My iTunes library boasts a mere 2,813 songs. Another 8,000+ tracks rest peaceably on an external hard drive, which--barring some unforseen circumstance--will not be fraternizing with my current playlist anytime soon. Due to severe memory restrictions on this laptop, I allow only DJ-worthy (a.k.a. upbeat rock) songs onto iTunes. Sorry, John Lennon’s Solo Catalogue.
Care to hear which 10 are the most played? I’ll now list them in order, with a brief explanation (excuse?) for their appearance on this exclusive register. Please keep in mind that just over a year ago I accidentally deleted my iTunes library, thus erasing all facts and figures from the “play count” category. That unfortunate mishap will certainly skew the numbers. Many former darlings are nowhere to be found, though back in their heyday they garnered more listens than the current crop. (Since accepting the DJ gig, I've sought out music I wouldn't otherwise entertain.) Also note that I suffer from undiagnosed ADHD, a condition which renders some longer faves--David Bowie’s “Station To Station,” for example, or Sigur Ros’ “Flugufrelsarinn”--ineligible, because a song must be played through in its entirety to count as a full “play.” I often listen to music only until it satisfies my immediate urges, then move swiftly and purposefully (purposelessly?) to the next selection, sometimes cutting three or four minutes early when another track’s bright, ostentatious plumage catches my eye.
Anyway, here’s the rundown:
1)Gang of Four--“To Hell With Poverty” (42 plays) Classic post-punk. What a song title! Although Gang Of Four certainly propagated the punk ethoses of irreverence, vicissitude, and maniacal energy, their unhinged jubilation set them apart from many acts that preceded them. I played this snot anthem at numerous DJ gigs before noting that none of the clowns at the bar care for/about Gang of Four. Whatever. I’ll keep ‘em to myself. Your loss, brah.
2)Blur--“There’s No Other Way” (38 plays) Catchy as hell, and uppity enough in the BPM department to sustain interest. Less obvious than Blur’s safe “Song 2” (speaking as a DJ), this track proves far superior, qualitatively speaking. Everything about the song--hooks, chord changes, vocal delivery, guitar work, pacing--is flawless, and if I could understand what the hell Damon Albarn was saying, I’m sure I’d also find the lyrics satisfying, enlightening, emotionally cathartic, and grammatically correct. Since debuting this one back in early summer ’09, more than a few people have approached the booth after the song concluded to inquire about the artist and/or track name. Maybe I’m doing something right? (See vid below.)
3)Empire Of The Sun--“Walking On A Dream” (38 plays) Thanks to Kate Maxwell for introducing me. When “Indie” and “Dance” join forces in a cotton candy way I usually get pissed off (see: MGMT, Passion Pit), but Empire Of The Sun craft a pretty solid pop song. Check out “We Are The People” from Walking On A Dream, the band's 2009 album of the same name.
4)Kings Of Leon--“Sex On Fire” (33 plays) I’m not proud of this one, but sometimes the frothy, barking masses demand mediocrity, and it’s my duty to provide. I’m hard-pressed to name another band this taupe that's gained comparable levels of mainstream success. Maybe Coldplay? Yeah, Coldplay. Ok, that wasn’t so hard after all. (For the record, I like a few Coldplay songs. They’re boring, yes, but sometimes quite pleasant and easy on the ear.)
5)The Rapture--“House Of Jealous Lovers” (29 plays) Don’t get me started. How perfect is this song? To go further: How perfect is this BAND? They’ve been on near-constant rotation for more than a few months.
6)De La Soul--“Say No Go” (27 plays) “Say No Go” borrows quite heavily from Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” which lends this song--er, to be accurate, I suppose I’m addressing the band--even more cred than I was originally willing to grant it. The Bird and The Bee recently recorded a Hall and Oates tribute album which was reviewed by one of the NYC weeklies or biweeklies I read (L Magazine? Village Voice?), and now I’m cranky because I can’t find the article, which suggested that it’s actually ok to praise Hall and Oates without winking because refined listeners no longer write them off as an ironically regarded novelty act, and have rightly concluded--at long last, and after years of snubbing--that H&O are legitimate pop craftsmen who deserve serious consideration. This has nothing to do with De La Soul, of course, but everything to do with justice.
7)Electric Light Orchestra--“Surrender” (27 plays) Righteous song from the 70s that changed absolutely nothing (come to think of it, it never even appeared on an E.L.O. studio record) and will soon be forgotten, which is a shame, really, because for my money it’s one of the most listenable songs to emerge from that decade. I have no idea what it’s about, nor do I care. It’s just pop perfection. Period. Give it a listen:
8) Beck--“E-Pro” (26 plays) Eh, whatever. It’s loud enough, fast enough, and hip enough (Beck’s cool…right?) to appease the Happy Hour crowd. Ergo, 26 plays.
9)The Roots--“The Seed 2.0” (26 plays) “The Seed 2.0” incorporates--quite well--every hip genre of the last forty years, which is why it makes my end-of-decade list for Best Tracks of the 2000s. No question.
10)The Libertines--“Vertigo” (24 plays) Haha. How did this one sneak on the list? I'm kidding, of course, because here we have another near-perfect pop song. It's easy to chuckle at Pete Doherty and his persistent drug problems on those rare instances we Americans encounter OK! magazine, but the man is a musician first and a pale-faced junkie second, as evidenced by the first two Libertines records. "Vertigo" has 24 plays because sensible human beings will always respond to non-pretentious rock and roll, especially if the edges are frayed and somewhat asymmetrical. The people have spoken. ...