Thursday, 12 April 2012

Thursday 12/04/12

Highlights of Miserable Lives

Memories are for delusional people, who completely lack self-awareness and think that their miserable lives are worth remembering.

Childhood memories are the worst and there are very few undertakings more tedious than listening to a random 20-something trying to bond with a bunch of other tiresome everymen his age, by reminiscing about the cartoons they all used to watch when they were little. Similarly – and in direct competition with reciting one’s dreams for the most unbearable expression of individualism – it is achingly dull to hear grown men go on about loving parents, blissful childhood summers, and secondary school mischief.

Luckily, even on those rare occasions that I suffer clarity of mind due to accidentally under-dosing on sedatives, there are just two singular, isolated incidents that I remember from my childhood: the Arts & Crafts incident and the Lift incident.

Arts & Crafts

We had A4-sized pieces of card with outlines of basic shapes drawn on them. And we had tiny pieces of coloured paper, each one no bigger than the nail on my small finger. In bright colours, of course, because I was 5 years old and small children are idiots with underdeveloped brains, who can’t distinguish anything unless it’s bright red or has a furry texture or moos like a cow. We were supposed to put glue on the card and stick the pieces of paper on, filling up the inside of each shape. These were the only instructions we were given, I swear.

I started taking each tiny piece of paper, cautiously applying glue to the back of it and slowly placing it flat on the card, each piece next to the previous one, forming seamless lines both across and down. The end result was geometrically perfect, presumably what every sensible human would be inclined to achieve.

The next thing I remember is a destructive Greek teacher standing over my head, scolding me for being so careful and meticulous in my task, before proceeding to sloppily apply some glue to my card and sprinkle the tiny pieces of paper over it completely haphazardly. The result was a mess. Some of the pieces were upside down exposing their white underside, some were half-drowning in glue with their dry parts seemingly trying to escape upwards, some were outside the shape borders and there were gaps everywhere. I wanted to cry. And I hated that tramp.

Looking back at the incident, however, she wasn’t to blame. She was Greek, that was all. Faithful to her tribe, she was lazy, imprudent, irresponsible and thoughtless, exhibiting all the key characteristics that, two and a half decades later, would make Greece the plughole that sank that European monetary union. In retrospect, this was probably the day I instinctively decided to distance myself from those people; a decision, which reached its happy apex the day I acquired my British passport at the age of 21.

The Lift

The guy in the lift must have pressed the STOP button to make it come to a halt between floors. He got his dick out and a couple of minutes later I felt something wet dripping down the side of my head. I’m still not sure whether it was semen or urine. I was 7 years old and at that point I wasn’t aware that anything else could come out of your willy other than pee.

I didn’t even see the incident happen to be honest; I guess I was looking on the floor during the whole time, avoiding making eye contact with the stranger. I don’t even know how we got out of there. Most likely my brother, who was 10 at the time, pressed the alarm, the guy panicked, started the lift again and bolted out when we got to the next floor. We ran up the stairs to the top of the building where my parents’ apartment was and breathlessly blurted everything out to my mum.

She was there with some staff and her sister preparing the house for a party she was hosting later in the evening. That’s the reason why she hadn’t been the one waiting for me at the entrance downstairs when the school bus dropped me off, and she’d asked my brother to go meet me instead. I’m unsure of what the party was for. It might have been for my parents’ wedding anniversary, my mum’s birthday, something like that. This was my day now, anyway.

My mum’s sister, always particularly boisterous, ran out and tried to find the guy, but it was too late. My mum took me to the bathroom and started vigorously washing my hair. That’s when she told me the guy had ‘peed’ on me, but looking back on the whole thing, I’m suspicious. Why would a paedophile get trapped in a lift with two minors just to piss on them? Surely we were sexier than that?

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

My Top 50 Songs Ever (25 - 1)

Here's the top half of the list. For positions 50 - 26, look here.

25. Pilotpriest - Body Double (2010)

This is about twelve minutes long and it's instrumental. It's structured in a way that gives you a subtle feeling of unease, but never actually threatens you - as if you were walking alone on a street with no lights in the middle of the night, but in a nice suburb. If you're going to listen to it, give it your full attention; don't read or play Draw Something or whatever at the same time. Oh, be careful not to leave it on repeat, because it will go round in a constant loop and you'll sit there not knowing whether it's starting or ending, or whether you're free to get up and go ever again.

24. Shannon - Give me tonight (1984)

Maybe I'm giving this more credit than anyone else in the world ever, but I only discovered it when I was 25 and was just coming out, and I used to play it before heading out and I was kinda excited but also terrified, and that's a pretty good feeling to have.

23. The Cure - Lovesong (1989)

I hear that 'Adele' has done a cover of this, and that's something I'm never, ever interested in hearing.

22. Daft Punk - Revolution 909 (1997)

I couldn't decide which Daft Punk song from Homework to include. I wanted to throw Alive in there, because it's been my favourite over the last few years, but Lamestreamr Bf said that it's too hard and inaccessible. I said, back off, it's MY list, I'll put in what I like. But overall, I guess, Revolution 909 has been a favourite from the moment I heard this album regardless of temporary preferences, so here it goes.

21. Bruce Springsteen - I'm on fire (1984)

It would be a better world if I had never known anyone who's ever enjoyed the works of Glee, and just knew people who own this record instead.

20. Pet Shop Boys - Domino dancing (1988)

Video helps.

19. Morrissey - Suedehead (1988)

As good as anything by The Smiths.

18. Babybird - Back together (single remix) (1998)

The album version is very different. Please avoid it.

17. Vampire Weekend - Diplomat's son (2010)

Vampire Weekend were created to be listened to by the character London Preppy.

16. Crookers ft Roisin Murphy - Royal T (2010)

You can play that to the most clueless lamestreamer person ever and they will like it. (If they have even a remote interest in dance music).

15. Björk - Pagan poetry (2001)

I've written a lot about Björk below, so that will do.

14. Suede - Heroine (1994)

I've written a lot about Suede below, so that will do.

13. The Smiths - I know it's over (1986)

Kinda sad.

12. Sebastien Tellier - La ritournelle (2004)

This is the first song I heard with Lamestreamr Bf shortly after I met him for the first time.

11. Yazoo - Only you (1983)

10. The Presets - This boy's in love (Lifelike remix) (2008)

The original is pretty good, but the Lifelike remix is my favourite remix ever.

9. Gene - You'll never walk again (1999)

Sadly I can't find a studio version to link to for this - below is a live performance instead. Gene is my favourite mid-90s band that no one holds in any esteem.

8. The Smiths - Rubber ring (1985)

I don't know what to say about this. Everyone loves The Smiths.

7. Moloko - The time is now (2000)

This kicks off a sequence of songs that you should play at your next party. Start with The Time Is Now and play (6), (5) and (4) below in that order. Unless everybody comes up to you and congratulates you at the end of this, leave, because you're not at the right party.

6. Madonna - Into the groove (Like A Virgin version) (1985)

Again, I have to be precious and insist on this version, as opposed to the Immaculate Collection one with the piano breakdown, which I don't enjoy all that much.

5. Stardust - Music sounds better with you (1998)

This must be my favourite dance 'track', give or take New Order. It has been described as sounding like a tension headache, but people describe things wrongly all the time.

4. New Order - Bizarre love triangle (extended dance remix) (1987)

It is extremely important that you listen to the extended dance remix of this from the 1987 Substance LP (the version I've linked to below). Any other version is completely substandard. Also, I like the fact that this song sounding like THAT, was released in the late 80s by a mainstream act and now, twenty-five years later, we have to get a Lifelike remix for anything to sound as exciting.

3. Aliki Vougiouklaki - Mes s'afti ti varka (1960)

This is a Greek song from fifty years ago. Don't worry, nothing good has come out of Greece since, so you don't need to worry about missing out on anything. It doesn't matter if you don't know what this woman is singing about. Listen to this and tell me it doesn't get to you.

2. Suede - Stay together (single edit) (1994)

It so happens that this is my favourite Suede song ever. Suede - apparently - hated it and refused to play it live for about fifteen years. So I'd seen them about six or seven times and never heard this. It had actually reached a sort of mythological status in my mind, and I was resigned to the fact that I'd never hear this played live. Then, last year in one of the reunion shows at Brixton Academy, they brought it out and smacked me in the head with it. I am not exaggerating in saying that when I heard the opening bars and realised what was about to come, I collapsed. I literally could not stand up and spent the entire time sitting on the ground, crying. If this sounds ridiculous to you, it's because I am. This was also one of the happiest moment of my life.

Also, in other Stay Together news, this was the song that made me think of Scott throughout our relationship (after all, it is about two lovers who die together by throwing themselves off the top of a high-rise in London - what could be a greater declaration of love?). Scott doesn't really like it, but in any case it was my song of our relationship. When we broke up after three years together, I was going through a bit of a hard time and during one of the lowest moment of self-doubt and despair, I chose Suede on my iPod, hit shuffle and said to myself: if Stay Together comes one next (out of a total of 106 Suede songs) it will be a sign that, at some point, we'll get back together. The song came on. We never got back together as a couple, but Scott is now like a brother to me, closer than ex boyfriend, best friend, or partner; and Suede never lied.

Oh yeah, I prefer the single edit to the full length version on this one. Even I don't have time for that bit with the incomprehensible ramblings.

1. Björk - Bachelorette (1997)

I kinda think that nobody's that much of an individual and if you observe people enough, you can easily put them in boxes with others who share similar characteristics. If you care for individuality, the best you can hope is that your box is one of the smaller ones. And I think that Björk's box is really, really tiny. Bachelorette sounds like nothing else and could not have been recorded by anyone else. Not that's not enough to make it great, of course. It's great, because it is.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

My Top 50 Songs Ever (50 - 26)

My favourite songs of all time. Positions 50 to 26.

50. Yelle - Je veux tu voir (2006)

First time I saw/heard this, at 0:16 in the video, where it transitions from the Jogging intro to the wobble-bass of the actual song, my jaw dropped and I fell into a coma. Even if you're much less impressionable than me, I think you should still be careful when you watch it.

49. Terry Hall - Forever J (1994)

God knows why I like this song so much. It's 'cute' at best, but I actually think it's because it was a massive radio hit in Greece when I was growing up and those people are very good at brainwashing.

48. Scarlett Johansson - Falling down (2008)

This would probably be a lot worse if she could actually sing it. Her inability somehow makes it perfect. I still want this to be the soundtrack to the opening scene of the movie adaptation of Exit Through The Wound. You know, where they wonder in a club losing each other and taking lots of drugs, etc?

47. Heavenly - Atta girl (1993)

I like songs with long instrumental intros. This one is over a minute. Then eventually when they do sing, it builds up to TWO PEOPLE singing DIFFERENT things. Amazing. Best part: 'Fuck you, no way' at 3:13, which you could sing to your friends in indie clubs in the mid-90s, even if you didn't know the rest of the lyrics.

46. Menswear - Daydreamer (1995)

You'd think this is the most embarrassing song on my list, but you clearly haven't seen the rest yet. I don't understand why Menswear haven't reformed yet to take the money of desperate, nostalgic 30-something year olds like me, but I'll be right there when they do.

45. Samantha Fox - Touch me (1986)

Oh OK, here's the most embarrassing. Whatever. This is great. Um, hello, 'Like a tramp in the night, I was begging for you to treat my body like you wanted to'

44. The National - Conversation 16 (2010)

This went quickly from Samantha Fox to The National, didn't it?

43. The Cardigans - Carnival (1995)

I remember soon after this came out, The Cardigans came to Athens for a gig, which was actually a festival where Simply Red was headlining. And when I went to buy my ticket I mentioned something about leaving as soon as The Cardigans has played so I would miss Simply Red, and the guy at the music store took offence and told me that I don't know what I'm talking about and Simply Red are legends and he's sure that when The Cardigans were growing up they must have been huge fans. This was another sign of where Greece would end up years later, if they gave people like that jobs.

42. Cut Copy - Hearts on fire (2007)

It's nice the people still like New Order so much decades later.

41. Robyn with Kleerup - With every heartbeat (2007)

Do you think Robyn has tried to re-write this song a few times since then or not? (Don't get me wrong, I will also be re-writing ETTW).

40. Homeboy - Adorable (1992)

I really doubt there's anyone on the planet who remembers / cares for this song in the year 2012, but unfortunately it's the world that's missing out, not me.

39. Saint Etienne - Like a motorway (1994)

Robyn did not invent electropop ballads.

38. Depeche Mode - Enjoy the silence (1990)

I'm sure this is in everyone's Top 50 songs of all time, and I guess if it isn't, it's time to take a step back and reassess your life.

37. Bruce Springsteen - Dancing in the dark (1984)

Just like the best books, all the great songs are also sad (if you pay close enough attention). Books and songs whose sadness revolves around the pointlessness of life / questioning your own existence and all the choices you've made so far are the absolute best. I'm not just saying these things. These are facts.

36. Felix Da Housecat ft Miss Kittin - Madame Hollywood (2002)

Please watch this video. Hopefully that will be me one day.

35. Prince - When doves cry (1984)

I don't know what to say about this. I don't really care for Prince much, but this is brilliant.

34. James - Sometimes (1993)

I like songs as much for the lyrics as I do for the music. (Even though, I suppose, you occasionally have to make allowances for some dance stuff). This is full of small scenes. It's a bit like watching a movie. Which is good for somebody who doesn't actually want to sit down and watch movies, like me.

33. The Housemartins - Bow down (1987)

This is a brilliant upbeat song with really sad lyrics about questioning your own existence and all the choices you've made so far, because we really haven't had enough of those yet.

32. Hole - Violet (1995)

I like all of the following: The fact that it starts mid-sentence. The soft verses. The angry chorus. Etc.

31. Frank Turner - Redemption (2011)

This is the most recent song on the whole list, and that tells you a lot of what you need to know about how much I like it. Oh, also: LYRICS.

30. Fischerspooner - Emerge (2001)

This still goes on every party playlist I ever make.

29. Pulp - Common people (7" edit) (1995)

I prefer the single version without that 'dog lying in the corner' verse, but I'm probably wrong.

28. Elastica - Never here (1995)

Another amazing minute+ instrumental intro. Why can't Elastica reform, but Dodgy are still going? What kind of a world are we living in?

27. Phoenix - Lisztomania (Classixx version) (2009)

Please note: I'm most definitely talking about the Classixx remix of this. I have zero interest in the original and in any other 70s soft rock pastiche that may come around now or ever. 80s pastiches, on the other hand, are always extremely welcome.

26. Gossip - Heavy cross (Fred Falke remix) (2009)

What. A. Remix. (Again, please don't bother with the original. I mean, it's good, but).

Tired now.