Indie Snobbery and my #5.5-10 fave songs
This post is unashamedly driven by last week’s countdown of triple J’s hottest 100 songs of all time. While I liked many of the songs in their list, I get the distinct impression that the vote was based on what people liked and what people thought ‘would be cool’ to be in the list rather than what they consider to be the best songs of all time as a whole. I have no issue with that except to say that the list really then does not stand out from the usual popularity contest poll. I was hoping that people could transcend the ‘indie snobbery’** that goes with many of tripleJ’s listeners and actually vote for a few pop songs which , like it or not, shaped the music industry in massive way. Only Michael Jackson really got a look in and probably would not have done so save for his death during the voting period.
Now for a little sidetrack:
**By Indie snobbery, I mean the fact that once a band gets signed by a big ‘commercial’ label and their music becomes more accessible to the wider public, some will inwardly accuse the band of ‘selling out’ and hence not have time to listen to them any more. Whilst in some cases, the band’s music and ethos actually does change, in many cases, the music remains the same but popularity deems them avoidable by these so-called indie snobs who would rather bring up an obscure band in sophisticated conversation rather than a popular one. Adds more to the cool/chic factor doesn’t it. Two great examples in recent times from triple J are the bands ‘Kings of Leon’ and ‘Snow Patrol’. Both of these bands were heavily played and lauded by presenters when they were relatively unknown. Both have made it big in the commercial music market recently and have been the brunt of jokes made by a certain afternoon presenter who now deems the music unbearably trite and sinfully subscribing to mass appeal. Now to me, Snow Patrol have always had that commercial alternative kind of sound and NOTHINGS CHANGED…..oh except they became popular , what a sin. I don’t particularly like them, but I’m sure not going to avoid them because they 10 million other people are dying for their autograph. So, to the indie snobs out there, open your eyes a little, there is stuff in the popular music market that is worth listening to 🙂 The same also goes for those who shun the indie/alternative music industry – there is stuff there that is accessible to your ears – just give anything a chance and you might be suprised. My approach is to know nothing about what’s popular any more and listen on merit whatever is presented to me on whatever station. There’s too much good music out there of any genre to get caught up in a perceived genre war.
Anyhow, back to the top 10! – Ironically, not many of them were particularly mainstream at the time of release lol. These (I think) are the songs that I best remember in the context of various stages of my life. I can’t pretend I know enough about music to construct a list of what I think deserves to be in there for all time; so I’ve gone with the approach that if I can’t remember the song right now, it can’t have had too much impact on me.
#10 : Garbage – I think I’m paranoid : When garbage first started out, I remember listening to their first album relentlessly while on holiday in Malaysia. The electro-grunge kind of sounds really stood out and Shirley’s vocals were the quality of existential drawl that typified my attitude to life at the time. I think I’m paranoid was the first song from their second album which I bought and religiously listened to for a good 6 months , finding something to like about every single one of the songs on the album. Sadly, their change of sound on their third album was not to my liking but ironically, this was when their popularity also skied! <slaP> for my snobbery!
#9 Ultrasonic: Annihilating Rhythm: Sooo, I’m not sure if many people remember this track but it was also a track that had me going. About the age of 18-19, I was so musically and fashionably tasteless that it was hopeless. The fact that I was tasteless, however, was something that I was proud of in that at least I was not conforming to the standards of ‘cool’ going around at the time. So then I ventured into the rave scene and dance clubs where every night I would be questioned for ID (tastelessly bad dressing perhaps?). This track was an anthem at Thursday nights (techno nights at the club Heaven) and something that I would ‘go-off’ to every time I heard it. Dancing was such a good way to let off steam for me back then that this track would be a trigger for me to go nuts on the dance floor (yes I was one of those poorly dressed asians on the dance floor you had to stay away from because 1) you were afraid they might hit you with a flail limb as part of a maniacal dance move 2) you wondered if they were on speed because they didn’t care about what was going on except for this seemingly fascinating patch on the ground they were staring at). shhh, don’t tell anyone , but if I was particularly energetic at home, I’d go nuts at home to this track in my bedroom too.
#8 Jane Siberry : It won’t rain all the time: Once again, this song seems an obscure choice save that it was the closing track to once of my favourite movies of all time ‘ The Crow’. Her songs were fragile, sometimes offkey in falsetto and often with lyrics that didn’t flow to any particular rhythm. During my years of depression in university (real or imagined), it would allow me to wallow and release through catharsis. Remember , ‘It won’t rain all the time, The sky won’t fall forever, your tears won’t fall forever’. How very very uplifting. ( at the same time, I was also listening to concrete blonde’s ‘Tomorrow Wendy’ which is probably equally as cheerful). Such a shame that Brandon Lee die, this film would have made his career had he survived the filming.
#7 Sigur Ros : Glosoli: (Glowing light in English): I recently stumbled across Sigur Ros and paid them attention while planning a trip to Iceland this year. Having visited iceland now, it’s not hard to recognise how the environment shapes and influences the moving music they have and will continue to write. I don’t understand a word of what they say , nor can I sing along, but it’s uplifting anyway (no sarcasm here at all). Dare to dream, dare to take that extra step ….even if it is over a 400m cliff – well, that’s the message from the film clip.
#6 Guns and Roses : November Rain: This song was just epic! From memory, it was toward the end of the glam rock days where bands like Poison , Motley Crue and a few others would literally just sing about having fun in some inane way or other. The evidence is in the song titles “Don’t need nothing but a good time”, “Smoking in the boys room” etc etc..I never thought about the transition of rock music but watch Mickey Rourke’s opinion of this subject in the movie “The wrestler” and you’ll find it’s quite accurate. At some time in the 90s, rock bands went from singing about fun and taking drugs to being depressed and suicidal (but still taking drugs). Not only was this song epic, but I still have such strong visuals of the ridiculously over the top 9 minute film clip which featured slash playing his guitar to sweeping panning views of a deserted church, Axl Rose with his hair done to make shampoo advertisrs proud, the ludicrously short wedding dress of the bride, the laughable drama of people jumping for cover from rain (some even jumped through the wedding cake) , and lastly, the uncalled for death of the bride and mourning scenes played to axl rose conducting an orchestra! Just epic LOL
#5.5 : Regina Spektor : Samson : Hmm, a 5.5? I guess I admit that I couldn’t count when I wrote this list – there were a little more than 10 songs so I’ll have to add a few more along the way. I couldn’t not include this song – this was the song that I played for Marianne on our wedding day reception. I think most people on the audience probably had no clue what the song was but I like that private little relavence between us that we shared. The story of course relates little to us other than that we continue our love unrecognised and without glitz and glamour.
That’s enough of a rant for now – I’ll write about my top 5 later on.