So there we were, imagining that Florence And The Machine’s ‘Shake It Out’ was about eschewing negativity for being happier and more positive. Well, we were wrong. It’s actually about little drunk mice pushing pianos down stairs in the attic of your mind. Translation: it’s about that godawful feeling that only a really, really bad hangover can give you.
It made us think; what are the best songs about being merry, quite, quite pisched or feeling heavy with the please-just-kill-me hangover?
We’ll be honest, like that final round which seems like a good idea at the time, but terrible the next morning, there are a helluva lot of songs about boozing that are pretty bad: ‘Red Red Wine’, ‘Tequila’, ‘Tubthumping’ for starters. But there are plenty that are great for very different reasons.
*Feel free to read this whilst swilling round a glass of something oddly coloured in a tumbler*.
1 – The Replacements, ‘Here Comes A Regular’
Paul Westerberg was called ‘the godfather of grunge’ by some, due to his ability to squeeze the poetic melancholy from everyday situations in a fashion that would rub off on a young Kurt Cobain. 1985’s ‘Here Comes A Regular’ was a prime example; a slice of skid row dissatisfaction told with poetic grace. Featuring numerous killer lines not least the opening “Well a person can work up a mean, mean thirst/ After a hard day of nothing much at all”.
2 – Tom Waits, ‘The Piano Has Been Drinking’
This sees Waits in darkly funny troubadour mode, sounding like every mercurial drunkard out there. This version features the rather disconcerting sound of live studio audience laughing, picking up on the Rowlf-From-The Muppets-Does-Hilarious-Boozing-Song, but none of the melancholia. Also check out Waits doing his Dorothy Parker “It’s better to have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy” shtick – the ham!
3 – The Smiths, ‘Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before’
Morrissey splits his literal and metaphorical lip in this tale of binge drinking gone awry. “So I drank one and it became four/ And when I fell on the floor I drank more,” he sort-of-confesses, in the mood of a man who, you imagine, has probably not actually learnt any lessons at all from the previous evening’s drunken incident.
4 – Jeff Buckley, ‘Lilac Wine’
Just for this rather devastating line: “I drink much more than I oughta drink/Because it brings me back you.”
5 – LCD Soundsystem, ‘Drunk Girls’
James Murphy does his best Berlin-era Bowie on this very modern take on the differences between the sexes. It’s also, oh the deep irony, very good to dance to when drunk.
Sign up for the newsletter
6 – The Kinks, ‘Alcohol’
“Oh! Demon alcohol!” sings Ray Davies on this cut from the band’s modern-life-is-rubbish opus ‘Muswell Hillbillies’. A cautionary tale for all.
7 – Snoop Dogg, ‘Gin And Juice’
Snoop’s having a party. It’s 2 am. You’ve missed the last tube so you’re like ‘um ok I’ll stay I guess’, despite the fact that: a) you’re not sure the ‘gin’ in your ‘gin and juice’ is anything of the sort (and as for the ‘juice’…) b) you slightly want to kill the best friend you came with who has since disappeared into the room that’s filled with questionably coloured smoke, and c) your mouth is starting to taste like the landing strips at Nairobi airport.
8 – Underworld, ‘Born Slippy’
Rave-hands, Trainspotting style. Need we say more?
9 – Rihanna, ‘Cheers (Drink To That)’
Rihanna takes time off from being the ‘sexy time’ whipping girl, to down some Jamesons with aid of an, um, Avril Lavigne sample. Her advice on combating the bad times? “Don’t let the bastards get you down/ Turn it round with another round“. Attagirl!
10 – Janis Joplin, ‘What Good Can Drinking Do’
One of the earliest recorded number by Joplin and also a fairly prescient look at what was to come in her life. “What good can drinking do?/ I drink all night and the next day I still feel blue.”
So argue! What’s the best song to pop a cork to?