Hello there, you.
We’re nearly at the end of the tournament!
The main reason I have decided to bring The Best Music Recommender in the World to a conclusion is a lack of time. When I started asking you to recommend music I was getting a dozen or so new albums a week to listen to. Now, I regularly get more than seventy recommendations a week. It has become too much. What was a fun distraction from lockdown living has become an unpaid part-time job. And while the move from albums to songs made things a little easier, it has also moved me further away from my original motivation, which was to find new things to listen to.
Which isn’t to say it hasn’t been a blast. It has. I’ve loved every minute of it. I have discovered a stack of new stuff to listen to and (more importantly) lots of interesting people that I wouldn’t know if I hadn’t run this tournament. Thank you, to all of you, for your great suggestions and for making my role as clueless arbitrator a joyful one. You are all great and lovely people.
And this isn’t goodbye. I have the beginnings of an idea for a less frequent, less competitive version of this that would mean a much lighter workload for me (and you too, I suppose). I’m not sure if it will work or not. I’m not sure if it will happen or not. But watch this space etc.
Remember that thing I said about not having enough time? Well. It turns out that I didn’t have enough to even listen to all your songs properly this week. And because I didn’t want to rush what will be the last week of the competition I’m going to push the final set of results to next Sunday. Sorry and that. To fill the time between then and now, I thought I would tell you what I would have picked each week if I had been competing in this competition instead of compering and comparing it. I thought you might find that interesting. A peep behind the curtain. A chance to see the clock’s works working. An opportunity for revenge in the comments? Whatever you like.
- Week One – double album – I would (without a word of apology) have ignored all ‘proper’ double albums and chosen a compilation [specifically the Patsy Cline collection, Sweet Dreams: Her Complete Decca Masters (1960-1963)]on the principal that most double albums are garbage and if you are going to listen to something for two hours it might as well be perfect. I trust that whoever was scoring things would have marked me down accordingly for cheating, but I wouldn’t have regretted my actions.
- Week Two – song recorded by somebody over sixty – Frank Sinatra was sixty-five when he recorded What Time Does The Next Miracle Leave? the opening track to the third part of his 1980 album, Trilogy: Past, Present, Future. The song is ten minutes long, bloated, pompous and preposterous. I love it.
- Week Three – Scottish album – The Scottish album that I have been listening to for the longest time is Lloyd Cole. The Commotions. The Singles but as I have already picked one compilation I suppose I should play the game this time and pick an actual album. As nobody else chose it, I think I would have gone with Glasvegas by Glasvegas which, while not being the most obscure choice ever made, is a great album.
- Week Four – 1980s song – There are cooler songs and there are better songs, but from the second I came up with this category I couldn’t see past The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades by Timbuk 3 as being the ‘correct’ answer. Is there anything more 80s? [OK, sure, the Ghostbusters theme, fine.] Takes me back to a time, that one.
- Week Five – Valentine’s Day – Taking an opportunity to crowbar one of my favourite songs into a category it sort of fits into, I would have chosen Good Intentions Paving Company by Joanna Newsom. It is about a relationship that is struggling, or ending, rather than happy-ever-after anthem but Valentine’s Day is capitalist bullshit so funk all that romance ship, yeah? More seriously. this is a beautiful love song, an open text that invites the reader into a thought process but offers no easy answers. Also, the lyrics are incredible.
- Week Six – Yorkshire – Hard to look past The Wedding Present. Hard to look past Dalliance. That bit at 3:48 when the guitars kick in again? Blimey.
- Week Seven – song from a musical – Go big or go home imo, so… Some People, from Gypsy, as recorded by Annie Ross. The perfect encapsulation of the lure of the stage.
- Week Eight – New York – The only easy part of picking a song from New York is the genre. It has to be hip hop. The choice is impossible but eventually I settled on Broken Language by Smoothe da Hustler ft. Trigga tha Gambler. The first time I heard it, it broke my brain. A quarter of a century and countless plays later it still blows me away. The flow, the rhymes within rhymes within rhymes, just brilliant. I believe that it is ‘heavy’ but I’m also old enough to doubt if I know what that word actually means. It’s definitely great (and still hugely influential – Run the Jewels nodding to it on their latest album, for example).
- Week Nine – b-side – For me, the ideal b-side is the sound of a band doing something they might not normally do and I can’t think of a better example of that that Das Schützenfest by Faith No More. A polka sung in German chock full of the sound of dogs barking. Hilarious and also brilliant.
- Week Ten – Ireland – My heart was drawn first to the wave of Irish bands that appeared in the 90s, A House, Sultans of Ping FC, The Pale, etc but ultimately there was no escaping the genius of Your Dad’s Best Friend by Rubberbandits. Proper good video too.
- Week Eleven – New England – One of my favourite songs of last year was Ordinary Talk by Half Waif and she grew up in Massachusetts so I’ll go with that one.
- Week Twelve – Sweden – I have long held the opinion that Bombed (Out of My Mind) by Backyard Babies is the Platonic form of a rock song. I’m probably wrong about that but it’s what I believe, so… there you go.
- Week Thirteen – Britpop – Is Death of The Prodigy Dancers by The Prodigy Britpop? I’m saying it is. I would have taken the risk and nominated it anyway. Better to score no points but feel right than nominate something by Oasis.
- Week Fourteen – song by somebody who has acted in a movie – At first glance this is a no brainer this. Lauryn Hill was in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. Pick something off that. But then again… Alexei Sayle was in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (among other things) and ‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor? has always had a suite reserved in the hotel of my heart.
- Week Fifteen – punk – I think of punk as being more of a vibe than a genre, so my song for punk week would have been Buzzin’ by Asian Dub Foundation.
- Week Sixteen – Michigan – You have to go Motown, don’t you? I love an obscure choice as anyone but Motown is right there, all Motown-y. I would have doubled down on the ‘being from Detroit’ aspect of things by picking something by The Four Tops, possibly 7 Rooms of Gloom, which I love, even if the band themselves didn’t much care for it.
- Week Seventeen – Eurovision – If you are going to pick a song for Eurovision week then ideally you will embrace the pop and the fun elements of it all without succumbing to the stench of naffness that pervades the competition. My solution to that dilemma would have been to pick Relight My Fire by Take That and Lulu. I know some of you will hate the song but, I’m sorry, you are just wrong on this occasion. It is a classic.
- Week Eighteen – favourite song released in 2021 (so far) – I’m not recommending anything for this category. Not when I haven’t finished listening to your songs yet…
OK. I hope you kind of enjoyed that. Next week I will definitely definitely definitely get your results back to you. See you then.