Last.fm is a cool web service that takes a feed from your music player (like iTunes) and figures out what you’re listening to and makes lists and graphs and shares it with your friends.
The only problem is, I listen to most music on my iPod, which isn’t hooked up to Last.fm, so it gets all the songs I listen to on my laptop. And I’ve come to realise that when I listen to music on my laptop, it tends to be something I’m currently obsessing over.
It seems like a rather teenage thing to do – you acquire a new song (or album) that you love and then play it over and over and over again because it is just the best song in the entire world.
As a result, my Last.fm top songs list is skewed to all these songs that I’ve briefly gone mental over in the last five years. And it’s a bit embarrassing because I don’t necessarily have the same feelings or connection to those tunes any more.
But I’m just going to live with it and present my top 10 songs, according to Last.fm, and exactly why it was that I listened to them so obsessively at the time.
1. The Cribs – You’re Gonna Lose Us
I was on holiday in Napier with my laptop but not my iPod. I’d just discovered the Cribs, so every night when I was hanging out in my hotel room, I’d listen to the Cribs’ first two albums. So now I have this strong association between rowdy pop songs with shout-along choruses and Napier. Better than art deco.
2. The Smiths – Back to the Old House
This is nothing more than my favourite Smiths song. It’s a bit sad and wistful and nostalgic, but it’s all about not wallowing in the past because “there’s too many bad memories”. I used to listen to this a lot in my old flat in Mt Eden, so it serves as a nice precaution for any attempts at pining after Auckland.
3. 1200 Techniques – Karma
This song reminds me of driving down a deserted South-Western Motorway in the middle of the night, smokin’ cigarettes, the warm night breeze coming through the window… yet this is an entirely false memory. Instead I’m left with some Australians rapping about karma over Hot Chocolate’s Brother Louie.
4. Van Halen – Panama
I think I can blame this on the Van Halen binge I went on after watching the “Freaks and Geeks” boxset. This song is awesome because a) it has nothing to do with Panama, b) “Panama-uh-uh-uh-oh-oh”, and c) Diamond Dave’s “sex in a car as metaphor for sex in general” monologue (“I reach down between my legs and ease the seat back”).
5. Scandal with Patty Smyth – The Warrior
There’s an episode of The Family Guy where one of the nonsequitor cutaways is of “Stewie’s iPod commercial”, which shows him doing the iPod silhouette dance to “The Warrior”. Just that little 15-second burst of the song was enough to trigger some long repressed memory, and before long I was obsessively listening to what is possibly the worst line in a pop song ever: “Your eyes touch me physically.” Literally.
6. Morrissey – Glamorous Glue
I saw this on a late night music video show and realised that somehow it had previously passed me by (as has much of Morrissey’s solo oeuvre). It’s got a lurching T-Rex-esque glam rock sound, but what of the lyrics? Apparently the song is about drinking, solvent abuse (which is not glamorous, kids), semen, the 1992 British general election, or all of the above. I just like the bit where he sings “everyone lies, nobody minds” and “London is dead! London is dead! London is dead!”.
7. Robbie Williams – Lazy Days
In the Britpop documantary “Live Forever”, this song is played near the end, when the guitar-based bands were losing popularity in the late ’90s to pop groups and solo artists such as Mr Williams. I scribbled down some lyrics in the darkness of the Rialto cinema to lead me back to it. It’s rather a Britpoppy song, with lots of chuggy guitar, but sadly the fat dancer from Take That went off in another direction when a later single, “Angels”, proved to be a massive megahit.
8. Kaiser Chiefs – I Predict a Riot
I believe “Never Mind the Buzzcocks” is to blame for this tune, with it being used in the Introductions round. And then that lead to me listening to the song, then buying the album, then becoming totally obsessed with it, until now I’m thinking, “Whoa, it’s five years old?”
9. Stevie Wonder – Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing
Nik sang this on series two of NZ Idol. The teens on the internet were all, “wtf iz diz old ppl song i do not no it!!!!”, whereas I thought, “Hey, that’s an uplifting tune I haven’t heard in a while.” It’s nice to be reminded of Stevie Wonder’s older songs that didn’t suck, even though it’s hard to listen to this one without being reminded of the “Sex and the City” theme tune.
10. The Replacements – Alex Chilton
See, I love the Replacements, but my love for the ‘Mats is mostly centred around their “Let It Be” album. Then one day I decided to let the internet guide me to the best songs off other albums, and that’s how I found “Alex Chilton”. It’s so cheerful and upbeat, and it’s really just about loving music, which seems like a good enough place to be.