Twitter Picks – Dramatic

Because I hate trying to answer the question “So, what kind of music are you into?” (and because I am horrifically anal about these things), I have spent much of the last ten years trying to condense my entire musical taste down to one word.

For a while I toyed with borrowing an idea from a friend, who just tells everyone she likes ‘good music.’ But the problem is that it wouldn’t be true. I like quite a lot of really awful music. And what constitutes ‘good,’ anyway? If I say that to a lot of people they’ll automatically have me down as a fan of U2. And I can’t have people thinking that.

I’ve actually adopted the phrase, “I like pretty much anything from music hall to white noise,” in the last year or so. I think it covers most bases, despite sounding quite pretentious. But a while ago I thought I might have actually stumbled across that one killer word that would sum everything up. That word, as you’ve probably already guessed, is ‘dramatic.’

Until I collected my last Twitter-recommended playlist, I hadn’t managed to come up with a way of testing this theory (okay, I hadn’t actually given it much thought at all, but stick with me). But as all those suggestions of ’achingly beautiful’ music came flooding in, I suddenly thought maybe I could use the same method to find out if ‘dramatic’ really is the catch all word for the music I like.

Now, there are all sorts of reasons why it can’t be, not least because there is a lot of completely undramatic music out there that I love. Also, there’s plenty of dramatic music around that I don’t like – Celine Dion does drama well, but I’m never going to start liking what she does and, apologies everyone, I’m not a massive fan of Queen either. Then there’s the fact that my definition of dramatic doesn’t always line up with other people’s.

That actually makes things a lot more interesting. This could have just been a list of power ballads, but because the theme means different things to different people we’ve got a massive variety of songs. There are tracks where the drama builds through the music and/or vocals in a wide variety of ways, while in others it comes through the lyrics, like on R Kelly’s hilarious musical soap opera, Trapped In The Closet. Sometimes it’s just a general vibe. And then, just to prove that we don’t all find the same things dramatic, there are songs on this playlist, admittedly only a very small number, in which I can’t hear any drama at all.

But at the same time, a lot of my favourite songs were suggested. She Spider by Mew, Bachelorette by Björk, Après Moi by Regina Spektor, Skream’s remix of La Roux’s In For The Kill, Passenger by Deftones, Hurt by Nine Inch Nails, and Touched by Vast are all songs I know and love and would probably have suggested myself. And listening to many of the songs I didn’t already know, I had a feeling I was listening to a lot of future favourites too. So maybe there is something in this after all.

There are artists who came up repeatedly; mostly Björk and Kate Bush, who I had expected, and The Chemical Brothers, who I hadn’t. I was also surprised that only one post-rock track came up, The Birth And Death Of The Day by Explosions In The Sky. Only three songs were named more than once: Jóga by Björk, Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush and Deftones’ aforementioned collaboration with Tool and A Perfect Circle frontman, Maynard James Keenan, Passenger. A Perfect Circle, incidentally, were another band who popped up several times, getting one song from each of their three albums included. And if someone hadn’t suggested Total Eclipse Of The Heart, I think I might have had to slip it in myself.

I wasn’t put in that position, though. So my contribution is the playlist’s opening track, the stripped back version of Something I Can Never Have by Nine Inch Nails from Still. I considered going in with a torrent of hardcore, but went with this because it manages to built drama and tension with just piano, guitar and voice and gets things off to a more gentle start. Also, as Mr Reznor stormed off Twitter in a huff this week, I thought it was somehow fitting.

Going back to my original question, I think it’s fairly safe to say that it’s not possible to condense my entire musical taste down into one word. So unfortunately it looks like I am going to have to continue offering slightly confused and confusing explanations. But that’s probably a good thing. Anyone who asks you what music you like expecting to get a simple answer probably doesn’t deserve an answer at all.

You can listen to almost all of the songs listed here in this handy Spotify playlist.

Nine Inch Nails – Something I Can Never Have (Still version) (Spotify|Last.fm)
Mew – She Spider (Spotify|Last.fm)
Divine Comedy – Through A Long And Sleepless Night (Spotify)
Beyoncé – Ring The Alarm (Spotify|Last.fm)
Spandau Ballet – To Cut A Long Story Short (Spotify|Last.fm)
Celine Dion – It’s All Coming Back To Me Now (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Veronicas – Untouched (Spotify)
Ladytron – Destroy Everything You Touch (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Chameleons – A Person Isn’t Safe Anywhere These Days (Spotify|Last.fm)
Magazine – Motorcade (Spotify|Last.fm)
My Life Story – 12 Reasons Why I Love Her (Spotify|Last.fm)
Björk – Jóga (Spotify)
Bauhaus – She’s In Parties (Spotify)
Bright Eyes – Arienette
Deftones – Passenger (Spotify|Last.fm)
Devotchka – Comrade Z (Spotify)
Final Fantasy – Please Please Please (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Germs – Media Blitz (Spotify|Last.fm)
Heart – Alone (Spotify|Last.fm)
Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights (Spotify)
Clint Mansell – Death Is The Road To Awe (Spotify)
The One AM Radio – Fires
Patrick Wolf – This Weather (Last.fm)
A Perfect Circle – Magdalena (Spotify|Last.fm)
Björk – Bachelorette (Spotify)
Fat Boy Slim – Right Here Right Now
Fionn Regan – Snowy Atlas Mountains (Spotify|Last.fm)
Andrew Bird – Fake Palindromes (Spotify|Last.fm)
Andrew Bird – Imitosis (Spotify|Last.fm)
Regina Spektor – Après Moi (Spotify|Last.fm)
Elbow – The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver (Spotify|Last.fm)
Biffy Clyro – Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies (Spotify)
A-ha – The Sun Always Shines On TV (Spotify|Last.fm)
Arctic Monkeys – The View From The Afternoon (Spotify)
Bloc Party – Helicopter (Spotify)
Cake – The Distance (Spotify)
The Chemical Brothers – Leave Home (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun (feat. Noel Gallagher) (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Chemical Brothers – The Test (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Diamonds – The Stroll (Spotify|Last.fm)
Eels – Souljacker Part 1 (Spotify)
La Roux – In For The Kill (Skream’s Let’s Get Ravey Remix) (Spotify|Last.fm)
Johnny Foreigner – Salt, Pepa And Spindarella (Spotify|Last.fm)
Besnard Lakes – And You Lied To Me (Spotify|Last.fm)
Led Zeppelin – Since I’ve Been Loving You
Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us (Spotify|Last.fm)
Kate Bush – Babooshka (Spotify|Last.fm
Explosions In The Sky – The Birth And Death Of The Day (Spotify|Last.fm)
Reparata & The Delrons – I’m Nobody’s Baby Now
Glenda Collins – Something I’ve Got To Tell You
Puccini – Nessum Dorma (Spotify)
Puccini – O Mio Bambino Caro (Spotify)
Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms (Spotify|Last.fm)
Queen – Innuendo (Spotify|Last.fm)
Alanis Morissette – Uninvited (Spotify)
Sub6 – 7th Son (Ticon Remix) (Spotify)
Deftones – Minerva (Spotify)
A Perfect Circle – Imagine (Spotify)
The Pink Mountaintops – Vampire (Spotify)
Fever Ray – Concrete Walls (Spotify|Last.fm)
Xiu Xiu – I Luv The Valley, OH! (Last.fm)
Foals – Titan Arum (Spotify)
Modest Mouse – Satin In A Coffin (Spotify|Last.fm)
Radiohead – Exit Music (For A Film) (Spotify|Last.fm)
Elbow – Mexican Standoff (Spotify|Last.fm)
Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip – Waiting For The Beat To Kick In (Spotify|Last.fm)
R Kelly – Trapped In The Closet 1-13 (Spotify)
The Chemical Brothers – Saturate (Spotify|Last.fm)
Sia – Breathe Me (Spotify)
Lorraine Ellison – Stay With Me (Baby) (Spotify|Last.fm)
Scott Walker – The Cockfighter (Spotify|Last.fm)
The Monkees – Porpoise Song (Spotify|Last.fm)
Bonnie Tyler – Total Eclipse Of The Heart (Spotify|Last.fm)
Nine Inch Nails – Hurt (Spotify|Last.fm)
My Dying Bride – The Cry Of Mankind (Spotify|Last.fm)
Faith No More – Caffeine (Spotify)
A Perfect Circle – Pet (Spotify)
Vast – Touched (Spotify|Last.fm)

Thanks to all of the following, who recommended the music on this playlist and all have impeccable taste: @radioedit, @trixie, @nickpeters, @MyChemToilet, @mrstealeaves, @marshamusic, @jaimemcc, @sesp, @CaroUnLimited, @davidriley, @DanReballato, @mariusvandyk, @sus_ond, @benedit, @rebekahwalker, @KRamness, @beristwicke, @joeparry, @venpedro

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