Siskoid's 30-Day Song Challenge

A month ago, to the day, I took part in the 30-day song challenge that's been making the rounds, oh, for a decade now. I also said I'd have to create my own because I found some of the challenges a little repetitive. Maybe a set of challenges that were... a little geekier, if not exclusively so? Here then is another round of "What does Siskoid listen to?" (conveniently turned into a YouTube playlist for your listening pleasure). Warning: This one isn't all SFW.

DAY 1: A geek anthem you like. I'm the One That's Cool. I had a lot of choices, but The Guild's third season song both laments the days when geek wasn't so chic, and declares victory over the Muggles who invariably want to bend your ear at the water cooler about the latest MCU release. Yes, you are now the most popular person at the office.

DAY 2: A song that you request from jammers, especially if you know it's useless. The Allman Brothers' Whipping Post isn't just a song I like, it has a long tradition of being shouted at bands that really didn't start with me. I believe it's on Frank Zappa's You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore vol.2 (the Helsinki concert) that a guy in the audience starts requesting Whipping Post (10 years later, Zappa would record a rare cover for the album Them or Us). Frank turns it into a weird slowed down version of Montana with Whipping Post elements thrown in (included on playlist), but this apparently spawned similar shenanigans at various indie shows over the years. I have to say I've been a part of this tradition since 1990, shouting it mostly at jammers asking for requests. I never get my wish. I once asked a musician who played our regular happy hour if he heard me and whether he just didn't know the song or whatnot, and he admitted it was very hard to play on the acoustic guitar, and he just didn't have the skill. Maybe one day!

DAY 3: A revenge song you like. Sonic Youth's Kool Thing is really about LL Cool J, with whom bassist and singer Kim Gordon clashed during an interview with Spin magazine. The song makes reference to some of his songs and certainly the album Walking with a Panther, with Chuck D sort of playing LL in the song and the video. I didn't know all this when I fell in love with the song back in the early 90s, but it adds a sassy layer to my enjoyment.

DAY 4: An instrumental song you like. While it's very tempting to drop one of Murray Gold's Doctor Who riffs in here, that's more soundtrack than "song", so instead, I'll choose the Asylum Street Spankers' Minor Waltz. Who doesn't love a theremin-sounding saw?

DAY 5: The theme from a TV show you can listen to in your normal rotation. It's not just that I regularly listen to Veronica Mars' theme, We Used to Be Friends, by The Dandy Warhols, it's that I send it to almost anyone I'm having a deeply stupid argument with. It's a great finisher to a non-debate.

DAY 6: A song you can't get out of your head.
Earworms are funny things. They always do get out of your head, but while you have one in there, you can't remember the previous one. Or don't want to because then it will stick in there and you're doomed. But one that I often get stuck in there is Ylvis' The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?). I mean, I'm only human, and it's like 10 different earworms in the same song.

DAY 7: A song you like from a musical. My favorite musical to listen to is Stephen Sondheim's Company with Neil Patrick Harris in the lead role. The show stopper in that is Patti LuPone performing The Ladies Who Lunch. She's so great.

DAY 8: A song you like that's not from the Western World. I guess this is the point at which I admit to enjoying K-Pop. It's dumb and silly, but I have good memories of our old K-Pop & Coconut Rum parties, essentially an excuse to get together, have a drink and look at weird music videos. We discovered Gangnam Style months ahead of everyone, but that's not my pick. I'm giving it to 4Minute's Heart to Heart (to Heart), best experienced with the video for an added layer of WTF. Runner-up Hyuna with Bubble Pop!

DAY 9: A song you like that reminds you of winter. One of two songs by the Rheostatics on this list, but when the original 30-song challenge asked for a "summer song", all I could think of was how much more I like "winter songs" (oh Canada...) and Rheo has a sound that makes me actively HEAR cold, wind, water. Tell me I'm wrong. I think you might most enjoy their cover of Gordon Lightfoot's The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald for exactly those qualities.

DAY 10: A song you like that is about superheroes. Ookla the Mok's Super Powers is a lot of fun, going through a bunch of classic secret origins.

DAY 11: A song you have played or would like to play as you walk on stage or into a room. If you read the first list, you've probably been waiting for this moment - the first French-language song on the list! Thanks to 30 years of improv, I don't have to imagine a soundtrack entrance because I've had them. The previous list had a Mass Hysteria song that would answer this challenge, but no repeats! No problem. As a referee, for a while I had "Cours vite" (Run Fast) by Silmarils - kind of France's answer to the Beastie Boys, voice-wise - which was meant to be intimidating I guess. Kicking riffs.

DAY 12: A song you like that uses one or more lines from a non-musical work (poetry, novel, film, etc.). Quebec's 90s indie group Les ¾ Putains had this wonderful arrangement of Baudelaire's "Une charogne" (A Carcass) that I have great affection for. Did I have to put the tune on YouTube myself? I did. Damn these obscurity-loving ears.

DAY 13: A song you like, but that your parents considered the devil's music. I don't have those kinds of parents, but I do have a memory of my mom thinking Twisted Sister was ghastly back when I was in 8th grade. We're Not Gonna Take It is still a fun song. We were so edgy.

DAY 14: A song you like that was written for a movie. Goldfinnnnnnngerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

DAY 15: A song whose politics or sentiment you don't share, but that you nevertheless like. Non-French speakers won't get just how rich and clever their lyrics, but I love Loco Locass, even though a lot of their songs are separatist (sorry, sovereignist) diatribes. As a French-Canadian living outside Quebec and a proud Canadian who sees bilingualism (warts and all) as a strength, not a threat, I can't possibly agree with their message, but I sure like their music. To be fair, their overall message is that you should celebrate your heritage, whatever it is. Anyway, here's Sheila, Ch'us Là, a necessarily dated song because Sheila Copps is no longer Minister of Culture.

DAY 16: A live recording your like more than the studio version. The Tragically Hip's New Orleans Is Sinking includes a Killer Whale Tank monologue by Gordie Howe that is just magic. I don't even know why I would listen to the studio version unless I were in a real hurry or something.

DAY 17: A song you like that is essentially an internet meme, joke, or crazy cover. Shatner on the Mount by Fall on Your Sword is one I return to again and again, a portrait of what was going through William Shatner's head when he was making Star Trek V. The interview itself is mad enough, but setting it to music was genius.

DAY 18: A song you like that includes a sampled sound effect. While I love the glass breaking in The Faders' Whatever It Takes, in the end I went with What's the Difference (Dr. Dre ft Eminem & Xzibit). I think half the reason I wanted to do another 30-song challenge was because the meme version didn't leave a lot of opportunity for rap and hip-hop. You'll find a lot more on THIS list.

DAY 19: A song you like that fights the power. Right now? I kind of have to go with Childish Gambino's This Is America.

DAY 20: A song you like that was retro by the time it came out. I think The Pipettes' retro-60s bop is a lot of fun, and from a short list of 4 or 5 contenders, I've picked It Hurts To See You Dance So Well.

DAY 21: A song that makes you laugh. I listen to a lot of comedy music, the most consistently funny might be The Lonely Island. Funniest to me? We're Back! Such swagger!

DAY 22: A song you like that is a sequel or response to another song. Our second Rheostatics song, it is a sequel to Saskatchewan (off their Melville album) about a Saskatchewan boy who goes out to see and dies in a battle. Or does he? Three years later, on Introducing Happiness, the band told us the real story as Onilley's Strange Dream, which I think I like even more than the original piece. (Both included on playlist.)

DAY 23: A song you like by an artist you think of as local. Conceived in Nova Scotia, cemented here in Moncton, changed their name and made it big in Montreal, I still consider the Acadian rap group Radio Radio a local act. If you're not steeped in Acadian parlance, you may think the lyrics a little opaque, but the riffs are cool and the music videos always an amusing take-down of gangsta sensibilities. Goin' for an old classic here with Jacuzzi.

DAY 24: A song you like because it was licensed for a video game. Is there a song you love to play on Guitar Hero or Rock Band? Or that perhaps you discovered on some Grand Theft Auto radio station? For me it's the diss track aimed at the Fat Truckers' Ben Rymer, No Sex for Ben, by The Rapture, specifically written for GTA IV's Radio Broker station. I don't get the unserious feud, but I was always happy when it came on.

DAY 25: A Christmas song you like that isn't an old standard. Christmas TV by Slow Club is a heartbreaking little piece of nostalgia about long-distance relationships. The only good Christmas songs are sad AF.

DAY 26: A song you like from well before you were born. I kind of take this to mean at least 10 years before one's date of birth. I've chosen one of French Canadian icon La Bolduc's amusing ditties about life during the Great Depression - 1930's "Ça va venir découragez-vous pas" (It'll Happen, Don't Get Discouraged", well-rooted in the traditional rills of family gatherings and historical villages.

DAY 27: A song you like that is about a monster or horror trope. Jon Lajoie's side project, Wolfie's Just Fine, leaves off the overt comedy in favor of more personal, nostalgic music. The first single is a beautiful meditation on having seen a Friday the 13th movie at too young an age called A New Beginning. The video has some gore, fair warning, but is really part of the experience.

DAY 28: A song you like from a fictional artist. What's your taste? Connor 4 Real? The Archies? Jeffster? I'm going to go with Vic Fontaine, the holographic crooner from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, AKA Jimmy Darren, and happily, he recorded the songs and released them under his own name. Glancing at the album (The Best Is Yet to Come), I'll pick... I'll Be Seeing You. Damn thing made me cry on the show itself.

DAY 29: A song from an album you think is perfect. Violent Femmes' eponymous first album is amazing. Not one bad song, and you'd swear it was recorded 5-10 years later than it actually was (which is 1983). Well ahead of its time. A favorite track off the album is Add It Up; it has several movements, something I look for in my very favorite songs.

DAY 30: A song you like that makes you think of the future.
You know I love songs about robots, so let me end on Dan Mangan's Robots. Cuz they need love too. Especially in the future when they've replaced us entirely.

I know some of you are still trying to complete the original 30-song stretch, but if you want to do this one in June, have a go. You have my permission to share, in the comments or elsewhere.


Mike W. said...

Well, since you asked:

1) Hail to the Geek-Deaf Pedestrians
2) Freebird! (Yeah, I know ...)
3) She Ain't Pretty-Northern Pikes (if that counts as a revenge song)
4) Orion-Metallica
5) Welcome Back-John Sebastian
6) The chorus of Bad Touch by Bloodhound Gang always gets stuck in my head.
7) Look at Me I'm Sandra Dee from Grease
8) Does Australia count as the Western world? There are lots of songs from there I like (You Shook Me, Down Under), but if you mean something with no Western influence whatsoever, I can't think of anything offhand.
9) Hazy Shade of Winter-Bangles
10) Superman Song-Crash Test Dummies
11) In the Air Tonight-Phil Collins (I like a nice build up)
12) Can't think of anything at the moment
13) My parents didn't pay that much attention to my listening habits; I was playing GNR's "You're Crazy" once and my dad asked me, "Is he singing 'You're fucking crazy'?" ... yup, that's what he's singing. My dad thought it was funny.
14) I can't really think of many songs that were done specifically for movies (as opposed to stage productions) that I like ... maybe Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.
15) Well, there are plenty of sexist songs that I like, but that fall apart when you parse the lyrics (Spaceship by Puddle of Mudd comes to mind).
16) Freewheel Burnin from Priest Live ... even more intense than the album version.
17) The Big Trouble in Little China version of Gangnam Style (I think it's called Lo Pan Style)
18) Wild Wild West by Escape Club has simulated gunshots
19) Guerilla Radio-Rage Against the Machine
20) Some of Billy Idol's 80s stuff was pretty punkish, even though punk's heyday was already past.
21) Almost anything by Weird Al.
22) Sweet Home Alabama, which I think was Skynyrd's response to Neil Young's Southern Man.
23) Voodoo Thing-Colin James (he's from Regina, where I lived for a while)
24) I first heard Ice Cube's It Was a Good Day in GTA and loved it immediately.
25) Run Run Rudolph-Motorhead (the Chuck Berry version is good too)
26) Big Ten Inch Record-Bull Moose Jackson (the original version is even raunchier than the Aerosmith cover, mostly due to Jackson's inflection as he sings it)
27) Scream Until You Like It-WASP (from the Ghoulies soundtrack).
28) I'm not really up on fictional musicians ... maybe something from Spinal Tap.
29) I'm not sure if there's any album I consider absolutely perfect, but I thought American Idiot was almost flawless when it came out, so I'll say Whatsername.
30) Transverse City-Warren Zevon


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