by / September 23rd, 2011 /

Top Story: State’s Office Stereo – My secret shame song

A weekly feature in which our writers and photographers share their favourite tracks on a theme. Today, in a bout of musical therapy, our writers and photographers out their secret shame. All have since been fired.

Jimmy Nail – ‘Crocodile Shoes’ (chosen by John Joe Worrall)

Having recently revealed in polite company that I love ‘(I Just) Died in Your Arms Tonight’, and having bought the theme-tune to Minder on iTunes last year, this week’s Secret Shame State Stereo felt like it was made for me. However, with both of the songs above (along with numerous other generally woeful tunes) I can always somehow rationalise why I like them. But with ‘Crocodile Shoes’ I can’t find a solitary reason why I would find the time for it. It’s horrendous. It’s from a terrible TV show broadcast during a miserable year preparing for my Junior Cert. I shouldn’t even remember it, yet I hum it to myself all the bloody time. Shame? Shame is liking a song from a man who’s ‘Best Of’ is entitled The Nail File.

Ronan Keating – ‘Life Is A Rollercoaster’ (chosen by Hilary A White)

Pssst… Me and ‘LIAR’, we go way back. I’ve had a strange relationship with this song that dates back to the angry and destructive days of my youth, when but a few bars of Ronan Keating’s “nah nunah nunah” refrain was all that could interrupt me in the middle of drowning puppies or beating-up old women. I shouldn’t like it – it’s cheesy, gooey MOR US pop. But (goddamit) there’s just something about that Gregg Alexander hook, the video with a ginger lad (like me!) flying about through forests and the tired (but undeniably true) cliche of the lyric – it all strikes a chord with the very simple ape that pulls the levers inside me. So that’s why I’m going with ‘LIAR’, ok? Problem with that?

East 17 – ‘Everybody in the House of Love’ (chosen by Darragh McCausland)

Secret shame? Where do I begin? Anybody who knows me will know that I have an extensive repertoire of ’90s boy and girl band songs that work for goofing and pulling stupid shapes. So maybe not so secret, but still shameful. East 17’s ‘House of Love’ narrowly pips Blue’s ‘One Love’ to win the accolade of best boy band song for inappropriate kitchen gyrations while preparing dinner for guests. For maximum effect, you have to wear an apron over your bare chest and chop the carrots like you just don’t care bruv.

Korn – ‘Got the Life’ (chosen by Loreana Rushe)

I was once one of those horrible teenagers you’d see lurking around Temple Bar with too much eyeliner on and a face that would sour a junkie’s bottle of banana flavoured Yazoo. I’d be on the hop from school and hanging around with spotty boys who were older than me and I’d try to outsmart them with my music knowledge. The day all of them decided ‘Korn suck’ to my complete horror was a memorable day for me. In fear of being labelled uncool forever I found myself in Eason’s moments later buying tippex to cover up my horribly scrawled KORN with a backwards R on my schoolbag. Since then I always brushed off the fact I was into their music, but shamefully continued to listen to them on the sly. ‘Got The Life’ is still a song I’ll thrown on now and again, but there’s no escape from admitting how terrible it is – especially the ‘rum dum diddum’ breakdown. Morto!

Bobby Brown – ‘Two Can Play That Game’ (chosen by Lisa Hughes)

Forget where you were when JFK was shot or when 9/11 happened, I know where I was when that lovable rogue Bobby Brown’s ‘Two Can Play That Game’ (briefly) became my life’s most important song. Seriously. Hunched over a pub toilet, pouring cheapo supermarket vodka and Mi-Wadi from my handbag, I was in my late teens, angry with my lot and feeling unrequited infatuation with my own version of Bobby Brown. Oh Whitney, I know exactly how you feel. Picture the scene, I was in a tacky, stuck-in-the-’90s club when I heard the lyrics as if from a dream (hey, I couldn’t handle my drink back then) and was mesmerised by the so-bad-it’s-good beat. It might’ve been the vodka, maybe it was the ‘just try it, bitch’ lyrics like “Tell me why you fail to realize that you might not ever get another try” but I came over all empowered. I thought to myself, forget Bobby with his “brand new swing” I’ve got one of my own….Then I woke up the next day and my unfortunate choice of this-song-speaks-to-me from the night before was buried in hungover shame, never to be spoken of again. Until now.

Flash forward to 2011 and in a clamour for a good pre-pub tune, I whipped out my scratchy NOW! 1995 and, as if the hand of God was right there in the smoky room with me, rediscovered the embarrassing genius that is ‘Two Can Play That Game’, the mid ’90s version I love so well. And know all the words to. And secretly have perfected dance moves to. I know it’s pretty shite and it’ll never be covered by PJ Harvey or played on Lauren Laverne’s show but each to their own, right? RIGHT?

Celine Dion – ‘It’s All Coming Back To Me Now’ (Chosen by Elaine Buckley)

It was rather tough to narrow down my lengthy list of ‘secret shame’ songs and pick just one – eventually, it came to a neck-and-neck battle between Meatloaf’s ‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, and this particular epic Celine Dion power ballad. Interestingly, Meatloaf originally made a bid for ‘It’s All Coming Back… – but the song’s writer Jim Steinman was so adamant that he wanted it to be recorded by a female vocalist that he actually got a court order to prevent the Bat Out Of Hell crooner from recording it. Meatloaf eventually got his hands on it and released his version in 2006, but Celine’s version is FAR superior. The song featured on her Falling Into You album and was released as a single in 1996, proving a huge commercial success – I remember seeing the farcically dramatic music video (seriously, please do watch it) and falling for the song instantly. It’s just so dramatic. Even now, I still enjoy blaring it at full volume – usually either when there’s karaoke a’ doin’, or as part of a sneaky iPod hijack in the wee hours of a house party. Funny how none of my friends ever complain… and a surprising amount even know the words! Celine Dion, for this one, I salute you.

DJ Mark McCabe – ‘Maniac 2000’ by Alan Moore

It’s been a while. At the time I was doing a spot of DJing in a club in Dundalk known as The Ark or D’ark locally. I was 16 and so were most of the people in the place. The fake ID business was a lucrative business at the time. My own ‘Indentity Card’ (not a typo, it actually said ‘Indentity Card’ on it) was from Tipperary IT, an unconvincing piece of card laminated badly in the local stationery shop. ‘Maniac 2000’ lasted 10 weeks at number one in Ireland, six weeks behind our beloved ‘Riverdance’ for top spot on the most weeks at number one chart. But despise its awfulness I can’t help but enjoy it and those ‘back in the day’ moments. I was in what used to be D’ark a few months back and it still gets played to a certain level of success, maybe we’re the maniacs!

Desireless – ‘Voyage Voyage’ (chosen by Conor McCaffrey)

Half of my records could go on this pile. There’s Fine Young Cannibals, Chas & Dave, Right Said Fred, the Scatman, the Chicken Song, Star Trekkin’, Jane Fonda’s Workout and Kylie & Jason for starters. I’ve also got ‘Suddenly’ by Angry Anderson – the song that played when Scott and Charlene got married in Neighbours. Flicking through my 7-inches this morning I even found two copies of Belinda Carlisle’s ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’. I can’t walk past a charity shop without rooting around for another gem to add to ‘the stupids’ – and I managed to pick up ‘Voyage Voyage’ in an SVP shop in Omagh last year, during a five-minute piss-stop on the way to a mate’s wedding. OK, it’s a pompous slice of 1987 French Europop fromage, but for me it’s a memory jolt back to the days of Top of the Pops with Paul Hardcastle’s opening credits, Pet Shop Boys, Jan Hammer and all the other keyboardy types that started to slot into my tape deck alongside Bruce Springsteen, who really was the Boss of me back then. The sweeping synths and sultry French vocals are only half the fun though. The video has Desireless – a cross between Toyah Wilcox, Jedward and Guile from Street Fighter – swanning around a mansion like she’s gatecrashed a party in a Ferrero Rocher ad, but only the dregs are left. She’s knocking us out with proto-Blue Steel glances at the camera, while the aristocrats gaze at holiday slides (from their Voyage Voyage) and there’s a salacious whiff in the air. And seriously, what the fuck is going on at 2:03? This is no secret shame – I want everyone to know. ‘Voyage Voyage’ had 13,897,702 hits on YouTube at the last count, and I’ve probably knocked out a few hundred of those.

Bryan Adams – ‘Heaven’ (Chosen by Simon Roche)

One Valentine’s Day here in Copenhagen myself and a friend robbed an idea from Graham Hopkins and set up a club night that consisted purely of ’80s OTT love ballads. Easily the most fun ever, both the night itself and the gathering of records for it. One song I dug up just soared above the rest for its perfect encapsulation of the mood, not to mention bringing back memories of when bands like REO Speedwagon were recorded off the radio and played quietly late into my teenage nights. The tempo is slow-dance perfection, the lyrics perfectly typical of the era, written in primary colours of emotion and totally suiting teenage love/heartache. Plus the MASSIVE drum arrival that will pull tears out of the more brittle of listeners. But the most important aspect of this so-bad-it’s-good song was revealed when I played it that night at the club: Girls were dancing. All of them. Some girls were also crying. Even the barmaids. And in a moment quite the polar opposite of my teenage years, every girl in the room loved me. Heaven.

Link to youtube.

Def Leppard – ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ (chosen by Dara Higgins)

The classic cut from the most over produced record of all time. If you’re going to take 5 years to get a disk together, it better sound this shiny, it better rattle your ears and rot your teeth as you listen. Never before had a one armed drummer sounded so, well, computerised. It was on the radio every 15 minutes, which was some kind of valediction for, *ahem* “metal”, at the time. On Christmas day my old man gave the tape of Hysteria that I had asked for, and was eagerly anticipating. “I listened to that,” he said as I was heading back up the stairs to jam it into the ghettoblaster. “it’s shite.” He was wrong then, and I daresay, he’s wrong now.

Coldplay – ‘The Hardest Part’ (chosen by Alan Reilly)

The musical equivalent of Jamie’s Kitchen, or even better, Jamie’s Kitchen Australia (seriously, check that shit out), Coldplay songs have a façade of some intelligence but are blatantly designed for maximum lip quiver and watery Disney eyes; ‘Fix You’ – the soundtrack to all the best X Factor/Secret Millionaire/every schmaltzy reality show reveal/crushing-disappointments – might even go so far as to induce retching. ‘The Hardest Part’ isn’t the worst offender, but that doesn’t make it OK. At best, it’s an REM rip-off. Well, that’s at very, very best. It’s the kind of song you’d hear in the background in Spar and wince at the whiny whine. But for some reason I love it. I don’t know how this happened. I don’t even know what album it’s from. But somehow, when I was probably feeling vulnerable, Chris Martin wormed his way into my psyche and now ‘The Hardest Part’ is my go to self-pity song. My fear is that someday I’ll get run over by a LUAS and my iPod will jam on this very track. I’ll be remembered as a Coldplay fan and “And the strangest thing/Was waiting for that bell to ring” will be my epitaph. In my defence, the video is endlessly hilarious. After doing a faultless full set of pirouetting and gymnastics, at 3 minutes 48 seconds 85-year-old Barbara trips over own feet before taking a bow. And even though she and her 25-year-old partner are dressed like some kind of circus sex-act, it’s Coldplay that look like idiots.

Status Quo – ‘Whatever You Want’ (chosen by Phil Udell)

There have been an awful lot of shameful dalliances over the years but Status Quo were a foolish, long-term affair. From the moment I got hold of their 12 Gold Bars greatest hits on cassette I was hooked, the first band to ever do that to me. They were my first ever gig too, an experience so bright and loud that it took me three days to recover. ‘Whatever You Want’ is a mighty tune, sticking to their much maligned chugga chugga beat but I still love it. Now, where’s my denim waistcoat….

Savage Garden – ‘I Want You’ (Ian Keegan)

The year was 1997, I was about 13 and the cassette player which my parents had brought me back from the UK one year, was worn from use of me rewinding and repeating this one track over and over. I think the evidence that shows off my guilt and love for this track, is my ability to remember (in perfect timing) the lyrics til this very day! I HAVE NO SHAME! Unusually it used to impress my buddies!…….Can’t say it would anymore.

As you can tell, I wasn’t as much an angsty teenager as my peers would have been and sure how could I have been!? Listening to POP-tacular tracks like this one on repeat and going around singing “Like a chica cherry cola” at the top of my lungs.

Spice Girls – ‘2 Become 1’ (chosen by Kara Manning)

Whereas there’s no end of guilty pleasures I’ll readily admit to – Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ and Breakfast Club’s ‘Right On Track’ come swiftly to mind – they’re not exactly shameful; both are terrific, nicely-crafted pop songs. However, sifting through that surfeit of guilty pleasures, there’s one track that is completely awful, but for some reason I can’t shake my fondness for it: Spice Girls’ ‘2 Become 1’. Around September 11, I actually thought of it again, and sought it out on YouTube, since the video was a valentine to New York (and actually made the city appear utterly magical, aside from the baffling Times Square deer-in-headlights at clip’s end). But the lyrics, set against a generic, lethargic wash of synth noodling and a drum machine, are embarrassingly bad: hazy coos of “I wanna make love to ya baby” and Baby Spice’s chirpy pro-condom advice, “be a little wiser baby, put it on, put it on.” It’s a mediocre booty call (and a reminder that Sporty Spice, Mel Chisholm, was the only one with an interesting voice) but damn, I just can’t hate it. Maybe because it vividly reminds me of the halcyon days of the mid-90s, before we were all destitute, unemployed and scared.

  • Soothlamanche

    Voyage Voyage was one of the 7 inches that I somehow managed to draw claim to when I was 5 (others include Dear Jessie & We Didn’t Start the Fire) & play incessantly on my record player. Tune etc.

  • Hil

    Mummy, make the bad music journos stop…

  • Prentice

    Ah, 2 Become 1. That brings me back to Christmas 96, right there. Good times.
    I have a friend who hates Fix You with a real passion also, Alan.

  • mike

    where’s nialler’s dirty little secret?
    mine’s like a prayer… nasty