A Brief and Inadequate Mimi Parker Tribute

A friend and I are both similarly shameless man boys, and are equally shameless enough in our arrested emotional and intellectual development to get together once every week to watch old wrestling PPV events from the early 00s, 90s, 80s and – if we’re feeling especially fruity and devil may care in our appreciation of video quality – even the 1970s. After each event – some amazing; some unintentionally hilarious; many, many, many absolutely fucking awful – we look back at the evening’s entertainment, give each match a star rating, hand out our individual awards. And read out the Death List. The Death List is the number of wrestlers and personalities we’d witnessed perform that night at an event forty, thirty. twenty or even just ten years ago who were now no longer with us.

It’s unquestionably a morbid joke, one that never allows us to forget the insanely short expected lifespan of professional wrestlers, particularly those from the steroids n’ cocaine heydays of the so called Golden Era, from the 80s to early 90s. Despite our flippancy, it’s not a completely disrespectful exercise, it’s rarely less than depressing to note how many great talents were lost to us early by being sucked into such a thoughtless and treacherous business. It never allows us to forget that people are killing themselves and being killed just in order to provide us with our shits and giggles. Considering that I’ve only been writing these lists since 2007, and in an era when musicians’ and pop artists’ lifespan is considerably longer than your average professional wrestler, it’s not a trope I’d ever imagined repeating for my Necessary Evil end of year countdown.

Continue reading “A Brief and Inadequate Mimi Parker Tribute”

Blingy Lady (Puts a Donk On It): A Review of Beyoncé’s ‘RENAISSANCE’

We’re all friends here. This is a safe space. Let’s start this first blog post since March off by just putting all our cards on the table. When you’re from Europe, or Britain in my case (with perhaps a few notable exceptions) it’s really annoying to hear American people talk about dance music.

The inventor of dance music

Completely unfairly, of course. They can’t help it, it’s not their fault, it’s just how they were brought up and the slight to significant social differences they have encountered. I feel like criticising the majority of Americans’ knowledge about dance music is like making fun of their monster truck rallies, school shootings or cowboy hats – it’s a central and important part of their culture, and mocking it seems insensitive. It’s just… infuriating… isn’t it? Even their insistence on calling it Electronic Dance Music/EDM – while being functionally completely sensical (the vague term ‘dance music’ rarely suitably describes what most people using it are referring to) – is really annoying. Whenever somebody refers to something as ‘EDM’ it’s a quick assurance that they probably think the greatest ever electronic dance album was ‘Purpose‘, that they believe Avicii and The Chainsmokers were the legendary originators, and that they’re unlikely to even get the Blackout Crew reference I made in this blog entry’s title.

Read more: Blingy Lady (Puts a Donk On It): A Review of Beyoncé’s ‘RENAISSANCE’

Dance music has one of the most popular and successful genres in Europe since the early 90s at the latest and even well into the 80s. Growing up in that era (a ‘Cultural Boomer’) in Europe meant dance music being a constant background And absolutely not just critically- sure, there were always the likes of Orbital/Chemical Brothers/Faithless/KLF/Leftfield who married critical praise with moderate to huge commercial success. And the superstar DJs like Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, Eric Prydz and Armand van Helden, who would combine huge influence and talent with the odd number one single. But we also had the true sign of full cultural integration – the terrible dance acts that would clog up the charts and pollute local radio stations. Before you criticise an American’s perceived ignorance on dance music, remember that they likely grew up in a world without either The Venga Boys or 2 Unlimited.

Truly, there were no limits

And, yes, while, being English, my obvious and natural response would be to condescendingly smirk at those silly little colonies, raise an eyebrow as I take a sip of Earl Grey through pursed lip and drily remark how I very much doubt that most Americans even have an opinion on A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules from the Centre of the Ultraworld, but we really have no room to talk. Perhaps the US had less time for the likes of Urban Cookie Collective because it was, y’know, inventing and popularising hip-hop, a genre which I’d argue didn’t properly break through in the UK until (seriously) Puff Daddy’s 1998 number one I’ll Be Missing You, a tribute to one of the most notable rappers of all time in the US, whose only charting album in the UK peaked at number twenty three. And we completely skipped grunge, Nirvana might have had a couple of top ten singles and some festival headliners, but otherwise rock music refused to truly comeback in the UK until Oasis started breaking records in 1993. There have since been attempts at revisionist history in the UK music press, arguing that Nirvana were as big a deal here as in the US, but… no… We try and pretend otherwise now, but we were all about Oasis. I’m sorry. When Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ historically and meaningfully knocked Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’ (it was just an album title back then, not an official legal status) off the top of the US charts in January 1992, the UK charts were topped by very much our Nirvana – Wet Wet Wet, with their legendary third album ‘High on the Happy Side‘. So are we really so culturally and morally superior?

Yes, we are. But it’s still interesting innit?

And I’m referring to the general American consensus here. The USA is a big country – more than a million people – and there has always been pockets of massive dance music fans, as well as America contributing some (perhaps… most??) of the most influential and important dance music producers and DJs of all time. There’s an argument that San Jose’s DJ Shadow’s 1996 album ‘Endtroducing‘ is the most influential dance album of the 90s. New Jersey… sorry…Nuu Jooooysie‘s James Murphy – electronic music’s tramp sage – is among the most notable electronic producers of the modern era. And, holy shit, our blinkers here are so discriminating that we’re failing to see what a complete revolution to music that hip-hop was, especially on the electronic means of dance music, from Grandmaster Flash through Timbaland, The Neptunes, Tyler the Creator and countless other notable names. And, pretty much unanimously cited as the most important DJ of all time, the sadly departed Frankie Knuckles is, as the ostentatiously cool name suggests, from Weston-super-mare

sorry, I mean The Bronx. Which is in America. Not sure which part. Maybe in the middle somewhere. In fact, the very foundations and practices that define everything that the world recognises as ‘Dance Music’ (and the US as EDM) came from the gay scene in Chicago (that’s in America), the black suburbs of Detroit (that’s also in America), clubs in New York (in America) and New Jersey (also in America. The Sopranos live there). Unarguably, America invented dance music. It just then decided to ignore it for a few decades. The first dance album to go platinum in the USA was – and you’ll like this – the soundtrack to the 1995 movie adaptation of the popular computer game Moral Kombat. The hip American daddios who have been into dance music these past few decades, who were sweating out their Quaaludes down next to the speakers in Chicago clubs in the mid 80s, might be similarly kissing their teeth and rolling their eyes at wider American culture’s laughably belated appreciation of dance music. Or maybe they’re just happy that the sort of boundary pushing artistic revelations are now finally being widely appreciated? But that seems needlessly unresentful to me. Are the Americans not into needless spite or something?

To the wider culture though, much like punk music finally broke America in 1991 – when the Dead Kennedys played Too Drunk Too Fuck at the Superbowl halftime show – dance music finally got noticed in America with a similar multiple decade delay, though the exact year isn’t agreed upon nor easy to pin down. Some time around 2010, there were numerous mainstream dalliances, largely through hip-hop artists tipping their hat to the genre. Beyoncé herself (I am getting round to her eventually, I promise) played a notable role, with her 2011 banger Run the World (Girls) sampling both Diplo and Major Lazer, two contemporary and soon to be huge dance acts. A huge, huge, huge figure was David Guetta, whose collaborations with the likes of Nicki Minaj, Fergie*, Kid Cudi, Adam Rickit and Akon did much to popularise the genre. And, sorry, but we have to acknowledge Deadmau5 and Skrillex as being notable figures in dance music’s evolution’s both commercially and – I’m sorry, you’re going to have to admit it – artistically. Some might point to the humungous drop in Justin Bieber/Skrillex/Diplo’s 2015 Where Are U Now as a particular high watermark in terms of commercial notability (and artistic quality. Come on, don’t be pathetic, it’s a fucking banger). It’s also impossible to talk about the genre’s emergence in the USA without mentioning the importance of Daft Punk. Personally however, as a true line in the sand, I think the ultimate turning point came in late 2011, and was assisted by some 30 year old jabroni born in Dumfries. Calvin Harris and Rihanna’s We Found Love isn’t just one of the most perfect and gorgeous hit singles of the last twenty or so years, but it is 100% and unmistakeably a dance song, featuring all the tropes and features of the type of banger you’d be chewing your cheeks off to down the front at Manumission back in 92. The build, the drop, the repetitive but exhilarating synth beat – this wasn’t a hip-hop or R&B artist taking cues from dance music, this was a dance track that Rihanna provided vocals for. She was playing the same role that Loleatta Holloway performed on Black Box’s Ride on Time twenty years earlier. Except of course Rihanna was considered attractive and famous enough to appear in the video for We Found Love. Also, she wasn’t dead, which Black Box mistakenly assumed Loleatta was. It’s a long story. Oh, and We Found Love was also the biggest thing ever, so that was nice for everyone involved, and in my opinion truly inspired the (possibly racist/homophobic. Much bigger issue, no time to discuss it now) levee that America had built to suppress dance music’s wider acceptance to finally break, and the outpouring still continues to this day.

(*as in the legendary former manager of Manchester United Sir Alex Ferguson, not the Black Eyed Peas singer, with whom he is often confused)

In 2022, America, God bless them all, seem to have discovered House Music. The aforementioned Frankie Knuckles (born Francis The Echidna) would have been overjoyed to see his country embrace the genre so quickly, just forty years after he invented it and eight years after he fucking died. The increased interest in the genre even inspired Rolling Stone, who generally believe ‘Songs of Innocence’ to be the most recent and noteworthy musical evolution, to compile a list of the 200 greatest ever dance songs, which – uuuurgh – I’ll get to later. Lot’s of people started bringing up Kaytranada, the Canadian born in 1992 who apparently invented house music. The renaissance

was instigated by two of the legitimately biggest musicians/celebrities/celestial beings in the world, Beyoncé and Canada’s perma-pursing feels navigator Drake, both released previously unannounced hugely house music inspired projects so close to each other. Drake released ‘Honestly, Nevermind’ on June 17th, and Ms Carter’s seventh studio album was released two days ago. Two days ago when I’m writing this, I mean. If you’re reading this next week, then it was released about a week ago. If you’re reading this in 2056, then it was released a long time ago. July 29th, if you’re using this post to conduct proper research and plan on citing it in your thesis. Which you all absolutely should. Before I talk about the Beyonkadonk album, we may as well quickly compare the two projects and say who comes out top in this unexpected House Off:

And, yeah, Beyoncé. It’s not even close. Firstly, I don’t think either album is a radical reinvention of the artists’ sounds. Both have frequently incorporated dance and house music influences on their records in the past, even more so than the natural shared lineage of hip-hop/R&B and dance production. Is there a track on ‘Renaissance’ significantly more house music influenced than something like Blow from Bee’s incredible self-titled 2015 album? Also: Ha! I’ve only just noticed that song is called ‘blow’, that’s fucking amazing. Also… is there a song… significantly… better…? We’ll get to that discussion soon.

Artistically, and just in terms of general quality, ‘RENAISSANCE’ far outperforms ‘Honestly, Nevermind’, but let’s just put that to one side. One major difference between the two artists’ homage to sweating themselves out at The Warehouse in 1992 is the differing understanding – or perhaps a refusal to understand – of house music’s central conceit, and what I would say is the genre’s main aspect of importance.

House music, my dudes, is gay as fuck.

I’ll let Padiheh Aghanourny and  Unathi Nkhoma – two people whom I will uncharacteristically accept know more about the subject than me – explain it in more detail, but the importance of house music to LGBT history cannot be overstated. Was Drake aware of this? Is this why the video of the lead single sees Drake marrying forty women at once? Was he aware of the homosexual connotations and so really wanted to prove to the world that he’s definitely not a gayer? Look, everyone, I’m so straight that I’m fucking, like, all the women! Not that there’s anything wrong with that. ‘Drake’s ‘No Homo House’ can’t help but feel a little listless.

Beyoncé, however, does not shy away from the obvious connotations, and fully embraces house music’s gay as a window origins, and ‘RENAISSANCE’ sounds like a legitimate and faithful celebration of both house music and the queer black culture that was so central to it. A really faithful celebration. A admirably legitimate commemoration. A respectful homage. An assiduously studied pastiche.

Sigh. I’m sorry everyone, but I might just have to shit on this album a tiny bit. I know that a lot of people have taken this record to their heart. I know that Beyoncé’s paean to hot girl summers and careless partying has resonated with large sections of the populace. The album’s wholehearted urge/demand that the listener do anything and ignore any barrier between them and embracing pleasure. Lead single BREAK MY SOUL implores the listener to ‘Release ya job’, which really resonated with a society suffering under the decaying effects of late stage monopoly capitalism, and will I imagine be partnered with Ms Carter redistributing her $450mil wealth to support all of those workers to seize the means of production. A lot of the response to the record has highlighted – occasionally as the album’s main selling point – how much ‘fun’ Beyoncé is obviously having. Which is a valid point. She is legitimately one of the most powerful people in the world. I imagine it’s rather straightforward for her to have ‘fun’.

Remember ‘Lemonade’? Six years ago, Beyoncé released what I honestly believe will forever be remembered as one of the most important albums of the century. I named it album of the year. Later, I named it album of the decade. Looking back, I probably prefer Hotelier’s 2016 album ‘Goodness‘, but that’s neither here nor there. It was an event, it explicitly referenced and celebrated African American history, culture, and highlighted aspects of the struggles they’ve had to endure over the past, y’know, few hundred years. It did all this – all this sociological analysis and cultural celebration, presented alongside quotations from Malcolm X and underground black American poets like Warsan Shire – while still spinning a narrative of a betrayed woman learning to heal herself and her relationship after infidelity. Fuck, man, shall we just drop everything now and go and watch the ‘Lemonade’ visual album again?

This is the follow-up. Six years later. And the central message, the important memorandum that the artist wishes to impart on the listener and the world, is

just, like, party down my dudes, yeah? Live, laugh, love. Hashtag #GirlBoss, ammi right? Oh! But there’s a song called AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM, so I bet that’ll talk about some hot button issues like… Ah, no, that’s just the name of the sample from Kilo Ali’s 1990 song Cocaine (America Has a Problem). It’s actually about how loving someone is, y’know, a bit like a drug, which is an analogy I don’t think anyone has ever used before, so props for originality.

‘Originality’ is the main problem with ‘RENAISSANCE’. In the sense that there isn’t any. Perhaps it’s a matter of age. I am two years younger than Beyoncé (Ha! In your FACE, you old hag! Sorry, it’s very rare that I write about artists that are older than me…), we’re both old enough to remember a lot of this stuff first time around. A lot of her fans are a) younger than me, and b) more American than me, so unlikely to have grown up surrounded by Show Me Love and… erm…

It looks like I’m arching my back, but I’m just that fat

Right Said Fred…? Weird flex sampling I’m Too Sexy on Alien Superstar, but OK. I know all these samples, I’ve heard all these basslines, these piano chords soundtracked thousands of popular songs all through my youth. Beyoncé repeats them, she centres them respectfully, she samples and builds around them, she pays repeated homage. She adds nothng to them. A lot of reviewers are hearing celebrations of black joy and subtle politics in its musical emphasis and reaffirmation of the queer beginnings of club culture. OK. It’s art. You can read whatever you want into it. All I can say is that such topics are barely evident in the actual text. ‘RENAISSANCE’ is a very decent album. It’s also slight, uninspired and would likely be forgettable if it weren’t released by the biggest pop star of the 21st century.

And listen, the reason I rarely do reviews so close to the release date is because I seriously don’t believe a couple of days is anywhere near enough time to properly absorb and understand a piece of musical art. Even if you have listened dozens of time as I have, musical art needs days, weeks, months to truly ingest into your soul. If you’d asked me to review the latest Kendrick Lamar record on the day of its release, for example, I would have told you it was a dull as dogs cock overlong and overimportant dirge. Now, I’d say it was… fine, I guess. I dunno. And like Kendrick on ‘Big Pumpin’ the Big Sleepers‘, or whatever it’s called, on ‘RENAISSANCE’ Beyoncé could be facing up to her status as a cultural icon and expected preacher. Perhaps this mantle of cultural spokesperson that has been thrust upon her is the ‘job’ that Beyoncé is so keen to ‘release’.

Again though, the main difference is that these allusions are actually present in Kendrick’s lyrics, while with Beyoncé we might just be searching for distinction in a text that so often seems shallow and superficial.

No way are they too sexy for those shirts

It’s the first part of a trilogy, which I am unbelievably excited about, and I have full faith in Beyoncé’s artistic ability to believe that it will all make mistakes at the end. And I can truly imagine that the love for this album amongst certain sections of society may lead to something magical and it could really be looked back upon as an important and notable cultural moment. But on it’s own terms, artistically?

Yeah, it’s fine. You might like it, I guess

2.75/5

BONUS! Rants About Rolling Stone’s Top 200 Dance Songs!!!

  • I’m sorry, but #188 is ridiculously low for Snap’s The Power. That shit owned 1990. Yeah, I was six years old, so what? I still fucked to that song (metaphorically, please do not inform social services)
  • OK, respect for including Todd Terje at #186. But higher than Snap!?
  • Brown Paper Bag by Roni Size as low as #183?? Listen, dudes, either place it top 50 at least or just don’t put it on the list and pretend you’ve never heard it, you chose the most embarrassing option
  • Argh!! OK, so Back to Life’s importance and influence on black soul and dance music in this country might be me talking through a British lens, but simply taken artistically #182 is actually a hate crime against one of the greatest songs of the late 80s of any genre
  • Either you don’t consider One Nation Under a Groove as dance music, or you rank it much higher than #178 (personally, I’d favour the former)
  • Ditto Get Lucky at #176 (personally, I’d favour the latter)
  • We Are Your Friends should probably be higher than #174, but… I’m not that passionate about it. Higher than fucking Back to Life though?!?!
  • Little Fluffy Clouds at #169 (dude) is wrong. It’s, like, #84, or something, easy
  • Nobody has ever called Smalltown Boy (#163) a ‘dance song’. Are we just gonna count all 80s pop music?
  • Soft Cell (#170), Human League (151), Frankie Goes to Hollywood (#123), Madonna (#91 & #11), Grace Jones (#84), Pet Shop Boys (#65)… Yeah we’re just doing that. RS are retconning the 80s to try and prove that the USA was into dance music way before it actually was? I’m going to start say that Alexei Sayle’s Ullo John Gotta New Motor actually proves that the UK was into hip-hop way back in 1982
  • Christ, something from the new Drake album actually makes #162. Higher than fucking Back to Life though?!?!
  • Losing My Edge (#155) is a little hard done by, did I just imagine how big a deal that was in 2005?
  • Alright, respect for including Squarepusher’s Red Hot Car at #153
  • I’m sorry, I know I’m supposed to be all respectful and culturally sensitive, but putting 3am Eternal as low as #147 is actually emblematic of a rot at the very core of that nation’s society
  • No, I’m sorry, I’m not letting you have YMCA by The Village People (#139), nor Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees (#129), nor the fucking Weather Girls (#88), nor Diana Ross (#42), nor Gloria Gaynor (#42), nor Sister Sledge (#34),nor Chaka Khan (#27), nor James Brown (#15). And Michael Jackson (#57). For, erm, various reasons…
  • However, possibly hypocritically, I am absolutely letting you have Erotic City by Prince (#135). Fucking b-side that, by the way. God, I love Him so much.
  • As previously alluded to, I think Where Are U Now is a little more important than its #111 placing would suggest
  • Fuck, not even into the top 100…
  • Firestarter doesn’t even make the top 100 (#110)!?!?
  • I’m the bitch you hated, filth infatuated. Just thought I’d let you know
  • Break My Soul at #108 is fucking shocking
  • OK, we all agree that Get Ur Freak On is one of the most wonderful pieces of art that has ever been presented, but a dance song?? The criteria for this list is all over the place. And on any list you decide to make, it should be top ten, not #92.
  • Holy shit, not only do they include Blind by Hercules and the Love Affair, but the stick it in the top 100 (#90). Forget anything I’ve said, all is forgiven, I love this list
  • Wha…? Bu…? How…? The motherfuckers put Born Slippy (Nuxx) as low as eighty nine?!?! This. This was my main takeaway from first reading the list. Is America really so confused as to not automatically consider this verified classic a top ten (or even… number one…??) contender?? I’m not angry, I’m not upset, I’m just… confused… One place below It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls
  • The Chemical/Dust Brothers absolutely need to be in there, but are Chemical Beats (#32) and Setting Sun (rooooow, wa-doo-wa-da,rooooow… Fuck, and I can’t remember what number it was. Eighty something?) really the two greatest examples of their talents? No Block Rocking Beats? No Hey Girl Hey Boy? No (gasp! Be still my beating bosom!) Private Psychedelic Reel??
  • The Rolling Stone website is an absolute fucking mess. It’s not easy for most computers to handle 50+ music videos on one page you absolute turnips!!
  • Sure, Red Alert by Basement Jaxx is a bit of a tune, but the songs it’s ranked higher than at #80 just baffles me
  • I don’t care if I’ve probably already argued that it shouldn’t be eligible, Buffalo Stance is such a fucking choon that seeing it at #71 just makes me happy
  • OK, guys, listen, either you don’t consider Planet Rock eligible, or you rank it top five. #67 is a joke
  • Listen, I know it doesn’t feel right, but we have to accept that Skrillex has to be there. #64 sounds about right, but the songs he’s ahead of may well be anger inducing
  • The top 50 is making me less annoyed… I can’t decide what I think about Azealia Banks at #42… I guess that cunt gets an eating?
  • OK, putting Turned Down for What as high as #27 is actually a bit of a flex, and I appreciate it. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but the size of its influence…? It’s a debate starter. Good on you, Rolling Stone, contributing to the marketplace of ideas.
  • Nobody has ever called Can’t Get You Out Of My Head a ‘dance’ song. Interesting take, RS. Marketplace of ideas etc.
  • Controversy by Prince at #19? Probably breaks all of my rules, but I don’t care, it deserves to be everywhere.
  • Even #12 is too low for Trans-Europe Express
  • I might have missed something, culturally, but putting Latch by Disclosure at #10 seems absolutely fucking insane
  • I Feel Love by Donna Summer is… an extremely legitimate, and perhaps correct, choice for #1

Final Thoughts

Two hundred songs. And they didn’t name You Got the Love. The fuck is wrong with these people?

By ‘these people’ I, of course, mean ‘Americans’.

Please like and subscribe. And comment! But I don’t think I’ve said anything contentious. Straight facts, my dudes.

(If you’re an American reading this, know that I’m joking – I know that you think Rolling Stone is fucking nonsense as well)

Legit Bosses: 2021’s 121 Greatest Songs

You know it’s all about that boom! Legit Bosses, baybay!*

(*yeah, that song isn’t actually included. It’ll be on Legit Bosses 2022 though! I’m just a bit slow with these things…)

So, only 121 this year, a marked decline on 2020’s 125. So was it a notably worse year? Absolutely chuffing not. Despite the 2.928% drop in numbers, the quality on show is outstanding. Never mind the weight, feel the quality. The top maybe twenty songs especially are on some next level shit, and you haven’t seen so many GOATs since you traumatically happened upon Weird Uncle Colin’s problematic porn collection back in 92. I also shaved a few songs last minute, mainly because they were from albums due to be released in 2022 and I decided to make them Next Year Alex’s problem. Also, one or two I realised… weren’t… actually… that… good… So that just means the 121 that made the cut are all of such spectacular quality that you may want to warn the people around you before you start reading this list, as the floor between your legs is about to get soaked.

No, no, hey, maybe it’s you that’s too gross, ever considered that??

Anyway, let the festivities begin, here are the playlists:

Spotify

YouTube

Continue reading “Legit Bosses: 2021’s 121 Greatest Songs”

2 SPELLLING: The Turning Wheel

2019 #10

Gee, thanks a lot Christmas Day…

Now I’ve got to start at the first day again! And finish, because it’s currently close to midnight on Boxing Day while I write this, and numbers two and one of this year’s list will be announced before many of the millions (and millions) of fans of this blog get out of bed. Isn’t it a damn shame that I had to stop at fifteen consecutive days though? I hear that when you reach twenty consecutive days you actually start earning money for writing. New York Times columnists get paid $350k a year, and you know how? They just never stop their daily streak! Charles Blow is currently on a 16,939 [SIXTEEN THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED AND THIRTY NINE] day streak! He started on his fifth birthday by harshly critiquing the level of presents that he was somehow expected to enjoy that year (“A Space Hopper, mother, really? And how, exactly, is one expected to improve one’s life by simply bouncing around on an inflated orange ball? What epiphanies is one expected to reach? Am I expected to gaze into that lifeless face and see myself reflected in his sad eyes? Perhaps this is intended to be Gerald Ford, whose ‘bouncing’ support is laughably intended to keep myself and others like me precociously and intermittently above the bottom line of the hard ground below us? And you said it talked. It definitely doesn’t talk, you fucking whore”. Yeah, some of Blow’s early work can seem a little problematic to modern sensibilities), and has just popped out another article every day since. Admittedly, he can sometimes obviously be struggling for material, His fourteen thousand eight hundred and seventy second article was just him ranking the different noises his chair makes when he sits down, his fifteen thousand and twelfth post was just the entire lyrics of Scatman’s World by Scatman John followed by the sentence “Is it not still the case? #ScatmanDidItFirst”, while his sixteen thousand four hundred and second post was just a piece of clickbait suggesting that Kylian Mbappe might be sighing for Liverpool. But you know what he did after writing each article? A spellcheck, yeah? To check the spelling? Or, perchance, the Spellling?? See, it all fits in, don’ tell me how to do my job.

I’LL BE RIGHT HERE, LITTLE DEER

6 Prince: Controversy

It’s a long way to the end if I want to jack you off. Year four of my approximately thirty year crusade to revisit and document each Prince album annually. I’ve so far found that His first two albums, unfortunately, really don’t stand up to modern scrutiny, but his third album ‘Dirty Mind‘ was as demonstrative a mark of His genius and as revelatory an LP in 2020 as it was in 1980. That album reached #7 on the year end chart and, fair warnings, we’re going to see a fair few of his following albums do the same, as that masterpiece officially kicked off one of the greatest run of albums any artist has done, ever.

While ‘Dirty Mind’ is much lauded over and intensely debated to this day, and His fifth album frequently joins it on lists of greatest albums ever (as does His sixth. And His seventh. And His eighth. And His ninth. And occasionally His tenth. Probably not His eleventh though), His follow up and fourth album ‘Controversy’ doesn’t get anywhere near the same attention. It seems to be looked upon as merely a transitional point between Prince really nailing down the style and the look on ‘Dirty Mind’ and then later finding the right mix of invariables to make him the biggest star in the world.

LET’s WORK

25 Shaun Ryder: Visits from Future Technology

2007 #14 (Happy Mondays)

No, wait…

Nononono, wait one second…

No, honestly, that isn’t a perverted fanart of Darth Vader after he loses his helmet and instead becomes a regular at your local shittiest bar who follows you into the bathrooms in order to try and sell you spice, that’s actually one of the UKs most notable rock stars, and he’s actually released one of the greatest albums of 2021.

call the cops

33 The Joy Formidable: Into the Blue

2018 #16, 2016 #112 (!!!), 2013 #15

They came number one hundred and twelfth in 2016?! Sorry, I’ve just made myself feel a little ill by reminding myself of how many fucking albums I used to include on this dumb year end list that nobody reads. I did one hundred and seventeen albums in total that year, in one of the greatest years for music of the last two decades at least, so The Joys were unfortunately near the bottom of the pile with easily their weakest album. Dead bottom was Damian Lazarus who – and you’ll like this – actually slagged me off on Twitter because of the review!! I mean, fuck me, I know these days I am The Most Trusted Voice in Music™, but back then I think I had about 300 views in total across the whole year!! I had only just started my current Twitter account and had nine followers!! Damian Lazarus, you absolute fucking muppet.

That retweet was from me, because it was fucking hilarious. And I stand with my response at the time:

I still think I suit a bald head,you know?

Continue reading “33 The Joy Formidable: Into the Blue”

Necessary Evil 2021 (81 -71)

81 Jon Hopkins: Music for Psychedelic Therapy

(2018 #62, 2013 #11)

I feel I can’t rank this record any higher. It’s designed to accompany a drug trip and I have been stone cold and continuously, shamelessly sober since its release three weeks ago. Well…kinda… all my prescription medications kind of mean I’m blissfully high as a kite 24 hours a day so as not to acknowledge the overwhelming pain of day to day existence. But that’s my norm, so it doesn’t count. Sometime in January, I’m going to take some psychedelics and then blog about my altogether more valid opinion. That’s not a joke. It’s an excuse to take drugs as a professional study, why on Earth would I turn that down?

Yeah, it’s a bad idea, but name one good idea in my wntire life? And look how succesful I am. Exactly. Expect a potentially life destroying blog entry some weekend in January. You realise that I’m killing myself for your entertainment? Good. Just checking we’re on the same page.

Continue reading “Necessary Evil 2021 (81 -71)”

Necessary Evil 2021: Where It All Begins Again

Do you reckon me a friend?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon
Do you, sir, have a room?
Are you beckoning me in?

Hit it!!

Yes! For the eighth straight year* the highlight of everyone’s festive season is back. And what a year. What a couple of years. Personally, I mean, I’ve no idea what’s been going on in the wider world. I’ve noticed masks have come back into fashion, but that seems to have had its moment and is wearing off, bit of an embarrassing fad it seems, like scrunchies or caring about the environment. Remember when we all did that?? Mega cringe.

(*I am absolutely fucking definitely stopping this after the tenth year, you have no idea how much freaking work this meaningless piece of work takes. Or I might just turn it into a Google Sheet that I release on Christmas eve. Or a TikTok. I’ll just do a TikTok where I take my shirt off and tell you what I thought of the latest Shamir album. I’ll do a dance and shit. It’ll go viral)

So, when I did Necessary Evil 2019 I had never met my my future wife. Then I met my future wife on Bumble while I was doing a series about how much nonsense dating apps were. We really hit it off, but then she realised that I was writing a blog series about it (I didn’t mention her because, y’know, I kinda liked her. I know, mega cringe, right? Epic fail) so she cut off all contact with me, blocking me in ways I never previously knew were digitally possible. Then I wrote a post about the whole mess. She read the post, didn’t hate it, approximately five months later we were married. So, yeah, when I wrote Necessary Evil 2020 I was living with my new wife.

And as I start Necessary Evil 2021, to the excitement and joy of all five or six of the people who read this, I am back to living with my Mum, applying for an annulment of a marriage to a wife who has again blocked me on every digital avenue possible. It’s quite a journey. It’s, like, 92% my fault. I’m sure it’ll come up again. Entry #35 for example, I’ve no idea what I’m going to write for that, so might just do some primal scream therapy. The band Primal Scream, unfortunately, do not feature this year.

But what a year for music, ammi right?? We’ve got a Manics album (click click click click), we’ve got the continuing Prince journey and a ‘new’ Prince album, we’ve got Kanye (as always) and, fair warning, we’ve got a lot of Nick Cave. Three and a half albums. Too much Cave? No such thing. There are six former winners. Or perhaps seven. I think I proved in my stats regarding the Manics top 100 that counting really isn’t my strong point. I’m more, like, holistic when it comes to numbers, yeah? There’s eighty one albums, because I can’t do anything right. I’m going to try and brush through numbers 81-41 in groups of ten, then give the top forty their own dedicated posts, even though, as amazing as all the albums are, I can’t think of anything to say about most of them. I’ve also reluctantly made my peace with Spotify. I hate it, you hate it, it’s going to be the death of the entire industry, but I understand that it is the industry. I link to each artist’s BandCamp (the light side of the force battling Darth Ek) page but also host the album on Spotify, as I understand most people can’t be arsed to stream it on BandCamp, will never pay for music, and Spotify streams at least mean something.

Yeah, so I’ve sold out, but what have you done this year? That’s right, you’ve just drooled over that paparazzi photo where you can kinda see Billie Eilish’s cleavage again and again, haven’t you? Grow up, she’s young enough to be that woman that your third wife divorced you over!! I have two ex-wives now, so I can make those jokes.

Anyway, we’re gonna have a lot of fun, yeah?? Once again, the reason that album you like isn’t featured is because it’s shit and you’re an idiot.

I honestly love you all. Heart emoji. I don’t know how you do that on WordPress…

Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs

Right, holy shit, so am I actually doing this…?

“Repeat after me…”

The Manic Street Preachers are the greatest rock band ever. That’s not an opinion, it’s a conclusion that I’ve reached and am now saying it loudly and not listening to any dissenting voices, which in 2021 counts as a ‘fact’.

Their greatness is… complicated… and not easy to explain in a simple intro to a blog post… These 100 tracks aren’t necessarily the greatest songs ever. Even as a pathetically dedicated Manics stan*, even I would argue that they’ve only ever released one indisputable, stone cold classic record from front to back (see if you can guess which one after you read the list!). They may have supernatural control over melodies and how best to ensure a chorus hits just there, but at the end of the day they’re just a rock band. They have never really challenged the very boundaries of music, never pushed things forward or necessarily introduced anything new sonically. I would argue that only one of their albums is truly challenging and experimental, rather than just being a break from what the band usually produce (yeah, it’s the same album…). I mean, Jesus, they once shamelessly released a song including the lyric “The world is full of refugees/They’re just like you and just like me“. That’s unforgivably bad, isn’t it? They can’t come back from that, artistically.

“You stand there and you think about what you’ve done”

(*I may occasionally use cool, groovy, young person lingo like ‘stan’ so you think I’m a hip young gunslinger. Not, y’know, old enough to be a Manics fan)

I’m not able to explain their magic here, but over the next one hundred (!) entries you’ll hopefully all have a better idea. It’s not as dominated by the 90’s as I was worried it might be, and every album is represented (apart from one. Because their tenth album is worse than Hitler). I’ve been wanting to find the time to do this for ages, partially inspired by the great What is Music podcast covering their entire discography and reminding me of how many big veiny stonkers this band had bulging out of their collective musical swimming trunks. They’re talking about Muse on that podcast now, a band for morons, so you only need to listen to the last season. My major blind spot is I don’t think they’ve done a decent b-side since 2001. Now, I’m sure I’m wrong, so please correct my ignorance in the comments. Tell me how wrong I am. Post your top tens. Your top hundreds. The Manic Street Preachers’ fan community is one of the greatest in the world, and no other band are as connected with their fanbase and feed off their adoration as much as The Manics. So let’s celebrate that by calling me a fat slut in the comments because I didn’t choose Little Baby Nothing.

If you don’t have time for such nonsense, here’s the Spotify playlist and here’s all the songs in order on YouTube.

And, er, you might wanna bookmark this page – motherfucker’s gonna be long. Your next 500 trips to the toilet are sorted.

Continue reading “Love Their Mess and Adore Their Failures: Manic Street Preachers’ 100 Greatest Songs”