While the world has stood still during the coronavirus pandemic one thing which has kept people going through this tough time is music. Artists around the world are broadcasting from home and continuing to release new music, record stores are still delivering fresh cuts of vinyl and thousands of Spotify users are making isolation playlists- including the Courier (https://open.spotify.com/playlist/04V1m05yom8ABUImg4mOEu?si=ACf-_kRhRx2nbmpOtKNu3g&fbclid=IwAR0dUGyeNHZDNjudVLy5fCf_MeayaBcVjeUYbdlv03dMycUZcLhnUP5AoaA ). However, one internet trend, the 30 day song challenge, has taken over Instagram feeds across the world and now it’s taking over the Courier too!
Over the next 30 days our writers will be updating you with their picks for each day of the challenge. Day one of the challenge saw our writers choose their favourite tracks with a colour in the title!
‘Blue Monday’- New Order
One of my favourite songs ever kicks off the first day of the thirty day song challenge. ‘Blue Monday’ is an absolute banger performed by Manchester-band New Order. With that iconic drum beat opening it combined with a funky bassline, it’s a brilliant song and a favourite of Newcastle club The Cut. Interestingly, the single sold at a loss, 5p from each copy sold, as the production cost of the original sleeve was so high. Nonetheless, it’s still a brilliant song and is one of my favourites.
As many of you-in-quarantine and with ample time for Instagram scrolling (myself included) may have already observed, there is a certain challenge going around on the app: post one song for every day of the month of April, that follows a given description on the current day. I have a certain soft spot for 80s era, bass-heavy, synth-y songs, and this song matches all of these criteria. This tune also does a great job of layering a number of contrasting sounds, which form an overall interesting and versatile track. This song is both aggressively 80s and somehow still timeless. Whenever I listen to this song, I feel like I am sitting on a bench in a big jean jacket, drinking Pepsi from a can, with a giant boombox by my side. That’s what they all did in the eighties, right?
‘Black Milk’- Massive Attack
I could lie down and listen to Mezzanine on repeat, and by Mezzanine, I pretty much just mean this song, which is perfection. An unrelenting piano and bass haunts and seduces in turn, and over the top is Liz Fraser (Cocteau Twins)’s incredible and ethereal vocals. Each element of the track warps and grows, creating a divine slow build. The piano progresses from a single looped melody to, later, having a conversation with Fraser’s wandering song. The echoes of each part hit inconsistently, like we’re in a room that keeps changing size, keeping us disoriented, glued in place.
Jess Taylor Weisser
‘Gold Dust’- DJ Fresh
Gold Dust. The song that gets everyone going at a festivals and parties. This tune brings back great memories of summer of summer for me with its hints of reggae and electronic. Be it the original or the Shy FX remix’s you can bet your bottom dollar I’m up having a boogie. Over the years, I’ve played this song possibly hundreds of times, yet it still always manages to put a smile on my face. Bring on summer!!
‘Orange Coloured Sky’- Nat King Cole
To start us off, I’ve picked ‘Orange Coloured Sky’ by Nat King Cole. I had to pick my favourite colour for this one. Written by Milton DeLugg and Willie Stein, the most popular recording and arguably the best is by Jazz legend Nat King Cole. To me, this soothing little ditty is about love at first sight. Nat describes walking along, minding his business, when love came and hit him in the eye. Sounds like love at first sight alright.
‘Silver Springs’- Fleetwood Mac
The chorus of this song is enough for me to give it the title of Fleetwood Mac’s best song on par with ‘You Make Loving Fun’. The melody is so relaxing even when the guitar picks up towards the end. It’s one of them songs you can never get sick of hearing and it brings back good, peaceful memories for me.
‘Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured’- Arctic Monkeys
I had to choose an Arctic Monkeys song for the first day of this challenge. ‘Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secured’ has the gritty, to the point lyrics of an early Arctic Monkeys song with a catchy guitar riff, a feature incredibly prominent in later songs by the band. Compared to other songs on the album such as ‘From The Ritz To The Rubble’, this has a more steady pace and less of a chaotic (in the best possible way!) feel to it. Given we are in a time where we need the feeling of nostalgia to keep spirits high, I could not thing of a better, classic Arctic Monkeys tune to start off this challenge with.
‘White Wedding’- Billy Idol
An incredible song, yet only became a hit in the UK after its third release in 1985. A fairly popular wedding song, despite the fact that it is a very anti-marriage song all about someone that Idol loved marrying another man. In the song he uses the nickname ‘ Little sister’, the fact that his younger sister was getting married at the time means most people believe it to have been about her. As with so many other songs by Idol it has a tell-tale guitar riff at the start that he and his guitarist Steve Stevens liked to plant as a flag in many of the songs they worked on together.
‘Black Magic’- The Amazons
For a song with a colour in the title, it has to be ‘Black Magic’ by The Amazons. I first saw this band in 2016, back when festivals still existed and the country wasn’t wracked with cabin fever. They have been one of my favourite bands since then, and ‘Black Magic’ encapsulates exactly why- a searing guitar sound coupled with emotionally-charged vocals. Hopefully when this all blows over I’ll get to see The Amazons again, but until then, this song will have to do.
‘Pink Lemonade’- James Bay
Although not an artist I’m typically a fan of, this one James Bay song reminds me of summer 2018. I was at Glasgow Green for TRNSMT festival in thirty degree heat (yes in Scotland). James Bay was about to take the stage and me and my friends were far from excited. Then he began with the opening riff, shock. I was shocked I was enjoying a James Bay song It was our first act of what was a great weekend. Pint in hand, sun shining, belief that football was coming home. Take me back to summer 18′.
‘Black and White’- Parquet Courts
‘Black and White’ from Parquet Court’s 2014 Sunbathing Animal album mixes nervous, spiky post-punk guitars and drums with Andrew Savage’s melodic and poetic shout-sung lyrics into the quintessential Parquet Courts track. Sean Yeaton (bass) and Max Savage (drums) hold the music steady in the rhythm section whilst Austin Brown lets loose on the guitar; feedback and noise abound in the back half. Andrew Savage’s words may be hard to parse at times, but drip with the wit of Pavement, delivered as if he’s running out of time to sing them.
‘Pink Moon’- Nick Drake
A talent taken too soon. Nick Drake has a plethora of incredible songs, each possessing a melancholic beauty in which I often find myself lost in a peaceful hum. Falling into folk and country, ‘Pink Moon’ is perhaps Drake’s most famous and recognisable song. The lyrics don’t say much, but the familiarity found in his voice is one which provides a great comfort and is a fantastic gateway into his incredible works.
‘A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun’- Tom Waits
Tom Waits is an artist like no other. He’s released fifteen studio albums in a career spanning almost 40 years, reinventing his sound countless times whilst always maintaining a style that’s distinctly his own. ‘A Sweet Little Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun’, from his 1978 album Blue Valentine, is Waits at his best, perfectly showcasing his unique gravelly voice and bluesy beats.
‘Back to Black’- Amy Winehouse
In the limited discography we have of Amy Winehouse, ‘Back to Black’ is perhaps her greatest record. The mixture of blues, jazz and rhythm blend together to create an uplifting melody which, when coupled with her deep vocals, create a powerful love song. But don’t be fooled by the major key of the tune, as the lyrics merit the colour of ‘Black’. When she played Glastonbury in 2007 her performance of the song was renowned as one of the greatest the venue had ever seen; with rain thumping down, backing dancers grooving, and her intense lyrics cutting through to her listeners. A song for the ages.
‘Brown-Eyed Girl’- Van Morrison
Anyone who knows me knows that my music taste is somewhat ‘retro’ (the polite way of saying I’m a bit of a boomer!), so prepare for 30 days of golden oldies. I figured I’d start with something that’s both on-brand and predictable: ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’ by Van Morrison, for a song with a colour in the title. I love the lyrics to this song- a nostalgic tale of a man looking back on time spent with a childhood sweetheart- and its jazzy beat never fails to cheer me up. It’s the kind of song that instantly lifts your mood, and I think that’s something we all need at the moment!
‘Blue Blood’- Foals
The melancholy opener from Foals’ sophomore effort Total Life Forever, ‘Blue Blood’, sees a complete shift from the Math-Rock sound of their articulate debut Antidotes. While still drawing on an arpeggio guitar style, ‘Blue Blood’ is the first sign of a move towards the dancefloor. Walter Gervers’ bassline seems thicker and more noticeable, while the drumming of Jack Bevan is faster and somewhat resembles Dance-Punk music. ‘Blue Blood’ explores new thematic area too. Yannis’ vocals are more introspective than before, as he laments on home and family. This is a song which can take you somewhere new and we could all do with that at the moment.
‘Mr Blue Sky’- Electric Light Orchestra
Generally, blue has connotations of sadness and gloom. In Greek mythology, it was associated with Zeus, the god of sky, who would make it rain whenever he feels sad. From then on, the colour has been associated with negative emotions. ‘Mr Blue Sky’ takes a unique and optimistic outlook, with its sweet symphony. The lyrics personifies the nature, representing the calm after a disastrous weather; light shines to bring hope and strength to the affected. The relentless upbeat rhythm creates a long-lasting impression that listeners undoubtedly bounce and smile to. Several television shows and movies have featured the song, further highlighting its never-ending success after its original release.
Carl Smith Valdez
30 day song challenge 30 days of music A Sweet Bullet From A Pretty Blue Gun amy winehouse Arctic Monkeys Back to Black Billy Idol black and white Black Magic Black Milk Blue Blood Blue Monday Brown-Eyed Girl DJ Fresh Electric Light Orchestra Fleetwood Mac Foals Gold Dust james bay massive attack Mr Blue Sky Music nat king cole New Order Nick Drake Orange Coloured Sky Parquet Courts Pink Lemonade Pink Moon Red Light Indicates Doors Are Secure Silver Springs The Amazons tom waits Van Morrison White Wedding
Last modified: 6th April 2020