I Can’t Help Myself

A few weeks ago, somebody on Twitter asked for suggestions for songs which you instinctively sing when you hear someone’s name.

Annoyingly, I can’t remember who it was, or what, if any, hashtag they used, for there were some great examples I could point you in the direction of. Or just shamelessly pass off as my own.

So I’ll try to explain.

We’re not interested in songs by the person (if they happen to be a singer), nor songs which mention the person (so, for example, were you to burst into the lyrics of Madness’ “Michael Caine” when you hear Michael Caine’s name, that would not count. No, in those circumstances, every one knows that you are obliged to say “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”)

Perhaps the best example at the moment is the tendency for people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn to sing his name to the tune of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. But even that’s not quite right; his name just happens to scan, as would anyone whose name happens to have five syllables. Try singing “The Chuckle Brothers” instead of Jeremy Corbyn, and you’ll see what I mean.

No, the song in question needs to have a phrase within it, preferably at the chorus, which sounds like or rhymes with the person in question’s name. And whenever you get to that part of the song, you find yourself, like Pavlov’s dog salivating, unable to stop yourself from singing, but with the lyrics changed to feature that person’s name.

When I saw the aforementioned Tweet, I thought “I do that a lot”, went to reply, and then realised I couldn’t think of a single one.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went – and I may have mentioned this in passing – to the Spurs v Real Madrid game. At half time, former Spurs and Real player Rafael Van der Vaart was interviewed on the pitch, and suddenly I remembered one.

Anybody I lived with or watched football with during the years he played for Spurs (2010 – 2012) will confirm that whenever his name was mentioned, I would not be able to resist singing his surname to the chorus of this song:

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Tenpole Tudor – Wünderbar

Does this make a bit more sense now?

Okay, good.

Because watching the Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and Spurs on Tuesday, I remembered another one, and found a new one too.

Football players names, it seems, are ripe for this, which leads me to a further distinction: we’re not talking about established, recognised football songs or chants.

So, when I saw the Dortmund team sheet on Tuesday (I wasn’t there), two names jumped out at me. Firstly, they have a young centre-back called Dan-Axel Zagadou.

Don’t worry, we’re not heading into Black Lace territory.

Instead, to here, and to a song which came into my head whenever he got the ball:

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Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra – Xanadu

Except, of course, when their striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had the ball, when it was over-taken by this:

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Ram Jam – Black Betty

There’ll be more of these as and when they occur to me. Suggestions welcome.

(More soon).

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Friday Night Music Club

Evening all. Welcome back to this week’s selections.

For once, I’ve got a fairly busy social life this weekend, starting with a night out with some old friends on Friday Night, so this week’s choices feel a little strange to me, since I’m actually writing this in the middle of the week, and not on Friday as I normally do. This shouldn’t have much of an impact, or so you’d think, but I wonder…

For a start, I don’t have that Friday night, no work for a couple of days, vibe. More importantly, I have a strict “no drinking on a school night” rule, so this is being written stone cold sober. Let’s see how it pans out shall we?

So, much the same as when we went loud at the start of the year to shake off those post-Christmas, I thought I’d do much the same after last week’s Country choices, if for no other reason than to prove I haven’t forgotten that this thread is supposed to be, well, fun.

So where better place to start than with this:

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105. Beastie Boys – Make Some Noise

The lead single from what sadly turned out to be their last album, 2011’s “Hot Sauce Committee Part Two”, I was surprised when writing this to find out that this didn’t even chart in the UK. In fact, none of the singles from the album did. I was of the opinion that the Beasties were a little more popular on this side of the pond, but I guess I was wrong about that.

Released in April 2011, it was soon over-shadowed by the death of Adam “MCA” Yauch in May 2012. The world is a poorer place with no new records by the Beastie Boys, in my book.

Anyway, this is supposed to be cheering us up and straight away I seem to be back talking about dead musicians. That’s the last one for this week, I promise.

*Scans the rest of the week’s selections*

Okay, maybe not quite the last one.

This lot, for example, may only have made one decent record (that I know of anyway) but they’re thankfully all still on this mortal coil. I think.

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106. The Mooney Suzuki – Alive And Amplified

This record has a special memory for me. Before I moved to London eight or so years ago, I came up for New Year’s Eve one year, a night which started out with a few drinks, then moved to The Garage, an indie club and venue in Highbury where two of our friends, Spencer and Ruth, had managed to bag themselves a DJ slot (if my memory serves, the  prestigious “over midnight” one, although I’m open to correction on that).

This was the first record they played, and the two of them bounced all over the stage like two excited Tiggers throughout.

After their set, they came and joined us on the dancefloor, and I interrupted Ruth to give her a big hug, planted a kiss on her cheek and told her how ace I thought they’d been, how much fun I’d had and how proud I was of them. Ruth gave me what I can only describe as a look of happiness, a little embarrassment, more than a little confusion, and no small amount of terror.

It was only afterwards that I realised that when I referred to them earlier as being “our friends”, that wasn’t entirely accurate; they were friends of my friends, and I’d never actually met either of them before. I had managed to forget this teensy bit of information. Yes, I was that battered.

Anyway, I managed to explain, and eventually she told security that they didn’t need to pin me to the floor and sit in my head anymore, and we all saw the funny side.

This next song was also in their set that night, and is a staple of the very occasional DJ’ing gigs I get these days:

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107. Andrew W.K. – Party Hard

Ever wondered what the “W.K.” stands for? Well I have it on good authority that it stands for “Wildebeest King”. Apparently, as a young man Andrew became a bit obsessed with wildebeest, after he read that they are noisy creatures; bulls have an array of loud vocalizations, from moans to explosive snorts, not unlike Andrew’s own repertoire.

So obsessed is Andrew, that every May he travels to the mineral-rich grasses of the southern Serengeti (you know, where Kilimanjaro rises up like Mount Olympus) to witness the wildebeest mating season, and to feast his eyes on their annual displays of  showmanship, cavorting, standoffs, and the odd head to head tussle. Often he will don a set of curved plastic horns, smear his face with brown mud, and roll around in wildebeest dung so that he becomes infused with their odour, their very essence. Then, from as close but as safe a distance as he dare get, he will mimic their actions, ideally from behind a bush, until he has them as accurate as possible. He then tries to incorporate these movements into his energetic stage performances.

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(above: Andrew Wildebeest King, The Serengeti, May 2012)

Okay, I made all that up. In reality, his full name is Andrew Fetterly Wilkes-Krier, but since that’s the least rock’n’roll name in the history of rock’n’roll names, you can’t really blame him for changing it. Or me for trying.

“Party Hard” has had a new lease of life recently, after it featured in the ad campaign for Google and Android. According to The Wildebeest King’s Mr W.K.’s website: “The song highlights the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying featured in the ad.” which sounds like a load of old PR-bollocks to me.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t post a link to an advert on here, but I think on this occasion I’ll make an exception. Watch this and then tell me if you think the ad demonstrates “the individuality yet collective spirit of play and fun and partying” or if it’s actually just a collection of clips of people pretending to be normal and who wouldn’t know an Andrew W.K. record if it walked up to them and introduced itself to them with the words “Hello. I am an Andrew W. K. record. Apparently you like to play and have fun with me”.

Far more entertaining, is the fact that “Party Hard” is used as the walk-on music for professional darts player Steve Hine. Not heard of him? Well, his track record of impressive appearances at the PDC World Championship speaks for itself. Look:

  • In 2006, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Chris “Mace the Ace” Mason
  • In 2007, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2008, he got knocked out in the 1st Round by Mark “Flash” Dudbridge
  • In 2009, he didn’t qualify
  • In 2010, he got to the 2nd Round, where he got beaten 4-0 by Phil “The Power” Taylor
  • Normality was restored in 2011, though, when he got knocked out in the first round by Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld

Now. I don’t profess to be either a darts fan or expert (I do know that both Phil “The Power” Taylor and Raymond “Barney” van Barneveld are a bit good at darts – by which I mean I’ve heard of them – so maybe I shouldn’t take the piss), but I think I know what Steve’s problem is.

You’ll have noticed that all of the above have Darts Player Nicknames. Steve Hine has one too. His is Steve “The Muffin Man” Hine, and he is well known for bringing muffins and tossing them to the crowd during his walk-on.

I imagine that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of his opponents.

Anyway, I digress. Time for some more loudness:

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108. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Whatever Happened To My Rock’n’roll (Punk Song)

It’s not a punk song, now is it, boys?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club were originally called The Elements, until they realised that a) that’s not a very good name for a band, and, more pertinently, b) there already was a band called The Elements, so they changed it, naming themselves after Marlon Brando’s motorcycle gang in the 1953 movie “The Wild One” which, needless to say, is a waaay cooler name.

Although, had they kept their original science-y nerdo name, it would have made it a lot easier for me to link it to the next record:

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109. Placebo – Nancy Boy

According to Wikipedia, Placebo are a “British alternative rock band”. I always thought they were American, but it turns our that they formed after lead singer Brian Molko met bassist/guitarist Stefan Olsdal by chance outside South Kensington tube station.

Molko, however, was born in Brussels to a Scottish Catholic mother and an American father of French-Italian descent, and lived at various points in his youth in Dundee (which, admittedly, he refers to as “where I grew up”), Liberia, Lebanon and Belgium. He attended The European School of Luxembourg and the International School of Luxembourg. You don’t get much more British than that, right?

I suspect the band were worried about losing some of their more UKIP-y fans if they announced their true roots.

In the words of Stewart Lee: “If you’ve not seen me before, I don’t think that. I think the opposite of that.” (I’m not Morrissey, for fuck’s sake) He delivers it may better than me though:

Please do not watch that if you are easily offended. Or if you’re American (although the pay-off might pleasantly surprise you). Plenty of swears, and as you will gather from the title of it, it’s not exactly Light Entertainment.

Back to the music:

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110. Pearl Jam – Do the Evolution

Sacrilege time. I don’t really like Pearl Jam much. Friends of mine border on being obsessed by them, but I’ve always found Eddie Vedder’s voice a little grating, and have always thought the band were one of many far less talented groups who hung onto the plaid shirt-tails of Nirvana. I appreciate this is not a common opinion. Each to their own, eh?

That said, “Do The Evolution” has a groove about it that I’ve never noticed in any other records by them, and is well worth a listen if you don’t know it, or even if you do.

Another band who seemed to arrive on our shores at around the same time are the next lot, although they do have a lot more tunes that I love. This is from their 1991 debut album “Gish”, and I don’t think they’ve ever bettered it:

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111. The Smashing Pumpkins – Siva

Ah well, since I mentioned Nirvana in passing, I’d be rude, bordering on ignorant, not to post something by them, right? Here then is the first record I ever heard by them. It is  1990, my buddy Keith and I are in Cardiff Student Union’s Hanging Gardens club. Fuelled by Snakebite, we had ventured on to the dancefloor as they were playing R.E.M.’s rather wonderful version of The Clique’s “Superman”, which the DJ followed up with this:

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112. Nirvana – Sliver

The place went mental, Keith and I were blown away and desperate to know what they hell had just been played, but did not want to get negative cool points equity by actually asking anyone, so we shuffled towards the DJ booth (which was in a kind of shed at the side of the dancefloor) and tried to look inconspicuously through the open window to try and catch a glimpse of the sleeve which, as you can see from the above, offered little in the way of clues.

Kurt Cobain happily (well, as happy as he ever was, anyway) conceded that the next band were a massive influence on him, and you can’t help but thinking that they must have had a similar effect on The Smashing Pumpkins’ main man Billy Corgan too, so effectively does “Siva” fit the loud-quiet-loud template that they if didn’t invent then they certainly reinvigorated.

I speak of course of Pixies. Here’s a bit of a rarity for you, their appearance on The Word to promote their 1990 “Bossanova” album:

and here is a lovely MP3 of the same thing.

113. Pixies – Cecilia Ann/Allison

“Bossanova” often gets a bad rap, but then anything they released after the holy trinity of “Come On Pilgrim”, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” was always going to struggle in comparison. Personally, I think it’s a massively under-rated album; for example neither of those tracks were released as singles, probably due to their brevity.

Next, another album track, but another belter. This band first came to my attention back in 1994 when they appeared on Episode 4, Series 3 (I had to look that up, I admit it) of “Later…with Jools Holland” performing their single “Low” which is on their 1993 album “Kerosene Hat” which I rushed out to buy. “Low” is a fine record, similar in tone and angst to Buffalo Tom’s masterpiece “Taillights Fade”, but since we’re trying to be cheery, here’s the more up-tempo second track on the album, a charming ditty about a female actor who crashes her car and gets decapitated. It’s better than I’ve just made that sound, honest:

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114. Cracker – Movie Star

Ok, let’s round things off for another week with two songs so utterly wonderful they are bound to raise a smile.

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115. Weezer – Pork and Beans

I love that tune, especially when the guitar crunches back in for the chorus, and I love the video even more. I could have sworn I had already posted it somewhere on here, but it seems not, or rather if I did it was before I embedded video clips so I probably didn’t tag it. So, here it is, gently poking fun at the cult of celebrity in general and internet sensations in particular (all of whom seem to join in a self-deprecating way):

Fucking joyous, that.

So to the final tune of the night, and this is just, well, dumb. Glorious, but dumb.

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116. Tenpole Tudor – Swords of a Thousand Men

That’ll do yer.

I’ll be back at some point over the weekend, have a good one in the meantime.

Or to put it another way: more soon.