08 December 2006

Blender Mostly Messes Up

Blender (hat tip Throwing Things) does their 25 greatest LA songs list. They mostly get it wrong, but they do get the number one song right.

My list would look different, very different (other than the top song).

Here's my infringilistic (un-ordered and non-comprehensive) list of LA songs with YouTube videos for each (linked, not embedded, too many to put right up on this blog).

Frank Black - Los Angeles
He doesn't want to live in the Los Angeles in Southern California, but the one in South Patagonia. That's so LA (and the video's got hovercraft action, can't beat that).

War - Lowrider
Tribute to one aspect of LA Car Culture, great song.

X - Los Angeles
They rock. They punk, also.

Janes Addiction - Ocean Size
As big as the Pacific itself. LA is defined as much by the ocean as it is by Hollywood and the freeways.

Kool and the Gang - Hollywood Swingin'
Greatest. Horn. Intro. EVAH!!!

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Hollywood
The Red Hots under the influence, of the PFUNK (their George Clinton produced album is still their best).

Faith No More - Epic
If you don't think this is about LA, then you just don't know how to think.

Traci Lords - Walking in LA
This version is pretty crappy, but somehow having someone who gained notoriety for nearly shutting down the porn industry for 'starring' in films while underaged seems even more appropriate then the far better Missing Persons version (which is absent from YouTube, unfortunately).

Gladys Knight & The Pips - Midnight Train to Georgia
This song is about leaving Los Angeles. Some dreams come true, some don't. Love the choo-choo dance the Pips do in the background.

David Lee Roth - California Girls
I can't believe there was no room for the Beach Boys on Blender's list. That's just ignorant. I've always liked this video, that's why I'm going the Diamond Dave route instead of using a Beach Boys clip.

Everclear - Santa Monica

Not a great song, but had to include it, civic pride and all.

Concrete Blonde - Still In Hollywood
Lots of songs have been sung about the seedier side of Hollywood, this is one of the best. Concrete Blonde put the power in power trio. Great band in concert back in the day. Maybe it's just nostalgia, but it sure seems like the bands making the scene in LA in the 80s were phenomenal.

Frank Sinatra (with Poorringo) - LA is My Lady
Ummmmm, the things you find on YouTube. Some guy singing (badly) along with LA is My Lady by Frank Sinatra. Sad? Funny? Funnily Sad? Sadly Funny? (Yet this is about as good as anything on any of those "Duets" style albums)

Chet Baker - Time After Time
Again, not exactly about LA, but the West Coast jazz movement was very, very LA, and this was the best video I could find to exemplify that. Chet could sing, and he could blow.

A Tribe Called Quest - I Left My Wallet In El Segundo
Screw all that "gangsta" crap. They may be from New York, but they recorded the best LA-centric hip hop tune.

Bow Wow Wow - Do You Wanna Hold Me
It's true, Mickey Mouse is as big as a house (and more women should sport mohawks, really).

Joni Mitchell - California
For a Canadian, she sure did a lot of songs about LA. Beautiful song. And what a live performer she was (is). Did she really kiss a Sunset Pig?

Maria McKee - Absolutely Barking Stars
Not exactly about Los Angeles, but not not about Los Angeles. Plus Maria McKee is one of the best artists this town ever produced. If she's in your town, see her live, you won't regret it.

Love - Between Hill and Clarkdale
There's a pretty famous club between Hill and Clarkdale on Sunset.

And, Blender ain't wrong choosing the song below as the top song (and it's a great video, also).

UPDATE: There are some omissions that have gnawed at me since I first made this list. And since Blender came up with 25 I'll expand this list to include that number. I wouldn't call this a "best" list, rather it's a list that exemplifies different aspects of LA-ness. There is no such thing as "best" lists that truly and accurately reflect the "best" of what's out there, that's an impossible task.

Also Icepick has some interesting ruminations on songs about Florida.

Now on to the expansion of this list.

Los Lobos - Down on the Riverbed
No list of LA bands and LA songs should ignore Los Lobos. They've been churning out fantastic songs for decades now. A river flows through LA, but mostly you wouldn't know it. It's concrete, and graffiti, and trash. Except when it rains, then it's a deadly confluence that carries more volume of water than the Mississippi. LA is like that, when it rains, it often pours. The song lyrics aren't really LA-centric, but the video is shot at the LA River, so it counts, and it's a fantastic song.

Dionne Warwick - (Theme From) Valley of the Dolls
What could be more LA than this? Trash of the highest order (the video isn't of LA, but that doesn't matter).

Dick Dale - Wipeout

No lyrics, other than the word "wipeout", and still says more about LA than most any other song. The video isn't of Dick Dale, but that doesn't matter one bit. And by the end you can see that this drummer must speak VERY softly.

The Mamas and the Papas - California Dreamin'
I'm really not a fan, but this is a great song. This could be argued as being about New York, since it's about missing Cali while being stuck in a dreary NYC winter, but we'll call it an LA song for purposes of this list.

Bing Crosby - White Christmas
What do you mean this isn't an LA song? It was written in Beverly Hills and is pure dream factory projection. Afterall, here you can only dream of a white christmas (unless you head up in the mountains). That seems pretty LA to me. Plus, tis the season.


SippicanCottage said...

This would be worth an investment of time, which I don't have. Your list is pretty good, my friend.

How about Mexican Radio, by Wall of Voodoo?

Or Babylon Sister, by Steely Dan?

Drive west on sunset
To the sea

Dick Dale!

Icepick said...

Hmm, I think Under the Bridge is a better choice, but then I'm not an LA guy.

I love Lowrider. The guy with the TOO FINE sign is a trip, and I'm pretty sure the lead singer ended up being Punch, one of the hosts of Big Shot. Another notable thing about the song: It has EXACTLY the proper amount of cowbell!