There is NO WAY ON EARTH I can give you a definitive list of my favourite songs, because that changes so frequently as to be ridiculous. Music is such an enormously huge part of my existence (and by extension sanity) that the process of organising tracks is a waste of time. Instead, you get bands this week and solo artists next week, which is a far better means by which to summarily judge my life choices.
This is happening alphabetically too, BECAUSE ORDER FROM CHAOS.
French electronic musical duo. Often trippy, never dull and extremely adept at weaving electronica and humour. Occasionally understatedly brilliant (see Cherry Blossom Girl) and known for their soundtrack contributions, as is often the case with bands who do a decent sideline in this type of music. So niche they released a clear vinyl album restricted to 1000 copies for the Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille. Exactly what it says on their label.
THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS
So, whilst we are in the cutting edge electronic chill out lounge, bring forth the duo born in the white heat of the ‘big beats’ gene alongside The Prodigy and The Crystal Method. Their back catalogue’s a history of advert tunes, floor-filling anthems and downright scary noise. These guys have inspired me in writing terms more than just about everybody else I will ever stick on a List, and that means coming back to their work time and again. Their beats power my brain.
THE DIVINE COMEDY
1997’s Album of the Year, by some way for me, was Casanova, which saw Neil Hannon at the utter height of his songwriting and lyrical genius. You could also argue that he ought to be in the solo artists List, because so much of what he’s done across several decades is self-produced, but I’m going to put him here because, for a while, he was commercially leading a band. I saw him do a birthday show (for himself) at the Royal Festival Hall a few years back, where he performed the entirety of Promenade and it’s only the second time in my life I was moved to tears by a concert. An undisputed genius.
Oh, to have half the genius of Guy Garvey in my lyricism. I can remember exactly where I was when I fist heard Newborn, sitting just across there in floods of tears. Ever since 2001 these fellas have formed a pretty much intractable soundtrack to my existence, though I will admit thinking Garvey’s songwriting’s better when he’s not happily married (please don’t hate me.) Also, First Steps (produced for the 2012 Olympics) is absolutely THE BEST SONG to get me running PB’s on a treadmill. Lyrical heavyweights.
This lot do my head in, by the medium of utterly bonkersly brilliant lyrics matched with visuals which never, EVER get boring or predictable. On my list of ‘Bands I’d Like to See Live I have Not yet Managed to See Live’ they’re a close second behind the Chemicals as inspiration for words. They managed to inspire an entire alternative 007 Universe, for which I doubt there will ever be the means to thank them. How I’d like to write songs.
This, along with Zero 7, is music that fosters not only productivity but relaxation. I’ve been a fan since the first album (not a bad track on it) and just love the smartness and depth that Alison and Will create. This is where I shift back into dance mode for a brief period and admit that I’d rather have a banging tune than a slow power ballad every day of the week, though am happy to admit that Tales of Us is one of my favourite pieces of balladeering for some time. When I grow up, I want to sing like this.
This spot was very nearly taken by the KLF, but I can’t really in good conscience allow them to triumph. Therefore, Will White and Alex Gifford’s brief and glorious period as makers of brilliant music and 100% awesome Bond theme remixes gives them a spot here. because their album Decksandrumsandrockandroll may never be bettered in my lifetime. Not a duff song is featured and their mucking about with the stereo picture is truly superlative. Unsung heroes.
I was very late to this party. There’s a copy of OK Computer in the garage that I played maybe five times on release, but the re-release is now (currently) my favourite album on repeat. A Moon Shaped Pool is a brilliant, difficult listen and forced me to revisit the back catalogue. This is my concession to mainstream music, and it doesn’t happen that often, but honestly, if I had to do Desert island Discs I’d take Airbag with me. Confirmed rock gods.
When I broke the law and 120mph in a car for the first (and last) time, Underworld were on the stereo. They have accompanied me on every major journey since their current inception in 1991. They are capable of triggering an orgasm, and are one of a group of bands whose music changes my brain on a basic, primal level. They also annoy the hell out of my husband who considers them tuneless and bland. Neither are true. They are the pure essence of my dance music soul and can do (pretty much) no wrong. Fundamental listening.
Discovered via my love of CSI (if memory serves) this band are another duo, who began life as sound engineers and then branched into music. This was where I discovered Sia for the first time: their collaborations with her are the highlight of the catalogue, by some distance, though Look Up is probably one of my favourite instrumentals in the History of Ever. When it Falls was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize in 2001, and come close to being as perfect an album as you are ever likely to find. Crafted genius.