Welcome to the ultimate GTKY node
Okay, so it all began as a joke on LiveJournal. Then I discovered that the #1 question people ask me, is what type of music I listen to. To which I was never able to give a decent answer. This writeup sets to change that in a lengthy but thorough way.
These are the songs I would put on a solar-powered MP3 player if I was going to be stranded on a desert island with a could only bring one single song with an artist beginning with each letter of the alphabet.
(just a quick note on that: I'm using iTunes to make this list, so the list is sorted by the artist's first name. But I'm making the list, so I also make the rules, and I decide this is perfectly acceptable! So there.)
# - Okay, I couldn't possibly do a list like this without including 3 Doors Down. I know, it is probably a passing infatuation with them, but Kryptonite really gets my blood going. It has such a sadness in it, over a backing track that really drives the song forward in a way unlike anything else. I love it.
A - The A's have a lot going for them indeed. Gems like Alice in Chains, Abdullah (obscure stonerrock), Alanis Morisette, and my current vice of listening to Athlete. However, the grand prize of making it it onto my solar player would have to be Good Disease, by AiM. It is relaxation in a tin, basically -whenever I crack the song open, I feel the song wash over me. Now, with all the memories attached to the song, of course, it is a bittersweet relaxation, but no matter.
B - Oh, god, why did I decide to only pick one? The horrors of choice are enveloping me, and I've only made it to the second letter of the alphabet! Bad religion, Barenaked Ladies, BB King, Beatles, Bertine Zetlitz, Beta Band, Bach, Beastie Boys, Bare Egil Band... If only for warm childhood memories, I'd be inclined to choose Bach's "Air on a G String", but there is only so often I can listen to that tune without getting tears in my eyes. There are so many bands I wouldn't want to be without. Although, when pushed, I think my choice shall have to fall on the Beautiful South. The band has loads of fantastically catchy tunes. Perfect 10 would have made a good choice, as would Rotterdam or 36D. Ultimately, however, I think My Book is the Beautiful South song I wouldn't be without. Groovy, soulful and heartwarming. Yes. My Book any day.
C - Cake, Catch 22, Cathedral, Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Christina Malley (a jazz-singing friend of mine), The Cinematic Orchestra, the Clash, CKY, Coldplay, Collective Soul, Cornelis Vreeswijk, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cranes... The C is a letter that makes life oh, so difficult. I wouldn't be without songs from any of those groups / bands / people, but when all comes to all, I think another childhood memory makes the choice for me: Living life on a desert island without Carole King's Tapestry - the title track off the Tapestry album, although I wish I could sneak the whole album onto the MP3 player - would be a miserable existence indeed.
D - Daft Punk, Danko Jones, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dave Matthews Band, David Bowie, Days of the New, Desert Sessions, Dire Straits, Doors, Dream Theater and the Dutch Swing College Band. (Can anyone say eclectic music taste?). We have experimental jazz, dixieland, folk, electronic music, rock and roll and heavy metal all under D. That would make it D for Difficult - because it all depends on the mood I am in. However, of all the D-bands, I think I owe it to Dream Theater to take them onto an island. All the times they have lifted me out of melancholy, and the concerts I have gone to with them.. All the memories, all the energy and passion... Never mind that I hardly ever listen to them anymore now, but I would be gutted if I thought I couldn't. For Dream Theater, you can do a lot worse than Milennium, off the Falling into Infinity album - so that's the one I'm going with this time around. Experimental rock galore, and the song is 8 minutes 20 seconds long, so I even get good value for money on this one!
E - Luckily, I don't have too many E's in my library. El Caco, El Gran Combo, Ella Fitzgerald, Eric Clapton, Everclear and Everlast are the contenders. Fitzgerald should be the obvious choice, for a self-proclaimed jazz lover - but it is only music I can stand for short periods of time at the moment, and I am not sure it would last long if I had to listen to it often. Which is why I'm going for another classic choice - a song that has meant a lot of different things to me up through the years, but that always brings a smile to my face whenever it pops up out of the whiteness of my iPod playlists - the unplugged version of Layla by Eric Clapton.
F - Fatboy Slim, Fats Domino, Fingathing, Foo Fighters, Frank Sinatra, Franz Ferdinand and the Fugees appear to all be valid contenders for the only letter of the alphabet that has a word that can actually be referred to as "the f word". I think I shall have to be a trendy bastard on this one, and choose Franz Ferdinand as my F-word. More precisely, I've got a weak spot for the antepenultimate track of the album - Michael.
G - Another strong letter in music - I wonder if this is because of the G-clef? Do bands subconsciously choose a band name starting with a G because of the clef? Hmm. May be worth studying. The Gs have Galliano, Gatas Parlament, Geir Wentzel Band, Godsmack; Goldfinger, Goo Goo Dolls, Green Day, Groove Armada, Guano Apes and Guns'n'Roses - another thorough selection of eclectic tunes. George Clinton's "Play that Funky music White Boy" gets an honorary mention here for just sheer cheekiness, and Galliano's Stoned Again gets a mention for having my name prominently in the lyrics about 40 times throughout the song. However, I am going to go for an unconventional choice on the Gs - see, if I am going to be stuck on a deserted island, chances are I'll be somewhere in the caribbean, and I wouldn't survive under palmtrees and in the sunshine without some latin music. Grupo Niche serve the description fantastically - and La Negra gets those hips a-swingin' without making much of an effort. So that's the one! Sorry Axl.
H - Not many H-bands, and the ones that actually are in my library I keep more for sentimental value than anything else. We have such gems as Haddaway's What is Love and Hampenberg's Grab That Thing. Yes, I said I was a musical whore. In fact I didn't say it, but now you know. However, there are a few good H's as well, (Hives, Hole and Halfway to Gone spring to mind), but Hamell on Trial winds hands down. One guy and his acoustic guitar - Or as he says it himself "I'm like the beastie boys, except I'm only one". Fantastic punk music with a refreshing touch. If you ever get a chance to see Ed Hamell swing his axe live, for god's sake, don't miss it. Oh, but I wasn't here to practice evangelism, but to pick a song. Lessee. There are so many good ones, but I think The Seven Seas is a great example of what Hamell is all about.
I - For a letter that is supposedly one of the most powerful words in the English language, few bands have chosen to start their names with it. We have Incubus, India Arie, Iron Maiden, basically. And of those, I think it is time for another chill-out song, materialised in shape of India Arie's Video. Groovy, calming, relaxing and playful. Any day, baby, any day.
J - Holy mother of the baby J - again lots of goodies. Well, of course, because I'm going through my own music library. But still. We have Joe Pass - the sweetest, calmest and least offensive Jazz ever invented - John Coltrane - the exact opposite of the genre - John Lee Hooker, John Denver, Johnny Cash, and Joni Mitchell. It appears that the Js are saturated with Jazz and Blues. hmm. The Js are saturated by Jazz. Coincidence? Although I guess neither Joe nor John picked their first names, so perhaps their style of music was influenced by their names. I'm rambling again. Excuse me. As much as I love all the other fellows, I think I shall have to go with Coltrane on this one. Modern jazz is mostly offensive to my ears, but Afro Blue brings back good memories of Folkehøgskole and other yummyness.
K - In the department for obscure music, the K's sure get a high rating. We have Kaptain Sun, Keelhaul, Killing Heidi, Kings of Leon, and the Kinks. Out of all of these, the choice would probably have fallen on the Kings of Leon - fantastically classic blues music in a modern wrapping. The Kinks (All day and all of the night) would have made a great contender as well. However, none of these guys cut it against Kaizers Orchestra. Yes, I hear you think "huh?". They are a bit of a phenomenon in Norway, actually. Absolute loons, playing mafia-themed oompa-music. I told you they were obscure. But they are also fantastically good, although their singing in Norwegian make them a bit of a strange gang. Ne'er mind, eyh? I woulda taken the whole Ompa til du Dør (oompa untill you die) music with me, but that would be to break the rules, so I'm going with Dekk Bord (set the table). It is a groovy tune which has one of the catchiest choruses out there "ooh ooh, heilt til transylvania, glemmer personalia og andre trivialia, dekk bord, send et telegram, til viktoria, for snart kommer me fram". Oh, and they mean that my A-Z list will be rather unique. Teehee.
L - L is a good letter. My mom's first name starts with an L. My birthplace starts with an L. My first kiss was with a girl whose name started with an L. My current home town starts with an L. Life itself starts with an L. Laibach, Lamb, Lemon Jelly, Leonard Cohen, Liquid Tension Experiment, Lisa Ekdahl, and Liberator start with Ls. See, I told you it was a good letter. The obvious choice for a song would be one by Lamb, although I fear that the decision would have been influenced somewhat by the near-orgasmic music experience I had with them on the 14th of September (Jenna, Matt and myself went to the last ever gig on the last ever Lamb tour - in Amsterdam, no less). However, if I go a bit deeper than the good memories, I think Lamb is one of those bands I can live without. I wouldn't like to, but I'd pretty damn well have to, because Leonard Cohen also starts with an L. Childhood memories (Must have been 4-5) of me pulling the plug on my mother's vacuum cleaner while she was trying to clean, because I wanted to listen to the music. Great lyrics. Touching tunes. You can't go wrong, but choosing an actual song is a bitch and a half. But I think I shall have to be fed tea and oranges that come all the way from china - in the form of Suzanne.
M - The first band in my M-playlist is Madness, which basically summarises the Ms. We have novelty music (Madness, Mel Brooks, Midnight Oil), Latin music (Manu Chao), poprock (Marcy Playground, Matchbox 20), Popgothrock (Marilyn Manson), Hardrock (Marshall Law, Megadeth, Metallica, Motorpsycho), Obscure french hard rock (Mass Hysteria), Ambient music (Massive Attack), pop (Mel C, Moby, Moloko), stoner-rock (Melvins, the Men of Porn, Mondo Generator, Monster Magnet), jazz (Miles Davis), punkrock (Millencolin, Mighty Mighty Bosstones) classic rock (the Mamas and the Papas, the Monkees). So it all becomes a rather tough choice. If I could, I would probably bring the whole Metallica S&M album with me - it is probably one of the greatest musical experiments ever, in my opinion. However, I normally never listen to Metallica, so they aren't making the cut this time around. Sorry, Lars. Instead, I am going for the most mainstream thing on the list - Angel, by Massive Attack.
N - Compared to the abundance in the Dial M for Music department, he Ns are a rather slim bunch - but a very good selection of high-quality bands. Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Nils Petter Molvær, Nick Cave, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, and Nebula. Recently, I have spent a lot of time listening to Horse with No Name, by Neil Young, and I am currently under the impression it may well be the best song ever written... ever. But I am torn. Nirvana and Nine Inch Nails have meant a lot to me at different points in my life. When all comes to all, however, I think I will go for a rank outsider, namely Nathalie Nordnes. She is a relatively new star on the music sky - a Norwegian girl, 18-odd year old (see website http://www.nathalienordnes.com/ - click "lyd og bilde" (sound and image) for pictures and sound clips. She's quite stunning) jazz singer who has a rather unique sound. The Cat Song pisses me off every time I hear it. Her voice grinds on my nerves. The piano accompagnement has a deliberate dissonance in it which touches my soul in a way souls shouldn't be touched. But according to iTunes, I have played it 96 times since I got the album in April 2004. That has to count for something. So I want it in the collection.
O - Now this one is going to be cheating. Okay, it has the Offspring and Orbital on it, but I organise all my sound tracks by prefacing them with OST - so the letter O eclipses (did you see what I did then? The letter O eclipses, and it is actually circle shaped. Very good, if I may say so myself) all the sound tracks as well. THe Big Fish soundtrack is heaven, fight club is great, 5th element is soft and quirky, From Dusk till Dawn is hardcore, Hair is fantastically beautiful, Pulp fiction is a classic, and Kill Bill has its definitive moments. While Orbital's Halcyon & on & on is one of the best electronic tunes out there, which I wouldn't like to be without, as it always affects my mood in one way or another, I think I am going to go for a song off the Godzilla soundtrack, namely Undercover, by Joey DeLuxe. It is jazzy, funky, groovy, and the singer has one of the smoothest voices out there. It cheers me up every time I hear it, and it makes me want to dance and make love to things. Which is a good standard to go for, methinks.
P - Another exercise in eclecticism (god, that's actually a word. I thought I'd invented it, but OS X's spell checker tells me otherwise. Hey, shan't complain.) Pantera, Papa Roach, Pearl Jam, Penance, Pennywise, Pierpoljac (french raggae), Pizzicato Five, Pink Floyd, Placebo, Poe. The problem with many of these bands is that they have many concept albums. I can't listen to a single song off Pearl Jam's Ten, for example - I have to listen to it from Once all the way through to Dirty Frank. Poe's album Haunted is the same - lots of great individual songs, but they need to be listened to as a whole. Same goes for much of Pink Floyd's stuff - I can't listen to Dark Side of the Moon or Division Bell (my two favourite PF albums) without listening to the whole thing. So instead, I am going to (with much pain in my heart, because I'd be leaving so much great music behind) go with Placebo's Nancy Boy.
Q - Hah! Finally an easy one! Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen.
R - To me, the letter R is dominated by Rage against the Machine and Rammstein. Good, angry bands starting with a good, angry letter. Of course, there's Reel Big Fish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Riot and Robert Miles as well, which widens the selection somewhat. On the Rs, I would also like to make a honorary mention of Rhapsody - an italian symphonic orchestra - cum - heavy metal band. I once had two of their albums, and I loved them, but I never ripped them to MP3, and both the albums were stolen in April 2003, so I haven't listened to them for ages. Recently, I have gone off RATM and Rammstein a bit, however, but there is no way I'd erase them from my iPod - they both make great driving music (without comparison with my driving style, of course). But I can always do with some proper rock and roll, which is where Riot come in quite handy. Their Inishmore album has lots of classic riffs and rockage galore on it - Kings are Falling is a true classic, though, and would definitely make the selection.
S - holy flying copulation. If I thought any of the other ones were difficult, the Ss are going to be a genuine challenge if I ever saw one. Sanderfinger, Sanseverino, Scissor Sisters, Seigmen, Sheila Nicholls, Simon and Garfunkel, Sister Hazel, Skunk Anansie, Smashmouth, Slipknot, St Germain, the Strokes, the Stranglers, Sugar Ray, Superman Lovers and System of a Down are just a few of my favourites I have under the Ses. But luckily, despite loving all those other bands to bits - there is one particular song that stands head and shoulders above the others - it may well be one of my favourite songs ever, as my poor housemates can attest to... Golden Brown by The Stranglers has been pumped through my speakers at least once a week the past five years of my life. And only because I'd be banned to a deserted island, I wouldn't like to break that habit. Honorable mention goes to Filthy/Gorgeous by Scissor Sisters - Disco's back, baby! Oh, and let's not forget the Soggy Bottom Boys, from O Brother Where art Thou; Man of Constant Sorrow is a true classic.
T - The Ts have lots of bands in them, but curiously only a few that really stand out. Tom Lehrer is great, but to pick one song by him would be impossible - when the mood strikes me, I have to listen to a large selection of his stuff. Tom Waits has his moments, but only short periods of time at a time. Tracy Chapman will always have a place in my heart for reasons I don't quite understand, as her lyrics get on my tits like nothing else. Tryo - another french Raggae act - are a fantastic T as well, but it is another of those "listen to when the mood strikes you"-type bands. Which is okay, of course, but not something you want to be stuck with on a bloody island. But for those who know me - and many of you who don't, T only means one artist, namely Tori Amos. From her nice and innocent ballads via the downright harrowing Strange Little Girls to her newer, more techno-inspired things, Tori always does it for me. It helps that she is a redhead, and it also helps that she is one of the sexiest creatures that has ever walked god's green earth - but it is the music that really gets me going. On a deserted island, I expect to be doing a lot of juggling with coconuts - so it is a good thing that Tori has made one of the best juggling songs ever - namely Raspberry Swirl, off the From the Choirgirl Hotel album. That bassline... Yowzers!
U - The Us don't have a lot going for them, really. So I think I won't bring an U-song with me. Okay, if you push me, Underworld's Born Slippy. But I never listen to it, so I don't see why I'd bother.
V - Easy. Vangelis. Conquest of Paradise. (although the Verve deserve a mention)
W - In the W's there are three bands worth mentioning. We have the White Stripes, with whom I used to be completely besotted. Not anymore, but they still have a lot of cracking tunes. The Whitlams are an australian band, as good as unknown on this end of the world, but they are fantastic. Meke, my sister, introduced me to them, and I've listened to them a whole lot. And, of course, the Who. The problem, however, is to choose between them. The Whitlams is sunday-morning-getting-over-a-hangover-music. The White stripes is wednesday afternoon waiting for the week to pass music. And the Who are Friday Afternoon just before work finishes music. I am writing this on a thursday, so I am pulled in various directions. But hey, today has been a quiet day, and that is not dissimilar to sundays, so I am going for The Whitlams, in form of Buy Now Pay Later (Charlie No 2). It brings me to the verge of tears every time. ("Charlie you're not my Charlie anymore / You're screwing it up / You're killing your soul with an audience looking on / If I hadn't left early last night, I would have made a speech to you / you're not the only one you're going to hurt / if you don't believe me, I don't believe in you. / if you don't believe me, I don't believe in you. / Makes it all feel better, does it? / Makes you feel like heaven, does it?")
X - I have no music that starts with an X... Can I bring You're my Best Friend by Queen instead?
Y - I only have one Y-band, and that's Yello. I'll have Bostich, please.
Z - Again, only one band, namely Ziggy Marley. Brothers and Sisters seems like as good a choice as any.
Wowzer. That is a selection and a half. But at least - if you could be arsed reading any of that - you now have a decent idea of what goes on in my musical world. You're welcome. ;)