Clearly not having learnt about the perils of the sea from the prior ocean calamities of Sam Lawrence and Elliot Burr, 730 veteran Maddie Andrews finds herself marooned on a Treasure Island with nothing but 8 songs, a luxury item and a book to keep her company. What goodies does she bring? Read on to find out.
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning – Frank Sinatra (1955)
Choosing just one Sinatra song was always going to be a struggle for me. Raised on the Rat Pack, the swing era will forever have a profound impact on me. Both my mother and grandmother played little else, and it soon became part of our cooking culture: wine, food and the Rat Pack. The tried and tested winning formula. It got to the point where I was the youngest audience member watching the ‘Rat Pack’ on the West End, and what a sight it must have been, an 11-year-old singing along with all of the OAPs in the audience.
In The Wee Small Hours is just a vocal masterpiece, but what else would you expect from old blue eyes? One of the first concept albums, the subject matter is as blue as the cover would suggest, covering heartbreak, loneliness and general melancholy, so of course I love it. Though homage must be paid to the Sinatra classics ‘My Way’ and ‘Summer Wind’, with smatterings of Sammy’s ‘Mr Bojangles’ and Dean’s ‘Little Old Wine Drinker Me’, it’s this particular song that got me through some really tough times. Somehow, despite its distinct melancholy, listening to this song will remain in the vault of pleasant memories. Forever serving to be a reminder of hazy rooms, sitting on the floor, playing darts and drinking cheap wine quite literally until the ‘wee small hours of the morning’. Nostalgia at its finest.
Whoah, Whoah, Whoah – Watsky (2014)
Watsky is such a hero for me; his verbal dexterity is just phenomenal: ‘I thought I was an Atheist until I realised I’m a god’… Indeed. Though my love of rap does include the likes of Eminem, Kendrick – and that isn’t even delving into my hip-hop heroes like Nas and B.I.G – it’s Watsky who deserves this place on my list. His ‘alternative hip hop’ adds levity, and his densely packed, rapid-fire lyrical style (harking back to his slam poetry roots) are as powerful as they are technically impressive.
If you haven’t heard any of his work before, I would highly recommend his album Cardboard Castles. It’s quirky and fun with some serious undertones in the subject matter, and his innovative use of backbeats really defines his distinctive style. He deals with complex topics in such a deft and light-handed way that it is just a joy to listen to. More than this, he shares my love of Hamilton with a well-deserved feature on the Hamilton Mixtape, spitting rhymes in ‘An Open Letter’ with his characteristic anarchic, devil-may-care attitude adding depth and humour to an already hard-hitting album.
Carry On Wayward Son – Kansas (1976)
This is a bit of a rogue one, but I’m a sucker for the guitar solo. I will forever associate this song with a pick-up line one of my now close friends tried to use on me: ‘Hey babe, would you be impressed if I told you I could play this solo… on my air guitar?’. As far as pick-up lines go, it was pretty awful, but it did cinch our friendship. Great sense of humour and a love of the classics, yes please.
This collection of hard-driving instrumentation and rock vocals make this track a classic. Though Guns’N’Roses and Def Leppard were both vying for this slot on my list, the feel good factor of the lyrics and instrumentation won out. It is also a the perfect driving playlist song, in case you were wondering…
Lying Is The Most Fun A Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off – Panic! At the Disco (2005)
This list would be incomplete without mentioning my pop-punk obsession. Brendon Urie’s soaring vocals brings Panic! to the top of the list. A bit of anarchic fun is what is always promised by a Panic! track, and ‘Lying’ is no exception. Drawn from a Natalie Portman quote, they’ve taken her words and ran with them, straight into a heavy punk/pop infused story. If you have time, listen to the acoustic version as well, because damn can that boy sing. He is potentially one of my favourite vocalists – and his swing renditions of songs are dotted all over youtube and are well worth the search.
Those covers, along with his duet with Halsey (who has some clear Panic! influenced vibes in her music) are some of my favourite youtube clips. A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out is one of Panic! At the Disco’s defining albums, set apart from the rest as having a clear anarchic streak a mile wide and some gorgeously intelligent and snarky lyrics.
Standing Outside The Fire – Garth Brooks (1993)
A fair amount of flack has been thrown at me and my enjoyment of country music, but I will always be grateful to this genre. It’s an opportunity to listen to pure cheese and also real themes of heartbreak and longing. While the likes of Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert and Thomas Rhett definitely rate highly on my list of country idols, it all starts with Garth Brooks for me. Riding around in my uncle’s pick-up truck, cowboy hat at a jaunty angle, and country royalty blaring through the speakers we were the epitome of clichéd. What a way to live.
With copious amounts of instrumental solos and that distinctive country twang, Garth Brooks captures the true spirit of the genre. ‘Standing Outside the Fire’ is a country anthem celebrating the need to push yourself and try something new because you want to do it, not just because people tell you to. If you can get your hands on a live recording (and this goes for any of his songs) I would highly recommend it; the emotion translates so much better and the instrumentals aren’t the crisp studio-edited perfection, but a wild and heady foray into how country music should sound.
Legendary – The Summer Set (2013)
The Summer Set will forever be one of my favourite bands, every time they came to the UK my friend and I would reunite and go see them – regardless of our schedules. Unfortunately, one year this did mean seeing them perform on the night before a second year uni exam… Yet I persevered, bopping around to their poppy-punk beats and then hightailing it back to university to turn up mildly hungover, and massively exhausted. It was so worth it.
They are self professed ‘a bit too pop for the punk kids, and a bit too punk for the pop kids’ and utterly easy-going listening. Unfortunately The Summer Set are no longer together, ending on one of their best albums, Stories For Monday. It truly was the end of an era for me. Marking the end of an easier time where the happy-go-lucky soundtrack is what I listen to when I don my rose-tinted glasses for my stroll down memory lane. ‘Legendary’ is the one track that will always stick with me though. It is such a bittersweet tune, rife with catchy hooks and more pop culture references than you can shake a yellow umbrella at. With themes of nostalgia and hope, it is a bizarrely uplifting song that talks about how life isn’t all you dreamed it would be as a kid. As a person searching for their way in life in that weird limbo stage between starting life and leaving uni, it packs an unexpected punch for such an upbeat song.
Resolution – Matt Corby (2013)
Australian singer-songwriter Matt Corby will always have a special place in my heart. With his bluesy-soul vocals, there is clear evidence of the likes of Otis Redding, Jeff Buckley and Sam Cooke being influences over his style. Telluric, his most recent album, shows a definitive culmination of all of these influences and styles. ‘Resolution’, with its bluesy tonalities is full of unexpected hope and is a song that can just be played on repeat. Similarly, I don’t know what’s in the water over there but Aussie duo Angus and Julia Stone have that similarly chill addictive tone, wherein you can play their music on repeat and just feel incredibly calm and okay with life. Big Jet Plane by them is a personal favourite.
‘Resolution’ and Corby’s cover of The Black Key’s ‘Lonely Boy’ showcase his gravelly rasping voice and leave you wanting more. ‘Resolution’ came at a time where I was feeling very lost and confused in life, and the subtly hopeful lyrics helped to pull me through. For those reasons, and many more, Matt Corby remains a permanent fixture in most of my playlists.
I Think We’re Alone Now – Tiffany (1987)
I will never say I saved the best until last, because that would be like choosing between your children, but… nothing can replace that utter feeling of euphoria when ‘your song’ comes on and you and all of your idiot friends dance like no-one is watching, and you have all the room in the world to move (note to self: you do not always have all the room in the world to move…). That moment when you just let go and enjoy the music, regardless of the setting, is something this song can prompt at any point in time.
Somewhere, somehow Tiffany’s 80s synth pop cover became a group anthem, followed closely by Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ and definitely sung with just as much earnest zeal as people reserve for that particular disco behemoth. ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ became our feel-good dance party theme tune. And let me tell you, watching a group of grown-ass adults dance around to Tiffany is one of the great joys in my life. Long live the TDP.
Luxury Item: White Wine (Riesling)
Some sweet, crisp white wine. Maybe a nice Riesling. If I’m going to be stuck on an island alone I am going to need something to keep me going.
Book: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Heartbreakingly poignant and remarkably well written, this is one of the few books I will never tire of. Mitchell delves into so many different worlds and time periods and manages to weave them all together so intricately that it allows your imagination to flourish. With some really heartbreaking moments interwoven with messages of hope and happiness, it is a ride to remember. With Mitchell’s characters to keep me company, the wine, and copious amount of sad music, I have a feeling this island will not be a cheery one.