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Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Dancing Queen: Better in the morning

Often in the morning I'll catch up on some good radio shows via the web, but at the moment BT are proving spectacularly bad at providing my broadband service (you know, like they said they would) so I'm relying on my twelve thousand song-strong iTunes library, which is a lot of music to choose from.

When I don't have a specific thing in mind to listen to, rather than expending any valuable time and brain cells on actually thinking about what I'd like to listen to, I'll just scroll down a bit and see what's there - not too far though, that would take too long. This means that I listen to albums beginning with A a disproportionate amount. That's all a roundabout way of justifying why I've got Abba on at half ten on a rainy wednesday morning (I'm viewing my library in the 'album by artist' mode, but sometimes it'll just be the alphabetical album order). So Abba's Thank You For The Music is near the top of the list today, but Soundgarden's A-Sides, The Beatles' Abbey Road and Nick Cave's Abbatoir Blues all benefit from a high-selection count for similar laziness-based reasons. Justice's † and the soundtrack to 8 Mile never get a look in though, being shoved to the bottom by the programme writers at Apple.

So, where was I? Ah, yes. Abba. Let's not get into any sort of critical debate about them and just accept as fact that they were, and still are, brilliant, and have written hands down some the finest pop songs ever in the history of recorded music. But their genius ability to appeal to anyone has also proven their near-downfall, because several of their songs, but especially Dancing Queen, have been played so many billions of times that it's hard not to roll the eyes when that piano slide announces its arrival on the speakers. Weddings, hen nights, shitty discos, but mostly weddings, have a lot to answer for here.

But isn't it interesting what happens to a song when you hear it in a different context to the norm? As soon as you take the flashing lights, warm booze, uncomfortable suit, awkward dancing, late night and inevitable champagne-fuelled arguments out of the equation, Dancing Queen can be restored to its former glory of an absolutely stunning song.

So this morning it came on in the background, and like I say, it's rainy outside, it's the morning, I'm working - in short, a scenario that's completely the other end of the spectrum to a wedding. And it stopped me. That track just stopped me. It's amazing. And it always has been, it's just such a shame that it's been hijacked by a bunch of drunk twats (of whom I have oft been a member, I hasten to add). You, me - all of them and us. We've all got a lot to answer for. Because I would normally struggle to listen to this track and that's heartbreaking, in its own small way. The way the vocals go up at the end of the "and the music's high" line is as exhilarating as any rollercoaster. The strings are more comforting than any soup. And the chorus is a better singalong than, well, anything really.

So this is what I'm going to do, and I'd recommend you give it a go too.

Next time you're looking for music to listen to, try something that you know but think you don't want to listen to because it's not the 'right time' to listen to it. Because what was once the right time to listen to it - the wedding, the gym, the car - may in fact prove to be the wrong time to listen to it. Give the gift of freedom to that song, and it will repay you with interest, just like Dancing Queen is doing for me right now.

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