If you ever find yourself flagging, as I do more than frequently, do you reach for music to help pull you out of your malaise? I don’t necessarily mean feel-good tunes as such, partly because we’ve covered those already and I’ve reassured myself that there are still plenty of worthwhile and relatively unspoiled topics waiting to be picked when the time is right for picking. I mean songs that get the heart pumping or serve to clear a neat pathway through the chaotic haziness of your mind whenever you momentarily lose focus.
Now, at this point I suspect many of you are reminded of the much maligned classic tracks from cheesy Eighties underdog films, such as ‘You’re the Best’ (by Joe Esposito, from The Karate Kid) and ‘Eye of the Tiger’ by Survivor (from Rocky III), which sadly have become something of a cliché-ridden joke. Do speak up in their defence if, like me, you happen to still enjoy them.
Instead of those and others like them, you could perhaps reveal the MP3 playlist favoured for a session at the gym or when out on a run, or the song your team plays in the changing room before competition commences. Maybe you’re fond of the screaming and growling nu-metal of a Drowning Pool or Slipknot when you need psyching up; all repetitive, angry choruses which often include more gratuitous, meaningless swearing than is necessary even for those who are really, really cross. Apparently a Guantanamo Bay ‘favourite’, Drowning Pool.
If you prefer something more traditional, your choice of motivational masterpiece might well be Carl Orff’s thunderous ‘O Fortuna’ (you all know it), from Carmina Burana, for example. Another is ‘Tocatta and Fugue in D minor’ by J.S. Bach – well, supposedly – (played here with such bewildering precision by Robert Tiso on the, wait for it, glass harp).
The music itself doesn’t have to be about elevating adrenalin levels through crashing drums or a steady beat; the words could do more for you than the music. However, not having the distraction of words to try and comprehend can obviously focus the mind exclusively on the assortment of sounds and allow you the time, space and freedom to find your own meaning within it, which can be more powerful and gratifying than listening to somebody else’s interpretation. Two bands whose music I find allows this introspection are instrumentalists Explosions in the Sky (not mentioned, I regret to note, as part of our incredible attempt to list 500 bands preferred to Radiohead) and the predominantly instrumental Mogwai.
Do meandering pieces such as the above, which could just about mean anything to anyone, let’s face it, particularly motivate you or transport you to some place where you can better assess your situation? Indeed, for every explicit Marilyn Manson mantra (‘The Fight Song’ being an obvious one), there’s John Lennon urging us all to ‘Give Peace a Chance’; with its buoyant everyone-round-the-camp-fire chorus, I think this can just as easily energise you and provide the inspiration to adopt a more positive and determined frame of mind, as can any form of music achieve quiet reflection rather than noisy aggression through a form of meditation.
So, whether it acts as an upper or downer depending on your individual need, I want to hear about music that you find somehow motivational and inspirational. May it motivate and inspire us all.
A few pump-up songs to kick us off, some of them complete with mandatory thumping riffs, strong bass lines and catchy hooks, others providing something you can chant in firm unison even if you’re too out of breath from all that running to sound purposeful:
– Metallica, ‘Seek and Destroy’
– Nirvana, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
– Queen, ‘We Will Rock You’
– Rage Against The Machine, ‘Killing in the Name Of’
– U2, ‘Vertigo’
Please do shadow-box your way into the chatroom tomorrow. Just karate kick the doors open any time from 2pm (UK). Screaming is not allowed in the chatroom, however, not even if you have dreadlocks and habitually jump around in a semi-circle while growling into your navel.