/Tuesday Ten /555 /Repeating Myself

Just over three years since I last did this – and six years since the first time – I’ve delved back into the seemingly infinite well of songs about or involving repetition for a third go at it.

/Tuesday Ten /555 /Repeating Myself

/Subject /Repetition
/Playlists /Spotify / /YouTube
/Related /333/Joy in Repetition /444/History Repeating /Tuesday Ten/Index
/Assistance /Suggestions/282 /Used Prior/87 /Unique Songs/238 /People Suggesting/116
/Details /Tracks this week/10 /Tracks on Spotify Playlist/10 /Duration/50:04

Why? Well, it’s fun, and there had to be something I could do with repetitive number /Tuesday Tens. This week involves songs thinking about repetition, songs that very much repeat, and songs that have, er, repeated ideas from others.

It was a long time ago, but thanks to everyone that did suggest songs.

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).

/LCD Soundsystem
/On Repeat
/LCD Soundsystem

James Murphy, from the outset, wanted to do things better and differently. He was painfully aware that he was an older man in the scene by the time he got the break with LCD, but that meant he knew what pitfalls to avoid, but also that he wove that mindset into a host of fantastic songs. His style from the off took in the dance music that he loved as much as indie-rock, and On Repeat uses electronic music as a template: metronomic beats that allow various synths, samples and vocals to be laid over the top almost freeform, and everything here repeats. A lot. Over eight minutes (at least until that euphoric explosion at the end). Lyrically, too, it’s about hearing the same music everywhere, thanks to the consolidation of radio operations that mean a small number of organisations determine the playlists of vast numbers of radio listeners – and nearly twenty years on, the same is happening again through streaming services and the edging out of niche artists.

/Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
/Greatest Hits Vol. 2

This coming weekend, and Eurovision 2024 in Sweden, marks 50 Years of song contests since ABBA won Eurovision 1974 in Brighton (the actual 50th Anniversary was on 06-April, but Eurovision long since moved to mostly hosting in May – indeed only two since 1984 were held in April, and those were both on 30-Apr!). So it would be amiss of me not to include ABBA this week.

Masters of repetition in their songs – every one of their many, many hits see motifs and elements reappear repeatedly in ways that make them impossible to ignore – Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) is one of the best examples of it. That synth melody from an ARP Odyssey that burrows it’s way into your skull (and was reused many years later by Madonna), the chorus that appears four times (and says “Gimme” six times each time), that looped bassline… it’s easy to forget that it’s another bleak song, where Agnetha Fältskog becomes a lonely woman wishing for the light of love rather than the pitch darkness of loneliness…

/Charli xcx

On one of Charli’s many fun singles, she’s thinking about boys. Every kind of boy (and she says the word more than forty times in a song that lasts 162 seconds – so once every four seconds or so). She’s daydreaming about one for sex, one for love, one for fun, one for downtime, and so on. Needless to say, not a lot else goes on in the song, as a sultry, summery beat lollops along and phone message tones (remember them?) chime through the song. The video is an absolute hoot, too, as she brings in a bunch of male models and actor and musicians (is that Stormzy I see in there?) that are shot in poses women usually are seen in…

/Kylie Minogue
/Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Twenty-three years since release, this song keeps on coming back. It’s still not unusual to hear out and about, a snippet from a car radio or from a back garden: it went to number one in forty countries, sold five million and has been streamed 500 million times (or thereabouts) on both Spotify and YouTube. Not bad for a song that Cathy Dennis offered to others before Kylie realised it’s obvious appeal. As well as that, it gave Kylie’s career a mighty boost that has rarely waned since, and made a certain outfit in the video instantly iconic. As for the song itself, it’s another where everything repeats – especially as there aren’t all that many lyrics – but it’s all about that “la-la-la la-la-la-la” refrain. Popstars usually have one bite at the cherry were everything works and it becomes an instant, obvious hit: this was Kylie’s. Now, best of luck getting the damned earworm out of your head…


Vocalist JS Clayden was never one for lots of lyrics, but Genius takes it to extremes. Each verse is just the one line repeated, and the chorus follows similar lines, before we finally get a third line of lyrics the third time around. In addition, Mark Clayden’s mighty, cyclic bassline repeats through the entire song, and when you break it down, there’s not a lot to this song. But: twenty-six years since release, it’s still an absolute monster live, and was very much the track that made them a prominent force in the late-90s. Six years since the last time, I look forward to going crazy to this one more time at the end of the year…


Earlier in their career, Pitchshifter had very much been influenced by the grinding, fearsome power of Godflesh (their embrace of drum’n’bass and dance music took them somewhat out of that orbit), and so it feels appropriate for Godflesh to appear here too. Pure was perhaps the ultimate distillment of what Godflesh did, minimalist lyrics coupled to looped rhythms and basslines, that pretty much bludgeon the listener into submission. A year or two later, closing track Don’t Bring Me Flowers was torn apart on the Merciless EP, stripped down to droning feedback and an endlessly looped bassline that resembles the work in particular of Glenn Branca and to a lesser extent Steve Reich: what happens when you strip away any semblance of humanity, and just leave sound and repetition? The result was challenging, but strangely beautiful.


Elastica’s debut album was a lot of fun, but it quickly turned out that certain songs from it were barely original, repeating elements of other songs. Most obvious was the charging single Connection, who’s intro and key hook was lifted directly from Wire‘s Three Girl Rhumba (OK, it was a semitone lower, but it’s obviously the same). Needless to say, they settled out of court with Wire. The thing it, that wasn’t the only one: Waking Up borrowed from The StranglersNo More Heroes, and this time, The Stranglers ended up with writing credits and royalties going their way.

They were hardly alone in this during the Britpop era. Menswear’s Daydreamer sounds an awful lot like Lowdown (also from Wire’s Pink Flag), while Oasis barely even tried to hide the fact that Shakermaker was just a rehash of I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony), and Pulp lifted significant bits of Gloria by Laura Brannigan for Disco 2000, and there were other examples too. In other words, the Britpop era wasn’t exactly a great time for originality.

/I Should Coco

The repetition here is all about the guitar work. A quick roll of the drums, and one chord is repeated about fifty times before the rest of the song crashes in (perhaps wisely, even though the song is some way short of three minutes, those first twenty-five seconds or so were edited out for the single version), and then for larks, this trio repeat it (for a few times less) about two minutes in! It rather feels like a stoner joke that got out of hand somewhat, but bizarrely it works…

/Rotterdam Termination Source

Jesus, this is thirty-two years old?

Under the much-hated, Tory-led Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994, music played at raves was defined as this: “music includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats”.

Needless to say, this track absolutely was part of this. A thumping, gabber beat and that damned “poing” sound that repeats through the entire four-minutes, and there is literally nothing else that happens. Oh, and the video is eye-watering flashing images on repeat, too, probably to appeal to the pilled-up ravers who were hoovering this track up (it made the Top 40) like certain substances.

/Laurie Anderson
/O Superman
/Big Science

An even more unlikely chart hit – it reached Number two in the UK charts in 1981 – was this minimalist weirdness from avant-garde artist Laurie Anderson. Using just two chords and an endlessly repeating “Ha!”, Anderson freeforms heavily vocodered vocals that echo an aria and then a mysterious, inconsequential phone-call, and well…little else actually happens. Sometimes, the weirdest, most unexpected tracks break through to popular consciousness, and O Superman is probably one of the most unlikely hits that there ever was.

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