In unprecedented times of bad and ugly, it’s important to keep an eye out for the good. Ben Lomax picks out his top 5 songs both good in name and good in nature.
5. ‘Good Name’ – William Onyeabor
Last month sadly saw the passing of ’70s & ’80s Nigerian funk legend William Onyeabor whose rhythmic, synthesizer-driven tracks earned him admiration from the likes of Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz) to David Byrne (Talking Heads), his mysterious and elusive persona also becoming the subject of Vice’s short documentary ‘Fantastic Man’. A scratch over ten minutes — not uncommon amongst Onyeabor’s Kraftwerk inspired catalogue — and released a short while before he gave up music due to becoming a born-again Christian, ‘Good Name’s moral message over repetitive beats is quintessential Onyeabor.
4. ‘Nothing Good Ever Happens At The Goddamn Thirsty Crow’ – Father John Misty
Soothing country crooner Father John Misty (AKA Josh Tillman) lays down his trademark wit over soft string arrangements, lamenting his experiences in an L.A. whisky bar. It’s an impossibly beautiful ballad over which Tillman tells how his girl “blackens pages like a Russian romantic” and “gets down more often than a blow-up doll.” True romance.
3. ‘Good Morning’ – Kanye West
Kanye may have consistently been the bad boy of popular music since he “Made that b**** famous” at the 2009 VMA’s, but musically he’s no stranger to being very good indeed (even starting his own record label named ‘GOOD Music’). Good morning is the stylish opening to 2007’s Graduation, which featured a handful of “good” tracks and a number of great ones. As would become standard for West’s discography, it signalled the start of an album that would change hip hop forever.
2. ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer’ – Queens of the Stone Age
“Nicotine, Valium, Vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” growls QOTSA frontman Josh Homme over the thumping monotone verses before bursting out with “C-c-c-c-c-cocaine” for the chorus. Perhaps unsurprising, then, that it saw them manhandled out of a Rehab centre in 2007 after opting to open their set there with this number.
1. ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ – Jamie XX ft. Young Thug & Popcaan
Jamie XX effortlessly weaves together the Caribbean vibes of steel pans and Jamaican singer Popcaan, with soulful acapella samples and a career highlight performance from “Thugger Thugger.”A highlight of an already great album and easily one of the best tracks of 2015, ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)’ takes the top spot as the “goodest” of an already good list.