“How Will I Know” is an incredible song. I love how it’s so absolutely 80s in it’s production but how it’s built on a solid and timeless base. I always think the best way to see these things is to hear a stopped back version. I heard Erik Hassle’s version on YouTube and I got a new appreciation for the song. Whitney Houston’s vocals are amazing and capture the combination of excitement and vulnerability of the lyrics perfectly. The first verse in particular is iconic.
I love that at one point there’s a brief flirtation with a real shredder guitar breakdown coming out of the bridge and it then switches up to a saxophone solo. It’s part of what makes the song so incredible. In the same way that it was made to be an 80s pop/r&b anthem, it’s quite modular so it could be recreated as an acoustic guitar song like Erik Hassle’s version and just focus on the voice, or it could take those guitar bits and run with it and become a Van Halen song.
You can listen to “How Will I Know’ by Whitney Houston here.
When we went to California in 2019 we stayed around Oakland and Berkeley. We rented a car and drove out to Yosemite. We had no mobile data so we just had what I had downloaded from Spotify. The song that I’ll always associate with that part of the trip was “GOMF”. I’m pretty sure it drove Shóna insane.
I first heard “GOMF” from the incredible Casey Frey viral video. That video is a work of art so I think I was positively disposed to the song from the off. It’s a banger with big bass. It just makes me want to do the dance from the end of the video.
You can listen to “GOMF” by DVBBS and BRIDGE here
We started watching “Nine Perfect Strangers” on Prime last night and “Running Red Lights” was featured at the end of an episode. It felt like a song that I knew but I’m not sure I’d ever heard it before. It felt familiar, like a song that I knew and loved.
It is a perfect combination of things to make up a song that I’d love. Rivers Cuomo is responsible for so many formative songs for me. I feel like his voice and song writing are the embodiment of the teenage boy, sometimes problematic, but mostly naïve and childlike. The intro reminds me of the album “Wincing The Night Away” by The Shins, which is a really nice album, and “My Girls” by Animal Collective. The vocal melody is very sweet but incredibly catchy, it sounds a bit like something from Dominic Fike. It’s funny to describe something in terms of other things that it reminds me of, but these are all things that I really like so it is intended to be complementary.
I’ve had a bit of a zoned out day and I’ve been listening to “Running Red Lights” on repeat. I’ve had a stressful few weeks and I’m coming out the other side of it. I’ve needed some quiet “me” time so walking to and from work and my little walk at lunch, with this as my soundtrack has been kinda therapeutic. There’s a very full and rounded sound to the production. It feels a bit like being immersed. It’s a super relaxing banger.
You can listen to “Running Red Lights” by The Avalanches feat. Rivers Cuomo and Pink Siifu here.
“The Bare Necessities” was stuck in my head today. I didn’t have earphones with me in work so I just had to roll with whatever soundtrack my brain came up with. I think it was inspired by the fact that I had a very disappointing pear for breakfast and that made me think of the prickly pear and then here we are.
I loved “The Jungle Book” and “The Bare Necessities” is just such a banger. It’s a hardcore wiggler of a song. There’s something magical about it that makes it appeal to little kids. It chugs along with the bass and tuba and then the trumpet zips along on the top of it. The solos are incredible – particularly the trumpet, which might be my favourite solo of all time. Phil Harris has such a smooth deep voice and it has permanently decided the voice that I imagine bears have. It’s such a happy and hopeful song. It’s a nice outlook to take, to be content and fulfilled by having what you need to get by.
You can listen to “The Bare Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” here.
I’ve been back in the office for the last few days and it’s really mixed my life up. It’s knocked my routine. Less sleep and no time to go running has my mood pretty crappy. I also think I broke a toe this morning so that might make running tough to do. I haven’t had a lot of time to listen to music at all so I haven’t had much inspiration for songs of the day. It’ll probably be next week before I get back into the swing on things here on the blog because on top of me being a moany bastard I’m moving this weekend.
So that’s a little update on what’s going on.
I’m not sure if “Downtown” is actually a good song. It’s wildly inconsistent. The be completely honest I think the only bits I really want are the Eric Nally parts. The Macklemore parts just aren’t for me. How much of a song do you have to like to like a song?
Dealing with negatives, there are two, maybe three. Number one: as mentioned above, I just don’t really get Macklemore. Number two: the video has too many vests. The third negative is a bit of a combination of the first two. Macklemore really tried to make the thrift store thing his thing and just milked it to death.
I think the positives out weigh the negatives. Eric Nally has a great voice and it is a top notch feature from him. He really steals the show. He has one of those big voices like Freddie Mercury or Justin Hawkins. The song got some hate on blogs for ripping off “Uptown Funk” but that ripped off so many songs in the first place that that becomes redundant. I think the reason I like it so much is that one of my favourite things to do when a song gets stuck in my head is to mix and match the lyrics and vocal melody. It’s a standard enough meme idea that was particularly big around the time when “Allstar” by Smashmouth was getting the serious meme treatment online. So we eventually arrive at all the lyrics of “Downtown” becoming “Beef boy”. It was a running joke last summer when we played a lot of Warzone online so I’ll always have very fond memories of the song. And that’s enough for me to actually like it.
You can listen to “Downtown” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis here.
When I was 15, Beck’s “Midnight Vultures” album blew my mind. There’s a bunch of great tracks on there, but “Mixed Bizness” was my ringtone in the days when you could first set mp3s as your ringtone. We used to sit out on a football pitch near my house and blow up cans of deodorant. I missed so many phone calls because it was essential to dance whenever my phone rang. I think the fact that the whole album was so focused on sex was a bit of a novelty as a teenager. It added a real element of mystery to the songs because it was hard to tell what was erotic nonsense and what were real things that I just didn’t understand. “Mixed Bizness” itself is Crash Bandicoot music and I mean that as a compliment of the highest order. It’s funky and speedy. I has loads of little fills and turn arounds. The surf guitar sound is pure gold throughout. The whole song is a general good time.
You can listen to “Mixed Bizness” by Beck here.
I like “The Less I Know The Better” a lot. It’s got a great video. It’s got great disco vibes. I feel like there’s been a bit of a swing back against Tame Impala because they have an association with a stereotype of a certain kind of shitty man. I think that’s fair because that indie, mansplaining man-child exists, but at the same time it’s a weird endorsement. It’s an acknowledgement that Tame Impala are good.
So where does that leave us? Well, I guess making a Tame Impala song my song of the day is not like I’m recommending something that nobody knows and that’s valid on my list. I don’t think “The Less I Know The Better” is taken for granted or forgotten about so I don’t really have an angle to it on that level. The reason “The Less I Know The Better” is my song of the day is because I like singing and Shóna doesn’t but she’ll very occasionally perform a high pitched re-enactment of the first verse, replacing all the words with “La”. And I always find it very funny.
You can listen to “The Less I Know The Better” by Tame Impala here.
Sometimes it’s tough to come up with an idea for a song of the day. Some weeks I might just listen to one album every day or I might not listen to a lot of music at all. In times like that it can be tough to come up with something that I actually have anything to write about. That’s part of what this blog is really about. It’s all writing practice. I want to be able to write when I normally wouldn’t want to. I’m trying to push past the obstacle of feeling uninspired.
Sometimes I just need a little push from something else. And that can be a little reminder of a song and then I’m off. And then it all manages to work itself out. “Dominos” by Northeast Party House is one of those songs that is a little push for me. I listen to it and I feel so pumped. When I started running last year I used to have to be very careful when it came to music. I would listen to easy going things at the beginning so I wouldn’t run like a maniac and use up all my energy too soon and then “Dominos” towards the end of the run to keep myself going. It’s just that kind of song. It’s super high energy. It’s very danceable. On my spectrum of dances where “Golden Years” by David Bowie was slow wiggler, this is a song for a dance made of low kicks and throwing elbows.
Northeast Party House are an incredibly consistent band. They always come out with exciting tunes. They have a great singer and every song could be a part of a great night out.
You can listen to “Dominos” by Northeast Party House here.
I’ve always felt like Tears For Fears should be the name of a proto-goth band. The band look like sensitive boys but not in a goth way. “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” is probably an obvious choice if someone was making a list of the best songs of all time, but sometimes those type of songs can slip through the cracks in my never ending compilation of songs that I like a lot on a given day.
I’m not sure how a person or group could sit down and write “Everybody Wants to Rule The World”. There’s so many mad little bits to it. It’s so 80s. The beat, the singing, the synths and the serious guitar playing. The lead guitar is one of my favourite bits to it. Guitar playing in pop music is pretty tame nowadays but this is proper shredding. I think the singing has a similar vibe. The song ticks along with solid singing and solid guitar playing until these moments where they both go up a level and that’s what puts the song into the next bracket of quality. The best part for the vocals is in the chorus at the end:
“Everybody wants to rule the—
Say that you’ll never, never, never, never need it”
The part where his voice reaches for the higher note is pretty excellent.
You can listen to “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears here.