The Courier: 30 days of Music- Rebecca Johnson

Rebecca Johnson goes all the way through the 30 day song challenge!

Rebecca Johnson
24th June 2020
Images: Instagram (@officialthewho, @foofighters, @wolfaliceband, @neworderofficial)

Day 1- A song you like 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.

Day 2- A song you like with a number in the title

'Song 2'- blur

Another well known song for day two, specifically 'Song 2'. Everybody knows this one with the funky little guitar riff intro by Graham Coxon before Damon Albarn launches into the staple “WAHOO” that kicks the rest of the instruments off. A short song, it was initially supposed to be a demo track before their label decided they loved it, and it kept its original name 'Song 2'. An explosive little track, 'Song 2' is a worthy day two choice.

Day 3- A song that reminds you of summertime

'Three Lions'- Baddiel, Skinner and The Lighting Seeds

Cast your mind back to summer 2018 and this was the anthem. Every single beer garden, pub and establishment had Three Lions blasting out at every moment. This was during my first year of university, and it just reminds me of soaking the sun in various parks around Newcastle, playing football and World Cup fever- specifically going with some mates to the O2 Academy in Newcastle and watching England v Belgium in the group stages and this blasting out all the times. Although England didn’t quite make it all the way, this is a song that screams summer 2018 every time I hear it.

Day 4- A song that reminds you of someone you'd rather forget

'Don't You (Forget About Me)'- Simple Minds

It was a choice between this or 'Country Roads' for me to forget about all the Flares boys. In truth though, I don’t really have a song that reminds me of someone I’d rather forget about. The choice boiled down to Don’t You (Forget About Me) by the great Simple Minds. A truly iconic song in its own, it’s also well recognised from the cult 80s film The Breakfast Club.

Day 5- A song that needs to be played live

'Monkey Wrench'- Foo Fighters

It was a choice of any Foo Fighters song here and 'Monkey Wrench' is a tune where the volume needs to be ramped up. All the instruments are incredibly fast and it’s got a quick and catchy chorus, although in all my years listening to the Foo Fighters, I still can’t sing the really quick verse without taking a breath! A great song, and an absolute belter live, crank the volume up and bask in the greatness of Dave Grohl and the gang.

Day 6- A song that makes you want to dance

'You Should be Dancing'- The Bee Gees

The Bee Gees had to feature somewhere, and 'You Should Be Dancing' is an utter classic. The Gibb brothers smash it out of the park, the funky bass lines and guitar riffs combined with Barry Gibb’s iconic falsetto voice make it one of the best-known Bee Gees songs around. It became a disco classic and features in the film Saturday Night Fever- which is well worth a watch during lockdown.

Day 7- A song to drive to

'Bat out of Hell'- Meatloaf

A song to drive (or walk) to has to be rock. When you’ve got your mind set on going somewhere you need a heavy hitting tune to soundtrack it, and for me it’s Bat out of Hell by Meatloaf. A song that goes for nearly ten minutes, the heavy, rocky guitar riffs make it perfect for wherever you’re going.

Day 8- A song about drugs or alchohol

'Mother's Little Helper'- The Rolling Stones

I’ve always enjoyed listening to The Rolling Stones, and I’m one of those people who’d listen to them over The Beatles. I never realised what the song was about when I was younger but sharp clicked after properly listening to the lyrics. “Mother’s little helpers” were the nicknames for drugs like diazepam, one of many “calming” drugs that were given to housewives in the ‘60s and the risks of overdose. The song describes the usage of these drugs by a housewife to get her through the day.

Day 9- A song that makes you happy

'Bohemian Like You'- The Dandy Warhols

I just really like this song to be honest and its uplifting guitar and cool lyrics is one song I just can’t skip. About a guy who really likes a girl, it’s got catchy lyrics and some good sounds. You’ll find yourself humming it or singing “’cause I like you/yeah I like you/and I’m feeling so Bohemian like you.” Plus it featured in the cult classic film, Flushed Away, so you can’t not love it.

Day 10- A song that makes you sad

'Yes I'm Changing'- Tame Impala

Tame Impala was recently described by Q Magazine as “the King of the Sad banger” and this song just emphasises that. One of the most melancholy and sad break-up songs around, the slow drum beat and synth adds to the drama of this song. Kevin Parker’s trademark vocals and some beautifully sad lyrics, (“Life is moving/Can’t you see/There’s no future left for you and me”) make it the ultimate sad banger.

Day 11- A song you never get tired of

'Don't Delete the Kisses'- Wolf Alice

Another stereotypical choice from myself, but this is something I never bore of, and never skip if it comes on shuffle. It feels such a tireless song, and I haven’t been bored of it since its release back in 2017. It’s beautifully written, beautifully performed and beautifully sung- something Ellie Rowsell always nails.

Day 12- A song from your preteen years

'Forget You'- Cee Lo Green

I’ve never really listened to chart music as such (sorry to appear as one of those “I’m not like the other girls” but it’s true) but this song does remind me of my preteen years. I was in Year 7 and did a lot of school sports, and this was the song that was always on the radio on our way to sports tournaments and everyone used to sing-along. It reminds me of a simpler time, playing sports and not worrying about stupid adult stuff.

Day 13- A song you like from the 70s

'Baba O'Riley'- The Who

One of the greatest songs by one of the greatest bands, The Who had to feature somewhere in my list and where better than a song from the 70s. 'Baba O’Riley' is utter perfection, taken from the album Who’s Next (a fantastic collection of songs), this is the best of the Who in one track. With Pete Townshend providing the iconic guitar riffs and Roger Daltery belting out the recognisable line, “It’s only teenage wasteland…” it’s an impeccable mixture of lyrical genius and flashy guitar and drum solos, 'Baba O’Riley' is a musical masterpiece.

Day 14- A song you'd love to be played at your wedding

'Help'- the Beatles

I'm a bit of a joker, and 'Help' was the first song that came into my head for this prompt. Whilst other writers have picked gushy and romantic love songs, the truth is, I've no idea what song I'd like to be played at my wedding. However, I do think that 'Help' would be a laugh to play on the day.

Day 15- A song you like that's a cover by another artist

'Step On'- Happy Mondays

I never realised this was a cover until last year. Arguably the most well-known Mondays song from the Madchester scene, the lyrics from Step On are actually taken from a song by John Kongos called 'He’s Gonna Step On You Again' released in 1971. Multiple covers have been made, but the Happy Mondays’ is by far the best. This is a song that became a symbol of Madchester and the Hacienda in the 80s and 90s and it is a very worthy cover.

Day 16- A song that's a classic favourite

'Build Me Up Buttercup'- The Foundations

There were so many songs to choose from for this, but Build Me Up Buttercup just nabs it. This is one of my favourite songs ever, you can’t not listen to it without a smile creeping across your face. Released in 1968, the opening with the bouncing piano and drum beats before launching into some of the most singable lyrics ever make it a worthy classic favourite.

Day 17- A song that you'd like to sing a duet with someone on karaoke

'Islands in the Stream'- Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton

Picking up from where Bryn and Nessa left off in Gavin and Stacey, Islands in the Stream is the ultimate karaoke song. Firstly everyone knows it, and you can get a decent set of backing singers out of that, secondly, there are distinguished roles for each singer, preventing any overlap or confusion- you’re either Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton. It’s a classic song that everyone can join in with and it’s one of the best karaoke songs for a duet.

Day 18- A song from the year you were born

'Hey Boy, Hey Girl'- The Chemical Brothers

Probably their best-known song alongside Galvanize, Hey Boy, Hey Girl, came out in 1999, the year in which I also entered the world. Released as a single from the Surrender album, the song hit the top ten in nine different countries. A proper electronic classic, the sounds of the song stay the same until the only lyric “hey boy, hey girl, superstar DJs, here we go!”  is played and the sounds morphs into another beat. A great tune, it isn’t complete without a weird music video of a woman imagining everyone as skeletons in a nightclub, weird but the song makes up for it.

Day 19- A song that makes you think about life

'Everything Now'- Arcade Fire

'Everything Now' is always the song that seems to come on when I’m in a world of my own, whether that’s walking down the street or gazing out of a window. Arcade Fire have a whole roster of these kinds of songs, but 'Everything Now' always sticks. It’s got a steady and calming rhythm, and the lyrics sang by Win Butler just sound so calming, I love when the song hits its peak and you’re left with the backing singers’ “la la la la” and you suddenly snap out of the trance you’re in and carry on with your day.

Day 20- A song that has many meanings to you

'Across the Universe'- The Beatles

I struggled a little bit with this one, but I eventually settled on 'Across the Universe' by the Beatles. I think this just sounds really cool and mystical, with a kind of question in Lennon’s voice and the slow rhythm adding to the mystery. Like most Beatles songs from this time, there are deeper layers to it. The “Jai guru deva om” is taken from a Sanskrit passage, that could either mean “glory to the shining remover of darkness” or “Victory to God divine” amongst other rough translations. Mysterious and interpretive, Across the Universe gets the nod here.

Day 21- A song you like with a person's name in the title

'Elenore'- The Turtles

The Turtles are most famous for their song, “Happy Together”, but next on the roster is 'Elenore'. It’s a great song with such an upbeat chorus, similar to “Happy Together”, the song has quiet verses before suddenly launching loudly into a chorus that is simple and cheery. You may recognise the song from the film The Boat that Rocked, which is a great film with a brilliant soundtrack.

Day 22- A song that moves you forward

'Got to Keep On'- The Chemical Brothers

Another selection I struggled with, but 'Got to Keep On' is a song that resonates with me. Taken from the Chemical Brothers’ latest album, No Geography, the song reminds me of revising for my summer exams last year and having that feeling of having to plough on no matter how difficult a set of circumstances you’re facing. The mixture of sounds and voices in the song adds to its suspense, but the message remains the same- you’ve got to keep on, and I think this is an important thing to bear in mind currently during this global pandemic.

Day 23- A song you think everybody should listen to

'Waterloo Sunset'- The Kinks

'Waterloo Sunset' is one of the most beautiful and sad love songs ever written. The lyrics outline two lovers, Terry and Julie, meeting together at Waterloo Station every Friday night and blissfully going off together into the night. Yet, the story is told by an outside observer, who is either watching them or simply imagining them, and the song balances his envy and sadness towards this couple, with the couple’s apparent happiness together. Ray Davies steals the song as lead singer and with his contributions on the acoustic guitar. It’s a beautifully composed song that captures the joys and envies of love and should be listened to by everyone.

Day 24- A song by a band you wish were still together

'I Want to Break Free'- Queen

There’s only one choice for today’s theme, and that is Queen. Without a doubt, Queen are one of the best bands to have existed and one of the bands to display amazing talent in all areas, from John Deacon on the bass, Roger Taylor behind the drums, Brian May and his amazing mop of hair on the guitar, to iconic front man Freddie Mercury singing lead vocals. Queen songs are often the ones everyone knows the words to, no matter what kind of music you’re into, easily accessible with memorable lyrics and instrument solos, they were utterly brilliant. Even if May and Taylor still perform with Adam Lambert, it’s nowhere near the level they had with Deacon and Mercury. As for the song choice, I want to break free is a very shared theme between many students at the moment, especially me as I’m coming into squeaky bum time with my dissertation!

Day 25- A song you like by an artist no longer living

'Suspicious Minds'- Elvis Presley

There are so many fantastic artists who sadly aren’t with us anymore, but there’s one who always crops up as one of the greatest, if not the greatest in rock and roll history and that’s Elvis. Everybody loves Elvis, let’s be clear about that, and he sang some of the finest songs in rock. 'Suspicious Minds' just captures all of Elvis’ capabilities for me, it’s just a great song and serves as a reminder of just how great the King truly was.

Day 26- A song that makes you want to fall in love

'I'm Not in Love'- 10cc

'I’m Not in Love' at first glance appears to be a song about, well, not being in love, but it’s the opposite. Written by Eric Stewart as a response to his wife who claimed he didn’t say “I love you enough”, the song argues that saying “I love you” too often demeans the phrase. The song goes through all the feelings of love, trying to dismiss it as a “silly phase” but ultimately falling in love as the song goes on. Using minimal instruments, the song primarily uses voices to provide the slow and gushy melodies that soundtrack the song.

Day 27- A song that breaks your heart

'Somebody Else'- The 1975

Initially I was going to pick 'Up the Junction' by Squeeze, instead settling for 'Somebody Else' by The 1975. The song reminds me of happy memories at the back end of first year, hanging out with my mates, playing football and having a few pints in various beer gardens, yet the song is actually quite heart-breaking. 'Somebody Else' details the heartache of seeing someone you love drift off, whilst matching the mood of the lyrics with the tone and tempo of the song. It’s a great song for when you’re having an off day and it is one of The 1975’s best tunes.

Day 28- A song by an artist whose voice you love

'Life on Mars'- David Bowie

I can’t believe I’ve come this far without any David Bowie songs. Bowie was a musical genius with one of the most iconic voices ever. There’s no particular reason for this song being selected as all of his songs are incredibly fantastic, but after watching the TV series Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes (both are well worth a watch), this has been rattling around my head of late. Bowie sings songs that you just never tire of hearing, which is a rare talent, and 'Life on Mars' is one of his best ever.

Day 29- A song you remember from your childhood

'Learn to Fly'- Foo Fighters

The Foo Fighters features again on my list as their greatest hits was the soundtrack to my childhood. It was a CD that always played in the car and in the house and reminds me a lot of my dad, who introduced me to one of the greatest bands ever. 'Learn to Fly' is one of my favourite Foo Fighters’ songs and one that I listened to constantly as a child.

Day 30- A song that reminds you of yourself

'Half the World Away'- Oasis

This is a difficultly deep one isn’t it? I’ve flicked between so many songs, from 'Alright' by Supergrass to the From the Sidelines cricket corner theme tune 'Dreadlock Holiday', but I finally settled on 'Half the World Away' by Oasis. Whilst I’m glad I managed to fit Oasis in somewhere, I didn’t want to finish on a sad song. 'Half the World Away' just sums up me at the moment, stuck somewhere, scratching around trying to finish my degree whilst simultaneously trying to figure out where I want to go and what I want to do next. It's a song that feels like you’re trapped and desperate to get out, but can’t, and although things feel like that at the moment, not just for me but a lot of people I’m guessing, the main takeaway from the song is despite all this, “I don’t feel down”, there’s reason to be optimistic and things will work out.

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