I was tagged to this by the amazing, and often hilarious, Krystin @ Here’s the Fucking Twist to do the Omg that Song! tag, in which you are supposed to answer the prompts with both a song and book. This tag was originally created by The Book Nut.
This was a really fun tag to do, but it sort of ran away from me, and I ended up writing a lot more than I initially thought I would. I tag anyone who feels like doing this, because I feel like I haven’t had this blog long enough to know what tags the people I follow have and haven’t done, and perhaps more importantly, how long ago. So, consider yourself tagged if this seems like something you’d like to do.
A SONG YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES YOU’VE HEARD IT
Nights by Frank Ocean is a song and a mood all in one, so it’s impossible to get sick of. Blond is one of my favourite albums of all time, and one of the best albums ever made. I believe that wholeheartedly. This song makes me wish I actually had a driver’s license or a car so I could drive around at night listening to it. None of those things is going to happen, so I must settle for listening to it on the bus and day-dream, which is almost as good.
AND A BOOK THAT YOU’LL NEVER GET SICK OF
This is a hard one, because the obvious answer is Harry Potter. I’ve re-read the whole series multiple times, and I feel the same wave of warm nostalgia every time. But for this one I think I’m going to go with The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. A book from a trilogy I started reading when I was 15 and that has never left me. It tells the story of Bagoas (a real historical figure) an eunuch and former member of King Darius of Persia’s harem, and one of Alexander the Great’s lovers. This chronicles the last years of Alexander’s life (for those who don’t know Alexander died at age 32), but this is the second book on Renault’s Alexander trilogy. Alexander is one of my favourite historical figures, Ancient Greece is one of my favourite historical settings, and Bagoas is one of my favourite characters. He is very much a tragic character, both for the hard life he’s lived, and because Alexander’s greatest love was Hephaestion, not him. He fell in love with a man whose love for his long-time companion is legendary, and it was both heartbreaking and beautiful to read about. There is one scene where he holds up a bust of Hephestion, begs the statue to release its hold on Alexander, and attempts to break it. Alexander catches him doing it, silently stops him, and then Bagoas watches him as he touches the bust lovingly — I don’t think I’ll ever forget that scene, and the beautiful haunting way it was written.
A SONG THAT REMINDS YOU OF THE CRINGIEST TIME IN YOUR LIFE
In high-school I was a huge emo/scene girl. I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth. I went all out, I had the raccoon tails, colourful highlights, even an half pink half black fringe. I was a mess and a half. Looking back, I feel more fondness than shame, because those years helped me figure out a lot about myself, and I did have loads of fun, met cool people, did very adventurous things — as all teens are supposed to — and didn’t hurt myself or anyone else. So all in all, terrible fashion choices aside, it wasn’t so bad. I can’t talk about those years without mentioning the band that started it all. Tokio Hotel, a German emo-pop-rock band that took Europe by storm. I think I actually got into them when I was still in middle school, but they definitely kicked the emo/scene thing into high gear. This song was my favourite of theirs.
AND A BOOK YOU READ THAT YOU WOULDN’T LIKE NOW
Staying on brand with the high school years, I’m going to talk about The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice. I read it at the height of the Twilight craze, because I wasn’t impressed by Twilight, and what did you do when you weren’t impressed by Stephanie Meyer’s straight nonsense? You read Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Whose vampires were more the sort to pretentiously ponder mortality and lounge dramatically on fancy furniture than to shine bright like a diamond, also gay. And before Fifty Shades of Grey was even a glimmer on E.L. James eye, Anne Rice got you covered too. The Sleeping Beauty trilogy featured a fantasy BDSM world with a bisexual society, where if I’m remembering correctly, in order to be proper “citizens” nobles had to undergo a period as sexual submissives. I read this when I was 16, and when I say this was explicit, I mean explicit. There is almost no plot to this, it’s pure erotica. That wasn’t the problem however. I’m pretty sure there was no proper BDSM etiquette, consent was either absent or murky, and the people involved in this world just accepted their roles because it was the way things were. As a 16-year-old I’m pretty sure I wrote all of this off as “pretend”, and didn’t really consider any real-life implications. It didn’t leave any lasting impressions, nor can I say it informed the way I thought healthy sexual relationships should be, thankfully — its only saving grace is that perhaps the fantasy setting lends itself to this kind of intellectual distancing. I’m fairly certain I would hate it today, regardless.
A RECENT SONG THAT YOU HAVE ON REPEAT
This one is really easy. Brockhampton‘s latest album, Iridescence, just came out and I’ve been listening to it on repeat. They’re one of my favourite bands, sorry boyband, I just love all of their music. The Saturation trilogy has probably some of my favourite music of all time. Iridescence tops it. I don’t think there’s anything I like more musically than experimental rap, and this album is basically just that. The sound is unique without being so abrasive it becomes unlistenable (a hard juggling act with most experimental or genre-bending music), the lyrics, as always are engaging, and thought provoking, candid and painfully honest at times. But the stand-out is the sound. I read for the words, but I listen to music for the sound. The lyrics should compliment the melody, the message is secondary, a welcome secondary addition, but ultimately secondary in my eyes. In Iridescence the lyrics are part of the melody, something that was missing at times in the previous albuns. I love the whole album, but my most repeated track is without doubt Fabric.
AND A RECENT FAVOURITE BOOK
I’ve been beyond lucky with my fantasy reads lately. I’ve already waxed poetry about Read Sister on here before, so I’m going to talk about Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames instead, which I just finished. The tone couldn’t be more different from Red Sister’s but I loved it just as much. What it does have in common with it is the strong theme of friendship, and a squad that makes me smile just thinking about them. I won’t talk too much about it because I still plan on writing a review, but yeah, a great read all around.
A SONG THAT IS LITERALLY ME
I like music more for the feelings it evokes than for its message. Like I said before, what really matters to me is the melody. But I really like Hayley Kiyoko as an artist, and obviously I really identify with her and her songs in general. It’s great to have music out there that reflects you and your experiences. I think my absolute favourite is Cliff’s Edge. I love the melancholic, yet slightly irreverent tune in the song, and the lyrics, “Cliff’s edge, where I belong” and “I wanna feel like sea breeze” really resonate with me for some reason.
AND A BOOK THAT IS ME IN BOOK FORM
I haven’t found one yet! I don’t think it’s a bad thing, though. I’ve definitely found books whose characters I strongly identify with, and which have all the ingredients that make a book great in my eyes, but I haven’t found one that is a perfect distillation of me as a person. Maybe I never will, I don’t think I’ll mind if I never do. I guess I’ll have to keep reading and find out.
A WEIRD SONG THAT YOU LIKE ANYWAYS
Fy Faen by Hkeem and Temur. This isn’t really a weird song. But it was playing on the radio everywhere when I went to Oslo last year. It got stuck in my head, and I started singing along in Norwegian, which is 100% a language I can’t speak. I guess this just goes to show how little I care about lyrics because I’ve listened to this song multiple times and still have no idea what it says, I just like the sound of it. I just know that fy faen means “bloody hell”, “damn it”, or at least something that evokes that feeling.
AND A UNIQUE BOOK THAT STUCK OUT TO YOU FOR SOME REASON
Again it’s not really that this is an unique book, but Dancer by Colum McCann is a semi-biographical novel about the life of Russian Ballet Dancer Rudolf Nureyev, which isn’t usually the kind of thing I read. I didn’t have that much of an interest in ballet, and previous to reading this book, which I picked up from my highschool library, I had no idea who Nureyev was. I ended up loving this book, and it stuck with me all these years. It also made me interested in ballet enough to talk my parents into taking me and my brother to watch a performance. We went to see the Nutcracker, it was amazing, ballet is amazing.
PICK YOUR BEST PUMP UP SONG
This one has to be I ain’t got time by Tyler, the Creator, from the amazing album Flower Boy. It’s funny, most of the album is really mellow and introspective but the two bangers it has go so hard. It slaps my dudes, it just slaps. This song just makes me feel like I need to hurry up whatever I’m doing. I literally wrote an essay while listening to it on repeat.
AND A BOOK THAT INSPIRES YOU
This is a hard one. I’ve read many books that inspire me, for very different reasons. I’d like to be a fantasy writer one day, so there are books that inspire me because they are such a great example of the genre, or because I love the writing so much. But I think I’m going to choose Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh because of the way it uses language to evoke the characters mood and mental state in such a clear and stark way. It’s written in the Scottish dialect which makes for a challenge read, and the topics it deals with are absolutely harrowing, the characters are at times despicable, and yet it’s an amazing book that shows that even the most unpleasant stories deserve to be told. It would be an inspiring book because of Welsh’s sheer talent alone, but it also inspire me because I hope to someday write something this original, unapologetic, and transformative.
YOUR BEST CHILL OR RELAXING SONG
This has to be another Frank Ocean. His songs are just the best for introspection and relaxing. And this one has the literal lyrics “Eyes low, chin heavy, shoegazer”. It’s just so mellow and sweet. And, I believe, dedicated to Frank’s boyfriend, which makes it all the sweeter.
AND A BOOK YOU’D CURL UP WITH ON A RAINY DAY
I’m gonna pick any of the Nightrunner series by Lynn Flewelling for this one. It’s an old-fashioned fantasy series, the plot is nothing out of this world, there’s some court intrigue, there’s an elf-like people with a long life-span, wizards and their place of study, magic, an ancient evil, etc etc. That’s is exactly why I like it, it’s a comfortable read with lovable characters I love returning to, a charming city that I can picture perfectly, in a world that feels alive and inviting. All those characteristics make it the perfect book to curl up with on a lazy day, rainy or otherwise.
A GUILTY PLEASURE SONG
I don’t really have guilty pleasure songs. I love all the songs I do unashamedly, and the ones I don’t listen to anymore I simply grew out of/got tired of. But Lipgloss by Charli XCX is so dirty, that when I listen to it in public I always feel slightly paranoid that someone can listen through my headphones, and I have to control myself not to sing-along, which is something I do a lot. Make no mistake though, I love this song. And there’s definitely a time and place to sing along to it.
AND A LIGHT, TRASHY READ YOU CAN’T HELP BUT LOVE
I don’t know if I would call it light, but anything with vampires feels trashy to me. And since these books were my twilight, I definitely think of them that way. I don’t know if I would read them again, and I didn’t read the whole series, because it’s huge, and at some point witches are introduced to the story which only increases the trashy factor — but I definitely have good memories associated with them. Especially with The Vampire Lestat, since Lestat was my favourite character. I just loved how dramatic, and over-the-top he was. Also, fun fact, I absolutely hate Tom Cruise as an actor, I think his only good role is Lestat. Coincidentally, it was also the only time I ever found him good-looking.
A THROWBACK SONG YOU LOOK BACK ON FONDLY
This is a song I loved when I was about 11 years old, and still love to this day. I like everything about it, the melody is fun and pop-y, the video has lots of pretty girls dancing and having fun. Eleven-year-old me didn’t understand why I was so fascinated by the video. Every time it came on on MTV I’d watch enraptured, but it’s one of those things that just makes perfect sense in retrospect. All of my friends knew this was my song, when it was on the school radio they would literally scream “your song!” and we’d all sing it together. I have great memories associated with it, and I always listen to it when I want to reminisce about my childhood.
AND A BOOK YOU READ AND LOVED WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG
I’m still not going to talk about Harry Potter, even though this would be the perfect place to do it. But it’s just so common place, almost everyone in the world has read Harry Potter — there’s no point in reiterating its influence. So I’m going to talk about the book I read when I was about 13 that made sure Harry Potter remained the only YA book I read for a long time, because I immediately graduated to adult books. In fact I think I’m reading all the YA today that I didn’t when I was an actual teenager. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde remains to this day one of my favourite books. It made me fall in love with Gothic literature, and quickly out of it when I realised no one could do it like Wilde. It’s the reason I hate Victorian settings, because no one captures the corrupting influence of Victorian London like Wilde does. It wasn’t beautiful, it wasn’t magical. It was disgusting and monstrous. It is said that the Londoners only learnt to appreciate the smog when Wilde said it was beautiful. But Wilde had a talent to find the beauty in the things that kill us. This book made me fall in love with an entire genre, and then broke my heart when I realised nothing could ever compare.
I don’t know if anyone is still reading at this point, but I salute you, your patience is infinite and deserves some type of award. I hope you had fun reading, and let me know if you like any of these songs or have read any of these books!