“Hey pretty baby,
Do you know any hate songs,
Do you know any hate songs we could sing?” – Stephen Jones (BabyBird)
As a reviewer, I mostly adopt an upbeat manner when writing about music and the hardware that makes it happen. As a person, I’m usually pretty happy and content. Not this week though. Like every human I occasionally hurt and I sometimes rage. Yes, I’m having a bad week so I’m channeling that energy into this post: I wanna pull on your coat about HATE SONGS.
My preference is for something more articulate than the clumsy “Fuck Tha Police” or the hugely overrated “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!”. Googling the subject brings up far too many references to Slipknot. Ugh. It’s easy to make a song sound angry. It’s another thing entirely to pen words that capture the complexity and (sometimes) specificity of rage.
With my tongue placed firmly in my cheek here are three hate songs that sprung to mind over coffee this morning.
1. The Soft Boys – I Wanna Destroy You
Long before music hacks made a cliche out of describing him as “enduring” or “eccentric” and before he cemented his lyrical fascination with insects and fish, Robyn Hitchcock fronted The Soft Boys: a punk band that weren’t. The Soft Boys owed as much to Syd Barret or The Byrds as they did to short, 3-minute shouty songs. “I Wanna Destroy You” is the lead cut from their finest album, 1980’s Underwater Moonlight (subsequently lauded as a lost classic). It’s simple, short and articulate (and miles from the out of focus rage that dominated much of punk).
2. Billy Bragg – Accident Waiting To Happen
By 1991 Billy Bragg had become chums and touring buddies with R.E.M. and (ironically here) Robyn Hitchcock. He’d just enjoyed his biggest chart success to date with “Sexuality” and was riding both critical and commercial waves with Don’t Try This At Home. This album marked Bragg’s largely successful attempt at expanding his singer-songwriter routine to encompass a ‘full-band’ sound as well as diversifying his vocal style. That said, opener “Accident Waiting To Happen” is a close as one gets to classic Bragg fury. Check it:
“Goodbye and good luck to all the promises you’ve broken,
Goodbye and good luck to all the rubbish that you’ve spoken,
Your life has lost its dignity, its beauty and its passion,
You’re an accident waiting to happen.”
3. The House Of Love – Burn Down The World
This third song points to no specific target. It’s an all-encompassing desire for destruction of everything. Now that’s what I call catharsis! “Burn Down The World” is a glacially-paced number from The House Of Love’s Babe Rainbow. Guy Chadwick’s clumsy lyric smoulders and seethes. It does exactly what it says on the tin. “I’ll watch you like a hawk on any day that you care to move like the rodent (that) you are.” It works wonders for this fella.
Also on my mind are: Bob Dylan – “Idiot Wind”, The Auteurs – “Idiot Brother” and The Smiths – “Unhappy Birthday”.
Hit us up with your favourite hate songs in the comments section below. Don’t hold back.
The Soft Boys “Underwater Moonlight” is available on vinyl, CD and download (with a downpour of bonus tracks) from Yep Roc.
At time of writing, The House Of Love are about to drop their first album since 2005’s “Days Run Away” (best avoided). Lead single “A Baby Got Back On Its Feet” is just too nice. However, their late 80s and early 90s work is where it’s at. 1992’s Babe Rainbow is a minor classic. That’s where you’ll find “Burn Down The World”. Grab the CD here. It isn’t yet available at the iTunes Store.
EDIT 11th Feb: The House Of Love reckon I’ve the ‘wrong end of the stick’ with Burn Down The World. I must’ve missed a meeting somewhere I guess. Sorry chaps.