Monday, July 13, 2009

Quick follow up, before I forget

On selecting songs and ranking them according to some criterion:

My mother suggests the excellent Puff the Magic Dragon as the best song about Marijuana, and I thoroughly agree! Since she is not the internet nor my music collection, she counts as a legitimate source, so that is now my pick.

To me, the worrying thing about the latest Triple J All Time Hottest 100 is not the obvious flaws and things I would do differently (no Talking Heads? No Lou Reed? So little pop, or good hip-hop? Where's the love for female artists - Lucinda Williams, PJ Harvey, k.d. lang? Such heavy over-emphasis on the 90s? I mean you don't seriously think Smells Like Spirit is better than, say, Like a Rolling Stone do you? Its not even better than Lithium!) Everyone would have gripes and issues with any possible such list if they haven't compiled it themselves.

No, my problem is the converse - its so eerily similar to the list I might come up with if asked. For so many bands I like, my favourite song they do is their highest ranked and often sole showing on the list (at a glance, Breathe, No One Knows, Closer, Damnit, Chop Suey, Beds are Burning...) Radiohead gets as much doubtlessly unwarranted attention as bands like the Beatles do when its Rolling Stone critics and not Triple J votinf; and yet I can only think of the songs I'd cut to make room for even more Radiohead.

Songs I have loved passionately since first exposure like Float On and Common People are to me somewhat shock inclusions, and I don't know whether to be happy or sad about it.

Really, my musical tastes are pretty much just typical Triple J crowd + some stuff from my parents. Mixed in with a couple of influential friend's tastes; and even then it usually turns out my parents had tried and failed to get me to listen to those more obscure older bands when I was younger.

Oh well. As I replied when told my iPhone made me a conformist: "Yeah - conforming to awesome!"

Alright, that wasn't really a quick follow up, you got me. But I've been burned in the past where I've wanted to write on something current and topical, haven't managed to get all my thoughts down, and have come back to the draft 6 months later and realised there's nothing salvagable in such a completely dated post. So best to get it out of the way.

No more music for the immediate future was it seems a non-core promise. I will abide by the fair and democratic process of the comments thread in the previous post when deciding what to publish next, though. I promise.


James said...

Wikipedia claims 'Puff the Magic Dragon' <-> marijuana is an urban legend (at least on the basis of authorial intention...) that only caught on a couple of years after the song was a hit. Go non-authoritative sources!

James said...

What's interesting is seeing the changes from the previous 'Hottest 100 of All Time'. Hallelujah came from nowhere, but generally quite similar for the 'old' songs. See:,_2009

(someone's already put their old positions in the list)

cat said...

I like your post! Was getting so sick of comments about how the list sucked because it didn't include people's particular favourites, or was too mainstream or whatever. I like your balance :)

With Respect to X said...

Well I'm getting comments now, so no more whinging I guess.

I wondered with Puff as with other songs on the list if the song really was about that particular substance. Checking sources (without say going to a library) is using the internet though, and therefore cheating! I stand by my probably-only-urban-legend Puff.

Hallelujah has come from nowhere - the cover has always been great but it seems to have gotten more publicity recently - and its good to see Leonard Cohen's songwriting talents make the list.

On the other hand, Smells Like Teen Spirit is still number 1, almost 20 years after it changed the world? That surprised me, I'll admit.

As far as balance goes, well, its not so much because I set out to be balanced; flaming the list because its not the one I would have written is clearly idiotic and I'm at least non-conformist enough not to do that! And I think the odds I wouldn't have had any objections are implausibly low. So balance was kind of the only option going.

Ang said...

Here is a band you should look into liking: Fountains of Wayne. The people who brought us Stacy's Mom!

With Respect to X said...

I did YouTube the song - wow. Is the rest of their stuff really up to that standard? It seems... unlikely.

Ang said...

Well, maybe not as shit-hot as Stacy's Mom, but they're pretty rocking, with neat concepts, often. Example: Halley's Waitress is a son about a waitress who never comes around and he's all "aargh, I just want some goddamn coffee!".