On Saturday morning we were having a discussion, over breakfast, about favourite years for music. A very popular discussion between myself and my wife. I have a specific fondness for 1979, of which I am noted for, my wife prefers a wider range of years. Consequently, we both ended up composing a list of 20 favourite singles from 1979, being of an age when we both around 15-years-old. Although, we do have overlapping musical tastes, I think we were more interested in the possible differences owning to the fact that I am from the UK, while my wife is from Canada.
While we put together our lists the discussion moved to the selection criteria and it became apparent that to repeat the process for other years may result in different criteria based on the environment the music was listened to in a particular year. But, would it be possible to come up with a selection criteria that could then be applied to other years even if the particular ‘listening situation’ might not have occurred?
For example, in 1979, I was taping my favourite stuff of the radio in the UK using the Top 40 chart rundown on a Sunday evening. In putting together my 1979 list I wanted to ensure that I adopted a method for selection which I felt would both prevent me from missing some things forgotten in the mists of time and encompass the selection restraints due to taping the tracks of the radio.
So, I started of with a list of UK chart singles released that year, working on the assumption that I would have only heard them on the top 40 chart show on a Sunday night. I then took out all the stuff I did not like, then all the stuff I did not like at the time, and then selected my favourite track by an artist if there was more than one release in that year.
At this point I had something in the region of 30 singles, to get that down to 20 took some work. To help this process I then tried to think about which tracks I was really sure I had recorded to tape at the time. I then got down to 25, so to remove 5 from the list I had to think about which were my least favourites and possible had unconsciously grown on me over the years. Here is my list of 20 I ended up with, in no particular order:
"Heart of Glass" – Blondie
"Cars" – Gary Numan
"Boys Keep Swinging" – David Bowie
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – Queen
"The Eton Rifles" – The Jam
"Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)" – ABBA
"Girls Talk" – Dave Edmunds
"Hold the Line" – Toto
"Into the Valley" – The Skids
"Just What I Needed" – The Cars
"London Calling" – The Clash
"Lucky Number" – Lene Lovich
"Milk and Alcohol" – Dr. Feelgood
"My Sharona" – The Knack
"Oliver’s Army" – Elvis Costello and the Attractions
"Parisienne Walkways" – Gary Moore
"Since You Been Gone" – Rainbow
"Sultans of Swing" – Dire Straits
"The Sound of the Suburbs" – The Members
"Waiting for an Alibi" – Thin Lizzy
“What, no Police”, you cry. Well, my brother liked them at the time. So, come on, you can’t like the same band a sibling likes. Where’s the confrontation in that! Speaking of confrontation, here is my wife’s list, based on some inscrutable selection criteria I suspect:
“Rock Lobster” – B-52s
“Video Killed the Radio Star” – Buggles
“Chuck E.’s in Love” – Rickie Lee Jones
“Cars” – Gary Numan
“Don’t Do Me Like That” – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Roxanne” (re-released 79) – Police
“Brass in Pocket” – Pretenders
“Message to You Rudy” – Specials
“Making Plans for Nigel” – XTC
“I Want You to Want Me” – Cheap Trick
“I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
“Heart of Glass” – Blondie
“Cruel to Be Kind” – Nick Lowe
“Is She Really Going Out with Him” – Joe Jackson
“Sultans of Swing” (re-released 79) – Dire Straits
“Rock with You” – Michael Jackson
“We Are Family” – Sister Sledge
“Renegade” – Styx
“My Sharona” – The Knack
“Goodbye Stranger” – Supertramp
So, hopefully, this leads on to a, sort of, “New Music” aspect of the post. What singles would I select if I was taping chart music of the to 40 chart show in 2009? How could I draw up a top 20 favourites list, when I don’t really listen to that much chart music, well, not like I did in 1979.
The only way I can think of emulating the process is to go through the UK Top 40 single lists for 2009 http://www.everyhit.com/, remove all the stuff I don’t like, all the duplicates, and imagine that I was consigning it to tape. What would warrant me sitting in front of the tape deck and tuner and pressing record and pause at the appropriate points over the course of several weeks. So here goes…. A day later…. Ta-da!:
“Omen” – Prodigy
“I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris” – Morrissey
“Halo” – Beyonce
“Juggernaughts” – Enter Shikari
“Ignorance” – Paramore
“Kids” – MGMT
“Farewell To The Fairground” – White Lies
“Daniel” – Bat For Lashes
“Poker Face” – Lady Gaga
“I Kissed A Girl” – Katy Perry
“Sweet Disposition” – The Temper Trap
“Rock It” – Sub Focus
“Run” – Leona Lewis
“In For The Kill” – La Roux
“Beautiful” – Eminem
“Papillon” – Editors
“I Remember” – Deadmau5 + Kaskade
“That Golden Rule” – Biffy Clyro
“Kings And Queens” – 30 Seconds To Mars
“Take Me To The Hospital” – Prodigy
Mmmm. I think there may have been a massive FAIL with regards to new music.
OK. So I did go against my rule of removing duplicates, well, just in the case of The Prodigy. I think a major contributing factor to this was the lack of anything else that really made me go, WOW! Unfortunately, a large percentage of singles, regardless of musical genre, seemed to sound like winey adolescents who’s major life trauma was that their mum had forgot to wash their sports kit.
Also, “ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE VOCODER!!!” I’m a big Battlestar Galactica fan, but, sounding like a Cylon all the time is not cool. Very few bands can actually make voice processing sound cool, the Prodigy being one.
Someone, take me to the hospital. Please!