24 August 2021 – Downtown by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

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.

24 August 2021 – Downtown by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

23 August 2021 – Mixed Bizness by Beck

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.

23 August 2021 – Mixed Bizness by Beck

20 August 2021 – The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala

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.

20 August 2021 – The Less I Know The Better by Tame Impala

19 August 2021 – Dominos by Northeast Party House

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.

19 August 2021 – Dominos by Northeast Party House

18 August 2021 – Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears

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.

18 August 2021 – Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears

17 August 2021 – Circles by Post Malone

I’ve always been very suspicious of Post Malone. He seems like a nice boy but very odd. As a musical entity he makes very little sense to me. He seems so randomly generated that he could only have been created using big data to hit the exact demographics to be massive.

“Circles” is a sad song with a bit of a dance in it. The bass line keeps it bouncing along. It feels like the culmination of a decade of Fleetwood Mac influences creeping into pop music. Even the lyrics are Fleetwood Mac-esque in the finger pointing in the demise of a relationship.

“Seasons change and our love went cold
Feed  the flame ’cause we can’t let go
Run away, but we’re running in circles
Run away, run away
I dare you to do something
I’m  waiting on you again, so I don’t take the blame
Run away, but we’re running in circles
Run away, run away, run away”

I think part of what I like about Post Malone is that he’s relatable but not necessarily in the way other people might feel. I think some people think of his lyrics as relatable, which I’m sure they are for some people. In my case, he’s relatable because if I had the money, he’s probably what I’d look like. He does exactly what I’d do in a world of no consequences. Including transition from a rapper to writing and singing future karaoke anthems like “Circles”.

You can listen to “Circles” by Post Malone here.

17 August 2021 – Circles by Post Malone

16 August 2021 – The Dark Of The Matinée by Franz Ferdinand

I was a very odd little boy. I read The Guardian football and music sections as a child. It probably explains why I enjoy music and football in the way that I do, in an anorak-ish and kinda bookish way. I still read The Guardian but I’ve expanded my reading to include the demented relationship advice columns and the blind date segment. I have a couple of very distinct music journalism memories, but I think Franz Ferdinand were the first band I ever read about and then sought out. In a lot of ways they were the perfect band for me at the time and despite my suggestion that my dad might like their first album for his birthday, “Franz Ferdinand” by Franz Ferdinand arrived on what I assume must have been my 12th birthday.

“The Dark Of The Matinée” was the first song I remember hearing. It has a kind of an evil sound. I think part of the appeal is that the lyrics are obviously talking about things but I really didn’t understand what was going on. Rereading them now, they are daft but fantastic.

“Take your white finger
Slide the nail under the top and bottom buttons of my blazer
Relax the fraying wool, slacken ties
And I’m not to look at you in the shoe
But the eyes find the eyes”

The use of language and things like run on lines made the lyrics seem very cryptic. The bridge and, in particular, the concatenation of Terry Wogan and the word “how” to fit the rhyming pattern, are one of my favourite pieces of lyric writing.

There’s a lot to the sound of “The Dark Of The Matinée” that still appeals to me. There’s solid guitar riffs and some disco influenced guitar in there. The bass riff drives the song along. And then the drumming has that great indie disco sound. If you listen with decent speakers you can hear some mad harmonies. The vocals have a bored sound that was the coolest thing in the world and there are even moments where you can hear Alex Kapranos sigh. It was all part of the aesthetic and I thought it was brilliant.

You can listen to “The Dark Of The Matinée” by Franz Ferdinand here.

16 August 2021 – The Dark Of The Matinée by Franz Ferdinand

12 August 2021 – Fast Love – George Michael

My first experience of George Michael was the album “Older”. When I was a kid, I used to go over to my grandparents house and play Quake II on the PC and listen to the main man, George Michael. “Older” is such a fucking cool album. George Michael’s voice is fantastic and the songs are all very funky but also so chilled and atmospheric. I’ve only really understood what the songs throughout the album are actually about as I’ve grown older and there’s some real sadness in there.

Picking a song from “Older” is easy for me though. It has to be “Fastlove”. It might not even be the best song on there, but it’s the song that has stuck with me the most through the years. The sample from “Forget Me Nots” by Patrice Rushden is perfect. The bass is so good. It’s strange to have a dance song that is about sex but seems sad at the same time. If you consider when this came out in George Michael’s life you really can see what he was going through and what was to come. He’s very clearly in a bad state. There’s the fairly clear gay references, but he wouldn’t be publicly outed until 2 years later in 1998. He’s isolated and depressed and a secretly gay man using sex to cope with his life. It’s worth giving the lyrics a read and seeing how it fits so perfectly into what was going on. It sounds so bleak but as a child listening to “Fastlove”, I just thought it was a bop. And I guess that’s George Michael. Bopping away but having a really tough time in the background.

You can listen to “Fastlove” by George Michael here.

12 August 2021 – Fast Love – George Michael

11 August 2021 – I’m the One – DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne.

This is probably the most apologetic I’ve had to be for a song of the day choice, but there’s enough pros to this song to justify its inclusion. “I’m the One” is a mad song. It’s worth getting the obvious out of the way. DJ Khaled is objectionable. Justin Bieber is objectionable. At one point Justin Bieber puts on a Jamaican accent that I don’t think got enough heat at the time.

Really it comes down to a couple of things. Chance the Rapper has a verse that I just enjoy immensely.

Uh, she beat her face up with that new Chanel
She like the price, she see the ice, it make her coochie melt
When I met her in the club I asked her who she felt
Then she went and put that booty on that Gucci belt

I think those four bars are just hilarious. Chance the Rapper generally has a pretty consistent flow so the whole verse sounds good, but those are some demented lyrics. The lines roll so perfectly but the idea of a grown man saying these things is so funny to me.

One verse of Quavo is the perfect amount. It’s hard not to enjoy some Quavo adlibs. The Lil Wayne verse is wild.

She think we Clyde and Bonnie
But it’s more like Whitney and Bobby,
God, forgive me!”

I like that idea. People in volatile relationships like to act like its them against the world, raising hell. The truth is that might be the case sometimes, but other times they’re smoking crack and bashing the heads off each other.

“I’m the One” is like a song from space. All these crazy aliens came together to make an insane song and for some reason I love it. Whenever it comes on I can feel my face light up. It’s good for a bop and it’s an all round good time.

You can listen to “I’m the One” by DJ Khaled here.

11 August 2021 – I’m the One – DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne.

08 August 2021 – The Suicide Squad

I’ve been trying not to write about relatively new films so I can avoid spoilers but here’s your spoiler alert for “The Suicide Squad”. I’m not going to ruin things but I’m going to talk about the film so read at your peril.

Here’s the poster for the film. It’s here to give you time to process the spoiler alert.

From the beginning, it’s important to make the distinction between “The Suicide Squad”(2021) and “Suicide Squad”(2016). “The Suicide Squad” is billed as a standalone sequel to “Suicide Squad” but it was also referred to as a “soft reboot”. So it operates in an in between space, not quite a proper sequel but not an independent event.

I went to see “The Suicide Squad” in the IMAX in Odeon in Blanchardstown on Monday. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I was definitely impressed. I knew that James Gunn was involved but I had very little faith in DC to get it right. I guess I was probably expecting something like “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2” crossed with “Deadpool”. At this point the charm of “Deadpool” has well and truly worn off and the second Guardians film, while better on the second viewing, was a weaker sequel. I had seen the trailers and they were pretty good, but I was confused as to why this film was being made at all.

The first Suicide Squad film was shit. It looked crap. There was all that nonsense with Jared Leto as the Joker. It seemed like it was more focused on seeming gritty than actually doing anything. It felt wasteful to use so many characters so badly. When you hear the criticism from the writer and director, David Ayer, it all kinda makes sense. Too much messing around, too much changing track midway. It’s just disjointed and if not for the cast and the promotion of it, the film would be very forgettable.

So since that was so bad, why make a sequel? There was some positive feedback to Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and they made the “Birds of Prey”. That was an alright film but not really a success financially. It really felt like they had a bad film in “Suicide Squad”, tried to milk what was good from it in “Birds of Prey” and at that point it should have been time to quit. There just didn’t seem like audiences would have an appetite for it. I definitely didn’t think I wanted to see a sequel.

But it’s great. It’s very funny. Plenty of proper laugh out loud moments. The characters are great. The characters are from source material so that might not seem like something that “The Suicide Squad” deserves credit for, but “Suicide Squad” managed to fuck up pretty cool characters so we can’t take that for granted. The cast are pretty solid and everybody was good in it. It’s always great to see David Dastmalchian. He’s very entertaining as Polka-Dot Man. John Cena kinda steals the show as Peacemaker. It’s probably Idris Elba’s best performance in a while. He’s a weird one. He was great in “The Wire” and I’m sure he’s had some other good roles since then, but it mostly seems like his acting has been limited to putting on glasses to show that he’s smart. He’s good in “The Suicide Squad” though.

One of the biggest things that I liked about the film was that it made pretty brave choices. I’m not going to get into details because that’s spoiler territory, but bravery is one of the most important things in film making in my opinion. The other DC films have been relentlessly cowardly in their approach to everything. The changes in direction; the casting in some cases; and even just the fucking storylines have not been brave enough to warrant the films being made. The last Wonder Woman film is the best example. Just unambitious crap. And the truth about it is that a film that doesn’t make brave choices is a film that has been made in an attempt to trick an audience. They’re not working hard to be original or interesting because they think that audiences are stupid enough to go to anything if there’s enough promo behind it. “The Suicide Squad” is trying to do more than that and I liked that about it.

The interesting question from watching “The Suicide Squad” is: has there been a better sequel that should never have been made? Despite the philosophical debates around whether “The Suicide Squad” is a pure sequel to “Suicide Squad”, the fact of the matter is, from the studio’s point of view, this was a sequel. It’s the same source material, same cinematic universe, same characters and even the same cast. The consensus is that sequels are usually worse. There’s a laziness to sequels as a concept and they have a vibe of selling out. So the opposite is interesting. A lazy film with an ambitious and interesting sequel. I would be interested to know if this has been through hard work and vision from someone over at Warner Bros. or if it was just a case of the stars aligning after successive blunders.

Is this how “The Suicide Squad” came into existence?

However “The Suicide Squad” came into existence, I feel like it was a great film. I could very easily see myself going to see it again this week. Lots of laughs, great action, great characters. Just an all around great time. Very much worth a watch.

08 August 2021 – The Suicide Squad