Hey! Top forty ! This is a nice, normal, manageable list isn’t it? Should I maybe have just limited 2020’s best songs to this workable and succinct top 40 list? What, and not mention Wock in Stock or I Don’t Know, Burn Stuff? I’m not sure I’d ever be able to forgive myself.
That’s all the introduction you’re getting, parts oneand two were more than enough foreplay, there are some absolute modern classics in this final countdown, and if you’re as half as surprised as me at what comes out on top…
A very ‘Fiona Apple’ Fiona Apple song, but that is obviously entirely a Good Thing. Lyrically, it’s untouchable, with Ms Apple taking issue with dinner party conversation and refusing to be silenced (“Kick me under the table all you want/I won’t shut up…I would beg to disagree/But begging disagrees with me”). Amongst the barbed and often hilarious response to tension, she also manages to squeeze in some absolutely amazing lyrical asides:
I’d like to buy you a pair of pillow-soled hiking boots
To help you with your climb
Or rather, to help the bodies that you step over, along your route
So they won’t hurt like mine
I’m going to be really noncommittal and say that Under the Table is definitely one of the best lyrics of the year. Don’t make me choose. No, seriously, don’t make me choose, you know I’d just give it to a 1993 Manics’ lyric and ruin the legitimacy of the whole operation.#
‘Waterfowl’ is a pretty perfect rock album. I spent an inordinate and unnecessary amount of time just now trying to decide which subgenre to place it under, but it’s such a varied and ambitious record that it near enough encompasses all of them. It dabbles in punk, takes brash detours through folk rock and indie, skids its way through shoegaze and math rock, and even chooses to dabble in post-punk and grunge. I ‘reviewed’ it back in February, then because I don’t think I’d properly got across how good the album was, I wrote another post in March just to make sure I was clear how freaking good this record was. Come on, if there was any 2020 album you don’t need further convincing of its quality, it’s this one. It’s actually quite worrying how much I have to spoon feed some of you people. Sort your lives out.
Yep, Princess Nokia states that ‘Everything is Beautiful’ and only makes it to number 70, but when she simply throws up her arms and declares that ‘Everything Sucks’ she opens our top 40. What does this prove? That’s right- absolutely fuck all, as this list is an absolutely meaningless vanity project by some egotistical, fat, ginger, middle aged man frivlously listing albums he’s listened to this year in no real order despite knowing next to nothing about music.
I joke, of course, this list is an entirely scientific exercise. The real reason that the other album that The Princess Regent of Nokia and its Territories released in 2020 ranks so much higher is because, yeah, maybe everything does suck.
Have you ever considered that maybe Princess Nokia has a point? Maybe everything is beautiful? Maybe you don’t agree. Maybe you’re one of those overaged (and- my goodness- way over sized) wannabe teenage edgelords who have developed multiple subconjunctival hemorrhages due to the dangerous amount of times you’ve rolled your eyes at something. Maybe your detachment from positivity and any sort of approving conscientiousness has rendered you completely numb to appreciating any good thing in life. Maybe when the vicar asked you if you take this person to be your lawful wedded spouse you merely shrugged your shoulders and said “Whatever”. Maybe when the doctor handed you your new born baby, you rolled your eyes at how unbelievably mainstream the whole thing was, with the baby crying and wiggling its arms, like that hasn’t been done before. Nothing is beautiful for you, because you refuse to allow it to be.
Hey, remember a few weeks ago when I basically just took far too long just to tell you that Nick Cave’s transcendent ‘Ghosteen‘ was the best album of 2019? Well, with that still fresh in your mind, I thought we should take the opportunity to kick back and…
Part six! This site’s previous longest series* was the (intermittently ongoing) ‘Greatest Songs Ever‘ collection, which has so far taken eighteen months to dribble to five entries, yet this trawl through my misery caused a dating app that I have since realised I really don’t want to be on is already on its sixth entry in less than ten days! Maybe I don’t actually like writing about music, and actually prefer instead cataloging my sad and emotionally draining attempts to date as a sober person. Sorry, as a non drinker of alcoholic drinks, I realise that ‘sober’ suggests a higher bar of not relying on recreational supplements that I unfortunately cannot meet.
(*Unless, of course, you count my albums of the year lists as an ongoing series, in which case there have been around 450 posts since 2007. 2007!! My girlfriend wasn’t even born when I started this shit! She’s probably not even heard of Les Savy Fav!!)
Dating if you drink is easy. You just go to a place where people drink, you’re entertaining enough drunk and she’s drunk enough to not know any better, you have sex that neither of you 100% remembers in the morning, then you stay together for ages because the buses back to Chorley are really unreliable and it seems like the option of least resistance just to stay together. There was no widely used social media back then, so basically as far as both of you were aware this really was as good as it could get- in the late 90s and early 00s your average young adult knew of the existence of maybe twenty four people, and one of those was Toby Anstis. And, come on, Toby Anstis? Never happening.
Hmmmm… Maybe I’m not thinking of ‘people who drink’, but rather ‘people with debilitating problems with drinking’…? And maybe all you were ever likely to be matched up with were people with similarly ruinous issues…?
But it was easy, is all I’m saying!!
Anyway, let’s take a look at the latest bout of options. Most of them will be British, so some sort of ruinous drinking problem is pretty much a given.
Listen, I’ve tried to explain to you gormless mouth breathers before that Aqua Girl is pretty freaking special. Her 2018 debut was one of the best albums of the year, a knock out introduction to a talent able to write songs that candidly narrated a perhaps under represented perspective of the transgender and nonbinary experience.
But- and I’ve long been concerned that maybe my review of her debut didn’t properly credit this- she’s not ‘just’ a singing trans woman, her gender identity doesn’t define her- she’s special because she frequently writes fucking bangers! As Elora Driver, she’s already released Sunburn, one of the best songs of 2020 so far, and she’s smart enough to realise that, logically, perfect pop songs rarely need to last longer than two minutes.
When she announced in March that her second album proper was on its way in April, I was, obviously, so excited that I wet myself for three minutes straight. Like, I just drained myself of moisture, you really should have been there. It was clear that I needed to mark this momentous occasion with a blog post, but did this mean a freaking album review?? I hate ‘reviewing albums’! I sit down and have time to listen to the album a dozen times on repeat, then I’m supposed to dribble out 2’500 words on how it made me feel?? I don’t know how it makes me feel! I haven’t lived with it for any decent time, it hasn’t soundtracked any glories or any tragedies in my life yet, I don’t know which track I jump to if I need to be taken up or taken down, I couldn’t yet tell you which track gave me a tiny bit of an erection while I was on the bus last Wednesday morning. If I reviewed it after merely hours after first being introduced to it, I would rate it as ‘pretty good’, as that’s almost all you can say about a piece of art that early on.
So I thought… what if I interview her…? Let her explain her positions in her own words rather than me making widely inaccurate and borderline offensive statements based on me force feeding the work for a handful of listens. I put the idea to her on Twitter and she was kind enough to agree. The following interview took the form of an email exchange over the course of a couple of weeks, but if you’d prefer, picture us both in the bar at Ritz-Carlton, me furiously scribbling Elora’s words of wisdom with a stubby pencil that I store in my cap, while she sprawls back on a chaise lounge with a smirk on her mouth and one eyebrow archly raised as she charmingly answers questions between sips of cognac. All while we keep four feet apart, of course. To be honest, I thought the interview would be more of a frivolous and lighthearted series pf responses to dumb questions, but Aqua Girl actually managed to pull it into engaging and almost profound places through sheer force of charisma, until the interview ends up almost interesting. That might be Aqua Girl’s greatest achievement to date
Today we embark on strictly a scouting mission. My profile is, yes, fucking mindblowingly good, but it’s merely an unfinished husk at the moment and unlikely to truly emotionally manipulate any woman into sending me pictures of their boobs. That is, after all, all this online ‘Zero Hour Dating’ is really about. Today, we’re just looking at the options, seeing what kind of bear bating meat market the crust of the Earth has split open to reveal. I’m not physically rating these people- and you’re certainly not seeing pictures, you disgusting leches- everyone is beautiful, and not everyone possesses the psychological wherewithal to paint half their face blue. We’re all about people’s personal bio. And in that case it really doesn’t turn out that everyone is beautiful at all. In fact, many people are freaking munters.
So, into the depths we dive, I open up Bumble and…
Have you noticed how things are a bit weird at the moment? Like, there seems to be something in the air, doesn’t there? People seem to be a little less socially active these days; nobody came to your barbecue last Thursday; WWE crowds are drastically down; you’re pretty sure Paul should have been at school these past few weeks not that you’re going to ask the little shit and risk getting pulled into an endless conversational loop about the largest dinosaurs; and Italian mayors seem to be furious these days. Something’s… different…
I don’t watch the news- if I wanted a posh voice feeding me a liberal agenda I’d just ring my parole officer- but it’s clear to me what’s happened. There’s an unmistakable stench of disappointment overlaying an aggressive smog of sadness that’s infected the whole country. They know. You know. Everyone knows.