Friday, 12 January 2018

On the 12th day of Christmas...

...this blogger gave to thee ...
... twelve drummers drumming...
... eleven stranger things...
... ten dystopian outlooks...
… nine resin paintings…
… eight endings too soon…
… seven shoes to choose from…
… six party dresses…
… five gold rings…
… four living hinges…
… three books for reading…
… two felted tooties…
… and a day Binging with Babish.

Twelve drummers drumming, our traditional finale to the twelve days of Christmas, and as always, the first post I start researching as of January first… that said, there are some years I listen to tonnes of music, where there seem to be album after album of music I enjoy and listen to over, and over again. Then, there are some years, like 2017, where there have only been one or two songs that have grabbed my attention fully, I’m not sure I can even pin point an album, that didn’t come out a year or more ago, that I’ve really loved completely this year.

Last year, for example, was a really album heavy year with Bon Iver being the album I obsessively listened too most, and that made finding all the tracks effortless. This year, I’ve mostly listened to the same music as 2016, mixed it with old favourites, because sometimes you just want those familiar sounds which make you a creature of habit.

Anyway, as always, I’ve made both a Spotify playlist and a YouTube playlist for you all, and normally at this point in the post, I would tease David for his lack of Spotify by saying the other list is for his benefit, so that he doesn’t feel excluded. But, I am happy to announce that, David has Spotify at last!

So, the YouTube list is for any other readers who don’t have Spotify, or anyone who likes watching music videos instead of reading the ramblings of why I chose each song...

Low” by Todrick Hall feat. RuPaul

Last year I spoke about my love for RuPauls Drag Race, this is where I was first introduced to Todrick Hall, who appears as one of the guest judges on the show. “Low” is part of Hall’s musical Straight Outta Oz, his take on The Wizard of Oz and this song, I think I’ve played it every single day since I discovered it. If I have an irritating song stuck in my head, I put it on to counteract it; if I’m trying to cheer myself up, I put it on; if I’m playing music, it’s the first song I put on because it awesome, happy and addictive. Plus, the video is exceptional (that split witch dress!) and of course there’s a RuPaul cameo. 

Basically, for me it’s been the, “All About That Base” of 2017.

This song for me, isn’t going anywhere for a while… and I’m not mad about it. Question is, are you a “good witch, or just a bad bitch?”

Otherside” by Perfume Genius

Perfume Genius is one of those artists that I forget about. I never mean too, but it’s always a nice moment when I hear one of his songs and I rediscover his music.

That’s what happened with this song. My playlist ended on Spotify, it slipped into the terrifying land of Playlist Radio, where more often than not you're confronted with music you're not interested in. Fortunately, this is a gem, like someone's turning on a light in your head. Which is why this song reminds me of the end of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine, one of my favourite movies, and specifically the moment in the film where Cillian Murphy is confronted with a wall of light. Brilliant, all engulfing and illuminating explosion of light particles.

This is how I hear this initially softly spoken song, which explodes.

The Future” by San Holo (with James Vincent McMorrow)

No idea who San Holo is, but I am very much appreciative that he has partnered with James Vincent McMorrow, to create this song. Oddly, I managed to listen to an entire albums worth of remixes, without actually noticing it was just the same song over and over again… I may be unobservant, but I’m okay with listening to a good song repeatedly.

Slow Disco” by St. Vincent 

St. Vincent, is another artist I forget how much I like, until her music appears somewhere and I’m once again alerted to her. This time it was her singing this song live on Jimmy Fallon, or another American late-night show I can't seem to find the video for anymore. But anyway, the song reminds me of a film I’ve watched a couple of time, late night on BBC One, when I should be asleep, called Forget Me Not. In it two strangers spend a night wandering the streets of London, and at one point end up in a silent disco. 

There's also a line in the song which is exactly my attitude at a party, "I'm so glad I came, but I can't wait to leave", I've never been good at parties, I'll push myself to go, but I'd always fell out of place, like I'm not meant to be there. I drive, so I don't get to drink and I get anxious and uncomfortable around new people, so tend to be quiet. I wish I was a party person, you all seem like you're having fun. 

Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Rufus Wainwright 

I both love and can be a bit snobbish about covers of classic song. There is nothing that sets my teeth on edge musically more than X Factor contestants butchering The Beatles or Leonard Cohen, which I swear is the goal of the show. Ironically however, in respects to Cohen, I actually dislike his version of “Hallelujah” and infinitely prefer the cover by Jeff Buckley. So, despite the terrible warbling pop singers trying their best and doing their worst, I do love covers... just good ones. 

This is a good one. This one actually made me listen to the lyrics of a song I'm really familiar with, but I've always viewed it as upbeat because of the tempo and way Stevie Wonder sings. Rufus Wainwright however, takes the 1970’s classic and imbues it with his own melancholic style, which in my opinion enhances the story of a man returning to his lover, repentant and willing to place himself at their mercy, to get them back.

I found this song in July. I dread to think how many times I’ve now listened to it since them… if only I was still logged into LastFM I could tell you!

You Want To Start A War” by Klergy (feat. Valerie Broussard)

Is this an embarrassing thing to admit? That I have been watching Riverdale? It’s a bit of a hate watch for me, I don’t think I like it, but I like Cole Sprouse as Jughead enough to watch more. Point is, the final episode of season one was concluded with this song over shadowing it and, it got stuck in my head enough to warrant inclusion in this list. 

And on the subject of Riverdale, get rid or Archie (or at least recast him) and I’d enjoy the show far more!

Weirdo” by Vukovi 

If anyone who reads this went to Transmit in Glasgow this year, you may have seen Vukovi, a Scottish band I had no clue about until I was watching some of the BBC’s late-night coverage of the festival. The only song I heard was La Di Da, which I could not get out of my head but seemed to take me days to find because, not only couldn't I remember the name of the band, but I couldn't remember the song name or enough lyrics to search it out. Obviously I did in the end, but I made a meal of it. 

One of the main reasons I like this band, is how much they reminds me of acts like Hole, Auf Du Mer, Evanescence and Paramore, a.k.a. a tonne of bands I listened too in my teens... many... many... many moons ago! Which is nice, bar the now feeling very old part.

Lighthouse” by Patrick Watson 

This is the first of a few older songs, not from 2017, which I've listened too a lot this year. Every time I watch What If? which has been one of my favourite films for the past couple of years, I get obsessed with this song. I hear it, I look it up because I apparently can't keep any music in my head and start playing it over and over.

Plus, I particularly I love how towards the end, it starts to sound like an old western. It’s a random musical twist, but it fits the song and fits the film, which if you haven't watched, I'd recommend along with this song.

She Don’t Use Jelly” by Flaming Lips 

And immediately after the first of the older songs which has made its way into my repeat playlist for 2017, we have a second, and it was only partly because I was using it to torture my little sister. I don’t quite know where it started, we both like the song, we can both listen to it happily and enjoy it, but somewhere along the line last year, I started, I’ll admit, singing the opening lines of the song at her, with the main purpose of irritating her. 

Now, while my performance is… interesting… I think it was one of those situations where we went from, haha, let’s get it stuck in her head again and descended into mwhahah, let’s get this stuck in her head again.

What can I say? I’m her big sister, it’s my job to wind her up, and occasionally it’s not only very easy, but incredibly entertaining for me.
“Golden Slumbers” by Elbow

Okay, I know, this is the music from the big John Lewis Christmas 2017 advert, but, this is genuinely one of my favourite Beatles songs. 

I am a huge Beatles fan, my favourite album is probably Abbey Road and specifically Side B. Anyone not familiar with this album, I say Side B, because one, when I grew up listening to it, it was on cassette, which had a side A and a side B. I know, I know, I’m frigging ancient, but yes, cassette tape was the medium of choice when I was very, very young, but it was religiously and repeatedly played in the car while going on holiday. Reason two, is Side B of Abbey Road is also a 16 minute medley, of seven songs, in various stages of completion and strung together into something wonderful. And there, towards the end, is a lullaby. A beautiful lullaby based on a poem by Thomas Dekker called, “Cradle Song”.

I think Elbow’s Guy Garvey did it justice, he has a unique* voice, I love how he sings with his Manchester accent and that they refrained from embellishing it and making it bigger than it needed to be. There were no hellish, over produced X Factor style cover moments. Just a piano, some strings and his voice, and he will sing a lullaby

… and I swear if the monster at the end of the advert wasn’t there, I’d have been pissed!

Look What You Made Me Do” by Taylor Swift 

So far, I’m not as enamoured of Taylor Swift’s new album as I was of 1989. But, it has been the album in my car for the last few months, so I’m pretty biased towards it. I do like this song, however confusing it is that she’d sampled Right Said Fred’s "I’m Too Sexy", and part of that is down to her video and complete willingness to not only take the mickey out of herself, but to reinvent. Having all her various incarnations feature, and at the end bickering together I find pretty entertaining.

Happiness” by Molly Drake

Another old song, and this may seem like an odd choice, but my little sister introduced me to Molly Drake (mother of singer Nick Drake) at some random point during the year, and I went through a stage of obsessively playing certain tracks of her album. There’s something about this era, style or tone of music that I find really soothing. Maybe it’s because it’s so old fashioned and inoffensive, but there’s just something lovely about it.

Holocene” by Bon Iver

As I've said, I obsessively play certain artists every year.  Ray Lamontagne, John Martyn, Rufus Wainwright and Bon Iver, they’re never not played at some point during the year. 
They’re like old friends, they’re familiar, they’re comforting, and they make me happy, even if I’m low and listening them in a vague form of prophetic fallacy. 

Usually, the artists whose music and voices make me feel like my hearts beating more evenly, my breathing's slower, and I’m happy and calm, are the one that end up in this category. And every year I have a habit of focusing and obsessing over one song. This year it was Holocene, particularly the words “at once I knew, I was not magnificent” because I had it in my head, over, and over, and over again.  

These are the types of artists and songs, that can break my heart, but also, somehow put it back together again. These artists aren't just filler, they're special.

I Want You Back” by HAIM

I really, really, really cannot place why I find this song so familiar. It reminds me of another song, but I can’t work out what, it reminds me of a particular era or a film soundtrack, but it doesn’t matter how many times I listen to this song, I cannot for the life of me work it out. I don’t know what it’s driving me so insane, but I’m just like I like the track or I’d probably start throwing things.

To Love Somebody” by Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice/The Howl and The Hum

Now there’s a happy coincidence with this choice, because I make a Spotify playlist and a YouTube list, so sometimes I substitute songs when I can't find the one I want to list. In this case, neither song exists, at this point in time, on both platforms, so I can indulge in both. 

Initially, the Ray Lamontagne and Damien Rice cover of this Bee Gees "To Love Somebody", was my much loved and much played track for this year's list. Despite the song being a ten years old live performance, it’s a favourite for good reason, these are two musicians whose voices just work together, making even the Bee Gees palatable. Ray Lamontagne’s voice is one, like Bon Iver, that makes me have all the feels, and this song is a lament to unrequited love, so he is perfect for that. 

The Howl and The Hum’s version however, which came out at the start of the month, and I just stumbled upon ten days before Christmas, is less moving and more sinister, it’s not a lament, it’s obsession. So it's actually really interesting to see who two different artists interpret the same song, and why some covers are great.

Too Good At Goodbyes” by Sam Smith

Sam Smith for me, is one of those hit and miss artists. I think he’s got a really good voice, there are some of his songs I love, but I can’t stand when he gets overly warbly at the higher end of his range. Diva style warbling and trills, done by the right person, at the right point in a song, for the right reason can be amazing. Thrown in willy nilly like the X Factor contestants I’ve been negatively comparing everything too this year, it can be appalling. I think for a while, Smith was a little guilty of this… he can and has done it well, but I’m specifically targeting this at his James Bond Spectre theme, which I think was the point I lost interest in his music. 

Too Good At Goodbye, however, might have swung me back around to looking forward to his new releases, which is a nice.

“All For One and One For Love" by Bryan Adams, Sting and Rod Stewart 

Now for 2017’s final track, and I’m going with a full blown nineties power ballad, as an ode to my little sister. 

She, I would say, has pretty good and reliably eclectic musical taste, she got my dad’s love of finding new and weird music, but she also loves eighties music and musicians like Bryan Adams. So, at some point this year, while we overhauled her bedroom for the first time since she was about ten, I mentioned this song, the theme music to "The Three Musketeers" (1993), and I don’t even remember why it came up, but I was appalled that she didn’t remember it. This is exactly up her alley. So, I found the music video on YouTube, handed her my iPad, and she left the room so she could hear it over the sound of the rest of the family chittering.

She came back with such a happy little face, beaming from ear to ear, which is always a nice site, and after that we kept putting it back on. Over, and over again. And I won’t lie, as much as I want to tease her, I kinda love it too. It’s an unashamed power ballad by three huge musicians, it’s familiar and enjoyable and as we switched between this, Todrick Hall's "Low" and watching the Hillywood Show’s "Supernatural Parody", it made alphabetising her crap much more fun.

So, as I out my little sister for her taste in music, it only feels fair to add it to the end of the list. It’s also nice to end where we started this year, with Oliver Platt**.

And there it is, 2017 is over, Christmas has left us for another year, New Years has whizzed by and 2018 has begun and I have run ridiculously behind uploading these posts.

How is it 2018? It was 2008 five minutes ago, I swear!

Anyway, one last time, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and the New Year has been treating you well, and for me... keep your fingers crossed for me that things start looking up or at least changing. Maybe if it does, I will blog more in 2018 and not only be a twelve days a year blogger.

* Big sister, if you’re reading this, you have no idea how hard I had to try to use unique correctly. I had so many, very unique ways of using it, but I refrained and chose to torture you in the footnotes!
** Oliver Platt started the year, as part of the inspiration for Binging With Babish's choice in name and ends it as Porthos in The Three Musketeers (1993), from which "All For Love" was the title music.

'Til next year... Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Link || Todrick Hall | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Perfume Genius | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || San Holo | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || James Vincent McMorrow | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || St. Vincent | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Rufus Wainwright | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Klergy with Valerie Broussard | Website YouTube | Twitter 
Link || Patrick Watson | Website | YouTube Topic | Twitter
Link || The Flaming Lips | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || Elbow | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Taylor Swift | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Molly Drake | WikipediaYouTube Topic
Link || Bon Iver | Website | YouTube | Twitter
Link || HAIM | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Ray Lamontagne | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Damien Rice | Website | YouTube  | Twitter
Link || The Howl and The Hum | Facebook | YouTube
Link || Sam Smith | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter
Link || Bryan Adams | Website | YouTube | Vevo | Twitter

Listening: Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours) - Rufus Wainwright

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