It turns out that lots of artists like making things about themselves. That is, putting your own name, or more to the point your band name, in your song names. And, in same cases, the album as well.
/Subject /Eponymous, Self-Referential
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /166/Musical References /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/185 /Used Prior/13 /Unique Songs/144 /People Suggesting/71
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/38:38
I thought this was relatively common, then I opened it up to my friends on a suggestion thread, and it turned out that there were vast numbers of artists that did this. So pulling this down to ten was a particularly difficult one.
Art Brut didn’t make the list in the end, despite Formed A Band being very much a song about that band being formed, at least in part. There was already one other song without the artist’s name in the title, anyway.
A quick explanation for new readers (hi there!): my Tuesday Ten series has been running since March 2007, and each month features at least ten new songs you should hear – and in between those monthly posts, I feature songs on a variety of subjects, with some of the songs featured coming from suggestion threads on Facebook.
Feel free to get involved with these – the more the merrier, and the breadth of suggestions that I get continues to astound me. Otherwise, as usual, if you’ve got something you want me to hear, something I should be writing about, or even a gig I should be attending, e-mail me or drop me a line on Facebook (details below).
/Body Count’s In The House
The album where Ice-T meshed his love of gangsta rap and heavy metal to fantastic effect – and, of course, pushing narrative and lyrics to the limits of acceptability, almost to see just how far he could go (the furious Cop Killer, of course, causing all sorts of issues, proving that there were limits as to what he could do). The album contains no less than three songs that are in part eponymous, but the towering opener, and band manifesto, remains the high-point of the album. Chugging riffs and police sirens provide a backing for Ice-T to set out his stall and to introduce the band. Body Count motherfucker!
/Refused Are Fuckin’ Dead
/The Shape of Punk To Come
As I’ve noted before, it took years before most of the world caught up with Refused’s searing manifesto The Shape of Punk To Come – indeed they’d long since split before most people noticed. Even as the band were imploding, though, they were still a ferocious live band, and this song felt like it was somewhat prophetic, as Dennis Lyxzén offers another call to revolution, but perhaps wonders if a) anyone is listening and b) if the effort is all worth it. When they reformed in 2012, the world had finally caught up (here’s footage of this song from the first, secret reformation show in their hometown), but sadly the apathy towards change seems worse than ever. Incidentally, this is one of two songs by the band – on this album – that reference the band name, the other being the Refused Party Program.
There can be few bands as self-referential as KMFDM outside of hip-hop. Pretty much every album opens with a song about the band themselves (and indeed ANGST opens with two – the mighty combo of LIGHT and A DRUG AGAINST WAR), but they took it further on SUCKS (the refrain being “KMFDM SUCKS!“), as they got in before their detractors with a laundry list of complaints about the band and them selling out, gleefully admitting that, yep, that’s us! Thirty years on from ANGST, and the band perhaps have the last laugh, as they are still going.
/Pop Will Eat Itself
/Very Metal Noise Pollution EP
Another band unafraid of name-checking themselves in song or in song titles – at least five songs were suggested in the thread for this post – were PWEI, a band who had as much influence from hip-hop as they did rock and electronics. The rampaging power of this single comes from a non-album EP that preceded their breakthrough album This Is the Day…This Is the Hour…This Is This and like so many of their songs around this time, was riddled with obscure pop-culture references and sly digs at songs as advertising jingles as they sang about themselves.
/Goodbye Mr MacKenzie
/Goodbye Mr MacKenzie
/Good Deeds and Dirty Rags
A Scottish band these days remembered chiefly for being the band where Shirley Manson (Garbage, of course) started out, they rather deserve more than that footnote. This eponymous single was from their first 1989 album, where they emerged pretty much fully-formed, an electronically-assisted indie band who had a deep, lush sound and made great use of multiple vocalists and harmonies across their songs. Personally I prefer the electrifying surge of The Rattler, but listening back, this song isn’t bad either…
/Homes and Gardens
Daniel Myer and Dejan Samardzic’s long-running, fascinating electro-industrial project has evolved over the years, undoubtedly, but has kept the relatively chilly, stark sound that is their signature no matter what other direction they chose to take. Indeed, if you listen to any track from their output, you’d be hard pushed to suggest it was anyone else, so distinctive is their sound. This applies as far back as this track, that opens their 1993 debut Homes and Gardens. Increasing layers of synths and gentle drum patterns build gradually, while vocal samples echo through the mix. Haujobb’s state of mind was clear from the off, one where the machines do the human’s bidding, and thirty years on, it still thrills.
Long one of my favourite Belly songs (and mostly thanks to the searing live version I heard thanks to an NME cover mounted tape back in 1993), like so many of their songs it remains opaque and open to interpretation to say the least. The title, for certain, bears little relation to the band name (and unlike many of the songs here, thus it being eponymous is probably tenuous!), and the song seems to me to suggest the aftermath of an ill-advised sexual tryst. Musically, it’s a slow-burner, that heats up and rages like few other Belly songs by the close.
/Atari Teenage Riot
/Atari Teenage Riot
Remember when ATR were the coolest, angriest band around? Their radical – for the time – of bringing together hardcore, vehemently anti-fascist punk with bruising techno and industrial electronics had me hooked from the first moment that I heard them, and their scorching half-hour set at Reading 1999 remains one of the most extreme gigs I’ve ever seen – and heard – in my life. Listening to the relatively sedate, eponymous first single, though, is a bit of a shock in 2023. Not half as brutal as other early tracks (Start the Riot!, for example, actually sounds like you’ve just been dropped into the middle of one, and has volume to match, as I once found out nearly deafening all of Judder when playing it), maybe I wouldn’t have been so wowed had I heard this manifesto of a track first…
/Theme From S-Express
Mark Moore’s legendary acid house track – no less than thirty-five years old this year – remains a stone-cold banger and dancefloor-filler to this day. Moore’s releases were released under the name S’Express, and this track became the “theme”, sampling no less than fourteen different tracks (at least according to Wiki). A remarkable alchemy resulted, as it dug into disco and B-Boy culture along a rollercoaster ride of roof-raising peaks and heart-stopping breakdowns – and hook after hook after hook. As a calling card for an artist, it remains absolutely untouchable.
We close this week with the only song on this list where the song and album are eponymous – there were a number of other suggestions in a similar fashion, but I decided only to feature one of them (there were loads of great suggestions for this one). This really early Iron Maiden track, from their 1980 debut, is early enough to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals before he was replaced with the (let’s be honest, far superior vocalist) Bruce Dickinson.