Top 50 Favourite Songs: David Cooper Moore

My friend Isabel Cole explained to me that in horoscope-speak your “moon” is the secret Spotify playlist that you’d make to soundtrack your inner life. She also reminded me that astrology is fake, which is why it’s good—it’s like an improvisational prompt with arbitrary parameters to ensure it’s not just an act of confirmation bias. Something seems like it doesn’t fit, but then you make it fit, and that tells you something new about yourself. Just because something is tautological or arbitrary doesn’t mean it’s meaningless or ineffective, which is something I’ve known for a long time because I have experience with other things like that, too—death, certainly, but also the music I like.

Songs can hit you like that time I was walking home in the snow and an avalanche of ice fell from a bridge about ten feet from where I was standing, and there was no one around, and I thought about how if I’d been seconds earlier I’d be dead but if I’d been seconds later I wouldn’t have even noticed. It was a miracle that only I saw, and it made me feel lucky to be alive in a queasy sort of way.

Sometimes a song changes you in exactly the way you were intending to change anyway, which is suspiciously convenient. But sometimes a song changes you in a way you were not expecting, that turns out to be convenient, too, like when I decided Katy Perry was OK just in time for my son to get obsessed with her. Sometimes a song will change you in a way that you resent and you have to either find a way to make it fit anyway or bury it deep down, but deep down is still part of you.

And sometimes a song is just the wallpaper, except one day you realize you’ve looked at it every single day for years and never noticed something in it and all of a sudden it’s a miracle, too.

And sometimes a song really just means nothing to you, and it seems to mean everything to someone else, and you wonder where they must have been standing when it fell to earth.

The first 24 songs here are a mix of all of those kinds of songs and probably a bunch of other kinds. It’s my moon mix, the private mixtape I made to help tell me something about myself and to help me feel my feelings. Some of these might tell you something or make you feel something, too—that’d be neat!

Secret Spotify Playlist I Made to Soundtrack My Inner Life:

1. Ashlee Simpson: “Better Off” (2004)
2. Mountain Goats: “Dance Music” (2005)
3. Kermit the Frog: “Rainbow Connection” (1979)
4. Margaret Berger: “Robot Song” (2006) [not on Spotify, HQ version in linked post]
5. t.A.T.u.: “Cosmos” (Outer Space) (2005)
6. Alicia Keys: “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart” (2010)
7. Shakira: “Empire” (2014)
8. Vitas: “Opera #2” (2001)
9. Keke Palmer: “Music Box” (2007)
10. Sky Ferreira: “24 Hours” (2013)
11. Michael Jackson: “Earth Song” (1995)
12. The Knocks f. Sneaky Sound System: “The One” (2014)
13. Kelis: “Song for the Baby” (2010)
14. Nelly Furtado: “Say It Right” (2006)
15. Beastie Boys: “I Don’t Know” (1998)
16. Beatles: “There’s a Place” (1963)
17. Marit Larsen: “This Time Tomorrow” (2006)
18. Natalie Hemby: “I’ll Remember How You Loved Me” (2017)
19. Arcade Fire: “Neighborhood #1” (Tunnels) (2004)
20. Madonna: “Like a Prayer” (1989)
21. Amy Diamond: “It Can Only Get Better” (2006)
22. Vershon: “Mercy A God” (2016)
23. Vanessa Williams: “Save the Best for Last” (1992)
24. Whitney Houston: “I Will Always Love You” (1992)

The next 26 songs were living there in my bones the whole time, the ones that became a part of me even when I screamed for them not to. This is a more-or-less chronological story of the development of my taste, with a big obvious gap from the time I went to college until I escaped my 20s alive, during which time I wrote a bunch of lists to track that sort of thing.

If you know me well enough, maybe you can hear some of me in here:

25. Harry Belafonte: “Banana Boat Song (Day-O)” (1956) — figuring out what music is;
26. The Mamas & the Papas: “California Dreamin’” (1965) – and figuring out which music is mine and which music I inherited;

27. Phil Harris: “The Thing” (1950) — and figuring out that music can be a question you can’t answer even though it feels like you know the answer anyway;

28. The Fools: “Psycho Chicken” (1980) — and sometimes music can make you scared and laugh at the same time;

29. Genesis: “I Can’t Dance” (1991) — and something that is maybe the least cool thing ever, a song in which they admit they can’t even dance, can be the coolest thing in the world and will sound that way forever;

30. Boyz II Men: “Motownphilly” (1991) — and how when other people dance they can make you feel like you can dance, even if you can’t, and they don’t even really need to dance that well themselves, just sound like they can, that’s the important part;

31. Crash Test Dummies: “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” (1993) — and how great it feels when you can memorize all the words and even make up your own words, just like “Weird” Al did;
32. Aerosmith: “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” (1987) — and how there could be something off about a song, but even now when I hear it I can make it better than it probably deserves;

33. Warren G and Nate Dogg: “Regulate” (1994) — and how music could make me feel like the baddest guy on earth in my mind and I could probably kill a guy if I wanted to, which I don’t;
34. Metallica: “Seek and Destroy” (1983) — and how music could make me feel like I could destroy, yeah, that’s probably better than killing a guy;

35. The Immortals: “Techno Syndrome (Mortal Kombat)” (1994) — and how I could also fight, and how fighting is sometimes the only way you’re allowed to dance, even if you can’t dance or fight;

36. Offspring: “Come Out and Play” (1994) — and how I could listen to a song about how wrong it would be to kill a guy that gives me the exact same feeling I had when I thought about killing a guy;
37. Duice: “Dazzey Duks” (1993) — and how I could dance when my sisters forced me to, and it didn’t feel anything at all like the way it sounded, in fact it was humiliating, but everyone was laughing;

38. Blind Melon: “No Rain” (1992) — and how I could discover things years later and still get it all wrong but experience it like it happened yesterday, which means it also happened today, this way;
39. Coolio: “Fantastic Voyage” (1994) — and how a song could make me ashamed because it made me feel cool, which makes me a poser;
40. Alanis Morissette: “Head Over Heels” (1995) — and how an embarrassing song could hold me captive, like I was a DNA match for an unholy symbiosis;

41. DJ Kool: “Let Me Clear My Throat” (1996) — and sometimes I could hear exactly what my sisters heard and not feel like a poser, which momentarily made me as cool as they were even though they assured me that they were not cool, and also assured me that I was even less cool than that;

42. Rage Against the Machine: “Bulls On Parade” (1996) — and sometimes I’d hear a cool song that I could immediately tell was going to embarrass me later, and was maybe a little embarrassing already, and I couldn’t tell if maybe they were posers, too;
43. Eminem: “Criminal” (2000) — and sometimes a song refuses to abide the cool/shame dichotomy even while it is steeped in shame, because it’s also shameless, and this is useful especially but not only if you’re going through puberty;

44. Outkast: “Bombs Over Bagdhad” (2000) — and then there are some songs that are cool in a sleek, frictionless kind of way everyone agrees on, neutral territory in a puberty warzone;
45. Radiohead: “Paranoid Android” (1997) — and hey since I’m Older Now I realize that all these things that have just been happening to me can also be cultivated.
46. Frank Zappa: “Who Needs the Peace Corps?” (1968) — So I cultivate.

And then after a while I realize that for all the benefits of cultivation, there’s still a bunch of weird stuff knocking around in there getting etched into my bones. Plus I have two kids, and kids really dredge the past right up to the surface for you, cultivation be damned. So I give myself over to

47. Wang Rong: “Chick Chick” (2014) — chicken noises (again)

48. NEIKED f. Dyo: “Sexual” (2016) — and distorted shrieks in sexless songs about sexfulness

49. Lil Nas X: “Old Town Road” (2019-ish) — and whatever the hell “Old Town Road” is supposed to be.

50. INSTASAMKA: “Juicy” (2021) — I go down some rabbit holes here and there and there and there. (And especially there, where no one speaks English and it’s kind of nice to feel like a stranger.) It’s exhausting and I enjoy it.

Once again, or maybe as always, it happens like this: I’m not even sure I like something at first, but I can tell somewhere within me that it’s great, it’s got my number and it won’t stop calling, which is to say of course I like it—although this, liking something because it is great, is different from “liking something for its greatness.” But I guess you can like it for that, too.

2 thoughts on “Top 50 Favourite Songs: David Cooper Moore

  1. My affinity list continues with David Cooper Moore: t.A.T.u.’s “Cosmos (Outer Space),” except I voted for “Kosmos,”* the Russian-language version – though since I don’t speak Russian, and the lyrics are a good part of the emotional wallop for me, I don’t know why I didn’t choose the English version. I guess once I get the basic meaning – “Another time, another place, another world”** – the wallop is in total effect no matter which language I’m hearing.

    –Checking Google Translate, the idea is definitely the same – “Our home forever is outer space” vs. “We’ll meet forever in space” – but there do seem to be pretty big differences, actually; the Russian version has nothing like my favorite line in the English, “Black stars and endless seas, outer space,” but meanwhile the English, “Bridges burnt, fingers crossed… Same before, same again,” simply can’t compete with, “Tails are torn off, the legs are unscrewed, but – all the same, all the same,” in the Russian.

    Anyway, knowing both versions you get more meaning and better-confuted meaning!

    *Тату’s “Космос,” if I want to go full Cyrillic.

    **Pulled a fast one on you, didn’t I? “Another time, another place, another world” isn’t from “Cosmos,” it’s from Margaret Berger’s “Robot Song”; like Dave, I’ll sometimes put “Cosmos” back-to-back with “Robot Song” on playlists, the two songs of forbidden love.

  2. Yeah, another way to look at these lists is how close they adhere to the canon, the RS list, we’ll say, or “greatness,” and how much they diverge. One of the most idiosyncratic lists, for sure. Also, hitting more ’90s and 2000s, decades that seem to have been neglected so far. Anyway, I like seeing “Fantastic Voyage, Merit Larsen, and Ashlees Simpson show up to the party. Better party.

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