Continuing a good thing (or at least, a moderately enjoyable thing) from last year, this is my monthly series called “Five on Shuffle” where I attempt to reconnect with my iPod by using it regularly throughout the year and using it only and continuously on “shuffle.” Once a month I’m going to stop at a completely random interval, snap photos of five songs in a row, and then post and write about them here. The writing may be heavy or light, depending on whether or not I’ve anything remotely clever to say about any given song.
1. Long Hard Road out of Hell – Marylin Manson and Sneaker Pimps
When it comes to nü metal and industrial rock of the 1990s, I kinda missed the boat. Well, it was more like I was following the boat in my own little vessel. I could easily hear the pulsating, grinding guitars, the atonal rhythms, the fucked-up “fuck you” lyrics that would sure enough bother the parental units, but I was content to listen from afar. But why bother following this boat in the first place? Because of Spawn, that’s why. Yeah, you remember that junky, culty flick from 1997 with Michael Jai White and John Leguizamo. Oh, yeah…you do. My knowledge of Spawn has grown considerably in the past 20 years, but back then, it was just a decent movie with a killer soundtrack. That’s when I first met most of the industrial artists that pepper my iPod today, including Marylin Manson, here with the only song (and video) that I actually like from the band, “Long Hard Road Out of Hell.” (The same goes for the electronica artists on the albums…this soundtrack was pretty much a first time meet-and-greet for many, like Sneaker Pimps.)
2. Hair – Lady Gaga
One of the few full albums that I’ve bought in the last decade (how scary is that?!), Lady Gaga’s Born this Way is a pop powerhouse that beautifully represents a lyrical and musical synthesis. i.e. Ms. Gaga knows how to craft a damn fine song. Even when the songs don’t resonate with my personally on a lyrical level, like here with “Hair,” the sentiment they convey is undeniable. i.e. “Hair” is not my favorite song about self-worth, but Lady Gaga still makes me believe in it.
3. Take Me on the Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne vs. a-ha) — Djrungen
One of the things I love about mash-ups is that they sometime shed new light on old tunes. Take this simple A+B mash-up of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” (an overplayed metal classic) and a-ha’s “Take On Me” (doesn’t get much more 80s). When the “Crazy Train” lyrics start up just as you’d expect to here the opening lines of “Take On Me,” something hilarious happens. Suddenly “Crazy Train” becomes a pop song, a synthesized song…a silly song. Like, yeah, you’ve really gone off the rails with the Crazy Train this time. Oh, I love it when a song makes me laugh!
4. Badfish– Sublime
Yet another remnant of poor data management, someday (though I know I never will) I need to fill in the information for Sublime’s Stand By Your Van album, a live compilation album released in 1998. As you might have guessed from my acronym, this is the 8th track off the album, “Badfish,” one of the band’s all-time classics. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I L-O-V-E Sublime and RIP Mr. Nowell. Sorry, I’ve got no other insights because I just want to sit and listen and be in love in a favorite band.
5. God Wanna – Everlast
God wanna fill my heart,
the devil wanna wear my skin,
time to get the party started,
everybody jump in
I don’t pretend to be down with all the music on my iPod, but Everlast has certainly helped ease the self-imposed barrier of entry I’ve placed. Even when the writing’s not the most elevated, there’s so much truth to his words. Take the opening lines of “God Wanna.” Everyone, even the most saintly among us, walk the lines between “good” and “bad” every day. No matter your personal vice, from sugar to sex to cigarettes, we all have to manage our demons.