It got me thinking about music - which to me is a lot like art. I may not know what's good or bad, I just know what I like. Consequently, my music taste can be described as "eclectic"at best, and "dodgy" at worst.
Here, then, is a selection of some of those songs, and why they mean something to me. They're in playing order, which appears to be somewhat alphabetical.
"Mr Wendell" by Arrested Development. I didn't know a lot about protest-type music when I was 12. Then "Tennessee" by this group came out, and I really listened to the lyrics, which spoke of intolerance and injustice, but with a really catchy tune. They also released the very mainstream and wonderful catch-cry song "Everyday People", but it's "Mr Wendell" that I like the most, a cautionary tale of why we should listen to a wise, story-telling homeless man. I also remember naming an insect Mr Wendell back in Year 8, when the song was popular. Another schoolgirl and I kept him in a little pink cardboard house we made for him. Somewhat ironic, in hindsight.
"Catch" by Kosheen. I first heard this song when Channel 10 used it as the theme for a reality TV show called", from memory, "The Fugitive". Sad but true. Still, I love the kaleidescopic sound of the chorus, with the words "Out of my way I'm running/ I'm going to catch you if I can" taking on a sexy yet menacing tone. Makes me want to put on heavy eyeliner and sing spookily straight down camera, preferably with flashy effects behind me.
"Die Another Day" by Madonna. I adore Madonna, so most of her songs are favourites of mine. I detested this one on first listening, but it's now become one of my extra special faves. It sounded so foreign as a Bond theme when I heard it first, but I truly believe now it's one of the best. It works absolutely perfectly with the movie, seemlessly interweaving with scenes of Bond's torture in North Korea. "I'm gonna suspend my senses/I'm going to delay my pleasure/ I'm going to close my body now" captures how Bond gets through all that time with sanity intact. It also mirrors well with Toby Stephens' bad guy, after all, he was the one who had lived to die another day.
"Jump Around" by House of Pain. "Pack it up, pack it in/Let me begin". I don't know much about these guys, except that they sure do have "more rhymes than the Bible's got psalms". I remember dancing to this song at school dances in the mid-90s. You really can't help but jump around, especially to the chorus. It's a special song for Greg, I and particularly with Simon, but also now with Mixmaster Mike, our Liverpuddlian friend we met in Greece. We spent a night in Ios absolutely thrashing ourselves silly to this song. "I'll serve your ass like John McEnroe/ if your girl steps up I'm smackin' da ho". Genius.
"How Bizarre" by OMC. Don't ask me how I know, but OMC stood for "Otago Millionaire's Club", and they were the most famous Otago-based Maori band since... um, probably ever You couldn't get away from this song circa-1997. It was on high-rotation, and it's catchy guitar chorus got into everyone's head. Nobody could remember the verses, but everyone knew the last line "Wanna know the rest, hey/ Buy the rights!" It suffered from over-exposure, but going back to it 10 years later is quite a pleasant bop down memory lane.
"Scandalous" by Mis-teeq. Ah, another of those mis-spelled, punny band names. No idea what else they've done, but boy do I still love to put this one on loud. Its really simple, two-beat riff just makes me want to throw on the stripper heels, stand in front of a fan going full-blast, and break out the dance moves. And while it sounds like an ode to sexy sex, the lyrics "A one night stand just ain't enough/ I need some stimulation baby/ A little conversation maybe" gives away the girl-power message.
"Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppinwolf. Specifically the first half, with those lovely opening lyrics "I like to dream", and the ultimate melody. It's instant feel-good music, mostly because it's been used in every movie and TV show where they need to set an instant feel-good tone. I know the second half is all good guitar work, but once he's stopped inviting me, little girl, on a magic carpet ride, I get bored.
"These Words" by Natasha Bedingfield. I don't normally like love songs, but this one gets two thumbs up for a) being a true celebration of love and life and b) being all about how hard it is to write a sappy love song. The joyous melody is backed up by clever lyrics, such as "Read some Byron, Shelley and Keats/Recited it over a hip-hop beat/I'm having trouble saying what I mean/with dead poets and a drum machine". This song was popular in mid-2004, just when Greg and I were on holidays in the UK, and we heard it a fair bit. Greg used to mock the fast "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you" chorus line; but it just imprinted into my head as a wonderful life soundtrack song. When I hear it, I still think of driving around country U.K. in early autumn, with the sun still shining on the rolling green hills and quaint villages with their stone houses; running around neolithic monuments; and hanging out together just talking crap and being silly together.
"Life is a Highway" by Tom Cochrane. One-hit wonders look out, this is the daddy of them all. We may never remember what Tom Cochrane went on to do, but we've all taken something from his one great message: "Life is a highway/I wanna ride it all night long". You put this on at a bar, and I will pay you money if people don't end up singing and air-guitaring. You're probably already doing it now. It's a classic song format, complete with low-key verses, rock-out chorus, moody bridge, and anthemic sing-a-long before the big final chorus and harmonica fade-out. It reminds me of family car trips, looking out the window at fields of corn crops, and wishing I could have been in Tom Cochrane's music video, with my own torn jeans, shaggy blond haircut and for some reason, nuns.