It’s officially the most depressing day of the year, so we’ve got together to make you a playlist that can’t fail to cheer you up.
Miriam Makeba – Pata Pata
Pata Pata was made famous by Miriam Makeba and it always makes me laugh with happiness. It’s mostly sung in Xhosa and “pata pata” seems to mean ‘touch touch’. I don’t really care about the words – it sounds completely joyful and makes me want to run around singing it with everyone.
It’s a stunning example of the debt western pop music owes to African music – it was first recorded by Makeba in 1957, but it sounds extremely contemporary.
It’s also a totally delightful recording in all respects. Makeba was an extraordinary woman in terms of music and civil rights, and on Pata Pata she just lights up the room.
Billy Joel – Uptown Girl
I have a playlist on my iPod called GOOD AND LOUD, all in caps. It’s music that plays well loud, as I’ve discovered when I have stuff on my mind and want a breather that there’s a certain volume where you literally cannot think of anything but the music.
The first song is Uptown Girl because it starts strong and doesn’t dip. Plus it’s how I found out that I’m posh. Yep. She’s an uptown girl and she’s been living in her white bread world. I bloody LOVE white bread. Plus she’s got high class toys, which I imagined to be one of those Newton’s cradle things and I had one for my desk alongside my gonks and smelly rubbers.
It’s a bouncy classic with lots of joiny inny bits. Be careful not to accidentally listen to the Westlife version though. Those boys are second to none when they’re flying without wings but please leave this posh lass the fuck alone.
Meat Loaf – Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul
No matter how un-dancey I feel, this song gets me on my feet every time. Not only is it from the best musical of all time, but it’s a bloody banger. Meat Loaf delivers the show tune to end all show tunes; dramatic, head-flick-tastic and high kick o’rama. I have my own dance routine to it.
In Rocky Horror, Meat Loaf plays Eddie, the saxophone-playing oaf who is in love with Columbia and breaks into Frank’s lair to rescue her. He has beef with Frank N Furter due to him taking half his brain to make his own gold-panted Rocky man for all his sexual pleasures. Normal!
What he delivers is an amazing song full of hope, happiness and good old rock’n’roll. Love.
David Byrne – Don’t Fence Me In
This song is perfect if you need a kick up the jacksie or are feeling trapped. Sorry to be bossy, but if you don’t turn the volume up while listening to it you might as well not bother, yeah? Cool. Also, ignore the boring YouTube video.
Just blast this track out in your kitchen or bedroom and you’ll be jumping about like a loon, desperate to romp around in nature, “under starry skies above”.
The arrangement of David Byrne’s Brazilian-style cover of Cole Porter and Robert Fletcher’s cowboy song bears very little resemblance to the snoozy version popularised by Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters in the 1940s. It relies on three simple factors: the banging samba beats (pointless if quiet), Bryne’s sweet delivery and the cute lyrics that have Porter’s deft, daft fingerprints all over them. “I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences / And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses / I can’t look at hovels and I can’t stand fences / Don’t fence me in.”
B.O.B (featuring Rivers Cuomo) – Magic
“I’ve got the magic in me…” Any song that starts on a line like this is always destined to be a banger, and this is the one song that can take me by the hand and drag me out of any grump, no matter what grade it is.
A perfect rhythm to do a kick-ass strut down the road to, and a catchy hook you will have stuck in your head forever, and you won’t even mind. If you don’t agree, don’t @ me; I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.
Turn it on, play it loud.
What’s the first thing you hear each morning? Songbirds tweeting? Your partner snoring? The binmen collecting that crate of empties you drank the night before because you just can’t believe the state the world is in and you need to numb the painful awareness with copious amounts of Old Mout Cider?
Every morning, for years now, I have been awoken by a frog and a banjo and I’ve never once been annoyed by it. My alarm is Kermit the Frog singing a melancholy but hopeful refrain about the bittersweet yearning to follow your heart. He implores me to never give up on my dreams (and, yes, I see the irony in being woken from a dream by someone singing about dreamers).
By the last verse I should be awake, but if I am still slumbering I get to hear the final, heart-wrenching lyrics and the reason I wanted the song to rouse and remind me: “Have you been half asleep? (Why yes Kermit, I have, because it’s 6.30am and I’ve got a hangover.)
“And have you heard voices? (Why yes, again, Mr the Frog, I have. Partly because of that psychosis back when I was 18, partly the incessant noise of my internalised, hateful monologue but partly the metaphorical kind I think you’re talking about.)
“I’ve heard them calling my name. (This is when my habit of answering back to my phone ceases as I let Kermit’s wisdom into my heart.)
“I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it. It’s something that I’m supposed to be. Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection; the lovers, the dreamers and me.”
And my day begins with a vital reminder of exactly who I am and who I want to be.
Super Mario Bros – Theme from Super Mario Bros
When the most depressing day of the year hits, you don’t even want to hear a singer, you just want blue skies, white fluffy clouds, green grass and mushrooms that want to kill you.
“It’s like you can read my mind, Sooz!” Shhhhhh *touches your face*, if you want to feel good all you really need is the music from Super Mario Bros, a 1985 video game that tells the moving story of an Italian plumber who is in constant peril but never lets it get him down. Put it on, dim the lights and jump as high as you fucking can.
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