The last 20 years basically covers my entire experience of discovering music for myself, so picking my 20 favourites from the last 20 years is pretty difficult. In fact, it's basically impossible. Hummer's shared his submission to Triple J's commemoration of 20 years of Hottest 100 list, so I thought I'd have a go as well.
Triple J provided one rule: the songs had to be released between January 1 2003 and December 31 2012. To make it slightly easier for myself, I added two additional rules: I limited myself to singles only (no album tracks), and one song per artist only. And then I spent about ten minutes writing songs down and crossing some of them out until I had a list of 20 I was reasonably happy with. It's obviously far from 'definitive' - I submitted my list last week, and looking back, I'm already surprised by some of my conclusions. But here it is, with some random thoughts attached:
One of about five Blur songs I could have picked (and to be honest, today I’m wondering why I didn’t pick Beetlebum). Blur soundtracked my adolescence and this is Blur at their most magisterial
The greatest single of all time. Fact.
The sound of long, lazy summers.
Wasn’t sure which Radiohead song to pick but I picked this one because it’s kind of an amalgamation of every Radiohead song. Still thrilling.
This song kind of formed the basis of my musical taste for the last 15 years, because it introduced me to Mercury Rev, which in turn led me to The Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Sparklehorse, Lambchop and so many others.
The Flaming Lips tend to test my patience these days but ‘The Soft Bulletin’ is by far the best Flaming Lips album and this is the best song on it.
“How can she love me if she doesn't even love the cinema that I love?”
If Major Tom from Space Oddity came back down to earth 30 years later, it might sound like this. A nine minute long existential crisis.
The song Lauren Laverne chose to play just after she announced that BBC 6music had been saved from closure and the closest that Lambchop ever came to a hit (which isn’t very close at all). A bittersweet anthem to “screwing up our lives” from my favourite band ever.
I don’t really understand what this song is about (drugs and stuff??) but it has lodged itself into my subconscious the way few songs ever have. The single version chops two and a half minutes off the length and adds a children’s choir, but I prefer the album version which begins with a gentle piano and ends six and a half minutes later with a cacophony of noisy guitars.
One of several Doves songs I could have picked, but this is the only one with monkey noises in it.
That riff. A brilliant reminder of the power of keeping this simple.
‘Perfect pop song’ is a cliché but this is a perfect pop song.
I spend a lot of time shuffling and skipping through songs on my phone, but this is one I *never* skip. Joyous.
I love the idea of the debut single as a statement of intent – and ‘Formed a band’ celebrates that and sends it up at the same time.
Nick Cave takes on the whole world and wins. Astonishing
Lyrics are a bit ‘stream of consciousness’ but it still sounds amazing.
Best song with a mandolin on it.
Growing old never sounded so good.
The only song from the last five years, because songs tend to grow on me over a long time. But Janelle Monae performing this live at the Opera House last year was one of the best things I’ve ever seen.