Ten songs threatening to go viral in 2020

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars

1. The Knack – My Corona

2. Los del Rio – Macorona

3. Joy Division – (Self) Isolation

4. Tiffany – I Think We’re Alone Now

5. Buggles – COVID-19 Killed The Radio Star

6. James Bay – Pink (Corona) Lemonade

7. Corona – The Rhythm Of The Night

8. Gilbert O’Sullivan – Coronagain (Naturally)

9. Love – Coronagain Or

10. The Legend! + Crayola Lectern – The End Of The World (Skeeter Davis cover)


How NOT to write about music – 156. Kid Loco

Kid Loco

I was going to start this blog entry by listing some of the myriad ways that my mate Sadie is amazing – and make no mistake, she is amazing – but then realised that perhaps this is the sort of approach that has got me into trouble innumerable in the past, and figured that a different tack was required.

This morning, a woman collapsed on the train right next to me, keeled over onto a seated passenger, unconscious. There is a split second when you think she’s putting it on, or lost her balance – and then, as she rolls off the other passenger and onto the floor, “Oh my fucking God. Is she still breathing?” Someone is shouting “pull the cord” so someone pulls the communication cord, faces stunned momentarily, woken from their Monday glaze, already something to tell the office on arrival, but when the driver comes over the Tannoy they’re too nervous to speak, so you explain the situation to the driver, tell him there is a woman collapsed, just coming back into consciousness, sitting up, someone’s giving her some water.

The train pulls into the station, everyone scrambles to leave, some with the odd nod towards concern towards their stricken colleague, most everyone concerned about wasting precious time, and I’m thinking to myself “What if she’s really not OK?”, so I stick around as people brush impatiently past, make sure the conductor and driver arrive, only leave when reassured that she’s going to be OK.

I know Sadie would have done the same.

Sadie sings on this.

How NOT to write about music – 155. HotWax


Deadpan, drawling, drooling, sarcastic, NICE. Killer warped guitar solo that increases the sense of discomfort at around 2.27 minutes. Song builds and shudders as it builds, moody, Gothic (with a small ‘g’), hypnotic. From the knife capital of the south coast (I don’t know if that is still true) Hastings, and released just two days ago on YouTube, but if you were to tell me this was some great overlooked DIY single from the early Eighties/late Seventies complete with flanger and whooshing effects (rediscovered via Messthetics perhaps) then I would be inclined to believe you, not least because of the group’s flagrant abuse of echo, cymbals and three-note refrains.

I say this like it could be construed as a bad thing but of course it is not a bad thing at all. You can imagine Billie Eilish fans dancing down deserted mid-American shopping arcades to this. Well, you might not be able to but I can.

They really like cats and I really like cats and really, there’s not much to dislike here is there?

10 Least Read Entries on How NOT To Write About Music (February 2020)

Vira Talisa Dharmawan

These are all drawn from the last six months on this blog, five from the last two months.


1 (-) How NOT to write about music – 147. Vira Talisa Dharmawan
I have had cause to comment on my delight on the way YouTube algorithms can work in my favour, but man. This is a delight. Laid back Indonesian pop with a slight jazz inflection that goes for a walk on the beach and turns its shoulder just when you think you might say hello.

2 (-) How NOT to write about music – 105. Georgia
This is boss. This is banging. This is heavy metal. This is my frontal ear lobe, distorted out of shape by the sullen repetitive beats. This is Cristina. This is a (train) ride to nowhere. This is one too many late nights out spent shimmering in a dislocated spotlight, propped up by the bravado brought on by too much alcohol. This is knowledge. This is fantasy.

3 (-) How NOT to write about music – 115. Sarah Blasko
Gorgeous space. Gorgeous voice, too. Here, have a taste.

4 (-) How NOT to write about music – 117. Remember Sports
This makes me want to trace elephants, tumble down the aisle with a ring of commuters holding my hands, cartwheel across infinity and scream into the silence. This music makes me miss whole forbidden areas of Australia. This makes me to dance the street, chant the underground, race the fading taillights.

5 (-) How NOT to write about music – 154. Bloods
Just glorious rock’n’roll like I believed it should always be played… by females (and the occasional man). Just glorious, straight up.

6 (-) How NOT to write about music – 120. Victoria Monét
Everyone saying its a low budget video but their clothes probably cost more than my house

7 (-) How NOT to write about music – 136. Kim Petras
A good song is a good song; if you give me a couple minutes more I could nail the songs below remind me of; maybe it could be a capsule game for you instead – write in and join the community!; any problem I have with the idea of power ballads and soft rock long since evaporated and I feel all the happier for this

8 (-) How NOT to write about music – 148. Tom Waits
Not so much a blog entry, more a game of Spot the Connection.

9 (-) How NOT to write about music – 123. Låpsley & DJ Koze
Lifted out of my Great Pop Mixtape November 2019 for a little more emphasis, a little more oomph, a little less conversation a little more action on this cold wet miserable grey cold (have I mentioned the temperature yet?) Tuesday lunchtime.

10 (-) How NOT to write about music – 151. U.S. Girls
There is a sense of urgency, isolation, regret, no release, a late Seventies shuffle, honey-sweet vocals all the more disturbing for their honey-sweetness, a sax solo at the close.

How NOT to write about music – 154. Bloods


I wrote this great post on Sydney’s Bloods a couple of years ago – so great that I feel no need to change a single word on it. Their music remains equally as damn fine: if not for geographical location I cannot help thinking that Bloods would be way, way better known. I mean, maybe it is simple tribute but I sure as fuck do not hear it like that – all the names below, I view this music as the equivalent of and equal to, no shit. Just glorious rock’n’roll like I believed it should always be played… by females (and the occasional man). Just glorious, straight up.

It’s Kim Warnick.
It’s Tobi Vail.
It’s Corin Tucker.
It’s Matrimony.
It’s The Go-Go’s.
It’s a taut coiled spring ready to pounce.
It’s The Pleasure Seekers.
It’s Blue Angel.
It’s Patty Schemel.
It’s repetition as a weapon.
It’s The Donnas.
It’s Bangs.
It’s The Detroit Cobras.
It’s autonomy.
It’s Dolly Mixture.
It’s Divinyls.
It’s Dogtower.
It’s Johnny Diesel.
It’s Au Pairs.
It’s Jennifer Finch.
It’s Coloured Balls.
It’s Shellshag.


Everything by them. Everything.

How NOT to write about music – 153. Celeste


Away from all the shouting…

This nearly slipped past me, unobtrusively. So glad it didn’t.

There’s a musical device called an appoggiatura, an ornamental note that clashes with the melody just enough to create a dissonant sound. “When the notes return to the anticipated melody, the tension resolves,” writes musicologist Martin Guhn, “and it feels good.”

The above paragraph was taken from my live review of Sam Smith in The Guardian, 2015 – and I was using it as a device to attack whiny Sam with. (I went on to point out that Sam Smith’s music is littered with dozens of these, often within seconds of each other. He relies upon them so much, it often feels he’s forgotten to write a song to match. This, depending on your perspective, is a wonderful gift. Tickets for his sold-out Brisbane show were going for $300.) I would like to use it once again now, to help highlight what makes rising star *OFFICIAL* Celeste so special.

“Like Adele, only with some finesse,” as one of my Music Journalism students remarked. Yep. Damn straight. I’m paraphrasing. She understands the power of silence, the power of stillness in a way that so many stars pretend to these days, but really don’t. She is unafraid to pause, to stop, to resolve. Celeste knows when to use her voice, and when not to use her voice and (the underline emphasis is mine) the value of not showing off. Like Amy Winehouse before her, it feels like she is living every vowel, every drawn-out consonant. You believe in her. I want to compare her to a Voice that gets to regularly abused through comparison that I shudder to invoke it so let’s just whisper… Billie Ho…

Can you imagine if professionally constipated Capaldi had a voice as great as this?

Ugh. Ugh.

Nine thousand views for her BRIT Awards performance. 2.3 millions views and rising for Billie Eilish. Seems like she may have passed a lot of people by. Shame.

This next song is where I first encountered Celeste, and I have been meaning to write about her since. In the parlance of the young, and the freshly Lizzo-converted, and the fresh-limbed, and the late night drunk tanks, this is a total banger. Reminds me of Beth Ditto, clear – but only reminds me, right? (And as an old school Gossip fan, this is meant with total respect.) Again, such a great sense of pace and silence and knowledge of when to let go and when to stop.

Oh bugger. She’s only gone and collaborated with Paul Weller. Well, of course she has. Whatever his faults, Weller always did have an ear for female vocalists.

How NOT to write about music – 152. the BRIT Awards 2020

BRIT Awards 2020

Observations from last night at the O2 Arena

Yeah, let’s start with Dave. Dude comes out, plays his chilling diatribe ‘Black’ – made even more beautiful through judicious use of tumbling piano arpeggios – and throws in an extra verse at the end, free-form, standing up to give an unambiguous throwdown to our racist Prime Minister and his racist advisers. Inspirational, brilliant. Fuck your Ricky Gervais and his amoral breed who believe that entertainers shouldn’t speak out. This was about seizing the moment. Pure emotion, pure truth.

“It is racist whether or not it feels racist. The truth is our prime minister is a real racist. They say, you should be grateful we’re the least racist. I say, the least racist is still racist.”

Yeah, let’s continue with Billie Eilish. I left soon as she finished, not believing that the night could transcend her, stupidly forgetting about Stormzy and Celeste – damn I’m an idiot for missing Stormzy – but in actuality found myself a little underwhelmed by Our One True Star in 2020. Too much going  on – Johnny Marr on zingy guitar, a full live orchestra, that bloke who soundtracks all those films, a suitably explosive set – and all this detracted, distracted. I expected too much from one song, frankly. Sounds way better on YouTube.

Also, she wasn’t Dave.

Her wonderful opening performance gave me an unrealistic expectation of what was to follow. What actually happened was a spot from Harry Styles that threatened to break into a song but never did, some lachrymose constipated whining from within a Curtain of Light from the New Prince of the New Boring Lewis Capaldi, and a brief onstage appearance from my old drinking buddy Courtney Love that a Facebook friend summarised thus: “She’s definitely mellowed but unfortunately not in an interesting way. More cheap standard Portuguese rose than fine wine.”

Still, say what you like about Courtney, but I bet you she didn’t get on her bicycle later and cycle home in freezing cold rain from Haywards Heath station.

Fuck yeah! I got to see Lizzo, a real live Lizzo on a real live stage! Now, that HAS to make you feel good.

Mostly, the whole affair reminded me of why I have never been to whole affair like this before. I have no idea who won what, and could care even less. The bit I liked most was Dave, and meeting a BIMM lecturer who’s into Joseph Spence, Daniel Johnston and Serge Gainsbourg.


I missed Celeste. Shame.

How NOT to write about music – 151. U.S. Girls

U.S. Girls - Overtime

ADDENDA 02/03/20
This is the song I should have linked to. Tip of the ET fedora to Stephen Sweet.

Every time a friends alert me to the fact there is a new U.S. Girls track, I put a placeholder on my blog – a must write about the new U.S. Girls track reminder.

For example:

Acid-tinged 60s Motown female empowerment bedroom isolation

The Guardian has compared her to “classic 60s girl group and disco-era Blondie” but that is so simultaneously true and not-true it makes my head spin.

what she said ; 20 songs to deny Donald Trump (and Bob Dylan)

And so forth.

I do not know why I do this.

Increasingly, it occurs to me that I have nothing to add to the dialogue around Meg Remy except adoration… that is too strong a word… approval. Intoxication. Fascination. A desire not to move too close lest I dispel the magic. Every time I encounter a new song from the self-propelled U.S. Girls it occurs that where once I may have helped lead now I merely follow, repeat sentiments and moods that others have already, often more commandingly, expressed before me. I am no longer (rarely) a producer, but a produser. Maybe this is not a reflection on me so much as a reflection on the state of flux facing people using the channels and mediums around me. I can comment on the sound –  there is a sense of urgency, isolation, regret, no release, a late Seventies shuffle, honey-sweet vocals all the more disturbing for their honey-sweetness, a sax solo at the close – but where does that take me (and you)?


As The Guardian puts it:

To listeners outside the Toronto indie underground, Meg Remy’s brilliant 2018 album, In a Poem Unlimited, came as a revelation. To be fair, its pointed glam strut, an upgrade of her DIY aesthetic, was probably a surprise to her OG fans too. She pulls a similar trick with the first single from her forthcoming record, this time literally reinventing a 2013 US Girls track – giving what was queasy and chaotic a vamping, hall-of-mirrors makeover fit for Jenny Lewis (with a bracing solo from E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons). Similar subject matter to Lewis’s 2019 album, too, as Remy discovers that a former partner was drinking themselves to death on the sly.

This tells you more, using less words. (The Pitchfork review tells you less, using more words.)

We all have our crosses.

Every time I see your grave
I can’t help but think
How I didn’t know
That you only drank
The overtime

How NOT to write about music – 150. Hayley Williams


Apropos of nothing, I came across this great review of an old Paramore single by Neil Kulkarni:

Ugh, yak, do you know what’s fucking up rock music in a big big way at the moment? Drummers. Terrible drummers. Drummers that can do impressive, can do the macho thing, can LOOK like they’re rocking out, let their hair fly, throw their arms into all the right ‘classic rock’ shapes, but have not an ounce of feel or humanity to anything they do. It’s not even about replicating machines being the problem, it’s that drummers seem to exist in a bubble, happy with the patina of ‘rock’ they visibly and audibly throw out around themselves and their kit, seemingly unaware or uncaring about whether they’re in any way helping out the band they’re in or the song they’re singing. ‘Daydreaming’ is not a terrible song (think Eve’s Plum b-side) but you can almost picture the cock behind the kit being so proud of his tumbles and rolls it damn near makes you sick, and derails any sense of flow or groove the song could’ve had. As bold and powerful and freespirited and rocking as a Primark AC/DC t-shirt. I totally blame Dave Grohl for this bullshit.

Well, she’s shed the drummer…

I first heard this last week on the home of all great new music, the Radio One Breakfast Show with Greg James, and absolutely hated it. Heard it a few times. Softened through partial osmosis. Unexposed to the challenge of challenging new music, stung into appreciation by its points of difference with Calvin Harris (say) and Lewis ‘grey’ Capaldi, secretly enjoying its grace and persistence. Over-performed, but that’s what she does, isn’t it? Heard it again. Thrilled by casual recognition and the long spaces between the silences. Cheered by the way that each time you think it might have ended.



Simmering satisfyingly like a good brew of generic Sainsbury’s tea matched to a £3 box of Maltesers. Obvious but in a non-obvious way. Playful and a little dark.

Yesterday while I was listening to a guest lecturer talk about Gorillaz’s third album, and IammiwhoamI, I discovered this:

Last week, Twitter exploded with screenshots comparing Williams’ videos with those of Jonna Lee. People began to accuse Williams and her team of blatant plagiarism and artistic theft. The visuals are very similar, from the cocoon theme to the white morph suits. Many believe that Lee was subtweeting Williams and calling attention to the issue in the tweet below.


Seems somewhat tenuous. Not least because it seems to be Williams’ change of pace seems to be partly inspired by the continued rise of Billie Eilish. (“Give in” = “duh”. Loud/soft, up close breathing. No shouts. No calls. Easy slippage through beats and percussion, slight raise of tempo, slight release – dark, foreshadowed.)

Google asks, “Does Billie Eilish like Nirvana?”

As someone else argued:


Love all this though. Saves me from having to describe the music.



How NOT to write about music – 149. Otoboke Beaver

Otoboke Beaver

Absolute genius. First band to feature on this blog three times.

In their own words:
“This song is about unrelenting person. Such a person that insist to talk to you many times in spite of saying NO. It is not about specific person, but various experiences I think many people has had, especially on the internet. The internet has been good to Otoboke Beaver, but it can be a strange and cruel place. It’s ok if you don’t like our music. But when we get comments about things with no relation to our music, we wonder… do you really have so much free time like this?? 

This is also inspiration for our music video, directed by ONIONSKIN, who previously also directed our video for Don’t light My Fire.

Cover artwork was created by Otoboke Beaver and photographer Jumpei Yamada.
The body paint was drawn by Yoshie and  inspired by traditional Japanese (irezumi) tattoo. 
This dragon on Acco’s back expresses our anger with old fart.”

Related posts:

Overwhelming consensus demands that I feature this extreme noise terror from Japan. I do not have the slightest problem with that, indeed can only stand a few feet back from the action in a respectful daze and applaud with all my might.
How NOT to write about music – 73. Otoboke Beaver


“How can they sing so fast, dad?”
“Oh, this one. [Sigh of recognition.] This is way too fast. [Exclaims happily.] I don’t know how they do the music that fast. [Laughs quietly.] How do they do the music so fast, dad?”
The return of Everett True | 165. Otoboke Beaver