Midweek Mutating Earworm

If you can’t stand the heat…

Another mutating earworm presented itself in the car (again) the other day. Club de Belugas’ ‘Nujazz’ track ‘Some like it Hot’ was playing . Now I’ve listened to this maybe 30 times or so before but there was something present that I’d never picked up on previously. Maybe it was triggered by the specifics of the listening conditions, high levels of road noise and in a car that wasn’t my own, there was a synth brass stab in there the timbre and rhythm of which woke the earworm and set it off burrowing away.

(From 48s in on the video above)

This proved to be a relatively hard nut to crack but the Donovan Determination would not be deterred. Finally I unearthed the little devil hiding back in the early 90s DNA remix of Suzanne Vega’s ‘Tom’s Diner’ (0:28 onwards)

Now (perhaps unsurprisingly) the same brass stab pattern appears in another related track; Brenda Boykin, who’s vocals appear on ‘Some like it Hot’ also recorded ‘Love is in town’ (taken from her 2008 album ‘Chocolate and Chilli’) check it out below (0:36s for the brass stabs)

That’s it for this week’s earworm trail

I’ve another Suzanne Vega related mutating earworm post coming next week from a completely different direction.

Until then happy listening

Donovan.

A little bit of history repeating

You just can’t keep a good earworm down, it always keeps coming back to the surface.

A couple of months back I heard Anna Calvi’s ‘As a Man’ on my morning commute to work. It was immediately appealing for several reasons; Anna’s vocals hold tones I have a penchant for (think Garbage, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Warpaint etc) but the song itself hooked into some familiar musical memories.

First off I had strains of Shirley Bassey ‘The word is about there’s something evolving…’ straight from Propellerheads’ “History Repeating”

Then as the song progressed I heard a melodic hook that I struggled to place. For the rest of my journey to work I was humming it round and round.

Parking up I took a stab at identifying the track, it felt like a Coldplay number but I didn’t know the title. Flicking through their hits I finally found a match – ‘Talk’ from their third album X & Y

Clearly Anna has her own bit of history repeating and a top class song to boot as a result.

You know there will be more mutating earworms as and when I find them (or at least as and when I find time to put fingers to keys).

Maybe not tomorrow, but some day soon 😉

Donovan.

What am I? Human?

Back with another Midweek Mutation of an earworm. This one is literally hot of the decks having only just identified the link.

The Starting point is an absolute corker of a song from Rory Charles Graham aka Rag’n’Bone Man. “Human” was the title track from his first album, released in July 2016 it has been used in numerous TV shows and films. The parent album being released in February the following year.

It occurred to me that it would be a great track to add to the covers on my set list. After a couple of listens though I could hear something else coming to the fore during the descending “don’t put the blame on me”

And off we skip back to 1988 – the golden year of Stock Aitken and Waterman (see my last earworm!) which also birthed the classic “bohemian” pop record from Mrs Paul Simon aka Edie Brickell

I remember buying this from my local Woolworths store on 7″ Vinyl and playing it on my record player repeatedly at the age of 14. But I digress, “what’s the link?” you impatiently ask.”we can’t hear it”

Well the bit that strikes the earworm chord is the line “Don’t let me get to deep” which fairly closely follows the intonation of “don’t put the blame on me”.

So there you go, one fast fire earworm sorted. Just in time for tea.

Catch you later, humans

Donovan

Did Mika get inspired by a Donovan?

Ready for more Midweek earworm machinations?

Ready or not here it comes!

Somewhere there is a photo of me at a school fancy-dress party donning blue jeans, white t-shirt plus questionable (certainly superfluous) braces, pretend strumming my dad’s acoustic guitar and singing along to one of the Stock Aitken and Waterman hits riding high in the charts at the time.

The song that was being played is the earworm answer to the conundrum that struck when I heard ‘We are Golden’ by MIKA for the first time.

Try not to be distracted by the typical MIKA exuberance and joyously cheeky performance, and just listen to the first 8 bars (which comprise the intro and choruses) it should take you all of about 10 of the 15 seconds to work our what it reminds you of. Assuming of course you were around at least old enough to appreciate chart music in 1989.

Everyone loves a bit of SAW

Yes that’s right Jason Donovan’s chart smash ‘Too Many Broken Hearts’.

Tell me I’m wrong and I’ll say ‘it’s my earworm so there!’ but somehow I don’t think you will today.

Back tomorrow 

Donovan

Foot-loose and Fascination Free

This week’s Midweek mutating earworm is quick and simple.

When ‘Fascination’ from Alphabeat came along in 2007 all I kept hearing was an 80s classic that would always get played at discos.

Do-do-doooo dad-dah-dah-da

Purely tempo 180bpm and drum pattern from the intro / break is all it took to build an unbreakable earworm link to Footloose by Kenny Loggins

Dum-dum-dummm da-dah-dah-dah

And then the next step on the journey is the same beat but slightly less high energy. The Cure’s “Close to me” taking almost the same drum beats but going off in a completely different direction.

Dum-dum-dum da-da-da-da-dah-da

And that’s it! Short and sweet, journey complete. 

You know what comes next…? tomorrow!

Donovan.

One for the trouble in the school playground

It’s another one of those stories that starts “one day whilst listening to what Spotify thought I would like….” but that shouldn’t detract from the musical interest here, promise!

I became aware of A Lack of Afro in the last couple of years directly due to a combination of Spotify and the Craig Charles Funk and Soul show on Radio 6 Music. The first track I was introduced to was “The Outsider” which went straight on a playlist and ended up on heavy rotation in my car. Second up was the track we are focused on today; “One for the trouble”.

I’ve no idea where Adam Gibbons (Mr Lack of Afro, himself) got his inspiration from or how he put the track together, but it triggered the mutating earworm off on another one of it’s journeys into my cerebral musical archive. What it was drawn to was the similarity of one of the hooks to a certain classic kids TV theme, namely that of Grange Hill. It took a bit of searching but eventually I found that the theme was a piece called “Chicken Man”; composer Alan Hawkshaw tells the story behind its creation in an interview with M magazine.  

Whilst curating the playlist for my wedding reception this year I figured it would be great to throw in a few mash-ups amongst the standard party tunes and this seemed like a fun one to have a crack at. Sadly, ambition trumped ability and my hatchet job efforts are not good enough to share here. Personally I really hope Mr Gibbons shows just how well it should be done by remixing his own track and I’ll just leave that little gauntlet here…

If you’re new to Lack of Afro I thoroughly recommend a listen; Joss Stone features on “Take you Home“, Allergies fans will enjoy “Take it Up a Notch” featuring twins Wax and Herbal T along with “Back in Business” and I can give personal testimony that “Recipe for Love” featuring Jack Tyson-Charles’ fine fine vocals makes for a great first dance at a wedding.

Explore and enjoy.

Throwback tomorrow as per usual for a Thursday.

Donovan.

Up, in the Air-wolf

I know what I like (and I like what I know). I like well-crafted and catchy pop songs that remind me of other tunes,  just like this one…

When “Up” came along from the Saturdays back in 2008 there was something about it that took me back to my youth. It took a little while for the earworm to make its way to the golden nugget of musical rootage but eventually it got there as memories of Saturday nights in front of the TV watching Ernest Borgnine and Jan-Michael Vincent do their thing in a souped-up chopper flooded back.

Airwolf was one of those classic 80’s hero shows that, along with Knight Rider, Blue Thunder, Street Hawk, Auto-man and Manimal kept many a young boy, such as myself, out of mischief. Aside from Knight Rider, Airwolf is pretty much the only theme tune I could hum if asked. Sylvester Levay composed it, pretty sure the Saturdays have no idea who he is though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8syGlAMTKA

Up, up and away in my beautiful… helicopter

Somewhere there is another song chugging away trying to hook itself around my brain but it eludes me for now. Maybe we will return to this again?

Throwing back as it’s Thursday tomorrow (rather than up).

Donovan.

Save all your kisses for Delilah

No, we’re not talking Tom Jones country in this week’s mutating earworm, the titular reference is actually to the 2005 Grammy-nominated ballad by the Plain White T’s  ‘Hey There Delilah’. 

It’s a lovely little tune which has clocked up a tidy 252 million streams on Spotify. In case you haven’t come across it before you can have a listen below:

Now this tweaked the earworm off on a merry little journey all the way to beyond my earliest memories. 

Back when I was a mere babe in my mother’s arms, The Brotherhood of Man won Eurovision for the Brits and their single ‘Save your kisses for me’.

Now by all accounts (well my dear-departed grandma’s account at least) this was my favourite song as a toddler which isn’t that surprising; As well as a slightly nursery rhyme feel to the song, it will have been played to death on the radio given it was the biggest selling single of the year and I know for certain my parents owned a copy too.

While it may have only had around 3% of the streams it’s 2005 earworm counterpart has achieved (being released as it was, 32 years before streaming became a thing) it did win 3 Ivor Novello awards including, Most Performed British Work and the International Hit of the Year.

Now I could break this down into which phrases or chord sequences are the ones that link these together, but that might mean you don’t listen to the whole of each track which would frankly be a shame, so I won’t. 

Do as you are told and enjoy this little window into the 70’s or write me and tell me why not 🙂

That’s it for now, well until tomorrow. In the meantime save me some kisses

Donovan.

Howzat? Limbo-ing under a wave of sunshine

Anyone that knows me would never describe me as a sports fan. All the same I’m not unfamiliar with the various sports tv show themes that have persisted through the decades. Ski Sunday (‘Pop Looks Bach’ by Sam Fonteyn), Grandstand (by Keith Mansfield) and the Snooker (‘Dragracer’ by The Doug Wood Band) all have a special place in my childhood nostalgia archive. Along with them also sits this week’s earworm inspiration.

‘Soul Limbo’ by Booker T and the M.G.s is more commonly known in the U.K. as the theme music to the cricket. It cropped up on my discover playlist over the weekend – presumably through my preference for related bands than anything actually test match related.

You spin me right round…

Now I only knew of Booker T and the M.G.s for ‘Green Onions’ but…(Trivia alert!) doing a bit of reading and it turns out they were the house band for the soul record label Stax playing on hundreds of recordings behind stars such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Bill Wither and Wilson Pickett.

As well as the eponymous Booker T other stars of the band were Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn latterly known more as two of the backline in the ‘Blues Brothers’

As I listened to it in the kitchen for the first time in ages it set off the mutating earworm on a merry journey to an 80’s pop classic. As the chords cycled round the piano plays a rhythm which was distinctly reminiscent of guitar riff in the middle ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves

Walking under a soul limbo?

Now, by all accounts, this little ditty which I would attest is heavily influenced by said Mr T and his M.G.s, has been a consistent moneymaker down the years (estimated one million dollars a year in publishing royalties according to the Financial Times)

Katrina – give these guys some credit, anything else just isn’t Cricket 🙂

Throwing back tomorrow, as it’s Thursday

Donovan.

Bonus treat: Here’s a live version of Soul Limbo (minus the aforementioned piano which appears on the record) featuring Booker T himself, although alas no Blues Brothers…..

Tonight will be alright down the East end despite the fear and delight

This weeks Midweek Mutating Earworm has a 26 year history 

Late last year I came across a cracking track in my Spotify daily mix, ‘Fear and Delight’ by an electro swing outfit The Correspondents. By all accounts it was used as the theme music for BBC3 comedy ‘Crims’ (something way too hip/youf for me to be aware of). Chief among the appeals were the clever lyrical intricacies and allegories (a common thread amongst my favourites). Having saved the track and set ‘follow artist’ the appeal continued when I heard further tracks ‘Washington Square’ and ‘What Happened to Soho?’ a few weeks later. Then I spotted the band were on the line-up for Shindig Festival and it pretty much sealed the deal on the decision to purchase tickets. Late on the Saturday evening of the festival, buzzing after outstanding sets from Smoove & Turrell and Stereo MCs, I wandered into the circus tent that had hosted all kinds of entertainment over the preceding 24 hours to catch a glimpse of The Correspondents in the flesh.

Correspondants live at Shindig Festival 2018
the Correspondents literallly seconds before take off

Not really having done any research into the people behind the music, I was surprised to see a sleight man in black jumpsuit supported by a second who was standing behind some decks. The music began and within a few bars it was as if something had possessed the singer; Wildly jumping around stage with acrobatic flexibility like a puppet being manipulated by a demon on speed. Not what I had anticipated at all, nevertheless I was mightily impressed both with the bodily contortions and the vocal control given the aforementioned physical exertions.

As is often the case live gigs lead to exploring the back catalogues of newly discovered artists. And that, was how I came across this week’s earworm.

The 2017 album ‘Foolishman’ has ‘Tonight’ as track it’s first track. Reminiscent of 80’s pop, listening to it sent me in to an earworm frenzy as it desperately tried to burrow around my cortex searching for its long lost connection. Specifically from the end of the first chorus at around 1:00 starting with the lyrics ‘I can’t stop looking at my phone, I can’t stop thinking about home…’

After a bit of delving back into the annals of pop hits that were long forgotten, it finally it found its way to the source. Some London lads who made a name for themselves with baggy trousers (no, not Madness), silly hats and pop-py raps.

Scooch on over to 1:45 ‘We are the seed of the new breed, we will succeed our time has come’

There’s your answer. Correspondents lead singer, Eton-educated artist, Ian Bruce (Ianbruce.net) can’t have been more than a toddler when East 17’s ‘Alright’ hit the U.K. charts, but maybe the music inspired him as much as their crazy dance moves…?

More earworm insanity next week pop pickers.

Donovan