These aren’t the 30 greatest Irish songs of all time, I’d never make such a claim, but they are 30 great songs from or about (or related to) Ireland, and that is a good thing too.

Before we start, I thought I might address a trend I have noticed recently: the revenge choice. The logic behind it being (I think) an attempt to punish me for telling you that the OMC album track that you picked wasn’t as good as somebody else’s OMD album track, or vice versa. I get it. Passions run high when it comes to musical taste. But I feel I should warn you, I live in the North of England and have a child of primary school age. I have heard brass bands doing things that you wouldn’t believe. You cannot hurt me.

Having said that, Sherri Turner‘s recommendation of Delaney’s Donkey by Val Doonican (which came with the message, “on the basis that given your treatment of Suffragette City last week you deserve this as an earworm”) came as close as anything did to breaking my mind this week, and so I am awarding her ten bonus points for creative cruelty.

With that out of the way, let’s start to build a bit of tension around the whole who-will-get-this-week’s-twenty-nine-bonus-points. Last week, thirteen of you just missed out on the top thirty and I promised that the highest scoring of you this week would also get this week’s twenty-nine bonus points. Well, of those thirteen, three didn’t recommend a song, so if you did, your chances of getting those bonus points just went up a bit. Nice.

Ok then, let’s do this. Zero points before hero points…

  • Plashing Vole mentioned to me this week that he thought that, “Irish culture being judged by an Englishman to mark Ireland’s national day feels very, very British,” which would be a point worth considering except a) I’m not judging Irish culture (I judge the recommendations, not the songs) and b) he picked Smaoinim by Enya.Enya‽ And yes, I did just use an interrobang because Jesus Christ, the last time I heard an Enya song I was a teenager and I was shopping with my sister for henna hair dye [for her, not me, though I don’t suppose that detail matters really as I dyed my hair as a teenager too, though in my case pink not red]. Anyway, there we were, surrounded by dreamcatchers and healing stones and the like and the music that was playing (on, I presume, a cd player with a fucking doily on it) was Enya. Of course it was. And I remember thinking to myself then, “I do hope that if in a couple of decades somebody accuses me of inappropriately judging Irish culture that they don’t pick something as mind-witheringly bland as this as a counter-argument, because this sounds like something that would play after an elf died in a Tolkien movie, for fuck’s sake.”
  • Tom Mason also picked an Enya song. He picked Orinoco Flow. For shame, Tom. For shame.
  • Three people picked songs by Van Morrison, which was pretty brave considering how his recent anti-lockdown anthem, “They Can’t Push Their Vaccine Through Our Tin Foil Hats”, has divided his audience somewhat [which is ironic, when you think about it, as it was intended to bring them together, specifically in confined spaces without masks on]. The songs that were recommended [Michael Conley picked Caravan (the live version with The Band), Tom Glennie chose Madame George, and Benjo went with Into the Mystic] were all good songs but I have checked with the NHS and awarding them points could be seen as an endorsement of Morrison’s nonsense and as such undermine the national effort to beat Covid-19. Soz.
  • Graeme recommended I Am The Greatest by A House. Great band, A House. I Want Too Much is one of my favourite albums of the 1990s. But this song? I don’t care for it.
  • Two people chose songs by The Divine Comedy. Mark G recommended Our Mutual Friend, which is quite nice, especially the bit at the end, and David Coates recommended The Booklovers, which may be the worst song I have ever heard in my life. Have you heard it? It is a list of authors names, each followed by a ‘funny’ voice. Charles Dickens “cor luv a duck” Anais Nin “boing!” Fyodor Dostoevsky “for mash get Smash” that sort of thing. It is the Crazy Frog song for bibliophiles, I suppose. Whatever floats your boat. It’s not for me though.
  • In a (misguided, B-sides was last week, we’re back to bangers now, get with the programme) attempt to find something suitably niche, Bruno Di Gradi recommended Sunburst by Picturehouse. I thought was ok, in an own-brand Crowded House kind of way, but not quite good enough for the top thirty.
  • Mat Pringle recommended Mystery Mountain Head by Fulacht Fiadh, a song that he said originally came with a mini RPG and metal druid figurine. I liked the Commadore 64 game soundtrack vibe of it but, once I knew that everyone else listening to it had a metal druid figurine and I didn’t, I felt a huge wave of FOMO (or more accurately FOMMDF) that filled me with the sort of ennui that doesn’t offer points lightly.

It’s time for the list everyone hates to be in, the list of songs that almost scored but didn’t. But look at it this way, not scoring points every week makes the points you do get that much sweeter, yeah? Also, I’m going to repeat (and extend) last week’s points offer. Oh yes. Whoever gets highest in the chart next week of all the people who recommended a song this week but didn’t make the chart will win thirty-seven bonus points next week. So that’s everybody already mentioned and all of the following people…

  • David Bruce (Girl Band – Pears for Lunch)
  • Skerret (Spandau Ballet – Through the Barricades)
  • David Hartley (Bicep – Vale)
  • Slugger (The Waterboys – The Stolen Child)
  • Tim Smells (Jackie Wilson – Danny Boy)
  • Dan Williams (Villagers – Becoming a Jackal)
  • Sex Police (Jonny Fun and the… Hesitations – Weekend in Sheffield)
  • Jummo70 (Fatima Mansions – Wilderness of Time)
  • Dan Edmonds (Marxman – Ship Ahoy)
  • Geisterhaus (Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak)
  • Graham Cox (Whipping Boy – Twinkle)
  • Nick Rayney (The Cranberries – Promises)
  • Mike (The Fountainhead – Rhythm Method)
  • Chris Bissette (Brian Conniffe – Volition and Quintessence)
  • Lil’ Vanni Byniaeth (The Cranberries – Dreams)
  • Tom. (The Cranberries – Dreams)
  • Andy C (Microdisney – Loftholdingswood)
  • Sal Page (Steve Earle – Galway Girl)

A lot of good stuff there. A lot. But only thity(ish) people can make the chart.

Here they are…

The Top Thirty

Tom A almost recommended Phat Planet by Leftfield for his B-side last week. It was sheer luck that due to its prominent use is a Guinness advert he got to use it this week instead. Sure, the song is mostly getting its two points for the precariousness of the link to Ireland more than anything else, but there’s no harm in that. And it is a tune.

I won’t pretend that I think that Big Sur by The Thrills is better than everything that didn’t make the chart, but I have seen it widely and unfairly maligned in recent years and I felt that I had to make a stand, stand up and stand up for it. It’s a summer smash hit, all nice with the top down, all singalong at a picnic and that. It gets James Beck two points.

Do you know what I miss? The David Hartley/Daniel Carpenter beefs of yesteryear. Who even remembers who came where in last year’s chart? No. We just remember the backchat and the gossip, the satisfying clunk of chair against spine when a referee wasn’t looking. More beefing please. More petty rivalries thank you. Oh yeah, Dan recommended Alternative Ulster by Stiff Little Fingers and got three points. That’s three points more than Dave got this week, so feel free to call him a chump or something, yeah? Let’s stir things up. Get angsty.

Rusty McGee recommended Eyes Wide Open by Hot House Flowers. Proper took me back, listening to that one. Four points.

As an aside, I’ll tell you what it took me back to. In that brief time as a teenager between getting into music and being really into music (I bought my first Fall album at thirteen, so some time around then, I reckon) I made a MY TOP 100 BANDS chart on two pieces of square A4 paper sellotaped together. I took the order of the list very seriously (far more seriously than I take this chart) but because I was still just dipping my toes in the waters of music it would have loads of bands like Matt Bianco and Swing Out Sister or Climie Fisher mixed in with whatever less-chart-oriented stuff I was already into. Anyway, Hot House Flowers was definitely on that list but I had forgotten that until this week. Together we did archaeology on me. Ta for that.

I really wish I still had that piece of paper. What a window to my past, eh?

NB Get Out of Your Lazy Bed by Matt Bianco is still great.

Two people picked Hozier. Georgia Boon recommended The Parting Glass and Henriette Pleiger recommended Take Me To Church. You know, I have heard that church song a billion times on the radio but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who sang it for a crispy fiver. That’s more a comment on my memory than the song btw. Lovely voice, your Hozier. Five points.

Ben Thomas and Nick both chose I’m Shipping Up To Boston by Dropkick Murphy’s. Great minds etc. It’s quite a cinematic tune, isn’t it? I don’t know if the Peaky Blinders will end up in Boston in either of the remaining seasons but if they do, and they end up leathering some local gangsters with their hats, the tune playing will definitely be this. I miss Peaky Blinders. It hasn’t been on for ages. Being from the West Midlands, finally watching characters from the West Midlands on television being something more than unlucky-in-love comic-relief support, it’s nice that. Six points.

Ben Andrew‘s recommendation of Devil’s Dance Floor by Flogging Molly had a similar I-bet-these-are-good-live vibe to the last song but I gave him (and it) an extra point (ie seven points) because the song only got one recommendation, not two, making it that much more special or something. I don’t know, I have to put them in order by some method or other, don’t I?

Do you remember Ash? They seem to have been forgotten lately. I was really into the Jack Saves the Planets-era stuff so I was a tad nonplussed by the more chart-friendly later stuff, but re-listening to Shining Light (recommended by Jeanette Greaves) for the first time in a long time, I’m beginning to wonder if I was wrong. It’s a bit of a classic, isn’t it? Eight points.

Marsha Adams recommended Óró Sé do Bheatha Bhaile by Seo Linn who aren’t only very talented but are also, if the images that came up when I googled them are accurate, very young and boy band handsome. It makes you sick, doesn’t it, that sort of thing?

Not really, of course. Good luck to the talented handsome so-and-sos, I say. Nine points

What can I say about Sleepy’s recommendation of Handsome Wife by Pillow Queens? I can say I liked it. I can say I’m giving it ten points. But editing this page at four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, recovering from (and slightly regretting) the eighteen mile walk I did yesterday (on my own, observing all coronavirus restrictions, obviously) I’m struggling for anything more profound. I liked it.

For those of you wondering what the Irish connection is in Adam Farrer‘s choice of Picture in a Frame by Tom Waits, Kathleen Brennan’s grandfather was from County Kerry. And as you can’t have ‘experimental Tom Waits’ without Brennan, Adam definitely qualifies for one (last?) week of nominating Tom Waits every week. It goes without saying that the song is lovely. Eleven points.

And scoring one more point than Tom Waits, it’s B*Witched. I’m sure this sort of thing is infuriating for some of you but you should be used to me by now, surely? It could have been much worse too. If Donna Morris had gone all in and recommended C’est La Vie instead of Blame it on the Weatherman, we would be talking about even more points. As it is, twelve will have to do.

Rebecca H owes a small-to-medium-sized thank you to James Battisson as his choice of Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor bumped her choice of The Last Day of Our Acquaintance a few places up the chart. They are both good songs, obviously, but there is no arguing with that Prince cover, is there? Thirteen points each.

What better way to mark Ireland week on The Best Music Recommender in the World than with a song called Ireland? [There probably are better ways, sure, but I was just trying to make conversation – you try writing one of these charts every week] That’s what Em did, recommending Ireland by Liza Anne. It was a good song too. A very good song. I gave it fourteen points.

On first listen of I Want to Live by Gavin Friday (recommended by Desmond) I was unconvinced. But with each repeated listen of my playlist it slowly grew on me. I’ve mentioned this before, but I like it when this happens. There wasn’t much scope for it when we did albums, and I’m sure a few great albums failed to catch my ear on the first listen [some of you was robbed, mate, proper done up like a kipper] but now things get a fairer hearing*. Fifteen points.

*OK, so I didn’t give the Val Doonican song that many plays, but I have to draw the line somewhere.

Let’s all stop for a second and admire Dan‘s choice: Sexy Music by The Nolan Sisters. What. A. Choice. Now, I can hear some of you complaining that Sexy Music isn’t sexy (I can hear some of you complaining that Sexy Music isn’t music either, but you can go wash your mouth out with soap and water, and your brain too just for thinking it) but Sexy Music doesn’t claim to be sexy music. It is a song about sexy music. It doesn’t need to be sexy. And actually, it is a bit sexy, when you think about it. I’m giving it sixteen points anyway, whatever you think.

After one person changed their mind, we ended up with only two choices by The Pogues, which was a few less than I expected (and hoped for). Sam Whyte recommended Thousands are Sailing and Stephen May recommended Boys from the County Hell. Both songs are absolute corkers. Seventeen points each.

My eight-year-old daughter loves The Pogues [though she has never actually heard them without me coughing over the swears, which is a great example of my broadly adequate skills as a parent – and a tactic that any radio stations reading this are welcome to borrow next Christmas].

The more observant of you will have noticed that one Thin Lizzy song that was recommended this week didn’t make the chart. So why is Steven Moss getting eighteen points for recommending Cowboy Song by the same band? Well, I don’t always put songs from the same people together, and besides, I liked this song a lot more.

William Mallin recommended The Old Man from Over the Sea by Lankum which seems like a brilliant modern take on a traditional form of music to my ears, but not having any expertise on the former or the latter I wouldn’t feel confident saying as much. I liked the song a lot whether it was or it wasn’t. I guess ignorance is bliss.  Nineteen points

Graham Watt recommended Screamager by Therapy? (from their album Troublegum, one of those rare examples of a band achieving their musical ambition so fully that they have to do something different for the next album). Most of us liked the later stuff too but kept coming back to this album, for the whole lovely shoutiness of the thing. But I have to confess I hadn’t listened to anything by Therapy? for a very long time. They say you should never go back. On this occasion they were wrong. Twenty points.

Only one person went with The Undertones? What would John Peel say, eh? Anyway, that one person was Leighton and he chose Here Comes the Summer. It got him twenty-two points too. Very nice.

David N Atkinson recommended Cookie Chips by Rejjie Snow, which I liked very much indeed and gave twenty-four points. I like it when people record music under a name that is easy to find on streaming services. I heard a great song by a band called Blessed this week but try finding anything else by them. There are about fifty bands called Blessed, most of them bots releasing uplifting spiritual panpipe stuff. Something to think about, if you are thinking about being a pop star.

After threatening to resubmit his crap u2 b-side for Ireland week, Rob Cutforth saw sense and recommended Where’s Me Jumper? by The Sultans of Ping FC. A brilliant song from possibly the most under-acclaimed album of all time, Casual Sex in the Cineplex. It’s worth a thousand OK Computers. There. I said it. But he did pick the biggest single off it, and there was the whole threatening me with u2 b-sides thing, so I’m only giving him twenty six points.

In what should be an uplifting-story-in-difficult-times for all of us, three of the thirteen recommenders chasing the bonus points made the top ten. It just goes to show you what a difference a week can make. You can almost taste the hope and the joy of it, can’t you? Of course, if you are one of the two who made the top ten didn’t quite make it to the top (like Nick Garrard, who recommended the brilliant Waiting by Rubberbandits) the twenty-eight points you do get are probably so much ash in your mouth. Such is life etc etc.

Picky Bastards described his recent run of good results as like Brian Clough taking over halfway through a season. As the same person has been picking the songs all year, it is a slightly confusing metaphor that would make him both Brian Clough and Allan Brown. Anyway, this week he recommended I Don’t Know by Lisa Hannigan and it got him thirty points. European glory (and/or a short stint managing the Kuwaiti side Quadsia before returning to Blackpool but not saving them from relegation) await!

Richard Jones was the bonus points bridesmaid this week, but that isn’t to say he won’t one day be the bonus points bride*. I did love his pick of High in the Garden by Sorcha Richardson though, so he is getting thirty-two points, which is definitely better than nothing.

*I should probably point out that I don’t expect people who win the bonus points to actually marry me. It is just a metaphor. I’m very happy with my current family, thank you.

Penny recommended A Million Miles Away by Rory Gallagher. Listening to it I had one of my, “I think I probably should have heard of this person” moments and thirty seconds on Wikipedia confirmed that yes, I am an ignoramus. I’m not stupid though, so I’m making up for lost time by awarding it thirty-four points.

And so we can finally reveal who wins this week’s bonus points… It’s Nick Portnell. After a bit of confusion on whether he was recommending the album or single version of Anseo by Denise Chaila, I listened to both of them, and then the whole album. And then the one I was supposed to. And then I got out a big wad of points. Thirty-six plus twenty-nine equals SIXTY FIVE POINTS!!!

Second this week is Neal, who recommended End of Green by Kerbdog.

I love Kerbdog, me.

Thirty-eight points.

Aaaand this week’s winner is Fat Roland, who recommended the proper lovely and gorgeous Gravity Calling by Solar Bears. It seems like only weeks ago he was getting punished for trying to cheat his way to victory. He’s really turned his life around hasn’t he? Good for him. It makes you proud to be human. Forty points.

 

Next week is the first round of the cup. I want a dance song from the 1990s. Get ’em in nice and quick please and thank you.