Bob from Brockley has sent me a music meme:
List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to.
In Bob’s own post, he wrote a nice little bit about each song and added at the end, “Note to the tagged: don’t feel obliged to write as much about your songs. I can’t help myself!” Unfortunately, I knew when I took on this project that I might end up writing three to five times as much as he did. Seems I can’t help myself either…
1. “Raakkammaa Kaiya Thattu” by Ilaiyaraaja, sung by S.P. Balasubrahmanyam and Swarnalatha, from the movie Thalapathi (1991). I posted this and two other songs (including “Kaatukkulle Manasukkulle,” sampled in M.I.A.’s “Bamboo Banga”) over here. This is just such a great song (though I don’t know what the lyrics mean – but the music and the singing are fantastic)… Ilaiyaraaja’s film music is so lively and at the same time so sweet, it can make you smile from ear to ear. Some of it can be very sad too, but this isn’t one of the sad ones; it’s just very uplifting. And I also love the more classical part at the end, when the song gets much more serene, which matches the scene in the film clip where Shobana shows up in that group of spiritually inclined women and children, carrying the candles. Incidentally, this is part of a mix of Tamil film music that I put together to listen to on the subway. It makes the ride so much better…
2. “Knockdown” by Pardesi. OK, I might be cheating here, because I just discovered this song within the past day. But I think I’m going to be returning to it a lot. Pardesi is a collaboration between two Vancouver DJs, Lady Ra (whom I’ve written about before) and Timothy Wisdom. What they do in this song is take Alesha Dixon’s slightly show-tuneish dance pop/hip-hop number Knockdown and remix it into a bhangra song. And they make it more of a bhangra song exactly where Alesha makes it more hip-hop. The change is quite funny, and good. (P.S. “Pardesi” means foreigner. I’ve seen at least half a dozen Bollywood movie numbers made to songs with “Pardesi” in the title. My favorite is this one.)
3. “Aadal Kaneero,” by G. Ramanathan, sung by M.L. Vasanthakumari, from the 1957 Tamil film Madurai Veeran (I posted a clip of it here). This is basically Carnatic music, I think, maybe just slightly changed for the cinema. And I love it, in all of its intensity… Also part of the Tamil film music mix that I put together for the subway rides.
4. “Sound of Kuduro” by Buraka Som Sistema featuring M.I.A. This song‘s got a crazy beat that’s gonna kill ya! Not to take any credit away from Buraka Som Sistema, but it’s very hard for me not to just think of this as the latest M.I.A. song. One reason for this is that her voice is such an important part of it for me, and it goes so well here. And also, this Angolan Portuguese-language kind of hip hop isn’t that far away from the baile funk that she was delving into in Arular. But I’ve checked out Buraka Som Sistema separately and they are pretty good too.
5. “Minor Swing” by Belleruche. I mentioned this song a while back, am still returning to it…swinging, jazzy turtnablist trip-hop with a really good old-fashioned r’n’b-style female singer… Some of their songs sound a bit like Portishead, but this is a bit less Portishead and more Duke Ellington. As it says, “Minor Swing.” But with some good contemporary beats, nice work on the turntable, very danceable.
6. “Sound and Vision” by David Bowie. Since I posted this song with the dance interpretation by Pans People, it struck me how much I still like it after 31 years. David Bowie’s Low became my favorite album when it came out, when I was about 15 years old, and this was probably my favorite song from that album. And all through the years, I never went through any phases when I said to myself, no, I can’t listen to that stuff right now - I always liked it. That’s quite remarkable… I guess I always liked the fact that it’s kind of avant garde but at the same time so catchy, spacey but melodic, a little edgy but pretty damn ambient too. (Eno’s collaboration on this album probably helped there.) Plus, I always liked the lyrics, about sitting alone in a room in solitude with the blinds drawn, waiting for sound and vision… Not your usual pop music material by any means. But sitting alone in my room with the blinds drawn is actually something I’ve done quite a few times in my life.
7. “Gori Gori Kudi” by Bally Sagoo (sung by Shreya Ghoshal) from a movie that he directed last year called Sajna ve Sajna. For this song, Sagoo ripped off most of Reshmi Salwar Kurta Jaali Ka from the 1957 film Naya Daur and added a modern Punjabi beat. That bothered some people (as heavy sampling often does); it doesn’t really bother me. And unlike the vast majority of remakes and remixes of old Bollywood songs (at least among those I’ve heard), I actually find it as enjoyable to listen to as the original. (By the way, I wish I could find a full video for this, but I can only find a snippet. The song is easily searchable and downloadable for free, especially if you’re subscribed to something (I dowload some of my filmi music through Cool Toad), but it’s probably advisable to have a pop-up blocker and anti-virus detector.)
Now I’m supposed to tag seven people… Well, I don’t really expect everybody or even anybody to take me up on this, so no need to worry about any expectations, but I also might as well at least tag blogs that have appropriate formats and might be able to make room for this sort of thing. So, my favorite Bollywood blogs are out (I don’t think they would do this sort of thing), though if any of my favorite Bollywood bloggers want to pick this up, that’s fine. Meanwhile, for now, I’m going to tag (and I’m listing by first names here, since that too seems to be part of the game): James, Anda, Mark, Ellen 9, Transpontine, Helen, and Chuck.