PHASER’s Alternative Festive Playlist

// by Noah Turner //

So, I tried to weave a narrative into these 11 tracks. You might call it a concept playlist, a very high (hopefully the sarcasm is evident) concept playlist at that. The theme? An alternative view of the festive season.

I’ve tried to introduce as much variety into the track listing as possible, both in terms of genre and era that the music was released. This wasn’t always manageable whilst trying to weave some sort of narrative. The playlist is, however, quite distinctly split in the middle between hip-hop and more rocky tracks. I hope this playlist gives everyone listening something to groove or chill to over the festive season.

1. ‘Money Trees’ – Kendrick Lamar

We start off with what really marks the beginning of the festive season: putting up the Christmas tree. Come December 25th, you might wish it was growing notes rather than leaves, after buying all those presents. With a chilled beat, catchy hook from Kendrick, beautiful bridge from Anna Wise and quick-fire verse from Jay Rock, what better track is there to kick off the holiday season with?

2. ‘GLOWED UP’- KAYTRANADA feat. Anderson .Paak

So the tree decorating has begun, and the tree has begun to look – you guessed it – Glowed Up. Anderson .Paak delivers a relaxed flow about his newfound fame over the raw swagger of a bassline produced by KAYTRANADA. A synth rainfall marks a beat transition into a reflective, sung outro from .Paak. One to dance around the tree to, then take a seat and reflect.

3. ‘STAR’- BROCKHAMPTON

Time to top the tree – but what with? Matthew McConaughey? Tom Hanks? Heath Ledger? A STAR. The boys from Brockhampton have fun with pop culture references galore over one of the meanest basslines released this year. The films referenced probably aren’t a good reflection of most people’s Christmas viewing, but maybe mix things up with a few of the films mentioned in these smooth verses.

4. ‘All Of The Lights’ – Kanye West

The fifth track off of Ye’s masterpiece My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy sees him reflecting on fame and life in the spotlight. Kanye delivers his verses over a typically maximalist beat – brass fanfare and pounding drums – which was written with only the stadium audience in mind. This triumphant track marks the completion of decorating the tree.

5. ‘All Of The Lights (Interlude)’ – Kanye West

This interlude precedes All of the lights on MBDTF, but here makes a nice transition into the more rock and disco oriented tracks in the second part of the Christmas playlist.

6. ‘Perfect Day’ – Lou Reed

Waking up to Christmas morning, what will hopefully be a perfect day. Lou Reed’s downtempo piano ballad to heroin strangely represents the happiness and drowsiness of a Christmas morning pretty accurately. The clever lyrical conceit of heroin being the woman that makes Lou feel so good gives these lyrics a dark, sombre meaning- reminding us that we should be thankful for all we have over Christmas.

7. ‘All Over the World’ – Pixies

Christmas morning, a time that people all over the world celebrate in the company of family and friends. A great track from Pixies’ Bossanova, with typically bizarre lyrics from vocalist Frank Black. The track transitions from melodic pop styled verses to an overdriven chorus featuring guitarist Joey Santiago’s trademark sharp, unpredictable guitar lines and barbaric power chords from Black’s rhythm guitar.

8. ‘Burning Down The House’ – Talking Heads

The Christmas dinner’s gone in, and hopefully it doesn’t end up burning down the house. A groovy track from the New York avant-art punks. The track is characterised by prominent synth basslines and guitar chord stabs featuring prominently in the chorus. The funk influence on this track is clear, resulting in a tune which you can dance around the kitchen to as the turkey cooks in the oven.

9. ‘Twice Removed’ – The Contortions

Transitioning from Talking Heads’ ‘New Wave’ to The Contortions ‘No Wave’ upon arrival of the extended family just in time for dinner. You find yourself sitting next to a strange cousin, twice removed that you’ve never met before. Such an alien soundscape befits this – with scrapes up and down guitar strings, chromatic sax lines and dissonant guitar lines all adding to the weirdo feel of this track.

10. Opus – Uranium Club

The cook proudly proclaims that this Christmas dinner is their magnum opus! The transition from calm Americana to what can only be described as nervy punk, the tension and anxiety absent in the first minute and a half manifesting itself in the staccato guitar chords angrily strummed is sudden but handled beautifully. The only constant in this track is the thump of the bass and the crack of the snare, dipping out of earshot only momentarily upon the transition to give way to cartoon gunfire. This track is representative of the inevitable disagreement that erupts out of the calm of conversation around the dinner table at such a large family event.

11. ‘Fame’ – David Bowie

We close Christmas day with the family sat around the TV, watching typical Christmas programming starring every famous celeb you can imagine. Such a parade of celebrity requires no better tune to march to than Bowie’s ‘Fame’. I can’t help but pull a face every time I hear the transition from the disco styled intro into the pure funk of the rest of the track. The gentle wah-wah of the lead guitar, the pop of the bass guitar and the distorted guitar ascending motif oozes cool and is a perfect way to finish off Christmas day.

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