10 not-so-random songs

I posted a music-based Instagram Story last week with a list of ten songs and the hashtag #list10songs. No explanation, just a list.

There was no defined theme. They’re not my favourite ten songs of all time – at most two of these ten would make that particular ranking. But, of course, they’re not completely random either. Each of these ten tracks is personally meaningful to me for a variety of reasons.

I didn’t explain the background behind my selection then. Instead, I’m doing that here. So, in no particular order …

1. Pretty in Pink – Psychedelic Furs

One of the finest movie soundtracks of all time – and one where, unusually, the song title inspired the film name and not the other way round.

I wrote a parody song based on this, which I performed live on stage in front of 500 people at BritMums’ BML conference in 2016. I’ve never been asked to sing in public again …

2. My Shot – Original Broadway Cast of Hamilton

My favourite song from my favourite musical, based on the life and times of Alexander Hamilton, one of America’s Founding Fathers and its first Treasury Secretary. A history lesson packed into 5½ minutes of fizzing energy, ambition and revolution-fuelled anger. The Hamilton soundtrack is our go-to singalong album when I’m out in the car with any of the kids. Yeah, we’re kind of weird like that.

3. The Queen and the Soldier – Suzanne Vega

I’m a longstanding Suzanne Vega fan and while this isn’t a track most people will know, it’s a favourite with fans and regularly commands a place on her concert setlists.

When Isaac was still a baby, he was a bad sleeper. He would regularly wake up crying inconsolably in the middle of the night. I quickly discovered that sitting in a dark room with music on was usually the best way to soothe him. This haunting, tragic song always seemed to do the trick. The live version below from Montreux in 2004 is the one I always used to play to him.

4. Raspberry Beret – Prince

This track is the odd one out in my list, as it doesn’t hold any particular personal significance. I just love it. Three minutes and 35 seconds of pop perfection from an insanely talented musician who was taken from us far too soon.

5. Ex’s and Oh’s – Elle King

One of those instantly distinctive songs that everyone recognises but nobody knows. King is the daughter of a comedian (Rob Schneider) but her music and lyrics are full of bluesy angst. A brilliant song from a brilliant album – this generation’s Jagged Little Pill.

6. White Wedding – Billy Idol

My go-to karaoke song. Enough said.

7. It’s a Sin – Pet Shop Boys

Eighties synth-pop sits at the centre of my musical universe and no one did it better than the PSBs. Nearly 35 years later, they’re still producing some fantastic music and one of my highlights of recent years was seeing them perform live at London’s Royal Opera House in both 2016 and 2018. An iconic song at an iconic venue. I can only imagine what it must feel like to hear an entire theatre singing your own song back at you at the top of their lungs.

Oh yeah, and I’ve written a parody of this one too.

8. Right Here Waiting – Richard Marx

Before Isaac was born, Heather and I compiled a playlist of songs to put on in the background during labour. In total there were about 80 tracks, all relatively calm and soothing, the sort of thing that would make a good soundtrack to a slow-motion, soft-focus birth scene in an American TV drama.

When Heather went into labour on the evening of 6th December 2007, I helped her into the birthing pool in our dining room and dutifully set the playlist on shuffle. This was the track that was playing when Isaac was born, so it’s forever his song. Yeah, I know it’s a particularly treacly, sappy pop ballad. Deal with it.

9. Nothing Compares 2 U – Sinead O’Connor

In a similar vein, this was the song that was playing at the moment Toby was born. On this occasion, we never got as far as the birthing pool. For that matter, we didn’t even have time to wait for our midwife to arrive. I delivered Toby myself, on the rug in our living room.

10. Piece of My Heart – Erma Franklin

To complete the trilogy, this was Kara’s birth song. She should have been born at home but instead arrived in a hospital delivery suite after Heather’s waters broke while attending a check-up. I at least had the presence of mind to set the playlist running on silent in my pocket and to check it quickly moments after Kara was born.

A track most associated with Janis Joplin, performed by the lesser known singing Franklin sister, this really was the perfect song for our daughter. She’s had my heart ever since.

So anyway, that’s my list explained. What would your list look like?


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