I think running is a good excuse to just go and listen to music for a few hours. All the other benefits are incidental.
It also turned out to be a good excuse to finally pay up for a music streaming service and not rely on decades old 64kbps .wma files for my mobile listening enjoyment. So I also ended up listening to a wider range of music too… for better and for worse…
Including embarrassing stuff that suddenly sounds amazing when you are knackered, sweating and miserable.
You’ll take any old quasi-inspirational “Yeah you can do it!” motivation where you can find it.
Here are 5 of the weirdest/lamest songs I would never listen to normally but sound great when you’re half dead.
1. Linkin Park – What I’ve Done
I’m no Linkin Park denialist. Hybrid Theory got played to death by me and all of my friends at the time. Still unironically love (well, like) some of it, pretty samey. They did enough to stand above the hordes of inferior nu-metal bands at the time – this cannot be denied.
I think I hate the video for this song more than the song itself. Portentous and vague and insensitive and exploitative, in its way. It’s a very 2007 thing to do: see also videos for The Saints are coming home Green Day and U2 (2006) and This is War by 30 seconds to mars (2011). People in 2021 would not think this is a good idea.
A lot of their songs just have solid, grab your attention, building intros; after which they don’t faff around too much and just get to the hooks. Dum dum dunDAH, dum dum dunDUR (One step closer). Bong BING, bong … bong, bing-bong bing-bong (Crawling). Dun, den, den, dun, dun, dun, dun dun-dun-dun. (In the end). That’s enough music theory for now anyway.
You don’t really get a massive sense of change from the verses to the chorus to the middle 8, you just get more of the same; a bit quieter, a bit louder, a bit more shouty.
Oh, Adorno what would you say about all this? “Pop music is all the same!” “YES AND THAT’S WHY WE CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT”
2. Chilly Down – Bowie/Jones – Labyrinth soundtrack
I propose it may be surgically impossible not to crack a smile while listening to this song, but research is ongoing.
Now, if you are so inclined, it’s easy to pass this off as David Bowie coming up with some offensively white stereotypical reggae-inspired guff (possibly fair). It’s also easy to pass this off as a pretty creepy and lecherous bit of the film it’s from (possibly fair). Bowie didn’t do the entire soundtrack in isolation, Trevor Jones has a list of film soundtracks and other accolades to make anyone stop and think.
When you’re running you can usually do with some cheering up, frankly (see also, Don’t stop me now, Eye of the tiger…). This film and Bowie in general provide some happy childhood memories for me. The song is cheerful, muppet-esque silly lyrics about not taking anything too seriously. Pretend the call and response and variety of little orange goblins are cheering you on.
Holy crap, did you know Danny John-Jules is one of the background vocalists? as well as voicing one of the ‘Fire gang’ characters? It’s the Red Dwarf cross-over we didn’t know we wanted.
3. Rio – Duran Duran
Once you get the waft of 80s cheese out of your mind…
Listen to the magic being worked by both John Taylor (Bass) and Roger Taylor (Drums).
It’s fast, it’s light, everything else just sort of floats around it and over the top. Keep your pace up kind of thing for running. Simon Le Bon could be singing about punching kittens for all I care, I am not listening to the lyrics whatsoever; you aren’t really missing anything of note.
Yes, we have got time for a 2-minute middle 8 with sax solo actually, bring it on.
Goes down smooth*.
(*As long as you’re wearing headphones at 7am out on a canal towpath where nobody for miles around could hear you enjoying it.)
4. Judgement – Yakuza 0 soundtrack
TLDR: It’s something like Eye of the Tiger except with Japanese gangsters
Boy, if you like melodrama, you’ll love the Yakuza series of games. I don’t know how they get away with so much silliness and sincerity at the same time. So much shouting and vengeance and testosterone and unhealthy coping mechanisms.
I think without knowing it’s background more you would be forgiven for thinking it is just a load of overproduced, headache inducing techno-hard-glam-rock-metal. Which is fair enough.
I love how over the top and heart on sleeve it all is; as I say, something like Eye of the Tiger, ramped up.
Irony has been dead for decades by now, it’s risen from the grave and we’re taking it to karaoke night.
5. I Disappear – Metallica
I’m pretty sure the first time this came on shuffle when I was running I laughed out loud, then quickly got back to the serious matter of pretending to be a spy on some kind of deadly mission. Everyone does it.
I’m sure the music video is utter cobblers but I suppose at least its from an era when there were budgets for this sort of nonsense. You would do the same in their position.
This doesn’t count as another soundtrack pick for me: because actually for the longest time I didn’t know it was only written for Mission Impossible 2 – AND I don’t think I have ever actually successfully watched all of that film.
Rhythmically it’s a pretty straightforward with some little touches and fills that keep it from getting boring. We can argue about what era of Metallica was the best and I wouldn’t even necessarily put this in that list. I suppose given my age I always leaned a bit more towards later Metallica, but that riff and that “Hey hey heyyyeeyy” are quintessential elements of a Metallica song, in my mind.
Ooh and it kickstarted the Metallica vs Napster lawsuit as well. Fun memories.
So there we go, 5 WTF songs I will be listening to as I run the Leicester Half Marathon. (SPONSOR ME!)
Now here’s some good ones, get out there: