This is one of those weeks again, where I sit at the keyboard and wonder whether I’m going to find anything to write about. Where I just have to put my fingers on the keys, start typing, and hope one of the Muses shows up.
But even then, who is it going to be? Calliope with her epic poetry? Thalia‘s comedy? Melpomene‘s tragedy?
After all, the Muse of dance is going to be absolutely no use here whatsoever, nobody wants me see me gyrating, attempting to communicate via the medium of dance my opinions on the virtue of a well-executed cover song.
In My Ears
I did warn you last week about the cover songs. I love them; the very best of them are so good, that you actually forget the original, like there’s a perception filter running over our reality. Even if we try our best to recall, say Valerie as performed by The Zutons, there’s always a pull towards Amy Winehouse‘s version; it exerts an inexorable pressure on our recollections. It’s the same with Dylan‘s All Along the Watchtoweror Otis Redding‘s Respect.
But I’ll be honest, I even enjoy the average covers, the forgettable ones, the one you half listen to once, grimace and forget. I enjoy the interpretation, the adaptation, the taking of an existing idea and coming up with a different slant on the original. As long as it is different. For me the biggest crime in cover songs is not the heinous alternative (see Daphne & Celeste‘s Schools Out), but the version that does nothing. That changes nothing. That challenges nothing.
I’d be lying if part of my enjoyment isn’t challenging some people’s musical ruts too; the hard-bitten retromantics who cannot, will not have their golden idols toppled. Those who wail in anguish at the news that Miley Cyrus was involved in a cover of Metallica‘s Nothing Else Matters. No matter that Elton John, WATT, Yo-Yo Ma, Robert Trujillo, and Chad Smith all contributed to the song. Or that it’s only part of the Metallica tribute record The Metallica Blacklist. Along with Miley Cyrus, 52 other artists have recorded a unique rendition of their favourite song from Metallica’s self-titled fifth album in honour of its enduring impact over 30 years. Their brains seize up at the words Miley Cyrus covers Metallica.
And I think that attitude, that idolisation of a dimly remembered past, of shunning newness, or alternative or challenge, that’s why I started doing the playlists in the first place. Speaking of which, I’m sure you’re thrilled that this week’s playlist features neither Daphne, nor Celeste.
In other news, Spotify added an illuminating disclaimer to their About recommendations section in the menu for all their official and algorithmic playlists
‘In some cases, commercial considerations may influence our recommendations’
Someone recently asked me how performers, and their management, get their songs to be featured in these playlists, how’re they’re discovered for inclusion. There you have the answer.
I can confirm to you though that not once in 18 playlists have I ever been offered a “commercial consideration”. But I’m also not saying that I’m not open to it…
On My Screen
I don’t tend to binge a whole season of a TV show at a time. Some streamers now drop an episode per week, which actually allows me to keep up fairly easily. Beyond that, I generally don’t have the time, and it’s rare that a show grabs me enough to convince me to make the time.
Saying that, I started and finished both parts one and two of Lupin in this last week.
Netflix‘s French-language crime caper starts off solid, and had me totally gripped by the cliffhanger at the end of part one. I’m so glad I didn’t start watching until part two was available as otherwise I’d have been pretty upset not to have a conclusion to the story!
Most of the credit falls to the charm of actor Omar Sy for bringing this unlikely protagonist to life, a thief inspired by the stories and modus operandi of gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. He infuses him with a depth that goes beyond the usual tough-guy-seeking-revenge narrative, allowing him to stride through modern-day Paris like a larcenous Luther with more lightness and levity. And alliteration.
Each episode is like a Rube Goldberg machine with flashbacks, the whole tapestry unveiled like a magic trick, and I can’t wait for more. Luckily, the show has been renewed for a third part. Though I’m guessing they’ll end that with a mid-season cliffhanger again!
In My Face
Continuing a trend from issue 18, today’s recipe is once again something that my nearly four-year old daughter asked for. She’s a big fan of Disney‘s Mira, Royal Detective, set in a fictional kingdom in late 19th century India. So obviously I needed to learn how to make the protagonist’s favourite beverage:
- One ripe, pealed, chopped mango
- 250g plain yoghurt
- 150ml milk
- 4 teaspoons honey
- (Optional) Ice
- (Optional) Ground cardamon
- Put all the non-optional ingredients in a blender
- If you want a more refreshing, thinner drink, add ice cubes and re-blend. I used about 5 ice cubes
- Optionally sprinkle a pinch of ground cardamon on the finished drink.
If you have ice lolly moulds, the mixture makes delicious mango ice lollies!
On My Mind
There’s a thing that Gen Z… that the TikTok Generation… Dammit, there’s got to be a more elegant way of referring to the next generation, the current under-24s, than those two terms. Surely? Can we portmanteau them? Gen ZigZag? That’s silly, right? It’ll never catch on, and it’s silly.
Anyway, there’s a thing that Gen ZigZag say in their internet me-mes, that I’ve been thinking about a lot this week:
“If I’m too much, find less.”
I’m hesitant to delve into soundbite-driven, mass-market cod philosophy, there’s plenty of that on the market. Although, related note: have you noticed that when it’s for men, the books are described as self-growth or personal development, but when they’re aimed at women or listed in women’s magazines, they’re described as self help?
But that aside, the quoted phrase dovetails into one I found on Instagram:
“If you always have to be the bigger person, stop hanging around with smaller people.”
Both of these bon mots tend to be directed towards inter-personal relationships, dating, friendships and situationships. But it’s made me think about how we talk, and relate, to ourselves. Those self-deprecating things we say to ourselves, the self-doubt we allow to grow in ourselves, the self-editing we do to fit ourselves into the shape we think fits best.
Some element of that can be what we need to do to fit into society, or a group. Some of it can be down to the misfortunes of our brain chemistry. Some of it can be due to unresolved trauma. But some of it is because we’ve made a decision to try and be reasonable, to make space for the unreasonable.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure where I’m going with this. As the section says, it’s on my mind. If I had figured it out, it wouldn’t be on my mind any more.
Well, what do you know? It turns out I did have something to write about? Such as it is.
Sadly though, I don’t think I’ll have time for a full podcast episode this week. I’ll still record something and append the playlist to it, but I think I’m going to have to give some thought to what I want to do with it.
My primary focus this weekend will be my daughter’s birthday party. There will be mermaids and cake and children on a sugar rush, so what better opportunity to dust off one of the cameras and throw myself into the fray.
A bien tot, mes amis!