Michigan seems like a dream (theme for a playlist) to me now.

Hello. Before we start, let me give you a tiny insight into how my brain works as I’m compiling these charts. I am not, in any way at all, looking for the thirty best songs. Nor am I putting them in order from my favourite to least favourite. Quite often I love a song that doesn’t make the chart and don’t love a song that does. So, what am I doing?

Imagine a bar. It’s in a major city but not quite in the centre. It’s big. It’s quite nice. It does food. Nothing fancy. Burgers, wraps, sandwiches, a tasty but not especially authentic curry. It has a decent vegetarian selection. They have a good range of beers and wine but they also have a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks. They make their own juice. They do great coffee.

They have a jukebox.

Oh yeah, did I mention, it’s my bar.

It’s lunchtime. The bar is pretty full. You look around and you see a couple of tables of students, other tables seat office workers taking a break from data entry and endless meetings, there is a group of young parents with babies, an old couple sharing a lasagne, a biker on a blind date with a ballerina, some Indian tourists browsing a Rough Guide and planning an afternoon exploring the city, a girl celebrating her eighteenth birthday with two mates who are eighteen and one drinking a coke who isn’t quite, in the corner a doctor is sat on his own, running through the chain of events that started with one too many drinks with a work colleague and ended with him sitting here, freshly divorced, staring at a pint of Guinness he doesn’t really want, clutching a key card to a room in the nearest Premier Inn. In short, a mixed crowd, all of us, all of humanity in its wonderful variety.

You put a pound in the jukebox…

So there you go. No song could please everyone in that room but a good recommendation will try to appeal to more than one table. Which doesn’t mean you are looking for something popular. People like surprises. There are no wrong answers.

Having said that all that, if you pick something I don’t like you aren’t going to score very highly.

Hope that helped. It probably didn’t, and in some cases will probably make you even more angry that your choice hasn’t made a chart at some point. I can picture you now, screaming at your computer, “Students and newly divorced doctors love Slint, you twunt!” What can I say? It’s not a perfect system but it gets results. Look at Sweden week. Heck, look at any week. Between us we give good playlist. Go us, yeah? Let’s do another one…

The ‘top 40’ Michigan songs

Bit of an odd week this week, scores-wise. Because I had neither the inclination nor the ability to try to rank classic Motown songs, I have grouped most of them together. Once I had done that, it seemed silly not to group a lot of the sensitive-white-guys-who-have-got-an-acoustic-guitar-and-some-feels together too. One thing led to another and, well, everybody made the chart this week.

Everybody that is, except for Sex Police, who recommended All Summer Long by Kid Rock with the qualification, “It’s the worst record ever made and I stand by my decision to recommend it.” I salute that sort of decision but (because he is right) I couldn’t allow that song to be even 40th on the chart. I can award it all this week’s bonus points though, so I am doing that. Unfortunately there are only seven of them this week. Still. Better than nothing.

Lumping stuff together is almost certainly going to end up being a tad controversial and the things I put in, or leave out, of those groups will inevitably make some of you angry. However, and I cannot emphasise this enough, not one of you picked something by The Four Tops. I am not the monster here.

Oh, yeah, and I am experimenting with ‘picked by’ instead of ‘recommended by’ because I have to type 200 less letters if I do that. Hope that’s ok.

Actually, it has taken me longer to explain than to just type recommended forty times.

Over time though, it will pay dividends, I’m sure.

  • 40 – Kick Out The Jams by The Presidents of the United States of America – picked by Zero Carbon Skane – I suspect this is trolling in some form or another but who knows? It’s the first time I have deleted a song from a playlist before listening to it for the second time, but as I managed to fit everyone on the chart this week it still scores – two points – on the off chance it was nominated in good faith.
  • 39 – You Get What You Give by New Radicals – picked by Sam Bail – The joke kind of writes itself here. You give me New Radicals, you get – two points
  • 38 – Burning Inside by Ministry – picked by Mark G – I spent a good ten minutes on the internet trying to connect Ministry with Michigan and I failed. So, currently I can only offer – three points – for this pick. HOWEVER… should a link be forthcoming, I will be increasing that score, because the song is a banger.
  • 37 – Saginaw Michigan by George Jones – picked by Tom Glennie – Not for me. – four points
  • 36 – Hotel Yoruba by The White Stripes picked by Ben Thomas / I’m Shakin’ by Jack White picked by Kim Z Baker – Two very different songs – one reasonably calm, one full on million-man-spoons-orchestra has cockney knees-up – but I’ve stuck them together because a) Jack White and b) I exist only to cause chaos. – five points
  • 35 – Kawasaki Backflip by Dogleg – picked by Dan Edmonds – see next comment – six points
  • 34 – Near DT. MI – Black Midi – picked by Penny – I apologise for grouping a lot of the angrier bands at the bottom of this chart. You need a healthy mix of sounds in your musical diet. I know that. Anyway… – seven points
  • 33 – Bury Your Flame by La Dispute – picked by Chris Bissette – see next comment – eight points
  • 32 – I Need Help by Detroit Land Apples – picked by Plashing Vole – A perfectly good slice of instrumental Northern Soul which I have marked down a point or two for being an instrumental when so many ridiculously good vocal performances were available. Bit harsh of me, I know, but I have to put these in order in some way or another. – nine points
  • 31 – Renegade by Jay-Z ft Eminem – picked by Weeman – You forget sometimes, that Eminem was pretty good for a while. I say you. I mean me. I forget. He was though.- ten points
  • 30 – Gun Street Girl by Tom Waits – picked by Adam Farrer – Sometimes I wonder how much better Adam would have done if he had abandoned the whole ‘nominating Tom Waits every week’ tactic early on. Despite that hundred point bonus he started off with, he is sliding down the leader board. And, no spoilers or anything for the end of this post, but next week he might lose those points. Hopefully the – eleven points – he gets this week will help his total a little bit.
  • 29 – I what may be my most controversial judging decision of all time, I have grouped the following songs together and awarded them all twelve points. I don’t want to go into the science behind it. As I said already, this is largely off the back of my not being prepared (or able) to split Motown classics and then deciding what else I could group together if grouping things together was something I was going to do this week. I hope nobody is too disgruntled by my doing this. Twelve points each then, to Georgia Boon (Blue Bucket of Gold by Sufjan Stevens) Richard Jones and Slugger (Michigan by Josh Rouse) Em (Let Down by Michigander) Tom. (3 Libras by A Perfect Circle) Graeme (Behold the Miracle by Jad Fair and Teenage Fanclub) Skerret (Detroit by Gaz Coombes) Nick (Bullet with Butterfly Wings by The Smashing Pumpkins) and Michael Conley (Fire Editorial by The Mountain Goats)
  • 28 – Under My Wheels by Alice Cooper – picked by Andy C – I enjoyed this. – thirteen points
  • 27 – Another grouping together one (Sorry about this. Blame Motown, or me, for picking Michigan in the first place). I am giving the following people/songs (which can, incredibly broadly, be seen as a group of ‘some of the house/post house/and/or other dance genres songs nominated this week’) fourteen points each. TB (I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits by Moodymann) Dave Hartley (Word Problems by Harmonic 313) Jacques Le Singe (Shari Vari by A Number of Names) Nick Rayney (Lyk U Use 2 by Moodymann) and Adrian Slatcher (No UFOs by Model 500)
  • 26 – Yet another grouping, but this time a slightly more organic one. Graham Watt (16 With a Bullet by Scott Morgan) Nick Garrard (City Slang by Sonics Rendezvous Band) Julie (Kick Out The Jams by MC5) and Steven Moss (Glowin’ by The Rationals) get fifteen points each.
  • 25 – Let Me Down Easy by Bettye Lavette – picked by Subfuscous – I’ll be honest, I didn’t know quite what to make of the strings on this one. Hopefully I listened to the right version. Great voice though. Obvs. – sixteen points
  • 24 – Dope Cloud by Protomartyr picked by Sam Whyte and Michigan Hammers by Protomartyr picked by Sleepy – I suspect Protomartyr will be one of those bands like The National that a lot of my friends will buy all the albums by but that I won’t really get into except for the odd song (like Bloodbuzz Ohio for example). It’s because I’m not cool. Which is fine. I’m ok with that. I know what I am. Anyway – seventeen points.
  • 23 – Della and the Dealer by Hoyt Axton – picked by Jummo70 – Mentioning the town of Kalamazoo and not without a portion of charm either. Very nice. – eighteen points
  • 22 – Cause by Rodriguez – picked by Picky Bastards – Yep. – nineteen points
  • 21 – Panic in Detroit by David Bowie – picked by Sherri Turner – One of a couple of potential Bowie picks this week (I was surprised nobody went with Knock On Wood) and easily worth – twenty points
  • 20 – Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and The Shondells – picked by Justin Chisnall – I’m embarassed to say that until this week I had only heard the Joan Jett version. This is good too. twenty-one points
  • 19 – Where’s the Party? by Madonna – picked by Desmond – There are Madonna songs that would have scored more, sure, but this one is great too. – twenty-two points
  • 18 – Band of Gold by Freda Payne – picked by Beth Woodward – It knocked my nomination out of Picky Bastard’s best UK number ones poll (which some random tried to troll me about but, honestly, if you can’t see the beauty of Sign of the Times by Harry Styles then I just feel sorry for you, dude.) However, I don’t bear grudges. Band of Gold is clearly great. – twenty-three points

Incidentally, I don’t think Sign of the Times by Harry Styles is the best UK number one of all time. I think Uptown Top Ranking by Althea and Donna is the best UK number one of all time. That lost in the poll to Caravan of Love by The Housemartins. Democracy, eh? You never can tell what people are going to vote for.

  • 17 – Search and Destroy by Iggy and the Stooges – picked by Justhipper – Still sounds incredible after all these years – twenty-four points
  • 16 – Big Fun by Inner City – picked by Ryan D – Also still sounds great after all these (slightly less) years – twenty-five points
  • 15 – Ain’t It Funny by Danny Brown – picked by David Bruce – Recommended twice in two weeks. Ain’t it funny etc etc etc – twenty-six points
  • 14 – Isotropy by Dopplereffekt – picked by Dan – Like nothing else chosen this week, all soundtracky and that. Lovely. – twenty-seven points
  • 13 – Yet another grouping. This time it’s two dance ones that I decided should get more points than other dance ones. Graham Cox and William Mallin picked Jupiter Jazz by Galaxy 2 Galaxy and Arron Wright picked Strings of Life by Rhythm is Rhythm. They all get – twenty-eight points.
  • 12 – OK. The last of the groupings and this one is a doozy. As I have said already, I didn’t feel particularly qualified to rank Motown songs. Who am I? The Guardian or something? So everyone listed below gets twenty-nine points. These aren’t all the Motown choices, I saved a couple for the top ten, but most of them.[btw… I decided to hold my nose and separate a couple of artists from their work, reminding myself that they weren’t (as far as the historical record currently stands) monsters when they recorded the nominated songs. In case anyone was wondering.]Anyway, twenty-nine points each to Rebecca H and Dan Williams (What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye) Neal (I Want You Back by The Jackson 5) Lil’ Vanni Byniaeth (Nowhere to Run by Martha and the Vandellas) Ben (Another Star by Stevie Wonder) Donna Morris (My Destiny by Lionel Richie) Tom Mason (Superstition by Stevie Wonder) Tom A (I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye) Mike (Papa was a Rolling Stone by The Temptations) Leighton (If You Really Love Me by Stevie Wonder) Chris *Wear Your Dang Mask* (Super Freak by Rick James) and Mat Pringle (Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas)
  • 11 – Feel the Need in Me by The Detroit Emeralds – picked by Bruno Di Gradi – not ‘better’ than the songs at number twelve in the chart, but still great, and a quirkier choice, so… – thirty points
  • 10 – Respect by Aretha Franklin – picked by James Battisson – I have absolutely no qualms giving this song a couple more points than the other ‘Motown big hitters’ choices because it is an absolute belter. – thirty-one points
  • 9 – In the Midnight Hour by Maloko – picked by Phil Rhodes – a left-field take on the ‘what Motown song should I choose dilemma. Very swish. – thirty-two points
  • 8 – There’s a Ghost in My House – R Dean Taylor – picked by Marsha Adams – Bit of a more obscure Motown choice (it was actually released on their subsidiary label, VIP) and a song that would give The Fall their first top 40 single. Nice all round, eh? – thirty-three points
  • 7 – I Want To Go To Michigan  by Judy Garland – picked my Henriette Pleiger – I’ll be honest: all my instincts said give the number one to the song that rhymes Michigan with fish again. In the end, my brain over-ruled my heart, but I couldn’t give this any less than – thirty-four points
  • 6 – GMF by John Grant – picked by Nick Portnell – Sweary AND beautiful. A winning combination. – thirty-five points.
  • 5 – Runnin’ by The Pharcyde – picked by David N Atkinson – Just squeezing into eligibility via a production by J Dilla but worth every fraction of its thirty six points
  • 4 – Juice by Lizzo picked by David Coates and Good as Hell by Lizzo picked by Daniel Carpenter – BREAKING……DAN OVERTAKES DAVE……BREAKING…….DAN OVERTAKES DAVE……. We didn’t get many picks from the last decade this week but most of the ones we did were smashing. There’s no arguing with Lizzo. Obviously. – thirty-seven points
  • 3 – Michigan by Autumn Anderson – picked by Al Kennedy – this song caught me completely by surprise. New to me? Tick. Brilliant chorus? Tick. Makes me want to check out more stuff by them? Tick. Great recommending. – thirty-eight points
  • 2 – Knock on Wood by Eddie Floyd – picked by John Power Jr – I was a bit disappointed nobody recommended The Falcons but this is a good next-best-thing. Clearly brilliant. – thirty-nine points.
  • 1 – Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson – picked by James Beck – It was always going to be Motown at the top, wasn’t it? But it had to be something a little less well known. At the same time, you couldn’t go too obscure. Bruce Willis was a Motown artist but, as much as I love his song Pep Talk, he wasn’t going to win many points this week. We needed a corker, and we got one, and here it is. Forty points.

Next week? It’s only Eurovision, isn’t it? So, to celebrate, I want one song from any artist who has represented any country at Eurovision. Should be easy, that. Or really really really really difficult. Have fun anyway. Deadline is 11:59 on Wednesday.