I was walking to work this morning when it suddenly occurred to me, somewhere between mourning the passing of yet another weekend and wondering vaguely why the guy walking slightly ahead of me was wearing a blue and green checked shirt with orange and black stripy shorts, that I have never, in the four or five years that I've been writing these articles, written one about music. This realisation came as a bit of a surprise.
Of course, there are many subjects that I haven't yet written about, such as, for example, what colour Napoleon Bonaparte's favourite pyjamas were. But it was surprising nonetheless because, unlike Napoleon's pyjamas, music plays a large part in my life.
I am woken every morning by my iPod blaring out whichever track I chose the night before. I leave it on while I crawl into the bathroom and do in there everything that bathrooms were designed for, and it remains on while I get dressed and turn my hair into a carefully-designed tangle with the aid of a handful of gel. I then take it downstairs with me, where I plug it in to the stereo system, and it keeps me company while I sleepily indulge in my first coffee and cigarette combo of the day. Eventually, I leave the house - iPod in pocket and earphones in ears - and, depending on the playlist, rock, rap or waltz my way to work.
After work, it's pretty much the same, only in reverse.
I am, I must confess, one of those really annoying 'music snob' kind of people, by which I mean that I will judge you as a human being based entirely on your taste in music. Never mind your three Nobel peace prizes and your full-time job with CERN...if you so much as tap your foot to any Justin Bieber song, I will immediately brand you an idiot. And while you have every right to feel elated by your successful experiments in providing the world with a new source of cheap and environmentally-friendly renewable energy, generated by a cactus plant and a ball of string, you have achieved nothing if you weren't listening to the latest Blue October album while bustling around in the lab.
As far as I'm concerned, music comes in three categories - good stuff, okay stuff, and rubbish. There is good stuff and okay stuff in almost every genre, but there are certain areas where I draw the line, and it's quite a wide line with a large number of tunes, beats and rhythms on the wrong side of it. But I won't go into detail here, because I don't want anyone to get offended by me - carelessly and without any provocation whatsoever - stomping all over their taste in music
You may have noticed that I felt fairly safe mentioning Justin Bieber up there.
Anyway, let's get back to my walk to work this morning…
So, and I guess you've kind of figured this out by now, I decided to write about music. The guy in the checked shirt and stripy shorts had by this time disappeared around a corner, and thus, all distractions removed, I found myself trying to mentally compile a top-ten of songs that really press all the right buttons on my internal 'get down and get with it' system - that little part of your soul that makes you throw caution to the wind and put your hands in the air and wave them like you just don't care. This, it turned out, was easier said than done. The problem is that there is so much that I like that every time I thought of one song, another one popped into my head, followed immediately by another three. So I decided to approach it scientifically. I looked on my iPod for my 'most played' songs. Then I realised that this was hardly a fair way to go about it - some songs have been on my iPod since I bought it, and there are others which I added as recently as last week. So I looked at my 'recently added' playlist, and found the songs that appeared on both lists. Not an exact science, but it will have to do.
I realise that, by doing this, I may be putting myself at the mercy of other music snobs around the world who quite like Justin Bieber - not to mention blue and green checked shirts matched with orange and black stripy shorts - and who are now licking their lips in anticipation of sweet revenge and readying themselves to tear my musical taste into messy, little shreds, but...well, you know... throw caution to the wind and put your hands in the air and so on and so forth...
And so, here comes 'English In Your Inbox's first ever interactive article. If you're reading this at a computer, you might want to pull up YouTube round about now...
At Number 10, Wilson Pickett's 'Land Of 1000 Dances'. Doctors should use this track to check for signs of life in patients. Slip the headphones over the head, crank up the volume...and if the guy doesn't move, he's dead. Coma victims have been known to suddenly sit up in bed, chanting 'na nananana nananana nana nanana na...'
(Okay...they haven't. But only because no-one has ever actually tried).
Number 9 is Alkaline Trio's 'Mercy Me'. It sounds messy, and may take a while to warm up to, but with a line as cheerfully indifferent as 'Oh mercy me / God bless catastrophe', what's not to like? You'll be wearing a 'what, me worry?' grin within minutes.
Lara Fabian's 'Je T'Aime' comes in at Number 8, and if you're watching on YouTube, then go for the live version. Yes, it is the audience who sing most of it, but it still bypasses the ears and goes directly to the heart.
In seventh position, Our Lady Peace with 'Automatic Flowers'. The guy sings like he's making fun of his own lyrics, but it's nice to scream along to, and after a long, frustrating day, it goes down nicely with a bottle of beer. Just play it loud, or not at all.
The Gaslight Anthem come in at Number 6 with 'Stay Lucky'. Very much like Bruce Springsteen's songs, the feeling here is sweet nostalgia. Guitars, drums and a hoarse voice, this'll take you back to when you used to hang around with a bunch of friends on a Saturday afternoon, doing that all-important absolute nothing kind of everything.
I'm not quite sure whether I like this next one because of the video that it's associated with, or whether I like the video because of the music, but either way, Garry Schyman's 'Praan' deserves its place at Number 5. If you're going to watch the video, then watch the 'Where The Hell Is Matt? 2008' version. Makes you want to jump aboard the nearest plane, and take off for who-cares-where.
At Number 4, Blue October's 'Still Broken'. Blue October are one of my favourite bands, mainly because of their lyrics. This one is a sad song, I guess...unless it's just me and the particular memories of a particular time that come flooding in whenever I hear it. Go ahead...think of someone you once knew, and lose yourself for a couple of minutes...
Nothing gets the heart beating as quickly and satisfyingly as the raised fist of teenage rebellion, and nothing raises that fist faster than Hollywood Undead's 'Young', no matter how old you actually are. This track - my Number 3 - will make you want to kick over a dustbin and graffiti a brick wall with some slogan or the other, in time with the beat. At the very least, you'll find yourself muttering under your breath at the injustice of your teacher giving you extra homework for the weekend.
Number 2 is quite a recent song. The group are called Fun. This doesn't bode well, except that they are, in fact, actually fun, and their track 'We Are Young' is the kind of song you'll be chanting with your friends as you stagger home, arms over shoulders, after one too many at the pub.
And finally, the Number 1 position just has to go to another Blue October track. This time it's one of their happier moments. The song is called 'Jump Rope', and I dare you to still be in any other mood but happy after you hear it. First thing in the morning, it's better than breakfast.
And there you have it. Love 'em or hate 'em, I hope you enjoyed the trip.
Oh, and before I go, for those of you who are curious about that kind of thing...red, I think. Or possibly blue.
Just kidding...I have no idea what colour Napoleon's favourite pyjamas were.
Danny is a teacher at EC Malta English school.