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I hate singers with weak, weedy voices, like Neil Young. I hate unmusical voices, like Leonard Cohen, Ian Curtis and Morrissey. I hate singers with overly-trained voices, like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Whitney Huston. I hate rap, partly because of its aggression and partly because I can’t see the point in droning on and on about things to the accompaniment of alleged music. And in case you were wondering, I also hate hip hop.
On the other hand, I like singers with good pop voices. Male singers I like are Paul McCartney here and here, Gerry Marsden from Gerry and the Pacemakers here, Simon Fowler from Ocean Colour Scene here and here, Steve Ellis from Love Affair here and here, Steve Marriott from The Small Faces, Glenn Tillbrook from Squeeze here and here, Dean Ford from Marmalade here and here and Don Henley from The Eagles singing Hollywood Waltz and One of these Nights. I also like the distinctively interesting voices of Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople, Hugh Cornwell from The Stranglers here and here, Joe Strummer from The Clash here and here, Andy Partridge from XTC here and here and Steve Harley from Cockney Rebel.
Among female singers I like Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Polly Browne from Pickettywitch (her voice is basically a combination of Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross) and Doris Day. I love the slightly harsh voice of Cass Elliot.
I like interesting lyricists like Howard Devoto from Magazine, Billy Mackenzie from The Associates, They Might be Giants, Ron Mael from Sparks, Elvis Costello, Andy Partridge from XTC, Billy Bragg (though I dislike his politics), Morrissey (though I dislike everything about him), Neil Hannon from The Divine Comedy, Chris Difford and Glenn Tillbrook from Squeeze, Tracey Thorn from Everything but the Girl and various others.
I hate drum machines. I think the slide guitars of Country and Western music spoil what are otherwise perfectly good songs. I hate the electric guitars of Heavy Rock. I hate Progressive Rock. I hate Hard Rock. I hate Jimmy Hendrix, Frank Zappa and Led Zeppelin and I don’t much like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and anyone else with long hair and a leather jacket. However, decade by decade I dislike these groups less. I now like this by Motorhead and this soft rock by Boston and this by Toto. Even so, Queen is perhaps the heaviest Rock band I listen to without displeasure.
I hate saxophone solos, guitar solos, and any other kind of solo.
I hate what I consider to be ‘pointless music’, like Muzak, Jack Johnson’s songs and Bossanova. A nice song like The Girl From Ipanema is the kind of song that should be done once and once only. Or perhaps once every thousand years. Music to chill by sounds to me like music by people who don’t really mean it. As an aside, Astrud Gilberto, the woman who sings The Girl From Ipanema, is an example of a woman who is not good looking but is lovely despite that. It’s something about her shy, languid gaze and the way she holds her arms. Languid Astrud.
I don’t much like Britney Spears-style pop because it is unoriginal, uninteresting and lightweight. However, I don’t dislike it to the same degree that I hate rap or opera. If I hear either of these playing I have to immediately leave wherever I happen to be in case I kill someone.
I quite like Punk though it is a little too predictable and basic to be interesting for very long. Also the reflex solidarity of Punk Rockers with any anti-establishment group gets on my nerves. I wrote about that here. They are supposed to be rebels. If they were really rebels a few of them would have voted for Margaret Thatcher and worn cardigans instead of all voting for the same party and dressing the same.
I like old style Rock ‘n’ Roll by musicians like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard. I like Boogie, a kind of Rock ‘n’ Roll like this and this. Many songs I like contain some kind of keyboard, usually a piano like this one. I like old styles of music like Honky Tonk Train Blues by Keith Emerson. I also like Scottish Country Dance music like this.
I love Motown. I will listen to anything by The Four Tops or The Supremes. I love Disco, especially from the 1970s like Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind and Fire and Disco Inferno by The Trammps, as well as Murder on the Dancefloor by Sophie Ellis-Bextor from 2001.
I like pop with an orchestral arrangement like this reggae song from the 1970s. Arranged reggae is more interesting than just plain Reggae, which quickly sounds ‘samey’ to my ears. Steel Pulse is one of the few Reggae bands that I like, mainly because I like the singer’s voice and some of their melodies. I like a lot of orchestrated pop from the late 1960s and early 1970s like these songs from Love Affair and Marmalade and this more recent song by The Manic Street Preachers.
I like music with a steady beat and a steady bass line that give structure and a backbone to a song. I like repetition in music and the certainty that something predictable is coming. This is why I dislike Progressive or Free Jazz. It lacks stability and predictability. I neither can, nor want to, guess what’s coming next. As far as I can make out it is just a few instruments playing random stuff in any order.
If I had to summarise my musical tastes I would say that most of my favourite songs are a hybrid between pop and Rock. They have lovely melodies, clever lyrics and often have an orchestral arrangement with piano as the main instrument. Most importantly, the singer must have either a good ‘pop voice’ or an appealingly distinctive one. For several months this song by Stornoway has been my favourite.