After a full day of lethargy I pretty much got a stitch.
Obligatory joke mocking Alex Turner’s understanding of the speed of air travel.
“If its a seven hour flight or a 45 minute drive”
If anyone needs a dictionary definition of tension and release…then this song is it.
This song just gave me my second wind. It is a track I would do anything to see live, and am consistently blown away by despite what must be thousands of listens. This is a song which I would definitely take to a desert island, and one I am looking forward to revisiting in my free time.
Bros – Panda Bear (Person Pitch)
Well done past me (I really don’t credit my past self enough. Maybe it’s because I never got my parents together at an Aquarium dance or invented rock and roll or something. That movie has RUINED my self-esteem)! I really loaded up the tail end of the countdown with quality with the knowledge that the end would most likely be the hardest. It really does feel like the better the song, the quicker time elapses, so we should be at the finish line quicker that I thought. I have been on an absolute Panda Bear binge lately, with the release of his latest album Tomboy only allowing me to rediscover Person Pitch, and album I had shelved, ironically enough for fear of overplay. So I have had both on heavy rotation for a number of weeks. Bros is a musical highlight not only of the album but the whole decade. Time simply melts away in a dream-pop haze and by the time the mind blowing 12 minutes has elapsed, you are simply left waiting for the next time you hear it. Immaculately structured and impeccably performed, Bros is quite simply brilliant, what music should be.
I love the slight tempo change as well. It is threatened for almost two minutes, and when Panda bear comes in singing and stuttering over a repeated guitar the haze of the first half of the song is forgotten and the trip inducing second half DEMANDS your attention.
I know I joked last time about the samples Panda Bear uses, but this song is sample ca-razy. So far I have heard a crying baby, lasers, an owl, cars, a man apparently crying, what sounded like a self powered spaceship door…. I would be more surprised if you told me this song didn’t contain a sample of my unborn child saying his first words.
Let’s Not Shit Ourselves ( To Love Or To Be Loved) – Bright Eyes (Lifted, Or the Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground)
It is now dark outside and I have been officially sitting in the same seat for the entire day. Aside from a few little trips to the bathroom to TCB (callback) I have pretty much done nothing. And I still have around 11 hours to go, but I am approaching free time, which means no more repeats. I’m starting to see things in the dark, but I guess that’s normal for crazies.
Bright Eyes, one of my favourite artists, has begun. This is a track from when he was still young and angry. In my opinion this is one of the songs which saw Conor compared to Dylan…especially listening to it after hearing It’s Alright Ma so many times. While there are many huge differences between Dylan and Conor, obviously their one similarity is the fact that they are fantastic lyricists, especially when talking about something they care about.
5.28 pm Tuesday
“ABC, NBC, CBS bullshit, they give us fact or fiction, I guess an even split”
I guess CNN and Fox didn’t roll of the tongue…or he couldn’t honestly say that Fox told the truth nearly half the time.
I am lucky enough to be travelling overseas soon, and young Mr Oberst was almost the catalyst of me taking the jump to travel away from my comfy bed and relative hibernation. Seeing as this is Bright Eyes final album and last tour, and there has been no Australian dates announced before his final shows in New York City, it became clear that if Bright Eyes would not go to Australia, I would have to go to Bright Eyes. However the concert presents a few problems.
One: If he asks the audience for song requests, I am going to have a hard time not shouting ‘discography!’
Two: I am not sure of Vienna’s disaster codes, and if the room he plays in does not have appropriate drainage, we could face an issue if he plays An Attempt To Tip The Scales, I Believe In Symmetry, Ladder Song or At The Bottom of Everything, as I will cry a river of tears that aside from dehydrating me will surely literally flood the venue.
Three: I took up this experience today knowing it will be tough, and now that I am at the halfway point I can conclusively state that I don’t really know what all those amputee’s have been complaining about…i am surely in more physical and emotional pain (*joke disclaimer*… I’m a good person). But the struggle I feel right now will be nothing compared to the sickness I feel when Conor and the band walk off stage after the show. The pragmatist in me will say ‘oh well I just say Bright Eyes, my life is complete. Most people don’t have rice.’ The idiot in me will cash in his return ticket for a speedboat and drive to New York and become a nude art model for seniors until I have enough money for a ticket to his final ever show.
Round and Round – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti ( Before Today)
Now we are at the best song of 2010, and the greatest pop song since Hey Ya! I have made that claim before, and I absolutely stand by my statement. This song is structured atypically, sung by a recluse, dominated by a bass guitar and actually features a ringing telephone. There is no way it could or should work, but it does…and let us be honest, most of it has to do with two of the finest hooks in recent pop history. A bridge which serves as a beautiful introduction to what is one of the most addictive choruses in….I’m running out of time-frames to put this song in…forever and ever I guess. I can’t remember being so addicted to a pop hook in my life. This song really is special, and it is playing very well on repeat.
This chorus will outlast most bacteria.
This chorus is better than any single human action that brings pleasure.
This chorus will cure cancer.
This chorus will break up the Royal Wedding.
This chorus was in Step Up 2. It stepped up. Twice.
This chorus actually knows where in the world Carmen San Diego is.
This chorus gave Clarissa the knowledge which allowed her to explain it all.
This chorus just got me pregnant.
This chorus just performed my abortion.
This chorus is sampled in Panda Bear’s Bros.
This chorus is just the best. No JK. No ROFL. No LMFAO.
Siberian Breaks – MGMT ( Congratulations)
So I have arrived at the final song in my fixed countdown. It has been impossibly hard, but I have to say the easiest part has been the last five songs. This is not a comment on the relative artistic merit of the other songs, but it is most definitely a comment on my deep affection for the final songs in the countdown, which does run a little deeper than the other songs. Coupling this, I think my mood has been buoyed by the fact that I have gotten well past the halfway point, at around the five hour mark I sunk into some sort of depression.
So I close out the countdown with another one of those challenging longer songs. MGMT, a band who were dismissed by many as either a singles band or a one album wonder, returned this year with an album which was structured, complete, derivative without being unoriginal and in many ways much better than their original. The highpoint of the album is the 12 minute epic Siberian Breaks, a psychic freakout that never wears out its welcome, building many crescendos and splitting into four acts, each strictly defined yet part of a whole.
Going through again now. It is often hard to pinpoint your favourite ‘bits’ of songs…since many are only comprised of versus and choruses, yet in this song I have a clear favourite. A dramatic tempo change around the five-minute mark moves this song into slightly ‘ballady’ territory, moving seamlessly into the wonderful third act of the song. The wonderful refrain of ‘ the empty sky surrounds me but i can’t see at all‘ begins this portion of the song…. and again, showing my partial nature for this song …. this is shown to be all tension, and our song begins its lengthy final act with a huge release and eventual callback to the first act and extended synth heavy fade away.
Watching this song performed live at The Palace earlier this year was an almost transcendent experience. After hearing reports of a young, unprepared band bomb at Meredith all those years ago it makes me both marvel at the bands musical progression over such a short time, and hold my breath for any releases they choose to bless us with in the future.
FIN. I feel genuine happiness and even burst out laughing when the countdown is over. Yet like the Klaxons song, it really isn’t over yet. We now enter the second stage of the experiment, whereby I can choose whatever music I want to play, or ‘free time’.
My free time went very very slowly. Because I have already talked about all the songs in some detail, there is no point in going over the time minute by minute, as my notes began can essentially be summarised as a little boy crying going ‘I’m bored waaah’. The most important part of free time was not repeating songs, so I essentially created playlists, then gave up and selected songs. I spent one and a half hours non-consecutively listening to Impossible Soul. I could not play guitar because it was night time and everyone around me was asleep, so that was ill thought out. I also briefly fell asleep to a repeating Astral Weeks at about 1am, for 25 minutes at best guess. But I emerged at 4.53am Wednesday Morning and crawled into my bed for some sleep.
Random observations from free time:
“I wish it wasn’t nighttime and I could use speakers instead of my noise cancelling headphones. I never thought the phrase ‘fucking shitloads of ear gunk’ would apply to me twice in one lifetime.”
“Warpaint and Destroyer should form the most awesomely named, battle ready super-band of all time. They could possibly conquer Europe. Can’t be that hard, didn’t see France offering that much resistance. Plus their economy is in the shitter…not sure how they could arm themselves.”
“Sufjan Stevens is a Demi-God”
“Katy Perry or Demi Moore?”
“Demi Moore or Demi-God”
“Demi-God or Snoop Dogg”
“I have gone crazy”
“Hey how good would it be if I could leave.”
“I could just leave”
“My legs don’t work”
“ Seriously…I am ENSLAVED by technology. Here I am with an iPod, 20 songs and a pen and paper and I am making out like it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. If I was online I would give myself a first world problems hash tag”
“If I was ever actually on Desert Island Discs…my luxury item would be a solar powered laptop with a 300 terabyte hard-drive preloaded with every bit of media ever. You can stuff your ‘Desert Island Discs’…there is no way in hell I am going through this repetition again”
“Note to self…invent solar powered laptop”
Free Time Tally:
Songs I revisited more than once:
Impossible Soul x 3!
Round and Round
Songs I Listened to once more
It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)
Let’s Not Shit Ourselves
Astral Weeks (Some plays were unintentional)
Overall I am glad I completed this experiment. As aforementioned, I came to the conclusion in free time that I am possibly one of the most technologically reliant humans in the first world. The Unabomber would have my hands first.
In only 20 waking hours, with limited technology to keep me stimulated, I felt crestfallen at the best of times and borderline maniacal at the worst. By the end of the 20 hours I felt sick, sluggish, incredibly tired and emotionally drained. I also felt quite sad, but I would imagine this is because of the lack of human contact.
Christopher McCandless I aint’.
But the one thing that did get me through, the one thing that stopped me from reaching up and opening the door to leave the room was the music. I could not have chosen a better set of songs, and most importantly I have to deem the experiment a success. I can definitely imagine myself listening to almost every song on that list tomorrow (with some obvious exceptions) and, strangely enough, the songs which I abused during free time are the ones which I would have no qualms about listening to again (Siberian Breaks, 505, Round and Round) tomorrow.
The one thing I learned thanks to this experiment is that I have made it over the hump. I have done my training, and am ready for the real thing…the real Desert Island. But I can only pray and plead that if I am ever involved in a real air disaster that we do crash on settled land. I’m going to have to find an electrical outlet for my 160 gig iPod sooner or later.