This post is my contribution to Harkive - an opt-in mass ethnographic record of a day in the lives of music fans worldwide. (A bit like Nick Southall’s Music Listening Day from the last couple of years). The post will be updated occasionally through the day, so read from the bottom up if you want a chronology.
Michael Jackson – “You Are Not Alone” (twice)
Once before I write the entry, once after. I often play other records when writing, but didn’t this time. The final play – and the overall intensity – bumps up the intended mark by 1. Hasty rewrites after I discover it wasn’t written by Jackson, then it’s good to go.
And that turns out to be it! I was about to put something else on but realised it’s turned midnight. John Newman wins the repeat play cup, Genius/GZA the best record I played today prize, and the best to actually work to award goes to the Cocteau Twins. Night night!
MIA – “Feel The Noize” (twice)
MIA – “Bad Girls”
Migos ft Drake – “Versace”
I have a bunch of Tumblr posts and Tweet links bookmarked with people’s picks of the best of the year so far, and I’ve been dipping into that. Looking for something to play while I did the washing up, I remembered I hadn’t heard the new M.I.A. single, so I picked up that on iMusic (good, spiky, bit like “Bird Flu”, though maybe I’m projecting because that’s a favourite). That made me want to hear “Bad Girls” again, so I cued that up on iMusic too, and also the Migos track I’d just read about on Tom Breihan’s tumblr. Standing in the kitchen cleaning plates with a speakerless iPhone playing YouTube quality sound out loud is about the worst possible way to hear new music, so I can’t really draw any conclusions from my listen to “Versace”.
Rudimental – “Feel The Love”/”Not Giving In”/”Waiting All Night”
Walking home from the station, playing the three Rudimental singles from this or last year, to remind myself of the context of the Newman song and because I’d not really given “Not Giving In” its due before.
John Newman – “Love Me Again”
‘Top Ten’ Playlist (see below)
I didn’t play any music for the rest of the day at work – had a team meeting then set off for home. Played the Newman single a third time, then added it to my rolling playlist of mostly recent songs. I’ve been keeping a Top Ten on and off since the NYLPM blogging days – it used to run on the sidebar – though it’s come into its own since I got an iPhone: a commute-length singles playlist is perfect for days when you’re too tired to decide what to put on. It currently includes:
Anna Meredith – “Nautilus” / Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing” / Tegan And Sara – “Closer” / Genius & GZA – “4th Chamber” / John Newman – “Love Me Again” / Daft Punk – “Contact” / Kacey Musgraves – “Stupid” / Disclosure – “Latch” / Laura Mvula – “Green Garden” / Charli XCX – “You (Ha Ha Ha)” / Kanye West – “Black Skinhead”
On the way home I mostly checked emails and caught up on comics news, so I wasn’t paying any kind of specific critical attention, but this is as good a snapshot as any of the kind of early-10s music I want to hear.
Keni Burke – “Risin To The Top”
Amy Winehouse – “Like Smoke (ft Nas)
Office music! One member of staff gets control of the office stereo each week – they play 2 songs at 11, 2 songs at 5 each day and a longer set on Friday. This week it is Paul in IT. I missed the 11 O’Clock songs – meeting – but these two were good by office standards and very weather-appropriate! I knew the Keni Burke but didn’t know the name of it.
Michael Jackson – “Stranger In Moscow”
Justin Timberlake – “Mirrors”
Michael because of the Popular entry, just trying to get into the headspace of ’95 Jacko – it’s my favourite late MJ track too, so always a good listen. And Justin Timberlake’s song because it’s the single I’ve played most this year and I’ve got very comfortable with it.
Genius/GZA – Liquid Swords
“Don’t be afraid – bad dreams are only dreams. What a time you chose to be born…”. The intro samples on this LP are spine-tingling no matter how often you hear them: the tracks live up to them*. “Come boy – choose life or death.” The latter from “4th Chamber”, my favourite track – those blips and fuzzed-out bass samples! Not actually that easy to work to, which is a reason I don’t end up listening to much hip-hop in the office, it’s more travelling music. But it was near the John Newman single on iTunes and I couldn’t resist.
*Except the “Hells Wind Staff” bit which I assume is them ‘acting’ and is terrible, but the actual “Killah Hills 10304″ track is great.
John Newman – “Love Me Again”
Again! I decided to actually buy it, so off to iTunes I went. Like the brylcreemed look. The “You Keep Me Hanging On” sample/steal either makes the record or makes it more annoying, yet to decide which. At desk, and mostly in a meeting.
Frank Ocean – “Strawberry Swing”
Pachanga Boys – “Time”
Frank O playing in the sandwich shop, followed by a 60s-style indie song I didn’t know which kept wandering shyly towards asking “Daydream Believer” for a dance and thinking better of it. Back at my desk, 15 minutes before a meeting, the perfect length for Pachanga Boy’s sublime – and very cooling – “Time” from last year.
The Verve – “History”
Chemical Brothers – “Let Forever Be”
Chemical Brothers – “Setting Sun”
Played off an app called iMusic which lets me download YouTube vids as music playlists – it’s useful as a store of background research for Popular and a way of grabbing songs on the go without, er, buying them – “Setting Sun” will be on Popular, but here we also have the other Noel Gallagher Chemical Brothers track, and the Verve’s “History” because I just mentioned it on a comment thread. “History” has aged less well than I’d hoped, the others are still good, though I mainly downloaded “Let Forever Be” because I adore its video.
Cocteau Twins – Treasure
After years assuming I didn’t like the Cocteau Twins it turns out I really like them. Unfounded prejudices about bands are GREAT, you should spend your 20s cultivating as many as possible and then you will have a lovely storehouse of music to discover when you hit 40. Still at desk.
XTC – Mummer (second half)
Skipping past the wodge of bonus tracks MIDWAY THROUGH the album (why??) to go into the second half – the band’s vision of English pop continuing to come together on tracks about ladybirds, churchyards and the slave trade. Also includes the awful “Funk Pop A Roll” (“The young today are mistakes!”) which mutates into strangely not awful if you imagine it’s about Howard Jones. Listened to at desk.
XTC – Mummer (first half)
From Victoria to my office near Oxford Circus. One of XTC’s knottier albums, Andy Partridge liberated by not having to tour and access to new session drummers to make his songwriting far denser. Toying with the idea of submitting XTC to the One Week One Band Tumblr, then not sure I’d have much to say about them, then think I probably would but it wouldn’t be all that interesting. Once I get to the office I’m called straight into a meeting so the music goes off.
Michael Jackson – “You Are Not Alone”
Shaggy – “Mr Boombastic”
John Newman – “Love Me Again”
Listened to on the train. The Jackson is the next Popular entry – my method is to keep the next dozen or so songs on a playlist and listen idly to them then with more concentration when it’s ‘their turn’. If I’m getting this one written tonight I’m going to be listening to this track a lot more today. Boombastic follows on on the playlist, I have a good visual metaphor for how the song sounds but it’ll be tricky to express. I’m then reminded of the CURRENT No.1, which I played yesterday morning and thought was good. I listen to it again, via YouTube – it sounds excellent, an idiosyncratic voice, the soul-shouting style nicely updated, maybe a little too close to Mark Ronson but continuing the current remarkable streak of good No.1 records – which I’m pretty sure has motivated Popular out of its moribund state.
The Cure – Faith (LP)
Crossing over the Harkive dateline listening to this album for probably the first time – a brief Twitter conversation about the band with @nanayasleeps prompted this: Nanaya recommended it to me after I said the only Cure albums I’d ever owned were Standing On A Beach and Pornography. I enjoyed this without feeling or thinking very much about it – my antipathy to the group seems to be based on later singles and a base anti-goth prejudice.