Playlist 4: The Playlist Pogrom

My name is Stephen, and I have a penchant for kitsch pop songs like I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper, Rasputin, Ça Plane Pour Moi and Kool in the Kaftan.


The mist clears, and the full extent of the devastation is revealed in all its terrible glory. Crimes had been committed. Heinous ones. Atrocities even. Action was imperative, but I had gone too far.

This was not a considered cull, undertaken humanely for the greater good. It was wholesale slaughter. I had rampaged through my music like a drunken, club-wielding, recently-divorced Canadian fisherman chancing upon a pod of seal pups.

I had been exposed to my entire collection for a month, and, although I had rediscovered many wonderful songs, it had become apparent that abominations lurked within. For my own peace of mind, everything that was mediocre, mundane and artistically corrupt, had to be cleansed. Immediately.

It was supposed to be a joyous experience. A celebration of my refusal to except quantity over quality, but, now that it was over, I felt only loss. My actions had been destructive, my motivation misguided. I had violated my own past, which sounds fun, but isn’t. It’s traumatic in the extreme.

Yes, my collection had its foibles and embarrassments, but it could also be inspiring, and occasionally sublime. It was a chronicle of my musical odyssey that took 30 years to amass, and minutes to destroy. And for what? To create an anodyne, revisionist musical narrative that would stand up to the scrutiny of my peers.

Certainly, there were irredeemable songs that needed eradicating, like Ozzy Osborne and Iron Maiden’s cover of Bohemian Rhapsody. I can’t even imagine why I possessed such an obscenity. I’d love to blame it on malevolent iPod Pixies, but, I just invented them. It’s probably for the best that I can’t remember uploading it, as it was obviously a very, very dark time indeed.

Other songs did not deserve such treatment. I may not wish to listen to them now, but who knows what the future holds? Admittedly, I can’t imagine when I’ll wish to listen to I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa. Possibly, I’ll play it next time I want to create a wonderfully festive ambience, or induce an unwelcome guest to commit suicide.

There were also some tunes that I should have deleted, but I'm glad I didn’t, as, despite overwhelming public opinion, I am rather fond of them.

My name is Stephen, and I have a penchant for kitsch pop songs like I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper, Rasputin, Ça Plane Pour Moi and Kool in the Kaftan. Artists who’ll never be invited to host a Meltdown or play ATP, but even when the red mist had descended I could not delete them. Everybody needs a little frivolity once in a while.

It would be pointless deleting these songs anyway, as they are too catchy to forget. (The correct term is earworms, if you’re interested.) I last listened to Touch My Bum three weeks ago and I can still hear the Cheeky Girls desperately imploring me to sexually harass them. I may as well have tried to forget my name.

Advocating the esoteric, while listening to pop bubblegum hits, is hypocritical. I’ve tried to justify this by claiming, for instance, that Aqua’s Barbie Girl challenges the sexist archetypes promoted by the phallo-centric toy industry and has wonderfully dark lyrics. But it’s a post-rationalisation. My tastes are extremely eclectic with a single caveat: it must be good. There are many rooms in my house, and they are all locked to U2. (Hear hear - Ed)

This was not active deceit. I didn’t walk around wearing a Sound and The Fury T-Shirt, intoning the words of Transmission, while listening to You’ll Always Find Me in the Kitchen at Parties. If anyone had asked me if I liked Jona Louie I would have answered, yes. But no one did, so I didn’t.

And I am not the only one who has hidden perverted predilections. Even that most ardent of musos, the Chinaman, is not beyond reproach. I discovered his dirty secret the last time I perused his supposedly erudite collection.

A gentleman never kisses and tells, but let’s just say it was nestled between the Hanoi Rocks and Harmonia, and rhymes with manson. It is a sad reflection on the world today that Julian Assange is forced to eke out his days in an Ecuadorian embassy, while these three brothers are still at large, free to commit more crimes against music. I knew that Justice was blind, but I didn’t realise that she was also deaf. (Stephen. Understand. Justice is deaf. Got that? - Ed)

Manuscripts may not burn, but, unfortunately, computer files can easily be deleted (although not irretrievably, as many short-eyed individuals have supposed prior to a rather protracted stay in the Big House). The red mist had only descended for a few minutes, yet I had done a lot of damage.

The irony is that my hard drive was far from full. A purge was not even necessary (as I think is often the case, well, apart from the essential purging of the plethora of paedophile, poptastic DJs that populated the BBC during the 70s, which, unfortunately, never occurred). My collection needed pruning, if that. Doesn’t the night make the dawn so much more beautiful? Fortunately, I’m a belt, braces and elasticated waistband man, and all my tunes were backed up on an external hard drive, ensuring they were easily resuscitated. Which is more than can be said of the victims of the Great Purge, or other such shenanigans.

In the future, I’ll stick to listening to music rather than deleting it, and I’ll endeavour to stop emulating dictators. No good ever comes of it. I’m beginning to agree with Jan that it’s probably best that I don’t have any real power. I just find it hard to accept that I’ll never stand triumphant in Red Square, deafened by the adoring cheers of a coerced crowd, wearing a preposterous military uniform (elaborate enough to embarrass a peacock, or South American admiral), sporting enough awards, medals and ribbons to suggest I’d won an entire world war on my own, watching an exhaustive military parade in my honour. Life can be so unfair sometimes.

Oh well, back to the day job. Toilets don’t clean themselves.


Illustration by the author