Tuesday, 2 June 2015
My Top Ten Laura Songs
Time for another name-based Top Ten, dedicated to Laura Marling, Laura Viers, Laura Cantrell, Laura Mvula, Laura Nyro and any other famous musical Lauras I've forgotten.
It's weird - I've been doing Top Tens on this particular blog for going on 4 years now, and yet only four of the artists I feature this week have appeared here before. My record collection is getting out of hand.
10. You Say Party! We Say Die! - Laura Palmer's Prom
With Twin Peaks soon to return to our screens (hopefully with David Lynch still on board), it seems an appropriate time to listen to this noise again... but it's not the only song on this list that owes its inspiration to Sheryl Lee's infamous dead prom queen. Remember: the owls are not what they seem.
9. Girls - Laura
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want your band to be easily found on google, don't call yourself Girls.
8. Nick Heyward - Laura
If your kids ever asked you what the 80s looked like, show them this video.
Have I ever told you how I met Nick Heyward once? Thoroughly decent chap. Etc. Etc.
7. Seth MacFarlane - Laura
Surely the most recorded song with Laura in its title, this was originally written for the 1945 movie of the same name starring Gene Tierney. So if I've got versions by Frank, Ella and Charlie Parker to choose from, it seems rather perverse to choose a recent recording by the Family Guy guy and Father of Ted. What can I say? Call me weird.
6. Billy Joel - Laura
Billy does his best angry John Lennon impression, right down to the sweary stuff. As to who this particular Laura was that got him so upset... let's ask Billy himself.
5. Bastille - Laura Palmer
I've reached the age where I look upon many of the popular acts of the day (Bastille, Hozier, George Ezra) with curiosity. Not because I don't appreciate their work; they've each produced some excellent records. However, much as I may admire their music, there's a sense where I know they're not written for me, that I'll never fall in love with them in quite the same way I did the pop acts of my teens and twenties. And maybe I shouldn't. Maybe that's contrary to the laws of pop.
Anyway, Laura Palmer. Good song... although I have to wonder how old Dan Smith was when Laura first got wrapped in plastic on our TV screens. Was he even born?
Yeah, that's the real problem with contemporary pop music. It makes me feel old even when I enjoy it.
4. Gregory Porter - Hey Laura
It's always good to see artists become successful later in life rather than in their teens or 20s when it's as easy as taking your clothes off or punching the drummer. Gregory Porter is just a few months older than me, yet he's only been releasing music since 2010. His third album, Liquid Spirit, has received all kinds of accolades, and Hey Laura is one of its standout tracks. Those in the know describe Porter's music as jazz, but to me it sounds like classic soul: you know, the sort they don't make anymore...
3. Ray Peterson - Tell Laura I Love Her
Classic teenage tragedy track from 1960, when dead teenagers sold more records than just about any other subject; this was re-recorded in the UK by Welsh singer Ricky Valance who took it all the way to Number One. Although Valance has the more rock 'n' roll name, Peterson's version just wins out for me.
Something else I've said here before: it's high time someone revived the teenage tragedy genre. The pop charts are crying out for it.
2. Bat For Lashes - Laura
Natasha Khan's finest hour. And hours of internet research went into trying to find out who it was about. Various websites suggest another Laura Palmer tribute, but BFL herself says it's just some anonymous mate, although that we're all, like, entitled to interpret it however we want. So if you know a Laura, it's about her... and she's more than a superstar.
1. The Scissor Sisters - Laura
Whenever I think about the genesis of the Scissor Sisters, I always wonder if some A&R bloke was on his way home from a B52s gig thinking "they were good...but not quite camp enough". Then he got some mad scientist to cobble together these guys, a band whose original name was "Dead Lesbian" (if Iffypedia is to be believed).
Laura was their first hit (in the UK at least: they never enjoyed much chart success in their native US) and it remains my scuzzy favourite.
Those were my favourite Lauras... but which one would you take to the prom?