I’ve just had a look at the Spotify playlist ‘Your Top Songs 2017’, which is a playlist unique to each listener, listing their 100 most listened to songs. It’s funny looking at it all now; you can really see where you’ve been. I love all of these songs so much. They capture everything. It’s been a brilliant, devastating, unforgettable year; simultaneously the worst and best of my life. So much heartbreak, so much joy, so much chaos and creativity and love.
I want to run through a few choice tracks and explain why they are so important.
Note: There a few random entries in the above playlist that are totally weird and out of place. I know. I share a Spotify with my brother. He likes weird shit.
1) Song For Clay (Disappear Here) by Bloc Party
Over several periods this year, this song was just about the only thing keeping me sane, because it was proof that I wasn’t the only person in the world experiencing this curious, permeating feeling of dread. The song is claustrophobic and oppressive, urgent and fraught. It sounds like a fucking panic attack. There’s no humour or wit, it’s just pure, naked anxiety. And I don’t know if it’s the world we live in now, or this city, or my own broken brain, but god, I can relate. And now it’s the Berlin winter. The sun is gone and the beautiful people have once more become bundles of black coat and scarf , and grey cackles over everything. The song took a back seat over the summer. Now it’s on repeat once again.
And you know what? It was only after listening to it for months, amazed at how a song can capture a whole city’s mood, when I learned the album was recorded in Berlin. Trippy.
2) Secret Door by Arctic Monkeys
This one is the romantic in me creeping out to say hello. The start of the song is melodic, a ballad, ponderous, poetic. Float along on a summer day dreaming of falling in love. The middle third is a wry smile and a detective’s magnifying glass, curious and brave, music for idle people watching and quiet revelations. And then – oh, and then – the final third comes crashing over you, drenching you, sweeping you up in warm saltwater and cradling you. Romance and dreams and the sweeping flourish of a ballgown.
3) It All Relates by Sharks
I wouldn’t be who I am today without this song. Sharks disbanded almost a decade ago after a brief career. They never sold out stadiums, never made much of a splash, but this song – it’s saved me so many times. It’s my solace when everything falls apart, when I wish I could sink into the earth, when I fuck my life up for the ten thousandth time and everything hurts. Romance is tragedy, and to me, this song encapsulates the doomed defiance of youth. We all get old, we all get burned, and there’s nothing anybody can do except smile and make the biggest fucking racket you can while it’s your time in the sun. Youth must have its fling, however wild.
Thrown into the wind of the drawn out last breath
We don’t waste, we charge straight into death
with the risk of never taking it to the end
4) Homesick by Catfish and the Bottlemen
Best live band in the fucking world right now. Van McCann is utterly compelling and unique as a front man; 24 years old, boisterous and vibrant, more alive than anybody you’ve ever seen. A kid at the dawn of fame, wide eyed and sober, alert, smart, desperate, laughing and grateful and sincere. Naive, earnest, frantic. You can have your smart hooks and your innovative recording techniques, you can have your Alt J’s and your Romares and whatever else – but nothing else quite catches the exuberance, the sheer joy of being a cash stripped kid in England, crammed into a sweaty festival tent, soaked in booze, spattered in mud, one arm around yer best mate and one in the air, singing for all you’re worth. It’s just so pure.
I SAID I’M ONLY LOOKING OUT FOR YOU / SHE SAID IT’S OBVIOUS THAT’S A LIE
5) Reckless Serenade by Arctic Monkeys
Rather surprised this isn’t number 1, to be honest. It’s quite possibly my favourite song in the world. I don’t know why – it’s not a single and they never play it live. The way the fuzzy plodding bass coils around zipping and sparkling guitars, and the vivid poetry of the lyrics. Sincere, cute, funny; Alex Turner at his most gorgeous. The last 20 seconds are ecstasy.
Wave their flags as she walks by
And get ignored
On a rainy day
When she walks her footsteps sing
A reckless serenade
I would have been brave
You should have asked me for it
How could I say no?
And our love could have soared
Over playgrounds and rooftops
Every park bench screams your name, I kept your tie
I’d have let you if you asked me