The Best Music Recommender in the World (Cup) – The Quater-finals

I’m not entirely sure why I built this week’s cup around the lyrics to The Joker by Steve Miller Band, but I did. I don’t have strong feelings about the song one way or the other but the lyrics do contain quite a few good ideas for themes. Anyway, it’s happened now, let’s get on with it. Fifteen groups, with two qualifying from each (plus the two people who spotted the link the fastest) makes thirty two people through to the semi-finals. Will you be one of them? Read on to find out…

Group One – PEOPLE

  • Adam Farrer chose Up With People by Lambchop
  • Lenni Sanders chose People Everywhere (Still Alive) by Khruangbin
  • Ben Thomas chose Boring People by L Devine
  • David Coates chose Betty by Taylor Swift
  • Dan Williams* chose Soldier Girl by Polyphonic Spree

Dan didn’t need to be one of the first two people to spot the Steve Miller Band link, because picking Soldier Girl was more than enough to see him through to the next round, but he was, which frees a place for somebody else. If we eliminate Lambchop on the basis that they suck, it leaves us with a two-from-three situation. I was stuck at first, but the more I hear Betty, the more I’m becoming convinced it is a poor man’s Sk8er Boi so…

Dan, Lenni and Ben go through to the semi-finals.

Group Two – SPACE

  • Graeme chose Space Samba (Disco Volador) by The Orielles
  • Em chose A Different Kind of Human by Aurora
  • General Zod chose Out of Space by The Prodigy
  • Ed Owen didn’t recommend a song
  • David Atkinson chose Aliens in Suits by Strange U

A really strong group with no wrong answers but the people going through to the next round are Em (because her pick was my favourite of the four) and General Zod (because Out of Space by The Prodigy).

Group Three – COWBOY

  • Kieran Mahon didn’t recommend a song
  • Daniel Carpenter chose Cowboy by Tyler the Creator
  • Steven Moss chose Protection by Massive Attack
  • Georgia Boon chose Fastest of Ponies by Woody Guthrie
  • Richard Jones chose Cowboy Dreams by Prefab Sprout

Firstly, (cowboy) hats off to Steven Moss who picked Protection on the basis it was released on Wild Bunch Records. That sort of cryptic thinking will get you straight through to the next round – especially when it’s an excuse to recommend such a brilliant song. Joining him will be Georgia Boon, who chose a song which starts with the words, “Howdy my friend,” and whose chorus is mostly stuff like  teeroodleetoodle my saddle teedoodle. And if that isn’t cowboy music, I don’t know what is.

Group Four – GANGSTER

  • Laraine Geddes didn’t recommend a song
  • Plashing Vole chose Bonnie and Clyde by Luna
  • Sex Police chose Nuthin’ But A G Thang by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg
  • Desmond chose Stool Pigeon by Kid Creole and the Coconuts
  • Justin Chisnall chose You’re Not My Babylon by These Animal Men

Desmond goes straight through with Stool Pigeon, obviously. But the second choice isn’t as easy.

There’s nothing especially wrong with Luna’s cover of Bonnie and Clyde, but it wasn’t exactly a radical new take on the song and the original is right there if you want it (which, generally speaking, I don’t) so I’ve eliminated that. The other two feel very much of their time but still loveable in their way. I’ve chosen Justin’s song because I reckon there were better G-Funk songs to be chosen but with These Animal Men that really was as good as it was going to get. That’s probably a terrible way of deciding who qualifies for the semi-finals but that’s what I did.

Group Five – LOVE

  • Nick Rayney chose You Are What You Love by Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
  • Picky Bastards chose That’s Love by Oddisee
  • Julie chose Don’t Get Me Wrong by The Pretenders
  • Jummo70 chose Harvard by Diet Cig
  • Rebecca H chose Love is a Wonderful Colour by The Icicle Works

Group of Death right here guys. Look at the quality of these picks. Just look at it. Look at it in wonder. It pains me that three of you won’t go through to the next round, especially given Justin just limped through with These Animal Men. Life is cruel, eh?

Only two can go through though, and those two are Picky Bastards (because best song) and Rebecca H (because that chorus is absolutely huge).

Group Six – BABY

  • Skerret chose First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
  • Sam Whyte chose The Child Inside by Depeche Mode
  • Tom A chose My Baby Just Cares For Me by Nina Simone
  • Tom Glennie chose Manna by Babyfather
  • Marsha Adams chose Hardest Button to Button by The White Stripes

I mean, Nina, clearly, and… I’m going to say The White Stripes, because I surprised myself by liking it. Congratulations to Tom A and Marsha.

Group Seven – DOING YOU WRONG

  • Tim Sleath chose It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue by Bob Dylan
  • Leighton chose Rocket by Goldfrapp
  • Chris *Wear Your Dang Mask* chose I Heard It Through The Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
  • Tom. chose Get to Heaven by Everything Everything
  • Michael Conley chose Bad Penny by Rory Gallagher

Is it wrong to want to dislike Dylan’s stuff after he got the Nobel Prize? I don’t dislike it, or at least I don’t dislike a lot of it, but it was a total nonsense, wasn’t it, giving it him? I shouldn’t care. It’s a dumb prize. It’s supposed to reward greatness in literature yet somehow they forgot to acknowledge Joyce, Borges, Woolf, Bulgakov, Jansson, Spark, and while we are at it, Nicola Barker (who is the best of all the writers ever of all time ever ever ever i.d.s.t.). But Dylan, whose contribution to world literature is to carry on a rhyme at the end of a verse for slightly longer than necessary (they wait in the queues, they’re late to the news, they’re fated to lose, abate and abuse, they hate Nerys Hughes, they ate all her shoes, they’re mates with a muse, the great Terry Crews, who lately consumed, a plateful of gnus – that sort of thing). It’s not exactly Ulysses, is it Bob?

Having said all that, Tim does go through to the next round because It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue is a banger. And joining him is… Leighton, because Goldfrapp.

Group Eight – DON’T WORRY

  • David Bruce chose Ping Pong by Stereolab
  • Kenny Fleming chose I’m Free by The Soup Dragons
  • Andy C chose Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow by Funkadelic
  • Jacque le Singe chose Enjoy Your Life by Oby Onyioha
  • Subfuscous chose Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

I should have extended DON’T WORRY to a whole week because these five songs really hit the spot on a day when our ridiculous clown prince is trying to start a land war with France in an attempt to improve Andy Street’s chances of retaining the West Midlands mayoralty. Democracy, eh? Anyway, I hope the more serious among you will forgive my rewarding Kenny Fleming’s choice of The Soup Dragons with a place in the next round. I know that technically I’m Free is not the best song of the five (arguably, at least on some levels, it’s the worst) but who doesn’t love it? Andy C’s pick of Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow gets the other nod, because a long time ago I did, and it did.

Group Nine – HOME

  • Graham Watt chose Feel Like Going Home by Mark Lanegan and the Walkabouts
  • Ben chose Unison by Björk
  • Mark Rose chose Don’t Leave Home by Dido
  • Weeman chose Come Home by James
  • Slugger chose Home by The Brilliant Trees

Björk and James. No brainer. Congrats to Ben and Weeman.

Group Ten – SINNER

  • Mark G chose Sin by Nine Inch Nails
  • Mat Pringle chose Song of a Sinner by Top Drawer
  • Rob Cutforth chose Country Death Song by the Violent Femmes
  • Royston chose One Caress by Depeche Mode
  • Mike chose It’s a Sin by Pet Shop Boys

The last time I heard that Nine Inch Nails song John Major was the Prime Minister. That is quite a long time ago. Listening to it again, all sorts of things came flooding back; an image of the BASF ferro extra cassette tape that somebody had taped Pretty Hate Machine on for me, the faded memory a tentative first love that didn’t get beyond one brief kiss and a few long phone calls, John Major’s ill-fated traffic cones hotline…

Memories, eh? So that (and Mark G) goes through (because I said so) and he is joined by… Mike because I couldn’t in good conscience punish somebody for picking the Pet Shop Boys.

Group Eleven – JOKER

  • Sleepy chose Bill Cosby by billy woods
  • Dan Parker didn’t recommend a song
  • James Battisson chose The Laughing Gnome by David Bowie
  • Dave Hartley chose Ain’t it Funny by Danny Brown
  • Dan chose Can’t Smile Without You by Barry Manilow

I can’t see past billy woods and Danny Brown here, what with them being two of the more interesting artists of the last decade and everything, so congrats to Sleepy and Dave.

Group Twelve – SMOKER

  • Negative Neutron didn’t recommend a song
  • Sherri Turner chose Light My Fire by The Doors
  • Scout Tzofiya chose Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby by Cigarettes After Sex
  • Lil’ Vanni Byniaeth chose Station to Station by David Bowie
  • Fat Roland chose Hits from the Bong by Cypress Hill

Another strong group.

Ever since Sherri Turner nominated Light My Fire, I haven’t been able to shift the idea that Jim Morrison’s impassioned crooning in the song is a plea for somebody to light one of his Rothman’s Superkings, which has tickled me, so that goes through. And so does Lil’ Vanni Byniaeth, because Bowie.

Group Thirteen – MIDNIGHT

  • Bud’s RPG Review didn’t recommend a song
  • James Beck* chose Floating in the Forth by Frightened Rabbit
  • Kim Z Baker chose The River of Dreams by Billy Joel
  • Nick Garrard chose Sister Midnight by Iggy Pop
  • Al Kennedy chose Midnight Train to Georgia by Gladys Knight & the Pips

I’m not going to make a habit of rewarding people who chose Billy Joel songs, I don’t think, but I am today because I thought it was a nice choice for Midnight, lyrically speaking, and I have a soft spot for the song’s unapologetic cheesiness. As for the second song going through, well I probably don’t need to tell you that would be Al’s choice of Midnight Train to Georgia. Who among us would deny it?

James Beck was the second person to spot the Steve Miller Band link, so he goes through to the semi-finals too.

Group Fourteen – IN THE SUN

  • Penny chose House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  • Sam Bail chose Sunglasses at Night by Tiga & Zyntherius
  • Geisterhaus chose All Apologies by Nirvana
  • Graham Cox chose Island in the Sun by Harry Belafonte
  • William Mallin chose Heartbeat by Monwa & Sun

House of the Rising Sun is too big to ignore, so Penny’s through, but the choice of who else is successful in this group is less easy to decide. I’m picking Sam Bail’s choice because it is, as she correctly asserted in her tweet recommending it, a banger.

Group Fifteen – ON THE RUN

  • The Sweet Cheat chose Wanted Man by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
  • Dan Edmonds chose Las Cruces Jail by Two Gallants
  • Henriette Pleiger chose Running One from the Run Lola Run soundtrack
  • Chris Bissette chose Never Going Back by Hot Water Music
  • Nick chose The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Iron Maiden

How can I say no to Iron Maiden? I can’t. I should be able too, what with it being relatively easy to mathematically prove they were rubbish, and yet? I’m saying yes. And while I was drawn to the Run Lola Run track, it is the pure blast of platinum-class rock that is Never Going Back that I have to give the nod to. Congratulations to Nick and Chris.

So that’s that then. Thirty-two people remain in the cup. Congratulations to all of you. And congratulations too to those of you who didn’t quite make it. All your choices were great. It was me who let you down, and not the other way round.

Next week we are back to the league and our theme is… MICHIGAN. For those of you who aren’t in the US (and/or those of you whose geography isn’t impeccable) it’s the state that Detroit is in, which is as good a starting point as any to find great music.