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Playlist reviews: TV soundtracks

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 4:44pm

Picture this, you've put hours, days, weeks, months, even years into a TV show - let's say The Sopranos – and just as the show reaches it's climactic crescendo, the final scene, the moment everyone's been waiting for, in creeps MMMBop by Hanson.

What about the final scenes of Lost backed by Eiffel 65's Blue, The Wire ending on So Macho by Sinitta, Inspector Morse culminating with ... well you get picture.

So we've established a good TV soundtrack is vital for a program to work and to highlight that fact SMP has put together some of our favourite playlists featuring music from some quality shows, just for you. Enjoy.


Trigger Happy TV
Outrageous, shocking, hilarious and 'HELLOOO' are just a few of the words we associate with Dom Jolly's seminal comedy series, Trigger Happy TV. But, the music wasn't half bad either. Click here for tracks by The Beta Band, Gomez, Monaco, Nick Drake, Pulp and many more.


Scrubs: Music From The TV Show
Americans attempting sitcoms can make for treacherous viewing, but thankfully Scrubs has no such problems. Zach Braff and all that mob also manage to shoehorn some quality music into their show, with the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Buzzcocks and Eels making-up an eclectic collection of tunes.


Lie to me (TV show)
Do you like this playlist? Be honest, we'll be able to tell if your lying. With Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire, Fink's simply beautiful This Is The Thing and one of the best covers of all time, Wonderwall by Ryan Adams, what's not to like. Quality throughout, and that is the truth.


The Wire - Series 1
Arguably the greatest television series of all time has a soundtrack to match. TV just isn't the same after The Wire but this playlist certainly helps. Check-out everyone from The Pogues and Nina Simone to Bill Withers and Jay-Z on this magnificent playlist.


Mad Men Music
Yet more scintillating viewing from across the pond, backed by some damn fine music. Blue in Green by Miles Davis, Dylan's Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright, and Roy Orbison with Shahdaroba. Need we say anymore?

Gary Evans

Album review: Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Sound System Scratch

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 3:24pm

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Lee Perry & The Upsetters - Sound System Scratch

Lee 'Scratch' Perry is bona fide musical legend, transcending his reggae, dub and Jamaican roots to become a hugely influential figure across myriad genres. From his humble beginnings selling records, Perry went on to form his own record label before ultimately growing into the consummate, and at times erratic, musician and producer we know today.

The Upsetter has worked with everyone from The Clash to the Beastie Boys and helped to shape the sound of countless artists, DJs and producers along the way. So, formalities out of the way, what do we have here then 'Scratch'-freaks?

Well, Sound System Scratch is a collection rare tunes, including many unique dub mixes which were only ever aired on Jamaican sound systems.

Most of the tracks on Sound System Scratch were created at his legendary Black Arc studio and showcase how Perry was lightyears ahead of his time, becoming of forerunner of remixing and reediting as well as a progenitor of sampling, long before house and hip-hop knob-twiddlers got amongst it.

Roots Train Number two, Jucky Skank, Moonlight Dub and numerous other tracks will be instantly recognisable to reggae aficionados and, as most of the tracks have been taken from the original recordings, the rough-around-the-edges sound quality further adds to the authenticity and overall listening experience, to really give a sense of uncovering hidden gems.

Weather you like reggae and dub music or not, Lee 'Scratch' Perry is a spectacular producer, entertainer and artist making this album a must hear for any true fan of music. Sound System Scratch is an ideal way for newcomers to sample the great man's work and a veritable treat for diehard fans. 8/10

Gary Evans

Album review: Major Lazer- Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 1:57pm

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Major Lazer- Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do

Which attributes make a great musician? Talent, charisma, presence. No, being a former commando from Jamaica who lost an arm during a secret zombie war back in 1984 is all that's needed, obviously. Fighting vampires, monsters, being a big fat party animal and owning a rocket-powered hoverboard, also helps.

Welcome to the abstract world of Switch and Diplo and their debut album Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do. The DJ and producer duo became acquainted while twiddling the knobs on M.I.A's album and shortly after, Major Lazer was born.

A glance through the guest artists reads like a who's who of electronic music heavyweight's with Santigold, Turbulence, Afrojack and, of course, M.I.A all chipping in. With such an impressive array of talent on show, can good old Major Lazer deliver the dance floor destroying bombs clubland expects?

One listen to last summer's electro monster, Pon De Floor, leaves little doubt as to the duo's capabilities, screeching and warping it's way into the centre of your cerebellum, leaving you physically incapable of resisting the temptation to throw some shapes.

Equally, Dancehall banger Lazer theme, brass rumbling weed-song Mary Jane, full-blown rave-up Bruk Out and the Jamaican-sound-system-in-space tune, Jump Up (Thome Yorke Remix – need we say anymore), are as relentlessly infectious.

Guns Don't Kill People... Lazers Do takes the pair's infinitely eclectic natures and runs with it. Although there's a heavy dancehall, dub and reggae theme, there is something here for absolutely everyone fond of shaking their rump to beefy bass and fidgeting rhythms.

The album, released last year, is new on Spotify and is available to listen to now and for free by clicking here. 7/10

Gary Evans

Album review: Katy Perry - Teenage Dream

Friday, September 3rd, 2010 at 9:11am

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Katy Perry - Teenage Dream

Katy Perry then: Do her impending nuptials to everyone's favourite Dickensian scarecrow give her a soupçon of extra credibility or further negate her as not only another homogeneous pop starlet, but one with an irritating celebrity boyfriend?

Well, Miss Perry has always appeared slightly knowing and wry, with a glint in her eye to suggest she's aware that this pop game is all a bit mad but she's going to enjoy it while it lasts anyway. And, forming a relationship with a former booze, drug, sex and sinfully skinny-jeans addict like Russell Brand, propounds that irony and caustic wit is not lost on KP, which in turn gives hope that these virtues have permeated her music.

It is a shame then that, bar a few intriguing deviations, Teenage Dream is ultimately a flaccid, vapid exercise in pointless-pop.

Unless you have been living under Perry's fella's (not so) little black book for the past few months, you are sure to have been beaten into submission by the relentlessly infectious California Gurls. Similarly, the album's title track is as equally difficult to dislike – no matter how hard you try.

As the album stutters along, however, Perry's voice becomes increasingly arduous on the eardrums, especially at the higher end of her range. Her occasional colourful language and clumsy sexual innuendo only assist in making very average songs, head steadily south.

Hope does come in the form of some, slightly, interesting production from Dr Luke, with his almost dubstep beeps and bleeps on E.T and similarly Tricky Stewart, on Who Am I Living For? But unfortunately, even their creativity tapers off into cliched pop-rock and excessively epic, ballad, backing.

Undoubtedly, there are certainly far worse pop-plagues infecting the charts at the moment, but disappointment lies in the fact that, as Katie Perry doesn't appear to be completely dead behind the eyes, she has the potential to produce an album both full of edgy quips and cutting wit while maintaining chart climbing hooks. Maybe she should get old Russ on lyric writing duty, probably best to check Manwell's heart's in good nick first though. 5/10

Gary Evans

NME Top Covers of All Time

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 at 10:37am

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NME Top Cover Version of All Time
It's usually a bad sign when an artist has to resort to covering someone else's songs to fill an album. Whether it's because they are running out of original ideas or they believe that they can actually make the track better, nine out of ten times it ends up badly.

Although Gary Jules is a hit from Christmas past, it is a truly awfully depressing song, before of her dramatic fall from grace, pop princess Britney Spears attempted to give herself a grittier image by covering I Love Rock And Roll. Cheesy and irritating, she could have saved us the pain and just shaved her head back then.

But before you all lose hope in the cover song, wait, there is hope! There are some people who actually put some thought into them and don't just change the tempo and say "I've made it my own," even though this may get you a xmas number one, just ask Leona Lewis.

Who amongst us would have been able to sing along to Hounds Of Love before The Futureheads dragged it kicking and screaming out of Kate Bush's back catalogue. Likewise could be said for Muse's cover of Feeling Good. If you asked somebody to sing that song now, i bet most people would give you give you the Muse version over the Nina Simone original.

It seems to be the new cool thing to do now, especially with the popularity of compilations like BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge, finding a song from the past and dusting it off is an easy, maybe lazy, way to make people listen. But beware of the pitfalls.

There is no such problem for us here though as davinchi has come up with another great playlist featuring NME Top Cover Versions of all Time, showing us how good a cover version can actually be.

Ryan Gibbins

Guest post from Billy White

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 at 10:41pm



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Introducing Billy White, a true SMP legend. As one of the finest playlist purveyors our fine website has to offer, we have given mrbillywhite the opportunity to write his very own blog post, for your reading pleasure. If you haven't already, why not give his 'lists a listen and if you like what you hear, add him as a friend by clicking here. Enjoy!



When it comes to finding a radio station with as widespread taste and appreciation of proper music, you'll be hard pressed to find a better place than BBC 6 Music. Playing a range of smashing tunes from years gone by alongside a selection of brand new content by indie bands you may have otherwise never heard of, some may argue that 6 Music is the ultimate, nay, perfect station. In addition to this, there's also the talented and entertaining selection of presenters on air throughout the week. Jarvis Cocker, Steve Lamacq, Lauren Laverne and duo Adam & Joe are just some of the joys that compliment the music on offer.









Nowadays though, radio often loses out to more modern technologies which can offer the listener what they want, when they want it. iPods, YouTube, and of course, Spotify, offer the opportunity to skip the adverts, news bulletins and chit chat of radio and music television, in order to provide the listener with what they are, essentially, looking for: music.









With this in mind, one Spring evening I found myself trying to decide whether to listen to the more diverse 6 Music, or my own personal selection of music via Spotify, I found myself thinking. What if I were to create a playlist featuring a selection of tracks that you'd currently find on 6 Music? Combining the idea of radio and Spotify playlists wasn't the most exceptional or original idea, but I was nevertheless pleased that I'd thought up a compromise for my dilemma.









A few weeks passed, and whilst browsing ShareMyPlaylists.com, I noticed somebody had already had a similar idea of their own, albeit with Radio 1 (a great radio station in its own right, but not for my tastes). Seeing this, I soon uploaded my own, freshly updated 6 Music compilation to see what kind of a response it might receive from users.









Not only was the playlist featured on the homepage of ShareMyPlaylists (and can still be found lingering around at the back end of the featured playlists bar to this day), but it's play count and subscriber total continued to rise over the forthcoming days and weeks at a consistently steady rate. Despite a good handful of tracks facing omission from the list due to their lack of Spotify availability, I continued to update the playlist every week, soon after the update to the official 6 Music playlist on the BBC website.









Fuelled by the success of my first playlist on the 'site, I soon uploaded more themed lists to the site that also became small successes of their own, such as my compilation of Disney / Pixar favourites. I didn't stop with the 6 Music one on it's own though, and I also created a highlights playlist of the May/June months, as well as the ex-playlist which contains all the tracks that were at some point removed from the standard, weekly playlist.









The interest for the original playlist still didn't, and hasn't, slowed, and the subscriber count continues to rise in it's dozens. And today, my 6 Music playlist reached a total of 1000 subscribers.









I'm aware that there are plenty of other playlists that have well over a thousand subscribers - the Radio 1 playlist is currently on over 2600, growing by over 1500 in the past three months alone - but without the help, or even the existence of ShareMyPlaylists.com, I'm doubtful that my playlist would even have a handful of subscribers, if any. For this, I offer my thanks to Kieron and the rest of the admin team, none of which I know personally, for allowing this platform of creativity outside of the standard Spotify interface. I'd also like to say thanks to Spotify for even existing, because without Spotify, neither myself or SMP would be here.









In order to further celebrate the success of the 6 Music playlist reaching 1000 subscribers today, I'd like to present a new compilation of mine, showcasing 37 of the best tunes from the station over the last two months. Featuring a broad selection of the latest tunes from Klaxons, Laura Marling, MIA and many others, the playlist has been ordered specifically with the variation of songs in mind, and I hope you'll appreciate it and, if you wish, subscribe to it and share.














Don't forget to check out the weekly 6 Music playlist here:





Singles Club 1/09/10

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 at 10:44am

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Kanye West – POWER
Once upon a time in hip-hop land, Kayne West was a an exciting, inspired, and wholly credible sort of character. But after several ill-advised comments in the media; stage invasions at award ceremonies; and excessive use of vocoders, his reputation has been undermined somewhat. So, that 'mad rapper with the daft jaw who threw a wobbler at MTV Awards' latest tune, is quite underwhelming in comparison to some of his antics. Repetitive tribal chanting fidgets over an almost drum and bass rhythm on POWER. Lyrically things are less interesting with Mr West moaning about the pressures of fame or something or nothing like that. Well worth a listen, if only for the “Colin Powells / Austin Powers” lyric, but still not as entertaining as watching a mentally unhinged narcissist shouting at a teenage girl in front of millions of people.

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Lil Wayne – Right Above It
If you like gold teeth, accidentally shooting yourself, or prison sentences for criminal possession of a weapon, then chances are you'll be quite keen on Lil Wayne. Right Above It is the New Orleans man's usual nasal drawl, spat over a lazy beat with impotent words about having load of money and all that sort of hip-pop carry-on. If you like him you'll love this, if you like proper hip-hop this will destroy a little bit of your soul that you will never, ever get back.

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Lissie – Cuckoo
Elisabeth Maurus, aka Lissie, is back with another I-can't-believe-it's-not-Sheryl-Crow offering from her debut abomination, Catching a Tiger. Crap-country-pop guitars, vapid lyrics, and an instantly vexatious vocal performance make Cuckoo a truly pointless listen. Lissie's hair on the other hand is very shiny and nice, so, every cloud an all that.

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N.E.R.D. – Hot-n-Fun
After endless guest appearances, both vocally and on production duty - on any mug's track who has a record label with the wherewithal to afford him - Pharell and Co have finally returned to their day job. Hot-n-Fun is N.E.R.D full of funk and razor sharp riffs - we would expect nothing less from one of most the gifted and creative beat makers in modern hip-hop - while lyrically William's and his brethren's flows are as tight and smooth as ever. All together now, “HOT-N-FUN!”

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Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
Mrs Russell Brand is back with her latest misadventure in pop warbling, Teenage Dream. Rhythmically, it is almost identical to previous, and relentless, hit California Gurls, albeit in more down-tempo and 'heartfelt' mould. Lyrically, well, who actually cares about the lyrics because much like Perry's old man, this song is slightly annoying and spurious but equally as infectious and, somehow, likeable.

Gary Evans

University Road Trip Mix

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010 at 6:59pm

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University Road Trip Mix
Whether you are heading off to university to embark on an exciting new life away from home, or you are making long awaited return to carry on the life you have been longing for ever since you left all those months ago, the time has nearly arrived.

It's only a matter of weeks now until missed lectures due to the cheep booze, late nights and even later morning wake up calls, also due to the cheep booze, and maybe even a bit of actual work thrown in there just to make yourself look slightly interested in your education...and not just cheep booze.

So now we are nearly at the finish line, why not start to get in the mood for the good times which lay ahead. This playlist by likeinmydream was made with this in mind.

Originally made as a travel friend for the long journey to your new home, this playlist is a short but sweet playlist featuring university based songs which will raise the already brimming excitement levels and help you get through these last few weeks of planning and frantic packing.

Songs on the playlist include the likes of Paulo Nutini - Pencil Full of Lead, Eliza Doolittle - Pack Up, MGMT - Kids, Vampire Weekend - M79, Jamiroquai - Seven Days in Sunny June, you get the idea.

So next time you are having an inspired moment and are doing some uni packing, or just want to treat yourself to a little bit of pre journey excitement why not stick this playlist on and let the fun begin.

Ryan Gibbins

Best TV Show Playlists

Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 7:41pm

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The Vampire Diaries
Vampires, witches, werewolves, love triangles and supernatural phenomena, who would want to live in Mystic Falls? Fortunate for us, it is only a fictional place occupied by the cast of The Vampire Diaries. Fortunate for Mystic Fall(ians), us in the real world have provided the soundtrack to their shenanigans. All the tracks from the first series are featured on this playlist.

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The Sopranos
This absolutely mammoth playlist spans the fill six seasons (86 episodes) of the most financially successful TV series in cable television history. Well known for the eclectic range of music and genres featured on the show, there have been two albums released featuring them but now thanks to SMP user mar00ned, we have them all in one place.

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Mad Men
Although it's only a baby in TV American drama television series terms, still only three seasons young, it has been gathering quite a following. Based in the 1960's and follows the life of Don Draper, co-founder of a New York advertising agency, and the changing social norms in 1960's America. Miles Davis, Chubby Checker and Johnny Mathis are amongst those who appear on this playlist.

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The Inbetweeeners
I don't think any detailed introduction to this programme is needed, it is simply hilarious! Four young men in their late teens, not cool enough to hang around with the schools elite but too proud to stoop low enough to mix with the geeks, they are in their own little warped and misguided world. This very British comedy program is propped up by a very British soundtrack, with the odd bit of Rihanna, Kings of Leon and Kylie Minogue thrown in.

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Skins Series 4
Probably the most successful teen drama in the last decade, music has become an important part of Skins. Just as much as the binge drinking and recreational drug use is seen to be a reflection on today's youth culture, so is the music. Mumford and Sons and The Drums are two of the many bands who have seen their poplarity rise following their appearance on the programme.

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Glee - Origional Versions
This TV programme could single handily responsible for ruining some of the British pop charts biggest ever hits. Although Journey may argue that it has given Don't Stop Believing a new lease of life, it has also made it unbearably annoying. To help us remember what these songs originaly sounded like, mojen has made this playlist to remind us how good they used to be.

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Scrubs
One of the highlights of the now finished American sit-com/drama was the how it combined comedy, happiness and sadness all into the one programme. One of the main things which helped pull all this together was the choice of songs which were used to give these moments the most impact possible on the viewer. After nine series the show ended but it will be one of those channel 4 repeat programs for years to come.

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Supernatural Seasons 1-5
You can't flick over the TV nowadays without seeing this program, especially not the late night repeats. Fitting into the seemingly popular trend of the fictional paranormal/horror, Supernatural is one of the leaders in the genre. The dark theme of the programme is also reflected in its soundtrack. Ozzy Osbourne, Muse and White Zombie are on this playlist along with the more easy listening CCR, Survivor and the Kinks.

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Chuck
Under achieving computer geek Chuck Bartowski finds himself in possession of some of the USA Governments biggest secrets. Although it may not sound like it, Chuck has one of the coolest playlists around and thanks to likeinmydream, it is all in one place for your enjoyment. Iggy Pop, Beck, The Fratellis, Flight Of The Conchords, Hot Chip, need i say any more?

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Six Feet Under
A surprisingly upbeat playlist considering the TV show in questions main story lines all start with the subject of death. The Dandy Warhols, Cher, Golpfrapp and Missy Elliot, not the artists that you would associate with a programme about a funeral directors family but this could also reflect the dark humour that runs through the show.

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Ugly Betty
Betty Suarez, after being lumbered with a name like that at birth, it was never going to be an easy life every woman's favourite underdog. Four seasons in and the storylines are wearing thin but the ever naive Betty is still standing strong. No surprises in this playlist which is about the fashion industry, KT Tunstall, The Pussycat Dolls, Shakira and Scissor Sisters and the flash and flamboyance to the programme.

Ryan Gibbins

The Q4

Sunday, August 29th, 2010 at 1:43pm

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The Q4
Originally formed back in 2005 by four music producers from the Netherlands who discovered each other's music on various battles on Hip Hop sites. They brought their four individual sounds together and the roots to a promising future were planted. Unfortunately one of the members had to leave which left the three remaining, Sense, Arts the Beatdoctor and STW to fly The Q4 flag as a trio.

At the end of 2006 the collaboration made their first EP as a group named Sound Surroundings but because of the lack of a label, the EP is still unreleased. Individually though, Arts the Beatdoctor is doing particularly well in international waters, especially Japan with his album Transmitions.

This setback for the trio didn't stop them from pressing on and in 2010 after hard work adding tracks to Sound Surroundings it was released as a full album and was released by Project:Mooncircle, a German label. Because of the success of Sound Surroundings, the Dutch trio were able to release a follow up EP titled Darker Days.

But this was not the finish. After they performed on a national TV show in the Netherlands, Q4 were signed by record label Top Notch. This meant that the album Sound Surroundings was re-released and went on to become a number one album download on iTunes.

Now thanks to teunwinters, you can now listen to Sound Surroundings on Spotify via this playlist. All 12 tracks are here for your enjoyment and hopefully there will be more to follow as their popularity rises.

Ryan Gibbins