Sometimes, an idle question online will inspire something quickly, much as happened this week. Hearing just one song while driving in the car – as it happens, a song that wasn’t featured in the final ten in the end (Terrovision’s Discotheque Wreck) – got me wondering about songs that deal with objectionable, or unpleasant people.
I shouldn’t have worried if this was going to be a difficult subject, as I got a lot of suggestions, and indeed passed the 10,000th song suggestion mark. Of those suggestions, by the way, 1,518 have been used as a result of suggestions or used before, and 789 of those purely on suggestions since I started asking others for their input. This week, there were 166 suggestions, 21 of which had been used before, and there were 153 unique songs suggested by 56 different people.
Thanks, as ever, to everyone who offered suggestions and input – one last observation was that, intriguingly, the bias this week is towards female artists who are (mostly) sick of what men do…
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. 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).
/The Eight Legged Groove Machine
A band that enjoyed a surprising amount of success for a British indie band prior to the Britpop era (they’d split up in 1994, before reforming in 2000) – and left a legacy of outstanding singles in particular, clearly some inter-band tensions have occurred over the years. The band page on Wikipedia records no less than seventeen different members (including six drummers) over the years, with only Miles Hunt being a constant.
The latter’s caustic sense of humour and songwriting style comes to the fore in this blast of a song that doesn’t waste any time. Just two-and-a-half-minutes long, and Hunt is absolutely clear just how much he can’t stand the subject of the song – he admits that he didn’t like them in the first place, and he’d happily leave them in the mountains. Not to mention their flashing the cash (bear in mind this was written in 1988), and you can just imagine the kind of twonk he was talking about.
/Bye Bye Beautiful
/Dark Passion Play
This song comes with baggage and a pretty direct subject. Bands airing their dirty laundry in public – particularly inter-band tensions and aiming at members that leave – is an issue as old as the hills, and there are a litany of songs that I could have picked (and filled a Ten or two, frankly), but this one has a more striking backstory than most, and mainly because of the way it happened. The band handed then-lead singer Tarja Turunen, at the height of their fame, a letter as she left the stage at the end of a homecoming show in Helsinki that informed her she’d been dismissed from the band, and the letter was immediately made public by the band too. The letter – and then this song – laid bare the band’s frustration with their now ex-singer, and it perhaps doesn’t reflect too well on the rest of the band that Turunen’s replacement, Anette Olzon, was also fired some years later in a fairly direct fashion, too…
/The Genius Is Loose
One of those British rock bands who had a short moment in the sun, partly perhaps because it was two ex-members of The Wildhearts, but also because they had a fistful of genuinely great songs, including this one. That said, I will admit that it’s a long, long time since I thought of them. The memories come rushing back with this brutal character takedown, though, a song that’s dripping with sarcasm as it details a wannabe messiah figure, who apparently knows everything, and can make everything better. It might be said that this could be about someone they know, too, but I’m not even going there.
/The Upper Classes
/Now I’m A Cowboy
Luke Haines never hid his disdain for just about everyone – both in song and in interviews, and it was best articulated later in his fabulous books about his time in this band. But in song, his personal politics and views come to the fore in vicious fashion on this song, which pre-dates the similar subject matter of Pulp’s Common People by a good few months. Rather than the fully-fledged character sketch of that, though, this is seen entirely through the bitter eyes of the protagonist, and their utter hatred for the privileged shit being depicted comes across in every single word. Two years after this, I went to Uni in London and quickly met privileged people of a level that I’d never met before – people that genuinely would never have to scrimp and save, and fear for where their next meal or whatever was coming from like I and others did. I’m by no means a socialist – my political views usually leave me somewhere between the centre and the left, dependent on the issue – but when I meet people like this even now, I might as well paint myself red from head-to-toe.
/Why Are You So Boring?
The charge of a band that we know locally into wider prominence has been a great thing to watch – particularly as they are a band that I genuinely love. Tapping into their influences has resulted in a spiky, dark indie-sound, and then they properly let loose, they are a thrilling band. Such as on this surprisingly brief, searing kiss-off to a man who vocalist Jo Bevan is clearly, entirely, out of fucks with. She rips sarcastically into their mansplaining, sexist and self-effacing ways, and it’s difficult not to cheer her on (we all know someone like this, right?).
/Only Lovers Left Alive
/Someone To Drive You Home
Another person out of fucks is the ever silver-tongued Kate Jackson of The Long Blondes, a band who never quite got the wider adulation they should have had, thanks to calamities out of their control (this in particular, among others). It turned out that I could have featured any number of songs from their superb debut album, where Jackson casts her eye over the “competition” for affection and finds herself deeply unimpressed. I eventually plumped for this song over others due to the gloriously catty lyrics (that opening couplet!) as she offers her opinion on women (and men) that appear not to be doing anything good for those around them.
/Fuel My Fire
/Hungry For Stink
L7 were another band who were never shy about telling it like it is, and here they unload on a cheating, lying “friend” that has fucked them over one too many times (yep, been there, too). Their behaviour just makes them angrier, of course, and perhaps a desire for revenge. This was, of course, thrillingly covered a few years later by the Prodigy (with Saffron from Republica assisting the late Keith Flint on vocals), as the closing track on The Fat of the Land, where going electro only seems to make the song heavier (it’s certainly a whole lot faster, too).
/I Feel Worse When I’m With You
It’s easy to forget that ADULT. have been around for a while – and indeed have changed their style subtlely, too, as this older song owes quite a bit more to post-punk (that bassline!) than their sleeker, all-electro work of more recent times does. This sharp, short track is a sneering put-down, too, as the lyrics and delivery detail clearly just how shit this other person makes them feel – a neat summation of toxic relationships and the realisation of such, that allows one to move on.
/Speak and Destroy
Tairrie B. has long been a formidable voice in metal, in whichever band she was in, and has rarely shied away from speaking her mind, either, with a great number of her songs taking terrible people and attitudes to task. Here she is ripping into someone who does everything they can for advantage, by means foul, and she sees right through them. Her rage at it is palpable, too, as she roars into the chorus with a savage delivery, and then the scream later in the song has a brutal, throat-shredding power. It’s been a while since I’ve listened to My Ruin, and they still kick ass, that’s for sure.
We close this week with me breaking the rules – not quite on a level of the character suggested in this mighty song, though. Since I’ve done a better job of recording the songs featured in this Tuesday Ten series – I have a hefty Excel database that records and does all the checks for me – I’ve set an unofficial rule that I don’t repeat songs, but there are exceptions, and this is one of them. The sheer fury of this song lays into a class of person many of us love to hate, the landlord. Although this is a particularly unpleasant one, taking a carefree attitude to just about everything – and sadly something that is still the case now, not that the Government appear to care right now. In these straightened times, landlords are ones we love to hate, but they don’t half hand us the ammunition sometimes…