Last.fm knows all my secrets

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.

9 thoughts on “Last.fm knows all my secrets”

  1. ‘Alex Chilton’ about “loving music”…

    delicious irony, as The ‘Mats have a song on their “Sorry Ma…” album which goes:

    “I hate music – it’s got too many notes”.

    While LIB is my favourite ‘Mats album (first one I heard, borrowed it from Wellington Public Library many years ago), there are many great songs on all the other albums too. Westerberg has released much worth-listening-to solo material, as has Tommy Stinson (along with his other bands: Bash & Pop; Perfect).

  2. This has nothing to do with this post BUT I was googling baby donut for Mr Joshua and on the first page there was a link to a post of yours from 1997 about “Donut Boy”.

    Strangely hilarious but does not help me find a baby donut!

    And thanks. I now have Panama (…. Panama..a..a..a) stuck in my head!

  3. Phil: Ha – I first borrowed Let It Be from the Hamilton Public Library. I like some of Westerberg’s solo stuff, but I haven’t heard any of Tommy Stinson’s. BTW, apparently Tommy is now the longest serving Guns ‘n’ Roses member after Axl!

    Mel: This used to happen to me at work, when I’d be googling to find a reference for spelling a particular word. I’d end up being led to my own website, and it just seemed a bit wrong to use myself as a reference.

  4. Kyle beat me to it.

    I’ve been scrobbling the stuff off my iPod for a while the problem with that is is scrobbles all my podcasts too. So the Onion is quickly becoming one of my “favourite” artists.

  5. Kyle & Hadyn: You’re assuming that my iPod not being scrobbled isn’t deliberate…

    What I need is a button on my iPod that I can press to not scrobble the tunes. For example, one day I listened to Bow Wow Wow’s cover of “I started something” on repeat on the train ride home. I’m not proud of this, but yet it would have messed up my stats more than my obsessive iTunes listening.

  6. Hi Robyn, is this your top 10 of all time, or for a set period, like the last 3 months? I’m curious because I’m constantly checking what my top played tracks are over various periods.

    Using the audioscrobbler ipod to last.fm transfer whatsit, you can untick any tracks you don’t want to scrobble. Failing that, you can delete them from your ‘recently played’ list on the site.

  7. I remember the night that Take That announced they would be no more, and I was driving back from Birmingham to London, and my memory is that there were groups of teenage girls huddled on street corners weeping because it was all just such a tragedy… not every corner you understand, but there were some. The nation (England) was in shock. And then that “fat dancer”, as you say, decided to go out on a solo career. How we laughed. And how well he has done since….

  8. Jessie: It’s of all time, but with a few tweaks for the purposes of blogging. I think I shall investigate the iPod updater!

    Maximus: I’ve seen news footage of the carnage after the Take That break-up, including the groups of teenage girls bawling in the streets. I tried looking for a YouTube clip, but sadly nothing immediate could be found!

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