Greetings, Glancers! Once more we torture ourselves by listening to what passes for music in the hearts, minds, and ears of the great unwashed. Today we go back to a year you should all remember well, because it was only five years ago. In 2011 the world was still in the grip of talentless shows, celeb shows – basically not too different from today in that almost every form of popular media which receives any sort of exposure was glossy, bland, and sexualised to the point that we all wished we could be celibate. I mean, just look at the top 10 below, just look. You don’t need to listen at all, I… I wouldn’t do that to you. But what else was happening? The Arab Spring, the March 11th Tsunami, Occupy Wall Street, William and Kate’s Wedding – all horrific events, so it was no wonder everyone was excited when we found evidence of water on Mars; it’s time to get off this rock! Oh yeah, Bin Laden was killed too.
In the music world, Amy Winehouse, Bert Jansch, Gary Moore, Mike Starr and others died. Adele released her horrible second album, a bunch of people you’ve already forgotten won Brit Awards, Lady Gaga did something, Jeff Hanneman was almost killed by a spider, and Nightwish released both a new album and a tie in movie. Help me out here… did anything else happen? No? Okay then, lets get through this as quickly as possible.
I don’t think I’ve actually heard this entire song before, but I know the chorus as it is played EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. It’s a pity Rihanna screeches so badly out of her nose because some of her songs are okay. Terrible speaking. Isn’t this the one where the video was filmed 10 minutes from my parent’s house? So the verse is pretty much the same as the chorus, but with different words. Meh.
2: Maroon 5: Moves Like Jagger.
An absolute travesty. Like injecting shards of glass into your eyeballs and having a badger pull them out. I ain’t linking this.
Remember him? Poor Matt. A winner cursed by a win. I’ve never heard this. The verse at least tries something unusual with it’s stoppy, starty beat, but the chorus then turns to X Factor white bread shite.
That’s about it really. We did also get albums from Kate Bush, Radiohead, Chili Peppers, and many more, but I’m just not as familiar with them to pick something great, and without resorting to the bands above I can’t choose anything else. Let me know what else was good in 2011 – there must have been something!?
Behold, in 1984 we finally landed in the future. Big Brother was watching us, flying cars were flying us to our various space-age android sex factories, and other Orwellian words were flapping around like the head of a stoned giraffe. In 1984, I was a mere mewling babe, soiling my trousers and putting bowls of beans on my head while mum and dad took photos and emitted bizarre cackling gurgles – I don’t really know as I can’t remember. Outside of my pram, the first Apple Mac was released, Tommy Cooper laughed his last (laugh), AIDS was ‘discovered’, GCSEs replaced O-Levels, Reagan was re-elected, and the world learned of the terrible famine in Ethiopia. In the music world, Band Aid unleashed Do They Know It’s Christmas, Relax was banned from airwaves and went straight to Number 1, Alice Cooper took a break, Marvin Gaye was murdered, unborn meme fans rejoiced as Lionel Richie sang Hello, Iron Maiden headed behind the Iron Curtain, Tipper Gore got all in a flap and went on a moral rampage, and Bruce Springsteen reminded Americans what it was like to be American. A year of turmoil and unrest then, so you would expect the music to reflect the atmosphere of fear and paranoia – lets find out!
I know this song gets a lot of stick from people, especially hardcore Stevie Wonder fans. I still haven’t actually listened to a full Stevie Wonder album at the time of writing, and I only know his big hits. This is one of those big hits, and as cheesy as it may be, I love it. It has all the hallmarks of an 80s disaster – synth, flat papery beats, but it has Stevie’s voice, twinkling pianos, hilarious bass, ghostly whistle synth sounds, and an immortal chorus… all together now! I just called.. to say…. I love you! Take out the 80s crap and the melody remains true, focus it more towards a minor key and it becomes a different beast entirely.
I pity the fool who doesn’t get this reference. I forgot this song ever existed. The lyrics are hilariously bad, yet the the chorus is strangely catchy. Rhyming ‘stupid’ with ‘stupid’? We get a section of war chanting and Dark Side wailing followed by a strange bridge with marching drums which suddenly breaks away into that juicy, sunny Culture Club sound. An odd one, I’m surprised this got so far up the charts.
Chinese stuff. Talking. More talking. Too much talking. Outrageous screech. Do do do doooo. Singing and clanging guitar and clanging something. Aaaand finally the chorus, which of course we all know. Verse melodies okay. Not much else, pretty funny stuff, I wonder what China made of it. There’s a happy lightness and joy to the song which feels real and infectious so I can’t criticize it for that. Unnecessarily long.
A movie soundtrack classic, though this one does go on a fair bit too. I don’t think you need me to talk about this one right? Who ya gonna call? I have always loved the weird, eerie build up to the famous intro though, so I’ll mention that at least.
So many 80s sounds in one list. I was always a bit partial to this one, but I never went out of my way to find or listen to it. It sounds very sad and moody and atmospheric and even though it is drenched in 80s, it doesn’t sound dated or cheesy. Emotion people – add it to you music and watch it live forever.
I actually have most, or a lot of McCartney’s non-Beatles stuff, but haven’t listened to it yet. I think I was put off by listening to a lot of Lennon’s and not liking it – mostly I know Paul’s major solo and Wings hits, but looking at the title of this one I didn’t recognise it. Listening now I don’t recognise the verse. It’s pretty bland stuff. The chorus doesn’t do a lot either, but throws in some sudden guitar blasts. It goes on and on a bit too, a lot of songs here being longer than they need to be – and I love long songs!
Terrible screech. And, even worse 80s noises. Know amount of emotion would stop this from being dated and cheesy. I’ve no idea what the song is about, but it sounds important from the snippets of lyrics I can make out on first listen. Trumpets and other assorted drippy droppy sounds. I think we can do without ever hearing this again.
I’ve never been much of a U2 fan, a lot of that was probably to do with my upbringing and by the time I could have made my own choices I already thought Bono was a knob. Having said that, there are plenty of U2 songs that I do like. I’m not sure if I’ve heard this in its entirety before (probably have). As with a lot of U2 songs from this period this has the same jangling guitar by Edge and the stadium chorus. It’s actually a fairly plain and simple song, made stronger by Bono’s vocals.
Another one which is on endless rotation on the radio stations my wife listens to. It’s another with dreadfully dated synth and that bland, deep male vocal from a million other 80s one hit wonders. Having said that, it does of course have a great chorus so I won’t take that away.
So, since writing this post originally in Feb 2016, Prince has sadly passed away. Yet another legend traversing through space and light and time to pop out on the other side with all the other souls which have escaped their earthly bodies. Or some such. Truth be told, I’ve never been much of a Prince fan. The few songs of his that I’ve heard never really did a lot for me. But I must emphasis the few, as I’m aware Prince released nearly 40 albums, which is ludicrous. Hopefully a few of those appear in Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 Albums and I’ll finally be able to listen to them. Anyway, I’ve rewritten this song entry just to say that this song didn’t have much of an impact on me, but it does feel more poignant now. Still, the drums, the vocals, the production all irritate me and the melodies don’t do much for me. I must be some sort of monster. Good guitar though.
There you have it folks, 1984. But these songs only tell a little of the story. Elsewhere we had albums such as Defenders Of The Faith, self-titled efforts by The Smiths and Run DMC, Psalm 9, Born In The USA, All Over The Place, Ride The Lightning, Powerslave, Reckless, Like A Virgin, and many more. It was a seminal year for many genres. Have a gander and these 10 alternative songs from 1984 – your ears will thank me.
1990 was a big year in world events, from a political and historical standpoint, with the beginnings of The Gulf War, the collapse of Yugoslavia, the pseudo birth of the Internet, the release of Mandela, and the resignation of Thatcher all making headlines. On a happier and lighter note, McDonalds opened its first restaurants in China and Moscow, Mr Bean made his first TV appearance, The Nintendo World Championship took place, The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania’s Main Event, West Germany won the World Cup while Chris Waddle skyed his penalty, and Kevin McCallister was left Home Alone while the rest of us asked who killed Laura Palmer. I was in my middle years in Primary School and just getting into metal music thanks to the likes of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Alice Cooper, and Bryan Adams and beginning to look for heavier stuff, while gorging myself on Bruce Lee, Arnie, and assorted action movies. My little sister was born meaning me and my older brother became a trio.
In the music world, Hair Metal and 80s metal in general was still successful but was on the decline thanks mostly to burnout of listeners and performers (though there were still a few seminal metal releases), Madchester continued to rise in the UK bringing with it a heady mixture of decent and atrocious music, Milli Vanilli admitted to lip syncing, Madonna continued to court controversy with apparently explicit videos and performances, and Roger Waters performed The Wall in Berlin. The list below contains a few of my most disliked songs – songs which I despised at the time and have shuddered in disgust at the very thought of them since. I suspect I’ll have heard them all but there are a few I’m not sure about just by reading the artist and song name, but as always we will soon find out.
We start off badly with a song I detested then, but thankfully haven’t heard in a long time. Because I love you all so much though, I’ve decided to give it a new listen with my 2016 era ears and brains. Oh horrendously plain and twee vocals. Yes yes, I know the lyrics are about a breakdown so it isn’t as happy as it sounds, but man those vocals are just terrible. Of course it’s catchy enough to sink its claws in, but the music – those clicky drums, the simpering horns, and the vocals somehow get worse as the songs finally gets to the end.
Speaking of vocals, I remember this one having a powerfully sung but screechy chorus. The verses are quite whispery and deep, not quite sultry but something along those lines. it has all the hallmarks of an 80s Power Ballad but with the synth replaced by an organ. As far as I know this was a one hit wonder (let me know if I’m wrong in the comments) but as with many of its ilk I mostly like it. It certainly has a blasting, memorable chorus but I don’t get much emotion off it and it lacks the atmosphere I usually enjoy in these songs.
3. The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
I don’t need to hear this one again to know that I still hate it. One of the most covered, most overrated songs of all time, everything about this insipid, festering dump is wretched. If you think I love you that much to listen to it by choice again, then I hate you.
It appears that this one was in two parts, with the combined running time over 10 minutes, so here we go. Hmm, so it’s actually just a medley of existing rock and roll songs, starting off with ‘Rock And Roll Music’. Fine, I’ve heard these songs a million times so Status Quo won’t add much to it. An essentially pointless endeavour.
I was never into the Madchester scene when it was popular, as I found most of the music boring, dull, and dumb. It took me until my later teenage years to reevaluate it thanks largely to many friends being fans and influenced by it. I still don’t get much from it and I think it came from a pretty crappy place and influenced more crappy bands than good, but I do like some stuff. Kinky Afro and a few other Happy Mondays songs were always played in the clubs or house party’s I frequented in my younger days so I had to get used to them – I don’t love or hate them, they’re just there in the background sending others into a frenzy while I watch in a state of drunken bemusement. Oh yeah, I hated the hair, the style, the vocals, the ridiculous videos of most of this stuff back then, and they aren’t much better now. Still, it’s a decent song, even if I do still find it dull, boring, and dumb.
Well, there can be only one reason for this being in the charts in 1990, although given that Lynch’s movie was released a few years earlier this all seems bizarre. It’s your typical wavering, dreamy 50s ballad evoking images of cadillacs, skirts, burger joints and kids cruising. Very strange that it’s here, but the 1990 re-release was probably the first time I heard the song.
This starts out with horrendous 1980s sounds, feeble beats, and trumping trumpet bleats. It’s one of those songs that sounds dated on the day it’s released, but luckily Houston’s voice and a catchy chorus save it from being instantly forgettable. It has an ineffectual bridge and an overlong ending meaning the final product is over four minutes long instead of the two it should be.
Another song that has no business being in the charts in 1990. It’s one of the best and most instantly recognizable power ballads ever written, it suits Top Gun perfectly, and it ranks up there with one of the most memorable movie songs. I’m sure anyone reading this will know the song, will know its ‘dun dun dun dun dun -bum bum. bum bum’ riff and the vocals in the chorus which bum bum along, and the sultry verses with images of sun tanned chests vollyballing and jets and parachutes and danger zones.
I knew at an early age that the world was broken. I knew at an early age that this was an abomination.Time has not been kind to this junk, although strangely I don’t mind it as much now. It’s still a dreadful collection of noises and laughable rapping that appeals mainly to the mindless, but it’s better than a lot of what came from it afterwards. And it just keeps going, doesn’t it? It’s hilarious how edgy and cool people thought this was at the time, and how iconic it is claimed to be now; it was shit then, and it’s shit now, as were you and as you are.
Right before I clicked play on this I couldn’t remember, but then it suddenly popped back into my head. So now I recall the song before hitting play. I remember thinking it was okay, it was tolerable and with a chorus you could hum along to. Hitting play now. Yes, I was right. The singer sounds like your doll from M People, even though she is a she and this is a he. Pretty funky, yes it’s dated but it’s the sort of song where the dated beats could easily be stripped away and updated to sound more modern and the song wouldn’t lose anything in the transition. There’s something a little bit dark, a little bit rock influenced about it too. Still, it does suffer from being too long at almost 5 minutes. There’s probably been a dozen remakes and remixes of this already, but I imagine it would sound great in a club with a thumping bass backing.
There you have it, the cream of the crop from the first year of the final decade of the last millennium. What can these songs teach the folks of today about the music of the time? Primarily it seems that big breathy ballads were doing battle with a new wave of dance music, and that seems like a respectable way to view much of 90s chart music – while grunge and britpop would have their moments and boy and girl groups would abound later, many of the early years of the nineties saw ballad after ballad as movie soundtracks topped the charts, and rave and underground dance culture swirled and became more palatable EDM and RNB junk. When looking at the biggest selling songs of 1990 we have two ballads – Nothing Compares 2U, It Must Have Been Love, and three dance and rap influenced pieces – You Can’t Touch This, Vogue, Ice Ice Baby. But 1990 also saw the release of Depeche Mode’s Violator, Public Enemy’s Fear Of A Black Planet, Bruce Dickinson’s Tattooed Millionaire, Sonic Youth’s Goo, Pantera’s Cowboys From Hell, and many more. So finally, here is a selection of ten songs which I feel better reflect the quality of music released in 1990. Enjoy!
‘I wish it was the sixties, I wish we could be happy, I wish, I wish, I wish that something would happen’. But what did happen in 1963, Mr Spindly Yorke? Things, that’s what! These things – In Asia, there were troubling rumblings in Vietnam, Japan saw it’s first Anime show hit the screens; in Europe Lamborghini was born, James Bond made his first official movie, and Hindley and Brady began terrorizing the Moors, while in the US the Civil Rights movement saw important moments amidst violence and riots with Martin Luther King telling us he had a dream, and JFK being assassinated.
In music, the world was about to be shocked into rock and roll goodness by four lads from Liverpool as The Beatles released their first singles and album, leading to a massive influx of British bands. The Rolling Stones were signed, Patsy Cline died, and both The Beach Boys and Bob Dylan released their second albums. The music industry was still dominated by old school jazz and country artists, each covering and re-recording each others’ songs, but that was all due to change thanks to the British Invasion and numerous cultural shifts across the globe. The times they were a changing. What of October’s Top 10 singles? Read on, my young Padawan.
If it was good for Jazz and Country, then why not R’n’B? British Invasion bands were in such demand at this time that most of them supplemented their own material with covers of recent hits, this one being a fairly a standard attempt. It’s energetic and fast, but all of these covers begin to merge into one after a while.
I’ve never heard of the group or the song from the title, but that opening riff sounds familiar. It sounds quite dated, but has a Supremes feel too. Ahh yeah, this was in Goodfellas, that’s where I recognise it from. It’s a nice enough song but pretty twee and non-eventful.
One of my favourites by The Beatles (I don’t think I’ve done a Favourite Beatles Songs post yet, get on that…). Glorious from start to finish, melodies, the howls, the guitar echoing the ‘yeah yeah yeah’ sound, perfect.
As a guitar player you’d think I’d know more Roy Orbinson songs, but I really don’t. I didn’t recognise the title of this one either, and from the opening verse I don’t think I’ve heard it. It’s a nice enough ballad, not too sure about the backing vocals, but I do like the shift in Roy’s vocals from deep to high.
I was expecting another slow, soft ballad, but this has some thumping percussion and growled vocals. It definitely has a rougher edge which presumably was influenced by The Beatles etc. An okay song, again nothing that is going to become lodged in my memory.
Hmm. Fast, getting something familiar from it. Wait, I thought Trini was a woman. It’s another light, catchy song. A little repetitive, but fun throughout. Seems to be some sort of protest song from the snippets of lyrics I’m picking up.
Well, obviously I know this one. As a Liverpool FC fan, we sing this song at every game. This is still my favourite version. It’s a wonderful anthem, regardless of its sporting ties, with great message and powerful melodies to really punch the emotion skywards. And of course any swelling of strings gets top votes from me.
As a guitar player, you’d think I’d know more songs by The Shadows, but I don’t. This is good stuff, great guitars, good beat, but isn’t it a bit odd to have an instrumental song in the top 10 – in the 60s at least? Sure with Dance music being all the rage these days, and with pop music being nonsense, words are pretty much an afterthought.
Another foot stomper with prominent guitar and drums. I don’t believe I know this one either. Pretty catchy again, more oohing, something which has appeared on quite a few of these songs so far. Not bad.
A dramatic intro, with a little bit of Leone Western to it, though a few years before his big hits. Booming voice. Silence. Haunting string backing. Very nice, though this particular recording I’m listening too is of dire quality. Beast of a voice for those loud moments. There isn’t a lot to the song, and the actual vocal melodies aren’t memorable, but it’s Bassey so you know she’s going to blast it out.
So then, 1963? What do these 10 songs tell us about the year as a whole? We know Beatlemania was on the rise, and as such we have a number of Scouse written or influenced tracks, along with other British artists. We can tell it is a transitional period as many of the songs here are still hanging on to what had come before while trying their damndest to compete with the fresh young upstarts coming from the Mersey. That seems reasonable as The Beatles scored the biggest selling single of the year with She Loves You and a bunch of their other songs and songs which were influenced by them became hits while you still had traditional ballads, Swing, and Country songs stinking up da place. From a quality perspective, are these 10 songs indicative of 1963? Basically, yes – The Beatles released their first two albums which ushered in the aforementioned wave of imitators – with new bands being signed up left, wrong, and centre, and with already established artists covering their hits and trying their hand at the new sound. For an alternative Top 10 songs of 1963, have a gander at these boyos.
Yes, I know I cheated there with multiple Beatle entries, but what are you gonna do? My list isn’t too different from the actual Top 10 so there is plenty of good music for you to experience if you haven’t already, though as most are established hits I expect 99% of readers will know these songs inside out. As always, let us know what your musical memories of 1963 are by sharing in the comments. Which artists or songs have I missed? Do any of the tracks featured here have a special meaning for you? Let us know below!
Well, we’ve finally made it. It took me a long time to finally find a song worth hearing more than once, and I think we’ve proven that chart music is (still) mostly garbage, pandering to flavour of the month styles, with style over substance, a shocking lack of melody and emotion, an unsurprising lack of invention and talent, and an infatuation with sex. Sex is awesome, but we’ve been doing it since the dawn of time and there’s a whole world out there with an endless range of things to sing about. Why not sing about hate? Why not sing about science, politics, education, movies, toilets, facial disfigurement, dog crap, the curious feeling of peace we get when staring cross-eyed at a wall, how one sock in a distinct pair always gets a hole in it long before the other, what it would feel like to dip a finger into lava, how railworkers are allowed and expected to strike yet the rest of us can’t, how sometimes a finger nail will get trapped between your teeth when you use it instead of a toothpick or floss, how sometimes you just can’t be fucked, how sometimes you wonder why you were ever friends with someone, how sometimes you wonder how a twat like you even has any friends, why beer tastes different last thing at night versus first thing in the morning, about supressing primal, natural urges to steal, pillage, and hurt others, about the smell of books, about cool hiding places, about fears, about needlessly run-on sentences, about the state of chart music. Those are universal. There you go, it took me about 57 seconds to think of those and type them. Come on kids, congratulations for having working sexual organs but there’s more to life than slapping them together. I think.
2: Locked Away – R City (never heard of you)
Decent melody to start. Silent moment. Clicking beats instead of anything real. A fairly good song with an actual chorus, just too cheesy and destined to be dated with all the manufactured crap. I know I sound like an old fool, but there are plenty of songs and artists I adore you use nothing but manufactured crap, this is used in such a generic uninspired way that it adds nothing and in fact takes away what is basically a good song. It thinks it’s about love, but it’s really about sex.
1: What Do You Mean – Justin Beiber (Aware of you, but never heard any of your stuff)
Here we go, the first Beiber song I’ve ever heard. Clocking. Steeky chav noises. Weak dance beats. Laughable vocals. Average melody, but probably catchy after a few listens. Moaning about those wacky women who dare to have their own thoughts and decisions. It’s not bad, but it’s very far from good. I assume this is Beiber branching out into ‘more mature’ territory. It’s about wanting to have sex and getting stroppy when someone says no.
So, a better than expected final couple of songs, but not enough to sway me – Chart music was mostly crap in the 80s, 90s, 2000s, but at least we had various waves of decent music and artists who became popular enough to chart, and we had actual pop music pioneers in the 80s, and to a lesser extent the 90s. Am I old? No, I think the only valid conclusion to draw is that I’ve always listened to awesome music – from childhood, through adolescence, and into this mockery of maturity – just that yes I do have less time to actually hunt for new music that I’d like when I know I can fall back on old favourites, or new albums by people I already like. If you want to recommend any new artists to me, let me know in the comments. Emotion, passion, and talent are the most important things for me when it comes to music, followed by melody and how memorable the song feels to me. Know anything that fits the bill – share!
Sounds like Beyoncé to me. Ok melody. What are the chances this does an anti-chorus? All building nicely, decent so far. Ooh, it actually goes for a full blown chorus with actual beats. Nothing exciting, but everything else is soo bad that when something okay pops up it feels much better than it actually is. Now it’s some bloke singing. There’s the bridge, slowed, setting up for a final thumping chorus? No? Ah well, does it’s job admirably. I wasn’t focussing on the lyrics, so lets assume it was about sex.
3: Hotline Bling – Drake (Aware of you, but never heard any of your stuff)
With a name like that, I don’t have high hopes. Clicks. Weak r’n’b beats. Macho moaning. Very plain. Very white. Random whining without music. Music returns. Is it over yet? It’s about not having sex anymore.
We’re almost done. Let us know what you think of these ones in the comments!
After over 30 songs, I’ve finally found one I liked in the last post. Lets hope we get one more.
6: Wasn’t Expecting That – Jamie Lawson (never heard of you)
Ok guitars. Disaster vocals. I wasn’t expectinah? Sounds like that fool from Fine Young Cannibals crossed with Tracey Chapman. The melodies are ok, the introduction of the piano is nice, but the vocals are dreadful. It’s another song that is clearly supposed to be emotive and emotional, but falls completely flat for me. It tells a sad story yes, but the music and vocals need to be better. It appears to be about death.
5: The Hills – The Weekend (never heard of you)
I’ve heard one of this guy’s songs already, right? I can’t remember. Moaning vocals from inside a box, annoying clicks and squeals as backing music. Chorus marginally better. It feels moody, which I like, but it’s more generic sex crap. I actually like the high pitched piece in the middle, probably because it’s a complete (unintentional) rip of Kate Bush. If the lyrics were actually about something, and if the irritating noises were replaced then this would be decent. It appears to be about sex.
We’re almost done. What has everyone thought so far? Let us know in the comments!