Jam Of The Year
I’ve spent a lot of time alone with my Spotify and Apple Music accounts recently, and both are making various suggestions about what songs they think I like. They could be right, and they could be wrong.
My musical taste is weird and eclectic and I’m pretty proud of it. Because it encompasses most genres and just as much as I know what I like, I also know what I don’t like, and why.
So, for my own interests, I decided I’d pull together some notes on what songs and what artists made this year stand out for me. Some are just good songs; others are tied to a moment, whether that’s for good or ill.
Some with me on this journey through my musical taste, where you’ll probably be looking all confused and wondering just what drugs I am on.
It might even entertain you…
My year in music (or generally, in life) has been weird. After a few months of finishing up my treatment and getting back to normal life, music wasn’t all that important.
That changed. Because real-life is boring and most stories come back to some sort of ~feelings~ so I’d much prefer to dip into a nice sound for a few minutes and then leave it alone. Or listen to it ad nauseam for the rest of the month.
First on the list, The Phoenix by Fall Out Boy.
So this isn ‘t exactly a new song: it was released back in 2013 and I liked listening to it back then. And I liked listening to it through 2014 too: this was the song that I put on the morning I was going to get the results of my first brain surgery, one that I listened to every few days throughout radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The declaration to “Put on your warpaint” was and is a call to arms, and the mention of the phoenix, a character that comes back from the dead, wasn’t lost on me. As my favourite character from the X-Men comics, those words caught my attention.
2015 was the year I got a tattoo of a phoenix. Making this just one of my songs of the year. (It helps that we got to see them live in October.)
The beats of this next song sort of match the beats from a song that I’ll be discussing a lot later, but when it comes to pop-punk-with-just-a-bit-of-dance-overtones, I can’t look much further than Victorious by Panic! At The Disco.
I’ve never been their biggest fan. Not that they’re bad or anything, but they’ve never heald my attention for much longer than one song at a time. But those crunching guitars and bombastic attitude made me really desperately want to to listen to this several times in a row.
Yes, it’s not lost on me that they’re signed to the same record company as Fall Out Boy have been with. There’ll be more of that later…
But first, let’s look at drag. Because after being in hospital for quite a while, I got to watch a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race and as things were getting better, I got to go to a lot of drag shows.
Some of those drag shows were better than others, but one appealed to all of my sensibilities (because apparently I sort of like burlesque as well? Who’d’ve thought it?) Violet Chachki, winner of season 7 (I’m not apologising for the spoiler) released an EP and showed off a little bit about the other side of drag (the side that isn’t afraid of sex and all sorts of bodies, male and female.)
I give you Violet Chachki’s Bettie.
(Yes, there’s a bit more of that crunching base-line. Apparently that was in this season?)
I need to get away from that noise, because as I’m writing this, I’m starting to see some similarities and now I’m feeling bad that maybe by jams of the year aren’t all that different at all and I just have a specific type of sound that I like and that colours everything else.
Which is possible.
So let’s just keep is slow and subtle. The Weeknd and the Michael Jackson-style grooves of Can’t Feel My Face that should get you up dancing.
And then he goes on fire.
I haven’t danced to this song enough. Not yet anyway. Maybe next year?
I’d be lying if I pretended like my year wasn’t coloured by brain tumours and cancer though. There were a lot of songs that brought the reality of that back to life, some for negative reasons, and others for very, very very positive ones.
I give you Frank Turner’s Get Better.
This isn’t a song about brain tumours or my treatment, but there’s too many parts of this song that resonate on a primal level. (It helps that he has a beard and tattoos.) The only thing that stops the song from being absolutely fucking perfect is the constant mentions of “she” (because no woman is ever drawing on my chest, thank you very much.) But every time I hear ” the best people I know are looking out for me,” I think of the people who are looking out for me.
Because some of them are awesome.
Frank (we’re on first-name terms in my head) is playing a gig in Dublin in February 2016. We have tickets. I will cry when he does this song.
And it’ll be for the best possible reasons.
The search to “get better” was a lengthy journey, and the healing power of music helped. Yeah, I’m talking nonsense, but apparently if I sing along to a Happy Song (which is what the song is called) by Bring Me The Horizon it’ll be okay.
Yeah, it’s not a particularly happy song, but that’s the bit that makes it happy. Forget the shit, the music will make it all go away, and I’m not the only person to think that.
Bring Me The Horizon got me sticking with listening to Kerrang for quite a while during the year, so getting away from drag queens, I also fell in love with this song and this band in the process.
Crossfaith have a really cool cover of The Prodigy‘s Omen on YouTube that I can’t find on any traditional music. But Devil’s Party became my heavy song for the autumnal months. Maybe it’s the tablets and the hospital aesthetic, but I can relate.
Perhaps a bit too well.
In amongst all of this music there was a bit of a song about nodding along to the metal and trying not to roll your eyes at people who are really annoying you.
That type of song comes in You Got Spirit, Kid by Coheed & Cambria.
My big tunes of the year got a little bit more pop-tastic, though: these are the songs I returned to multiple times or had some very specific meaning, and that was sort of cool.
When I say I returned to them multiple times, I mean that YouTube thinks I watched these videos a lot of times.
But it’s okay, they’re all pop songs now so your parents might even know them, or think that they sound familiar.
I like punk/pop-punk music. I like pop-punk covers. When there’s a cover of a song that I absolutely hate and that becomes a song that I like, that’s a pretty good cover, right? Or something like that.
So, I hate the song Chandelier. Can’t stand it.
Unless it’s being covered by PVRIS.
(This album also gave me covers of Taylor Swift songs, which I sort of adored already anyway but kept me entertained whenever I wanted to listen to those songs but didn’t really feel like admitting that I was listening to Taylor Swift.)
I’ve only discovered this band and song in the last few weeks, but it’s quick become one of my favourites ever, old-school Glassjaw-type vocal gymnastics, a little bit of crunching guitars and a poppy sing-along chorus.
I The Mighty – The Lying Eyes Of Miss Erray
We’re getting close to the end now.
Like, we’re getting to top 3 levels of awesome. Because I’ve just realised that while these aren’t in any particular order, there are three songs that are pretty damned cool and have been stuck in my head for the last few weeks and months.
In May of this year, Ireland went to vote for Marriage Equality, and it was a resounding yes. That meant that myself and Dan could get married and it would be just as valid and recognised as everyone else’s wedding.
That meant a playlist needed to be built.
We have our first dances picked and I’m not sharing them here.
But Boom by Simple Plan is going on the list and I don’t give a shit if nobody knows the song and doesn’t even dance.
Also, you know that bit where I said I liked covers?
Well, I like the original too. And I can play it on the piano anyway, so it just makes sense that at some stage we would acknowledge the fact that we lived in different counties when we started going out and the lengths we might go through for each other.
That’s right, we liked each other like the losers we are. Enough to mention Lower Than Atlantis‘s cover of A Thousand Miles.
But enough nonsense.
Let’s all just acknowledge the best song of the year was Demi Lovato‘s Cool For The Summer.
And I won’t hear anything said otherwise.
See how that totally came from left-field?