überlin

30 Day Song Challenge

by James Glazebrook

Only the most tenuous Berlin connections here (Booka Shade, and, er… Mathew Jonson and Emika live here… oh, and Iggy Pop used to!), but what can I say? I love music. That’s why I’m Music Editor for BANG BANG BERLIN, and that’s why I write for Resident Advisor. That’s why, even when I’m not being paid for it, I love to bang on about music, and that’s why I enjoyed doing the Facebook 30 Day Song Challenge so much. For anyone lucky enough not to be my friend on Facebook, here are my nominations in full…
(BONUS BEATS! For anyone lucky enough to have access to Spotify – sorry Germany! – here’s a link to a playlist of most of the tracks)

Day 01 – My Favourite Song: Kate Bush – Running Up That Hill
I hated having to chose just one favorite song, but then I played it and got chills and welled up.
Perfection.

Day 02 – My Least Favourite Song: Björk – It’s Oh So Quiet
It stuck out like a sore thumb on the otherwise perfect album Post; it played into the hands of both critics and fairweather fans who thought of Björk as just a kooky pop pixie (rather than a genius); it’s a Big Band number etc etc.

Day 03 – A Song That Makes You Happy: Cancer Bats – Black Metal Bicycle
“Some people call me a nihilist / Say I don’t believe in a thing / Well I know that can’t be true / Cos baby I believe in you!”

Day 04 – A Song That Makes You Sad: Nine Inch Nails – Something I Can Never Have
This has been with me, from the first girl to break my heart to the very last.

Day 05 – A Song That Reminds You of Someone: The Cure – Lovesong
For Zoë.


The Cure – Lovesong – MyVideo

Day 06 – A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere: The Grand Spectacular – Being A Dickhead’s Cool
♥ / H8 London Fields.
(BONUS BEATS! Read about the whole London Fields dickhead/hipster phenomenon here)

Day 07 – A Song That Reminds You of An Event: Booka Shade – Night Falls (Larry Gold’s ‘Night Falls Over Philly’ String Version)
When I got married I walked down the “aisle” to this. It was a tiny room so I only heard about 10 seconds of it; listening back to it confirms that this is the perfect wedding march.

Day 08 – A Song That You Know All the Words To: Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby
“Cookin’ MCs like a pound of bacon!”

Ice Ice Baby, in stills from BURBS on Vimeo.

Day 09 – A Song That You Can Dance To: Mathew Jonson – Marionette

Day 10 – A Song That Makes You Fall Asleep: Emika – Count Backwards
No offence to the delightful Em, but this induces sonic somnolence.
(BONUS BEATS! Read my interview with Emika here)

Day 11 – A Song From Your Favorite Band: Deftones – Knife Prty
I don’t rrrreally have a favourite band but this one have never put a foot wrong.
(BONUS BEATS! I did a mix inspired by, and featuring, this track, available over here)

Day 12 – A Song From A Band You Hate: Oasis – Champagne Supernova
During the Oasis VS Blur “Britpop wars” of the 90s I was firmly on the side of FUCK YOU ALL.
This was the least shit song to some out of the whole tiresome affair.

Day 13 – A Song That Is A Guilty Pleasure: Phil Collins – Against All Odds
Only, I don’t feel one iota of guilt.

Day 14 – A Song That No One Would Expect You To Love: Kelly Clarkson – Because of You

Day 15 – A Song That Describes You: Gary Numan – Me! I Disconnect From You
The “Cars” star presages my social media addiction:
“You could tell from conversations / I was waiting by the screen… Please don’t turn me off / I don’t know what I’m doing outside”

Day 16 – A Song That You Used To Love But Now Hate: Korn – Twist
I don’t have much hate left – it took a lot out of me just championing nu metal on a daily basis. But looking back, there is plenty to be embarrassed about, particularly in Korn – all neatly encapsulated in these 50 seconds of Tazmanian-devil nonsense.

Day 17 – A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio: Iggy Pop – Blah Blah Blah
I’ve always hated radio, because there’s not enough music and there’s too much of this: blah blah blah.
(BONUS BEATS! To find out what I hear on the closest thing to radio that I listen to, check me out on last.fm)

Day 18 – A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio: John Cage – 4’33”
What’s with all the radio questions? Last time I checked we lived in the 21st Century and had more ways than ever to *choose* what we listen to. Why do we need radio?
Here’s what I like to hear from the radio: silence.

Day 19 – A Song From Your Favorite Album: Faith No More – Kindergarten

Day 20 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Angry: Glassjaw – Pretty Lush
Pure screamo sadomasochism. No one plays both the victim and the aggressor quite like Glassjaw.
“I wish you a broken heart and a happy new year”

Day 21 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Happy: Beastie Boys – Hey Ladies
When I’m what? Just kidding…
“Hey ladieeeeeeeeees – Get – Funkay”

Day 22 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Sad: Kanye West – Welcome to Heartbreak
This is different how to Day 04 (A Song That Makes You Sad)? Luckily I have endless reserves of miserable music. Here’s some from Kanny’s (genius) emo period. Nice jumper.
(BONUS BEATS! Here’s the EMO TEARZ ;_( playlist I put together to coincide with an article I wrote for the print version of Pamflet. Sorry, Spotify again!)

KANYE WEST “Welcome to Heartbreak” Directed by: NABIL from nabil elderkin on Vimeo.

Day 23 – A Song That You Want To Play At Your Wedding: Art of Noise – Moments in Love
I’ve already used mine and Zoë’s wedding march (Day 07), so this is for when I take a second wife. By then I’ll be so cursed I won’t worry it being a bad omen (it also soundtracked Madonna and Sean Penn’s nuptials).

Day 24 – A Song That You Want To Play At Your Funeral: Haste The Day – When Everything Falls
Because of the triumph-over-death lyrics, because of the Christian message that my parents may be able to tease out, but mostly because I’ll have a captive audience.
“I will stand, I will stand / When everything falls away / I will fight this war forever, or until I die”
(BONUS BEATS! An article I wrote when I first discovered Christian metal † \m/ † )

Day 25 – A Song That Makes You Laugh: Liam Lynch – United States of Whatever
“…that’s cool”

Day 26 – A Song That You Can Play On An Instrument: Nirvana – About A Girl
The first few chords at least.

Day 27 – A Song That You Wish You Could Play: Fleetwood Mac – Big Love
I’m normally of the opinion that acoustic guitars are for gays, but Lyndsey Buckingham rips it with this.

Day 28 – A Song That Makes You Feel Guilty: Estelle – Someone Like You

Day 29 – A Song From Your Childhood: Michael Jackson – Thriller
One of my few childhood memories is pouring over the sleeve of this record on our dining room floor.

Day 30 – Your Favorite Song At This Time Last Year: Obituary – Final Thoughts
Who can remember back that far? I can’t, but I faintly listening to a lot of Obituary after seeing them live (the night before this video was recorded). Enjoy!

I Miss Dickheads

by James Glazebrook

Since we moved to Berlin, my wife Zoë and I have talked about all the things we miss about England. Our joint list includes decent curry, online grocery shopping, not having to pay for everything by cash – oh and of course all our friends and family (you guys!). But here’s where I lose her: I miss the hipsters. More specifically, I miss our hipsters – that breed of try-hard unique to our former hood of East London, now known as “dickheads” since this slice of genius ironiclasm:

Of course, I moaned about them often enough. They pushed up our rent (because the gentrification of Hackney had nothing to do with us) and turned our pubs into venues for tiresome pose-offs. In summer they laid claim to our local park (London Fields, featured in that video) as a makeshift festival ground – the site of Cockstock 2010. As we got older, they got younger, each successive wave rediscovering a cultural heritage that reached back to bumbags and hi-tops but somehow skipped the cold shower that was Nathan Barley.

What dickheads. But still, our dickheads. When this video did the rounds last year, it made me LOL until I cried, but it also made me swell with pride. Because, as it looped on the laptops around the agency where I worked, I could see all these “self-facilitating media nodes” making mental notes: fashion tips, career goals, an idea for their fifth blog (I know, I know…) But they didn’t live where I lived, and they hadn’t seen what I’d seen.

Zoë and I always did well (we thought) at staying just the right side of the line of fashion faux pas – but we couldn’t have done it without all those other dickheads prancing about on the other side of the line, getting their epic beards caught in the spokes of their vintage steampunk fixed-gears. While this Guardian blog massively overstates the role of E8 hipsters as “agents of social change”, it contains a kernel of truth: we need hipsters to make us look less gay by comparison. Especially me.

Hipsters

Berlin's gay Nazi hipsters get a raw deal

As I’ve bemoaned before, Berlin doesn’t have proper dickheads of its own. The fashionistas actually dress well (understated, minimal, monochrome), the regular folk are practically invisible and the only people taking style “risks” are actually just adopting the uniform of whatever subculture they belong to – punk, gay, rave-hippie, homeless (what do you mean, they don’t have a choice? I’ve seen them – layering, accessorising…)

I mean, it’s Fashion Week here, and you wouldn’t know it unless you happened by the tiny pocket of pricks who have pretty much all flown in from East London anyway. But you can bet my old neighbourhood is swarming with twats. And, were I there with them, I’d be love-hating every last one of them.

[EDIT: In a typically cyclical small-blogosphere turn of events, Phoebe from Pamflet has written an article in defence of hipsters, with a similar sentiment – but much more research and thought – and linked to this post. So I’m returning the favour – read what a real writer has to say after the jump.]

Dear Dickheads

by James Glazebrook

Matthew Dear live

Matthew Dear was captivating last night – despite some serious distractions offstage.

Admittedly I’ve been a bit of a shut-in lately – a situation bound to worsen with the oncoming snow and Siberian (perhaps) winds – and I’ve never been the biggest fan of, well, people… but this was too much.

First, there were the dickheads. Or whatever they’re called here. Probably still “dickheads” as no doubt they’re either from <ahem> East London or Williamsburg. Whatever you call them, their Where’s Wally look of bobble hats over scruffy hair and ironic pattern jumpers is just BAD.

Dickheads I can handle. Living in London Fields, I was surrounded by them 24/7 and even dabbled in a bit of dickery myself (cf. jeggings / quiff).

It’s the willfully uncool people who really disturb. Particularly the 90s rave throwbacks that Berlin seems to attract, with their hoodies and dreads and baggy jeans. They looked like extras from the clubbing scene in Spaced, only there was nothing funny about it.

I suppose I should rejoice at the sight of a Gallagher-esque monkey man skinning up under a No Smoking sign, but the cynic in me believes that there’s such a thing as too much freedom, even here in the former Soviet Union.

I hope I learn to lose the cynicism. After all, one of the reasons we moved here is the culture (and economy) that encourages, fosters and allows creativity – and so we should embrace everything that comes along with it: unfettered freedom, genuine anarchism, honest revolutionary impulses, even reckless dressing.

But the guy with the hippie/punk haircut, wearing a jazzy afghan and tartan trousers is not helping…

This is a kind-of-review of Matthew Dear’s performance at Berghain/Kantine on 1st December 2010. For another cock-eyed (literally) look at the gig, see my Tumblr Gay For…