The 5 Types of Music Videos They Play in My Gym

What’s the best music for a workout?

For me, it’s either:

  • Heavy like a headbutt from a Viking.
  • So mechanical and repetitive that it’s inhuman and unholy.
  • Upbeat, up tempo, and familiar, to distract from the pain and tedium of cardiovascular exercise.

The music they play in my gym is none of these things. I could write multiple paragraphs about how much I hate it, but I’m not quite at my “yelling at cloud” stage of life yet. Suffice to say: You know your playlist is in bad shape when G**rg* *zr** is a highlight.

But whatever. I can blank that out and listen to my own stuff. What I can’t ignore, though, are the videos that accompany these songs. There are TVs everywhere. Even if you don’t actively watch them, there they are. You’re going to notice them.

And notice them I have. And I’ve noticed that the various music videos they play in my gym fit into one of five categories.

Let’s explore these categories, together. I’ll list them in order of preference, from those I can tolerate (and even, sometimes, admire!) to those which, as music videos, are about as engaging as CCTV footage of the Winnersh branch of Allied Carpets on a drizzly Saturday afternoon in 1992.

I shall not be embedding any videos, soz. This is because I have no idea who’s responsible for most of the inanities that make it to the gym playlist. I could seek them out, but such behaviour could get me blackballed from the Drones Club.

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DVD Review – Snow Patrol Live at Somerset House

Before things got quite so bad as they are now, bands used to put DVDs out.

Mostly these would feature a recording of a live performance. But sometimes they were collections of music videos, or even specially-made “behind the music” documentaries. The best music DVDs contained a combination of the above.

Each DVD is a time capsule of an era that was very similar to our own, but also profoundly different. This is the era just before the mass adoption of smartphones, and before social media made everyone and everything significantly worse.

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Gothic Radiohead

Radiohead play dark music. We’re agreed on that.

But one thing for which I don’t think Radiohead get enough credit is just how sinister their music can be.

In the best way possible, their music can be thrillingly creepy, fabulously unnerving, and chillingly atmospheric like a midnight tour of a haunted waxwork museum with Peter Cushing as your guide.

But Peter Cushing died 27 years ago!!!

So this is my tribute to Gothic Radiohead. Let’s not waste any time in discussing just what I mean by “gothic”. But in terms of sound, feel, or subject matter, these are the Radiohead songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on your Halloween playlist alongside The Cramps, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, and the others.

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Essential Rules for Making a Mix CD

Once you meet me, it’s only a matter of time before I try and make you a mix CD.

I still make mix CDs.

These days I only ever make mix CDs for other people. I used to make them for myself. I got my first MP3 player long after everyone else had got one, and I used it long after everyone else had moved on to streaming on smartphones. But before that, I made myself a lot of CDs.

It was my travelling music. I’d travel everywhere with a portable CD player (is that what we called them? Or was it a personal CD player?) and a wallet full of my own mixes.

I had a CD for every conceivable journey and every conceivable mood. I also had a reserve of CDs that I’d turn to when I couldn’t decide what else to listen to.

I followed certain rules when making these CDs – unconsciously at first, but they soon became very important indeed. And I realise that I still follow these rules when I’m making CDs for other people.

I also follow these rules when I’m putting playlists together. To some extent.

Let’s talk about the rules for making a good mix CD, together.

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I Listened to 1,000 of the 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

I have the 2018 edition of Robert Dimery’s 1,001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

It’s a good book! A very good book. You can see what’s in it here.

It was my l*ckd*wn project to listen to every single album from this book. And that’s the first and last time I’ll ever reference this atrocity of a year on this site.

Reader, I managed it. Shall I tell you what I thought?

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An Ultraprog Christmas!

Warmth, magic, excess, music, light: Christmas is the proggiest time of year.

A lot of prog bands have Christmas songs. For a while, I wondered if there was something about Christmas that appealed particularly to proggy types. Then I realised that there are also multiple Christmas folk songs, punk songs, rap songs, jazz songs, and yep, new age songs. Christmas isn’t just a wonderful time of year for the proggy. It’s a wonderful time of year for everyone.

Nonetheless, there’s something especially beautiful about a Christmas prog song. But then, I would think that.

One thing I find endearing is that Christmas tends to bring out the proggy side of non-prog artists. The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is operatic in its structure. Cliff’s masterful Saviour’s Day is a sweeping Goliath of a song, complete with stirring pan pipe solo. Clearly, there’s something in the air at this time of year.

Let’s explore some of the best Christmas prog songs, together.

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Lord Gloom’s Favourite Albums of 2020!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

At least it was a good year for music.

Last year, I boasted about how “my listening habits are going sideways and backwards.”  I was dreaming of a day when I would look at the various various best-of-the-year lists and not recognise a single release.

That didn’t really go according to plan. This year I listened to 99 new albums. I counted. And I only actively disliked three of them! I’ll tell you which ones if you pay me £10. Sure, many of them were unremarkable. But many more were… what’s the opposite of unremarkable?

Let’s look at 20 of the best. For my sins, I’m listing them in descending order of magnificence. That’s right. This is a ranked list. Ranked!

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A Cry and a Pint

A Cry and a Pint

At this time of year, I always feel hungover.

I feel HERT: Heavy, emotional, regretful, tired.

Throughout October, I like to listen to dark, macabre, spooky and fun music. Throughout December, I listen religiously to Christmas music.

In the gap between these two periods, I’m drawn to music that matches the weightiness of the season.

There’s no simple way to describe this music. It’s laddish yet sensitive post-Britpop indie rock defined by its plaintive vocals and “anthemic” choruses, performed by earnest young British or Irish men with nice shirts and mid-length hair. The cool kids, who are wrong about everything, used to call it “bedwetter music”. This is only because they’re terrified of their feelings. I have a better term: Music for a cry and a pint.

Context is everything. When I say “a cry and a pint”, please don’t picture anything solitary – a drink nursed over the course of an hour by a sad individual in the corner of a pub. No, I want you to picture something that’s almost the opposite: A pint held aloft, one of many thousands held aloft in the same room or field. Holding the pint aloft, a noble individual, basking in the raw emotion of the music, elated by the sense of community, feeling like a part of something bigger than themselves yet, at the same time, feeling at one with their feelings. And for this individual, to feel at one with their feelings is a rare feeling indeed.

Music for a cry and a pint is music that’s designed to be bellowed along to by crowds who want something emotional yet comforting. This is music to be sung in the summer by sozzled and sunburned festival crowds. But it’s perfect for this time of year too, when the days are short and cold and things are getting critical.

Let’s explore some of the best music for a cry and a pint, together. For each song, I’m going to highlight the Bit to Bellow Along To With a Pint (BTBATWAP). And to best evoke the unselfconscious abandon that surges through normally-reserved crowds when the beer flows and the song reaches its peak, I’ll be writing these sections ENTIRELY IN CAPITALS.

It’s usually the chorus. It’s always the chorus.

But these songs are by no means the finest songs by each respective band. So in each case, I’ll also highlight another song from the same band, from the same album – one that offers slightly subtler catharsis. Perhaps one for that solitary pint and cry. One to take home with you, then, to treasure when the roar of the crowd has faded to a painful, distant memory.

UPDATE: I have now created a 50-song playlist for a cry and a pint:

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