I’ve talked about this before, but, when I was a teenager, I didn’t want to like David Bowie. In my mind, he was the obvious glam rock choice. I was just a little dweeb. Over time, I heard more David Bowie songs and had to concede that he definitely had some good songs. Eventually, I fully accepted defeat.
“Golden Years” was one of my first favourite Bowie songs. I hate to admit it, but I think I heard the Marilyn Manson version first. I think that’s the only way anyone could ever think the Manson version was any good. It’s a very poor imitation of the original and Manson is literally just doing a David Bowie impersonation instead of actually singing in his own voice.
“Golden Years” starts off strong. The riff is the most obvious part and it’s a belter. Just grooving away. There’s also a lovely bit of finger snapping with tonnes of echo. That then reoccurs periodically throughout the song. Apparently it was written for Elvis. I love the idea of an Elvis version. It kinda makes sense. It’s a funk/disco song, but it’s an Elvis disco song. There’s a country twang to the guitar at times and there’s a bit of a croon to the way Bowie is singing at times. It’s a cool track because there’s a definite dancability to it, but it’s quite meandering at the same time. It’s a slow wiggling song. And I think that’s my favourite Bowie, slow wiggling Bowie.
You can listen to “Golden Years” by David Bowie here.
“Millionaire” is one of my absolute favourite tracks. I think it’d be one of my picks for greatest song of all time. It’s got so many perfect elements that come together to make something even better.
I’ve talked about Andre 3000 before and how I prefer Big Boi as a rapper, but “Millionaire” is an Andre 3000 highlight. His cheese, rats, cats verse is just so good:
“Where there is cheese there are rats Wherever there are rats there are cats Wherever there are cats there are dogs If you got the dogs, you got bitches Bitches always out to put their paws on your riches If you got riches, you got glitches If you got glitches in your life computer, turn it off And then reboot it, now you back on Can’t just put the cap on the old bottle Once you pop it, that’ll spoil it Go on and drink it and enjoy it, uh Mama I’m a millionaire”
Kelis almost takes a back seat in her own song. I’ve always really liked Kelis. She has a great voice. In “Millionaire”, it’s quite gentle. She plays it straight and then Andre 3000 goes wild on top of it. He’s got credits for the drums, music programming and keyboards as well as the producer credit. The drums are so punchy and drive the whole song. It’s a kinda chilled song but then the drums are just super hyped. The piano is gentle, but the keyboards are big and distorted. It’s a real combination of opposites, but it all comes together to be a fucking gem.
You can listen to “Millionaire” by Kelis feat. Andre 3000 here.
I was standing in the line in the cinema tonight and I heard the sample the forms the basis of “Steal My Sunshine” out in the wild, “More, More, More” by Andrea True Connection. It’s one of my favourite mind blowing samples of all time, made doubly explosive by the fact that I don’t feel like I actually know “More, More, More”. What I really know is “Moe, Moe, Moe” from The Simpsons which you can listen to a 1 hour loop of here.
I love a good sample. I love that a person could hear a snippet of a song and repurpose it, especially when it’s something a small as the portion that Len sampled here. “Steal My Sunshine” is mostly nonsense otherwise. The lyrics are fairly unintelligible, even with an explanation, but that doesn’t really matter. The chorus is a perfect earworm. The singer, Marc Costanza, reminds me of Jason Bateman’s commentator character in Dodgeball. I consider that a positive.
I think there’s a lot of misplaced nostalgia for the 90s by people who were mostly too young to remember the decade. I think “Steal My Sunshine” is a song that deserves nostalgia. It’s dreamy with very light hip hop undertones. The video has so many perfect 90s outfits – Globe skate shoes, side ways caps, baggy jeans, I’m pretty sure Marc Costanza has Fred Durst side burns with a shaved head. The video is actually a better version of the song because it doesn’t have the spoken parts.
You can listen to “Steal My Sunshine” by Len here or watch the video below:
Back in my days as a high flying pre cast concreteer, the radio was a big deal. We had a vibrating table which we used for making concrete fence posts and panels. It was ridiculously loud and we all wore ear protection but I’d turn the radio up so it was louder than everything else. A few good tunes could really make the day move a lot quicker.
We used to listen to Phantom before that went off the air and then we moved around a lot. Sometimes you’d get a good string of songs on Radio Nova. One of the best songs that Nova introduced me to was “Last Train to London” by ELO. It’s such a mad song. It’s got a “Boogie Nights” style bass line in the verse and it goes to the next level in the chorus. There’s strings all over the place. There’s a siren in there. And then the boys are just throwing in some chat about trains. There’s so much to it that I could never imagine how a human brain could write it. It’s probably not the first ELO song that most people would think of but it’s a gem.
You can listen to “Last Train to London” by ELO here.
I’ve been losing my mind a bit over the last year or two. Lots of talking about positivity and productivity. Just mental shit when you consider we’re all going to die. As part of that I’ve been trying to use my free time in a more fulfilling way. One of the biggest obstacles to that has been creeping back in to my life lately. FIFA. I’ve been playing FIFA again. FIFA 21 is free to download with Game Pass on the Xbox. Man, it makes me so sad. It’s not that fun and it’s so easy to just lose time to it. I play career mode so it’s really just designing a system and monitoring and improving that system and tweaking it over time. It’s just so lame.
The only real good thing about FIFA as a series of games is the soundtrack. The musical choices are very interesting and there’s always a couple of great tunes on each game. My favourite song this year is “Beginning” by LA Priest. It’s a wonderful little nonsensical song. I like when it comes on when I’m playing FIFA because it kinda makes the pointlessness of the never ending machine seem a bit whimsical. There’s a busyness to the layering of sounds that gives it a kind of whirring factory vibe. There’s an attitude to the vocals that makes me want to do some air punches and snap some kicks while having a wiggle. I read a song by song run through that LA Priest did with The Fader, where they talk about the emphasis on the texture of lyrics as opposed to meaning. I like that idea.
“Crush” is a banger. And in trying to figure out why I like it so much, I’ve come up with one of my dumbest hot takes of all time. “Crush” is the prototype for “We Are The People” by Empire of the Sun. The backing vocals are airy. The guitar is veeery similar.
But then at the same time, there’s something in the vocals that is very like George Michael’s “Fast Love”. Reading the Wikipedia for the song, there’s a quote from Larry Flick from Billboard where he talks about how Jennifer Paige manages to make “Crush” sensual subtly, by using her vocal range as opposed to “groans and moans”. A huge part of George Michael’s success was down to the sexiness of his songs so it all kind of adds up.
Honestly that’s probably enough to justify liking a song, but “Crush” is pretty iconic in it’s own right. It’s one of the less over played one hit wonders that are this good. The lyrics suit the song perfectly. “Here’s what I do, I’ll play it loose” is one of the greatest combinations of lyric and delivery in songwriting. Jennifer Paige’s voice is super effortless and that works so well with the blasé vibe of the lyrics.
I really liked KYLE’s “Light of Mine” album. I had tickets to see him in 2018 and ended up not getting to go. I listened to the album on repeat for months and I overplayed it for myself so I wasn’t able to listen to it for a while. He also starred in “The After Party” on Netflix so I guess it felt like over saturation. Too much in too short a period of time.
I like the feeling when you’re finally able to come back to an album like that and relisten to songs. Doing that with “Light of Mine”, I have to say “Babies” is an undeniably good song. The lyrics are quite neat when you look at them. Both KYLE and Alessia Cara’s verses have references to “ABC” by The Jackson 5. In the first verse:
And I was learnin’ ABC’s No one taught me how to love you
And then in the second verse:
And this ain’t easy, 1-2-3’s No one taught me how to love you (No one taught me)
It’s simple but it’s kinda cool. The song is the opposite to “ABC”. He’s talking about how relationships aren’t easy and they don’t always work, but there’s room to learn and figure things out. The whole thing works well. They have very complimentary voices. The verses have a great bounce
This might sound deranged, but I think if they ever went back to making those sci-fi animated films like “Titan AE” and “Atlantis”, “Babies” would fit perfectly into the soundtrack. Those type of films always had a romance shoehorned in. “Babies” would work because it is sweet, it has a positive message and it has a kind of quiet outer space vibe. Make of that idea what you will.
You can listen to “Babies” by KYLE feat. Alessia Cara here.
Over the last 2 years or so, I’ve been Marie Condo-ing my personal social media. Does this make me happy? Mute, block, delete the app. At this point, I’m down to only having Instagram on my phone and only using Facebook for messenger and very occasionally to check when people’s birthday’s are. Even on Instagram, I’ve cut down on who I follow to people I genuinely enjoy as an online entity. I’ve even muted people that I like, but have stressful lives. I’ve been happier for it.
One person, who has survived the culls is Pretty Sister, formerly known as Zak Waters (possibly still known as Zak Waters, that might be his name, but probably isn’t). He’s got a new album out and, as I assume he intended, I haven’t listened to it because it made me want to listen to some of his stuff that he released years ago as Zak Waters.
Sometimes the song of the day is down to a moment within a song. My song today is “Over You”. What I really like about it is this kind of a turn around that the song does twice. The music seems to slow to a stop and suddenly start back up again. It’s like it dummies a stop coming out of the chorus and then bursts into the best sing along part of the song – the repeated “No don’t wanna be lonely lonely lonely” bit. Zak Waters has an incredible voice so it really works well. I love this song because it has such a pop/edm crossover feel. It’s from 2013 which was during my nightclub years and this was just what I wanted in those days. It’s got the kind of Moombahton beat to it which combines well to make it a real summery song. All together a terrible choice of song of the day for a school night, because all I want to do now is drink cocktails and dance.
So this is the third and final Jack Nicholson post. You know the deal. I’m going to move into the films quickly because there’s going to be some wrap up at the end.
“The Shining” (1980)
I really like “The Shining” and Jack Nicholson is an undeniable force of nature in it. It’s an iconic role and an iconic film. I genuinely don’t think anyone else could have done what he did here and I think everyone who has played a manic and sinister character since “The Shining” has probably ripped something out of Nicholson’s Jack Torrence. It’s hard to put a finger on what is so good about his performance as opposed to what is so definitively him about it. He manages to create this character that seems menacing, but also kind of beaten down. He’s got a smarmy, everyman cheeriness that hides a shitty husband and a disconnected father.
My memory of it before rewatching it this week was of a less supernatural film. I remembered it as purely psychological piece. It is very open in it’s flirtation with the supernatural and it is quite obvious that something else is at play and I really enjoyed that this time around
“About Schmidt” (2002)
“About Schmidt” is a good film and Jack Nicholson is very good in it, but I really don’t like his character and I think it shaped the way I think about Jack Nicholson as a man when I saw it first. His Schmidt is a nightmare of a character. Just a helpless bastard. I guess in my mind, I felt that it was probably an easy role for Nicholson to play because he was starting to look like his character in real life.
So I’ve watched a bunch of Jack Nicholson films and I think it has changed my opinion of him. I didn’t get the hype and now I do. Even though there were films of his that I had always enjoyed, I didn’t really give him the credit he deserved. In particular, “The Shining” and “Chinatown” are two of my favourites. He has played some great roles and put in some iconic performances. Wikipedia claims he’s considered one of the greatest actors of his generation and I’m not going to disagree with that. He obviously had some misses and I think his really good performances seem to trail off towards the end of his career, but I give him credit for retiring when he did. There’s an honesty to not making films for the sake of it.
So Jack Nicholson passes my test. If there are any good Jack Nicholson films that I missed, I would love some recommendations, or if there’s terrible films that might are so bad they might change my mind, I’d like to hear about those. I’d also be interested to hear suggestions on other actors who should be put to the same test.
Anyone who read my post about Outkast’s “Ms Jackson” will know that I have a lot of time for Big Boi. “Sir Lucious Left Foot… The Son of Chico Dusty” is an absolutely scandalous album. Big Boi does some crazy stuff, especially when you consider that it’s from 2010. The features are out of this world on multiple levels. There’s established heavy hitters as well as left field choices and up and coming artists of the time. A big part of what works so well is that the songs are rock solid. The production is incredible. The songs just sound so good. Even the skits are good and I hate skits in general.
“Shine Blockas” is a fucking great song. I only heard Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes “I Miss You” for the first time today and to pick the sample from that to make “Shine Blockas” is mind blowing. The vocal sample is so smooth. And then on top of it all Big Boi and Gucci Mane are in flying form. The rapping is perfectly measured, there’s edge and slickness in perfect balance.
I loved this album when it came out first and have come back to it a number of times over the last few years. I came back to it today for the first time in while. I’ve written before about how when you re-listen to an album that you love, you always always find something that jumps out at you. I always loved “Shine Blockas”, but it’s only reflecting today that I really realised what a belter it is.
You can listen to “Shine Blockas” by Big Boi feat. Gucci Mane here.