Category Archives: Playlists

Favourite tracks of 2012

It’s a Spotify playlist! With a bonus YouTube link for a big favourite that wasn’t on Spotify. These are the tunes that have kept me going all year…

Whitney Houston: Didn’t We Almost Have All The Key Changes

What to say about Whitney? She always seemed distant, imperial, unknowable – not someone it was easy to imagine getting on with personally. So I’m not driven to write the sort of gushing OH NO SHE’S DEAD post I did when Amy Winehouse or Elisabeth Sladen died.

But her music’s been a huge part of my life for 25 years. I listened to her second album pretty much daily  when I was a teen, and I passed the first Christmas Eve I ever spent alone listening – tragically – to I Will Always Love You on repeat. So let’s celebrate those amazing songs, and in particular her way with a key change. Some turn their noses up at this forced way of adding drama to the closing parts of a song, but I’m a sucker for them. Here are my top five. 

(And despite the title of this post, there’s no Didn’t We Almost Have it All – that  song rocks back and forth between two keys all the way through, and I’m looking for the classic manoeuvre: a cynical shunt-up at the end that takes the final chorus (or two) to another level).

5. I Wanna Dance With Somebody

It’s a key change that comes out of the blue with no build up, so you could call it a cheaty and reprehensible one. Suddenly the chorus is kicked up the arse! But this is Whitney, and she makes what could feel like an enema sweet and joyful. We dance.

4. All The Man That I Need

Coming out of a (yes!) sax break, Whitney flutters around in the high ranges as she introduces the new key, which on this occasion comes with a FREE GOSPEL CHOIR. This is key-change as ecstatic rapture.

3. I Have Nothing

Absolutely magnificent – Whitney dicks about on the original dominant chord in a HUGE sweep on ‘DON’T… MAKE… ME…’ before launching into ‘CLOSE’ a couple of keys further up. Dramatics.

2. Where Do Broken Hearts Go

A proper gospel key change. Whitney repeats the last line of the bridge: ‘NOW I KNOW… NOW I KNOWWWW’ in the dominant chord of the new key to take us through, and it’s immediately followed by a modified chorus with a couple of heart-stopping pauses. Textbook.

1. One Moment In Time

Whitney’s Olympic moment. Stand aside, The World. In the most dramatic and swooping of bridges she tells us ‘YOU’RE A WINNER! FOR A LIFETIME!’, before her voice carries the modulation over martial drums: attacking the high notes to force the transition, before swooping immediately down by more than an octave to complete it. The chorus blasts in with a parp of heraldic brass. Glitter cannons are fired, tinsel showers fall, and we’re all winners – if not for a lifetime then at least for a minute and a half. God help anyone who attempts this at karaoke (I’ve tried). And pity whoever has to sing this at the Olympic opening ceremony in London this year. Pity us if it’s Jessie J. Whitney deserves better.


Songs of the year 2011

Here’s a juicy playlist of all my favourites. It’s in YouTubular format so some of them have, like, moving pictures to go with the songs too if you fancy.

Click here to enjoy.

Now that’s what I call 1982

Last Saturday there was a great article in the Guardian by Peter ‘Popjustice‘ Robinson about the Now That’s What I Call Music! series. Amongst other truth-nuggets he points out that your favourite Now! album is going to be the one that came out closest to your 10th birthday. But as the Now! series didn’t start until I was nearly twelve, I was cruelly excluded from testing this theory.

So of course the only thing to do was to compile my own notional Now! compilation, that I would have got for my 10th birthday in March 1982. And here it is on Spotify. Only songs that were in the Top 40 between December 1981 and February 1982 were eligible, but fortunately THIS IS SOME OF THE BEST MUSIC EVER MADE. And when I realised that my favourite pop song of all time (It is Kim Wilde’s Cambodia) would be on the LP, I was happy to count the theory as proved.

If you’re as old as me I hope this playlist will be wonderfully nostalgic. If you’re younger than me, then there are riches (RICHES!) here to be discovered. Oh and if you ARE around my age, and can listen to the massive comedown that is Side 4, when it’s dark, after a little too much to drink, without feeling a bit weepy, then you’re a bolder and harder person than I am. That’s not some sort of challenge. That’s just the way things are.

This post kicks off “1982 Week” on the Sarcophagus! (NB it might not actually be a week)

Side 1

Haircut 100 – Love Plus One

Altered Images – I Could Be Happy

Shakin’ Stevens – Oh Julie

Madness – It Must Be Love

Abba – One Of Us

Bucks Fizz – The Land Of Make Believe

Side 2

Tight Fit – The Lion Sleeps Tonight

Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)

The Human League – Being Boiled

Dollar – Mirror Mirror

Kraftwerk – Showroom Dummies

Side 3

Toni Basil – Mickey

Foreigner – Waiting For A Girl LIke You

Daryl Hall & John Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

George Benson – Never Give Up On A Good Thing

Modern Romance – Ay Ay Ay Ay Moosey

Side 4

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – Maid Of Orleans

Soft Cell – Bedsitter

Jon & Vangelis – I’ll Find My Way Home

Christopher Cross – Arthur’s Theme

Electric Light Orchestra – Ticket To The Moon

Kim Wilde – Cambodia

Playlist: 2010

Due to popular demand (thanks xolondon), I’ve made a nice one hour playlist of some of the tracks I enjoyed the most last year. Not all of them, because a) THAT WOULD BE SILLY and b) if not for the vagaries of Spotify I’d have definitely included T.I.’s Castle Walls and Arcade Fire’s Ready To Start. But I hope you enjoy it, if you like enjoying things.