I'm intrigued by them, because they suggest that everyone's iPod contains a kind of massive playlist of songs they like, whereas I've always tended to use my own MP3 player (not an Apple product) as much for 'testing out' stuff as for listening to old favourites.
But I decided I should do that too, so I've been rooting around CDs, DVDs, and God knows what else for a kind of 'playlist' of songs I can listen to without thinking. Songs that, were someone to swipe my MP3 player, would on some level indicate something about my taste.
So I put in on shuffle. And here are the first ten to come out:
- Ruby Blue - The Quiet Mind (for Joe): I had this moody little obscurity on a various artists compilation years and years ago. I knew nothing about it or Ruby Blue themselves and never paid it much attention, but it creeped into my subconscious and here I am all those years later listening to it more intently. It's a great piece with completely unexpected choral vocals tossed into the mix.
- Ini Kamoze - Here Comes the Hotstepper: Dancehall's not really my thing, but with the hip-hop-sample drumbeat and Wilson Pickett tagline, it's an infectious piece of silly nonsense. Harmless and playful.
- 2Pac - California Love: The album version, unfortunately. I have to get my hands on the much superior remix. Still, awesome awesome awesome no matter what the bassline is. Brilliant party music, all these years later.
- B.J. Thomas - Hooked on a Feeling: The sitars here are better than the hooka-chukkas in the 1970s version, but everything else is superior on the latter one. Still, this is the original, and it's the song itself which really matters. And a hell of a composition it is.
- Neil Young - Southern Man: I'm not always in the mood for Neil Young, but his whine of a voice (distorted here for extra whine) suits the righteous indignation here perfectly. This is from all the way back when he didn't view his musical career as two parallel careers, one acoustic and one electric.
- The Rolling Stones - Ruby Tuesday: I have a few Stones songs on here. I'm not a big fan, but there was some worthy stuff. This one is all about the instrumentations. Ignore Mick Jagger's overly delicate enunciation and check out that buzzsaw cello instead.
- The Sugarcubes - Motorcrash: How I'll probably always prefer my Björk, young and poppy. The Sugarcubes' début is amazing, and this tiny little rush of a song is the first I ever head of it. Her 'Where have you been all this time?' is about as compelling as she's ever been.
- The Cure - Just Like Heaven: One of the best songs ever, and I think I've realised why: Robert Smith can't really be expected to overcome his inherent pessimism, so the best way to get simple joy and beauty from him is to ask him to paint a picture of a tragic moment rendered all the sadder because of the joy he could almost-have. It's irresistable for the professional mope-merchant and the result is musical ecstasy for the rest of us.
- The Wailers - My Cup: This is Lee Perry era, with Bub, Bunny and Peter covering James Brown without mentioning to anyone that that's what they were doing. They took a lot from James Brown, and the results were generally scintillating. Funk-reggae ought to be the single greatest genre in the history of everything.
- Ass Ponys - Peanut '93: I'm glad this little curiosity happened to be one of the randomly-selected ten. Like the first track, I got it on a VA compilation back in the day - in this case, a music magazine covermount. I plyed it a lot my first year in university and won a lot of fans over. I wound up buying the Ass Ponys' album and finding it a bit one-note but with a handful of other gems. This queer little rural go-nowhere story remains the best, though.