The last couple of days, bored through inertia, I took to gently trolling my peers on Facebook. No reason really: saw someone else doing it, thought it seemed fun. I am amused by the idea of guilt by association and now that I have regained my sense of proportion about Music (tip for aspiring music critics: never regain your sense of proportion about music), I can remove myself to the higher (shallow) ground and take copious notes. Half the time, the following questions were intended as public challenges to myself and my own sense of tribalism and self-worth and identity. Half the time, I… well, I was choking back laughter when I typed in the words David Bowie or Lady Gaga. Trivial, I know but I really do not want to be going on about Trump from now till the end of the world (latest estimate, 2018).
I liked the responses that took musical form.
1. Raincoats or Ramones or REO Speedwagon?
I only started this ‘game’ because I like the way Facebook posts default to a larger font if there are less words. Uh. My answer is RAINCOATS because they are my people (even if plays over the years do not reflect this) but I ain’t gonna hate you if you answered Ramones, duh. I mean, double duh.
- Raincoats of course! No, Ramones, argh.
- Raincoats… why is this even a question?
- Ramones for the sheer joy.
- If the Raincoats, with all due respect, have ever written a song as good as “Take It On The Run” or “Keep On Loving You”, I’d like to hear it.
2. Staple Singers or Strawberry Switchblade?
The first comment summed it up. (It listed the video below, and stated “I believe this settles the matter”.) There is no criteria being applied here, no rigour – only a gentle instinct, and knowledge of how many hours of my life have been spent listening to both. You’ll notice that alliteration plays a role. One of The Legend! songs was (partway) inspired by my twentysomething crush on the Switchblade, but even so STAPLE SINGERS. Has to be (unless it isn’t).
- Gotta be the Staples. No offense to Strawberry Switchblade, but that’s a hard standard to beat.
- if you have to ask you don’t deserve the Staple Singers
- not really a fair fight. staples.
3. Destiny’s Child or Dexys Midnight Runners?
This is to myself. I still find myself continually (delightfully) surprised by Destiny’s Child. I am nowhere near familiar with their or Bey’s oeuvre – and long may it remain so. (I love being surprised by music.) I’d have been shocked if I’d answered anything other than Dexys (their newest album notwithstanding)… but the fact I felt I could put up an R&B group that only a few years back I totally ignored says something about my changing tastes. I do not engage with music as much as I once did and that alone means that Dexys’ crown is assailable. For now though, DEXYS.
- Oh god….do we *have* to choose?
- feels like unfriend-bait
- As Peel had it, there’s no such thing as good or bad music only good and bad listeners.
4. Deal breaker no 1: Beyoncé or Beatles?
Very few people took this question seriously. I think this fact falls under the heading “Bob Dylan winning a Nobel Prize for Literature says nothing about the quality of Dylan’s work and everything about the age, ethnicity and gender of the Nobel Prize for Literature judges” although of course others may beg to differ. Of course it is absurd to compare the two: representative of entirely different lifestyles and demographics and music and Ways of Hearing. If we are to judge this on plays this year however then BEYONCE tips it, just. Lifetime? Well, come on…
- who is beyonce? is she one of those kardashians?
- I’m okay with Bey, she’s fine, but the worship of her seems pretty groupthinky to me, whereas people will often gravitate towards the Fab agnostic of cultural or generational context. I’ve definitely enjoyed some of her stuff though.
- I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but at least they had talent, beyonce cant even write her own fucking songs
- Love both… but, like… Beyoncé is the legacy of the music the Beatles “paid homage to” (i.e. built their band and later solo career success on). Praising the Beatles but condemning modern RnB is dumb, Eurocentric and myopic.
- We’re getting easy questions today! That is, questions where it’s obvious to anyone who’s been even vaguely aware of Ev in the past few years what the safe answer is.
- Beyoncé. Can’t stand the Beatles
I get the impression that everyone else is the solution and I’m the problem.
5. Deal breaker no 2: ABBA or Fugazi?
There was only ever one answer to this. Uh… for me (ABBA).
- Anyone who says ‘Fugazi’ might as well walk around in a sandwich board with ‘I HATE MUSIC’ printed on it.
- Punk contrarians always claim to like ABBA/Prince/Michael Jackson/TLC etc more than they like Fugazi etc, but they always go to punk gigs and form punk bands – go figure
- People are taken this binary universe very seriously. Re Abba or Fugazi, both obviously.
- Glen Matlock claimed that he used ABBA’s “SOS” as a basis for “Pretty Vacant”, so check them out!
6. Deal breaker no 3: Kings of Leon or Foo Fighters?
Although I denied this several times during the comments, at no point during the Rules of This Game does it state that you have to choose. HOWEVER. Music is a competition, if you choose to make it, and when it comes down to it I have never heard a Kings of Leon song I’ve liked. There again, I have never knowingly heard a Kings of Leon song (despite having written columns about them). I might’ve forgotten, obv. I have heard some Foo Fighters song I’ve liked, so by dint of being least awful, FOO FIGHTERS. Anyone who took this question on face value does not deserve to have lived in the same world as Nina Simone.
- That’s not a choice, it’s a threat.
- Might as well ask if I want a swift kick to my left nut or a swift kick to my right nut
- Fucking Christ, neither. Jesus it honestly doesn’t get much worse for me than Foo Fighters. Kings of Leon I’ve only heard a few songs by- but I hated those songs
- Please kill me
7. Sparks or Soft Cell?
I know my answer to this (SOFT CELL) but it’s by default. There are some peerless Soft Cell songs. There are some peerless Sparks songs too, but the peerless to album filler count on Almond’s part is far higher. Also, I was nicknamed ‘Sparks’ at my factory job after the Mael brother with the ‘tache. I suspect it’s cooler to answer Sparks but cool was never on my agenda (lie number 36,589). I can see that one is directly inspired by the other but that does not mean they do not stand alone.
- Screamers or Suicide? STOP THIS MADNESS
- Is this some sort of trim the fat from my network exercise? How can you compare a band with 24 (could be more?) original non compilation albums spanning 5 decades,.. with a band that only really has about 3 to 5 albums and was only actually relevant for 1 decade the 80’s. if you asked 80’s Sparks or soft cell,.. I could maybe understand. But there is sooo much more to Spark’s than their 80’s output. Really Everett I should expect more.
- Honestly, the amount of people choosing Soft Cell made me so depressed that I didn’t want to look at any of the others. Ditto the Beyonce one. Anyone who would choose Beyonce over The Beatles has either taste so different from mine that I just don’t want to know, or they’re 15 years old. So I’m afraid to look at any of the other choices. Knowing that more people of vastly different taste are going to choose “wrongly” disturbs me. Maybe they chose Soft Cell because they haven’t heard 70’s Sparks. It IS important. I think that everything past “Introducing” is like a different band, and a lot of people only know those 80s songs.
- You bastard. Sparks. But only just.
- Both? Mind you, if you do the mathematical boolean operation “Sparks AND Soft Cell” the result is “The Associates”.
8. Deal breaker no 4: Young Marble Giants or Motörhead?
Do you prefer snorkelling or snuggling? For the record, YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS.
- no fucking way
- Impossible. Like Air or Water
- what deals are being broken here? YMG btw
I got that. Have I won a clock or a cruise?
9. U2… I mean The Cure, or Siouxsie and the Banshees?
I love the first Cure album but they lost me after ‘A Forest’ and only briefly regained me for the briefest of brief times with ‘Love Cats’ and ‘Just Like Heaven’ (which I discovered in retrospect like everyone else via Dinosaur Jr). I ADORE the first two Siouxsie albums and their spooky dissection of suburbia, and love the idea of Siouxsie herself (was thinking yesterday that here is a person I have never met and would like to). Obv they lost me with the Goths and the cover versions (although not all of them) but in recent years I’ve taken to sporadically listening to their later output in the hope that it will gel. Some does, some doesn’t. I still blame The Cure, the Smiths and New Order for indie so… SIOUXSIE for me, thanks. Vastly underrated, frankly.
- Banshees. But the Cure did have their moments
- ’78-’80 Cure, ’81-’86 Banshees, ’87-’90 Cure. ’91-present neither.
- I love them both dearly, but it’s s forgone conclusion that almost everyone will choose Siouxsie because of The Cure’s social currency is worth about as much as 3 drachma and a dead cat these days. Which is unfortunate because The Cure has more great songs. Banshees have plenty, the Cure simply have more.
- Banshees. Even though I did a Cure vs Banshees night at Spellbound recently, and I had to admit The Cure had a larger number of good songs over the long haul. I’m just tribally a Siouxsist.
10. New Order or Pet Shop Boys?
…and there was me thinking this was a foregone conclusion (PET SHOP BOYS, by a Golden Mile). I was wrong.
- Why can’t I have both? OK then I regretfully choose New Order, even though I wish I could be cool enough to choose Pet Shop Boys
- Bizarre Love is a Bourgeois Construct
- Ooh I love PSB but let’s be honest it’s New Order.
- You’re even more of a bastard for this than you were for Soft Cell-Sparks. OK… New Order because the highs are higher. (If it was on overall average, PSB would win.)
- Hmm. I take two tapes, and start filling them up with great PSB and NO tracks each. Neither are nearly as full as some people told me they would be. The NO tape has more tracks, but I probably listen to the PSB one more
BONUS QUESTION David Bowie or Lady Gaga?
I was laughing as I typed this one. That’s not to say I don’t prefer the majority of Lady Gaga’s music to the majority of Bowie’s. Far from it. Just that I knew in what various stages of denial many of my Facebook peers would be in as they digested the question. How dare he…? was a common response. For the record, I prefer LADY GAGA. Bowie was both before and after my time, my school playgrounds were populated with people I hated who professed to like him and although I realised that I could be termed a “fan” after his death, and mainlined his music for months upon months, I still greatly prefer and am entertained by Lady Gaga more. Only one of my peers had the courage of her convictions to vote for Gaga, but again this could simply be an Age Thing.
- Surely, given the irratiional frothing hatred she inspires from what are surely pricks, it has to be Gaga.
- Are you OK man? This is getting brutal
- Stupid question.
- Here’s one just as stupid… Freddy [sic] Mercury or Justin Timberlake?
- Bowie. But Gaga beats most people of her own generation.
- This has such an obvious answer that I’m wondering if it’s a trick question.
- Are you kidding?
- Bowie would go for Gaga