Every playlist book I’ve finished, I’ve wanted to go through the whole thing and write about each track briefly. You know - “Young Adult Friction is Loki/Leah including the whole Library thing” or “Surf Solar is the Phoenix Five cresting the earth, like an Otomo shot from Akira” or whatever. I’ve never done it, because of TIIIIIMMMMMME.
(I can basically divide my work into Playlist Books and No Playlist Books. No Playlist books have a slightly smaller chance of someone calling me a pretentious wanker on 4chan.)
I suspect I’ll do it for WicDiv, because even now it’s clear that coming down from WicDiv is going to require some intellectual decompression, and going through the whole currently 350+ list is probably a good way to do that. WicDiv is a bunch of ceremony, so knowing there’s something after I write the final //end// at issue 44 (or whatever it is) may be useful.
But the playlist is basically a good chunk of some of the finest music of my lifetime, in the mode of i) pop and ii) about death. I can’t just pick my favourite.
So, in the spirit of the exercise, I’m going to something else. I’m going to press shuffle 10 times and give each of the 10 songs a mark out of 10 with 1 = Kula Shaker and 10 = All time great record which I have enormous personal relationship with. I’ll be surprised if any song on the list scores less than 5/10, as this isn’t Phonogram, as it’s not a device designed to torture me. At least not in that way. Anything that gets an 8 is probably enough to get me on a dancefloor, even if it’s empty (or if it’s not a danceable record, to distract me entirely and make me rant to strangers about whatever it is). And after shuffle takes me where it does, I’ll choose the best of the selection.
Okay. Let’s go.
FASTER - MANIC STREET PREACHERS Heh. I often use the WicDiv playlist as a divination device. I put it on shuffle, and see what it says to me. Frankly, this feels like it’s trolling me. FASTER was the lead single from THE HOLY BIBLE which for about 5 years of my life was my standard answer for “what’s your favourite album ever?” If I got tattoos, I’d have half the lines of this down my spine. But still… WicDiv is about getting over my sorry ass, and I would be lying if I said it meant as much to me now as it did when I was 18. But it still is astounding. SO DAMN EASY TO CAVE IN/MAN KILLS EVERYTHING, etc. 9/10
THE LIGHT POURS OUT OF ME - MAGAZINE The stately, distant nature of Magazine is always more appealing in theory than in practice - though SHOT BY BOTH SIDES is probably in the running for songs to play at my funeral. This is an oddly good record to run to. 7/10.
METAL GURU - T-REX HHHHHWWWERRERGRGHHHH!!!! METAL GURU!!!!! I’m in the corner which tends to treat T-REX like the Clash - as in, they rarely ever get as good as the first 5 seconds of the record. Metal Guru is the apex of that, but it’s really one of the best 5 seconds of pop music in the whole playlist. But… 7/10
VENUS - BANANARAMA Oh my! As my mum revealed at SDCC, the first album I ever got given as a present that I actually asked for was Bananarama’s Best Of. And as I said there, I still listen to this and this is an immortal trashy towering goddess of a pop record. At this point - and I’m writing this as doing the shuffle - I realise that it may be a head to head between Bananarama and The Manics, which seems like a metaphor for my whole creative life. 9/10
SYMPATHY - SLEATER KINNEY And after everything that’s turned up on shuffle so far, this is like being thrown of a cliff. FASTER is Baphomet-y automythology, and this is a lot more serious than that. I feel embarrassed to like Sympathy as much as I do. This is not my tragedy. This will never be my tragedy, at least as written. As much as I am capable of prayer, I will only be a bystander to this. I’m horrified any time I listen to this, but also in awe. 9/10
PRETTY LIKE DRUGS - QUEEN ADREENA Heh. Shuffle is still trolling me. Back in 2002, I basically described this and SOLDIER GIRL by the Polyphic Spree as the two warring sides of my heart. It is the only song we’ve had so far on the playlist which is almost entirely responsible for the core conception of a character - this is basically a duet between the Morrigan’s Badb and Gentle Annie, and if you add The Pixies, you get my core inspiration. I tried to work out a way to make this an 8, but I have to… 9/10
HAZY SHADE OF WINTER - BANGLES Too much personal history here to explain, but I always find this an aggressive thing to lose myself in and it remains an excellent record for stalking through autumnal streets to. 8/10
FRIED MY LITTLE BRAINS - THE KILLS When I first wrote about this in 2003 I believe my entire review was “God, this makes me want to fuck.” I’ve yet to change my opinion. 8/10
CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION - T-REX Calm down, Mark. You’re so greedy! 7/10
L.E.S. ARTISTES - SANTOGOLD Which just feels, in the awful realpolitik of the chorus, about as WicDiv as any record ever has. It’s very much a “Oh, I know exactly why it’s there, and the fundamental ambivalence married to the formal excellence, in terms of being a role model for what we’re trying to do” song. I suspect that it’s a mark lower is a mark of my age, but still… 8/10
And my favourite of them?
Sympathy. I was petrified when listening to it. It is rare and powerful and precious.
EDIT: The second I post this, the playlist shuffles onto the next track, and it’s Belle and Sebastian’s IF YOU WANT ME, which I would have 10/10ed. Random Shuffle is well tricksy.