30 Day Music Challenge: Day Nineteen

Day 19: A Song From Your Favourite Album

This is a more sensible question! And a much easier one to answer… I’ve got quite a short attention span with music sometimes – I tend to download random tracks, listen to songs on a whim, put my entire music collection on shuffle etc etc. In short I am seldom to be found listening to albums from beginning to end and appreciating the musical concept (or whatever) behind them… I’m also a great one for buying greatest hits albums as an easy way of getting the flavour of a band without donating my body to science in order to afford their entire backcatalogue. Essentially, I’m a fickle, lazy cheapskate most of the time when it comes to music. 

This isn’t true all the time however – particularly when I really like a band I’ll buy a proper album and listen to it from start to finish like I’m a serious music lover. There are always a few albums that live in my car for this very reason – currently I have Black Holes and Revelations by Muse, Riot by Paramore, Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips and Dirt by Kids in Glass Houses. But the one album I always keep in there is All Hope Is Gone by Slipknot. I’ve always quite liked Slipknot – I think the first time I heard them was when I was about 14 and one of the boys I did a paper round with played me their first album on his walkman. I honestly expected to hate it, everything I’d heard about the band suggested they were really dark and scary but I was surprised to find I actually really liked the music. They’re undoubtedly heavy metal but I like the fact that they’re melodic as well – metal bands that literally just scream really annoy me. All Hope Is Gone is the first Slipknot album I ever got around to buying and I loved pretty much every track on it from the first play which is rare. My favourite track is probably Dead Memories – although Snuff comes a close second – I love the combination of slightly wistful moments with really angry guitars. If you don’t have this album you should go and buy it, it’s brilliant.

“Sitting in the dark, I can’t forget.
Even now, I realize the time I’ll never get
Another story of the bitter pills of fate
I can’t go back again
I can’t go back again
But you asked me to love you, and I did.
Traded my emotions for a contract to commit
And when I got away, I only got so far
The other me is dead
I hear his voice inside my head
And we were never alive
And we won’t be born again
But I’ll never survive

With dead memories in my heart
Dead memories in my heart
Dead memories in my heart”

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30 Day Music Challenge: Day Eighteen

Day 18: A Song You Wish You Heard On The Radio

What a strange question. As per the last post I’m not a big radio person at the moment – it’s good for driving and waking up but that’s about it. I used to find Radio One a reasonable source of “new music” but unless you like autotuned rubbish then it doesn’t even do that any more. If I was serious about wanting to hear obscure things on the radio then I’d probably have bought a digital radio and become a Six Music groupie by now – but I’m not that organised! However, it’s pretty hard not to listen to the music you like as long as you have a computer and an internet connection!
However it is easy to forget about music you love – particularly when the song in question was released in 2002. In 2002 I was very busy being 17 – essentially fretting about my appearance, lack of boyfriend and whether I’d ever get into university/move away from home/do anything with my life. As I was blonde, very thin and reasonably bright that level of angst was utterly uncalled for but I suppose I wasn’t to know that! I also was perpetually broke – all the money I managed to earn was spent on partying or driving lessons – so I could never afford to buy any music, even when I really loved a song. That was the case with this particular song – I heard it on the radio about three times in 2002, adored it and then didn’t hear it again until about two months ago when the lovely Mr Cowley reminded me of its brilliance. I promptly acquired the album for about three quid and listened to it on repeat for several weeks… So yes, if I ran a radio station one of the songs I’d play a lot would be Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips – probably followed by Nice Weather for Ducks by Lemon Jelly if you’re at all interested!
Her name is Yoshimi
she’s a black belt in karate
working for the city
she has to discipline her body

‘Cause she knows that
it’s demanding
to defeat those evil machines
I know she can beat them

Oh Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots eat me
Yoshimi, they don’t believe me
but you won’t let those robots defeat me”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Seventeen

Day 17: A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio

To be honest I don’t listen to the radio all that much these days – for which I mostly blame last.fm and Spotify. I used to be a massive Radio One fan, particularly when I was in sixth form and then university. Jo Whiley used to do a great mid-morning show which I adored back in the days when I didn’t have to work 9 -5. Sadly, Radio One appears to play exclusively terrible music and employ rubbish DJs these days so I’ve  abandoned it completely. This may be a sign of old age but also reflects the fact that my music taste is a lot different these days – the whole point of Radio One is to play mainstream stuff I guess. My current listening habits tend to be dictated by whatever people have recommended to me this week rather than by what’s in the top 40. Actually, I have no idea what is in the top 40 – I think the last time I listened to a chart show was about 2001… 
So my radio listening is a bit limited – when I gave in and realised I was too old and fussy for Radio One I defected to a mixture of Radio Four (primarily for morning political gossip) and Kerrang which, despite the surfeit of irksome adverts, generally plays enough rock to keep me happy. Of these two stations only one actually plays any music which narrows the field down somewhat! Kerrang can be somewhat repetitive, particularly with less modern music and therefore virtually the only AC/DC song they play is Highway to Hell. I lose count of the times I’ve got seriously funny looks from strangers at traffic lights for singing along to this song at the top of my voice – I may hear it a lot but it’s still an awesome tune!
No stop signs
Speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel
Gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me ’round
Hey Satan
Paid my dues
Playin’ in a rockin’ band
Hey momma
Look at me
I’m on my way to the Promised Land, wooh

I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I’m on the highway to hell
Highway to hell”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Sixteen

Day 16: A Song That You Used To Love But Now Hate

Goodness, I thought after yesterday’s question things might get easier. Apparently not so much! I get bored of songs quite easily but I very rarely start hating them. I’ve resorted to a bit of statistical cheating on this one to be completely honest and have just chosen a song that I used to play so much that it’s still near the top of my iTunes most played list despite the fact that I haven’t listened to it for about two years. I don’t hate this song especially but I struggle to enjoy it anymore. This is partially because I played it to death and partially because I associate it with several periods of particular emotional trauma – nothing like loading your music collection up with repressed angst! However I have grown to rather hate the artist who sings it – when I first heard of him he was a supporting act at a gig in York in about 2003 and he was really good, better than the band we’d actually gone to see. He then became famous, his songs got completely overplayed and whenever I see him being interviewed he’s a complete prat. Also, the lyrics are a bit rubbish when you really listen to them…

So here you go – in my best 80’s DJ stylee – here’s a little bit of James Blunt with Goodbye My Lover. Try not to let it enrage you…

“Did I disappoint you or let you down?
Should I be feeling guilty or let the judges frown?
‘Cause I saw the end before we’d begun,
Yes I saw you were blinded and I knew I had won.
So I took what’s mine by eternal right.
Took your soul out into the night.
It may be over but it won’t stop there,
I am here for you if you’d only care.
You touched my heart you touched my soul.
You changed my life and all my goals.
And love is blind and that I knew when,
My heart was blinded by you.
I’ve kissed your lips and held your hand.
Shared your dreams and shared your bed.
I know you well, I know your smell.
I’ve been addicted to you.

Goodbye my lover.
Goodbye my friend.
You have been the one.
You have been the one for me”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Fifteen

Day 15: A Song That Describes You

Seriously? Seriously?! A song that describes me. Well I have absolutely no idea about that oneI tend to get ridiculously self-deprecating when describing myself therefore I’m seriously tempted to just pick Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen and have done with it! However I’ve taken the rest of this challenge reasonably seriously so I’m going to at least make the effort to pick something sensible…
Where to start? Well, my middle name is taken from The Beatles song Michelle but as that’s a) not my name, b) a love song and c) half in French I’m not sure it says much about me personally… Someone once told me that I made them think of the Nine Inch Nails song Closer as well but I’m really not going to dwell on that. In desperation I did a little twitter poll which amused my family for an entire evening without getting us very far – however their suggestions are listed below for amusement value:
  • Loser – Beck (thanks to my big brother for this one)
  • She’s So Lovely – Stevie Wonder (a much nicer suggestion from my dad)
  • Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cindi Lauper
  • Sweet Child O’Mine – Guns’n’Roses 
  • Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves – Aretha Franklin
The song I’ve chosen is however a totally different song – it’s called  I Hope You Dance by a country singer called LeeAnn Womack. It’s somewhat of a family anthem – my mum played it to me when I was about 15 and said that it was the advice she’d give me for living life. I think I probably scoffed in typical teenage style but then I listened to the words.  It doesn’t so much describe me as describe the attitude I try to have, particularly when faced with things that put me outside my comfort zone – I’m sure I don’t always succeed but I do try. Taking a chance on  anything can be really difficult but if I hadn’t taken so many leaps of faith, particularly over the past four years, my life would be immeasurably poorer. So go crazy, do something that makes you a little bit scared and don’t forget to dance – you’ll feel better for it, I always do!

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they’re worth taking
Lovin’ might be a mistake
But it’s worth making
Don’t let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Reconsider
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Fourteen

Day Fourteen: A Song No-One Would Expect You To Love

This question is tricky – anyone who’s ever met me will know my music taste is quite eclectic. I’ll listen to anything once, I’ll go to any kind of gig and I do make a geniune effort to widen my listening habits. So I’m not sure anyone would be particularly surprised whatever I said I was listening to – the last three bands I’ve seen live have been Thin Lizzy, Beardyman and Breed 77, the last three albums I’ve listened to have been by Slipknot, Alice in Videoland and The Smiths. I’ll admit I don’t listen to much classical music but I do quite like Ravel, Holst and Rachmaninov. Dance music irritates me but I will shake my thang to it if the occasion calls for such activity, Drum’n’bass is good for running to and I have a secret love for the occasional bit of country music. I can’t think of a genre of music that I can’t tolerate at least one song/artist from. So what to choose?
I’m not particularly religious – I was brought up as a member of the Church in Wales although we were never the sort of family that went to church every Sunday. Faith was important to my Nana in a way that it doesn’t often seem to be to people of my generation or even my parent’s generation – the church is much less a central part of people’s communities these days. My own beliefs (or lack of) aside that seems strange given how vital religion has been in shaping our country – even today, when we live in a comparatively secular society, religious beliefs and prejudices have a big impact on people’s lives. A lot of rhythym of our lives is set by the Christian calendar – Lent, Easter, Christmas – even though the religious aspect is often lost. I do however make an effort to go to church at Christmas despite my general religious ambivalence and it’s now a family tradition that me, my mum and my sister go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve. Every year my dad says he’ll join us but never does, we’re usually late and there is always a drunk person in the church either singing at the wrong time or crying hysterically… Despite all of this there is always something a little bit magical about church on Christmas Eve – plus it’s the only time of year I can go to church and know all the words to the hymns.
Today’s song is one of my favourite carols – although technically it’s an advent song  drawing as it does on verses from the book of Isaiah. I’ve chosen the version sung by Aled Jones as it’s quite traditional although I also quite like the Belle and Sebastian version… 
“O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel 
Shall come to thee, O Israel”

30 Day Music Challenge: Day Thirteen

Day Thirteen: A Song That Is A Guilty Pleasure

This question made me laugh out loud – as hard as I try to expand my musical horizons a lot of my music collection is made up of guilty pleasures! do like to listen to a lot of rubbish music – it ranges from 80’s cheese to 90’s dance to Lady Gaga. And although I say rubbish I don’t mean it – in my opinion there’s actually a lot of room in the world for bouncy, happy mainstream pop. For example, my friend Ness wrote a brilliant post yesterday about S-Club 7’s Reach – a song which I defy anyone not to sing and dance along to, however much of a hipster they think they are! 
This leads into a more important theme actually and one of the most useful things I discovered when I went to uni was that being “cool” didn’t matter anymore. I’ve never been that sort of girl anyway – at secondary school I sported braces and a haircut which made me look like a boy… Even when I lost the braces and discovered a decent hairdresser I never particularly fit in. Then I went to Durham and fitting in ceased to matter – being myself was just fine! Dancing to S-Club 7 one night and Metallica the next night was perfectly acceptable along with dressing like the abominable snowman, getting over-excited about castles and not doing sport. 
Being an adult (supposedly) and living in the real world isn’t the same – people are ridiculously judgemental about other people’s appearances, taste in music or political views but I do find it a lot easier not to care these days. The benefits of a liberal education perhaps? Or just that I am lucky enough to still have a lot of people in my life who are good enough to love me the way I am – and who will still talk to me when I admit to still liking Britney Spears. Perhaps that’s appropriate actually – Britney is a prime example of the damage that our image-obsessed society can cause however I can’t help but like her music. So have a little bit of Stronger as my guilty pleasure du jour
“You might think that
I won’t make it on my own
But now I’m

Stronger than yesterday
Now it’s nothing but my way
My loneliness ain’t killing me no more
I am stronger

Than I ever thought
That I could be, baby”