Well, quite a dark few days it’s been, eh? Wherever you stand on the rioters – whether it be directly on their hooded heads, or on the police force’s, or on society’s for neglecting them, or whoever’s – the fact is their presence has made Britain a tense, thoroughly depressing and unpleasant place to be for the last week.
But before you scroll straight to the bottom and begin commenting about who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s to blame and what should be done, STOP IT. There has been more than enough talk about the week’s events here and everywhere else. This post is intended to help us all forget, albeit temporarily. It’s Friday. Let’s get out there and have a good time for a little bit. Let’s stop pointing the finger and start loving one another right now.
Thus the subject of this week’s Listomania is loosely happiness and specifically songs about smiling. Not songs that are about smiling in a sad way (The Lemonheads’ Paid To Smile’ won’t be getting a look in, for example), but songs that celebrate how nice it is to smile, or see a smile, or make someone smile.
So without further ado: have a listen, get your glad-rags on, and go out with one slapped on. After you’ve suggested any we’ve missed out, of course.
1. The All Night Workers – ‘Why Don’t You Smile Now?’
OK, so this is technically more about smiling in the negative sense, as in “You fucked up leaving me, let’s see you try and smile these days”, but it’s a great, uplifting tune, and the first ever collaborative effort between Lou Reed and John Cale, even though the pair’s relationship with The All Night Workers didn’t extend much beyond being mates with their guitarist. This was a B-side to their single ‘Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket’, and has shown up on countless Velvets bootlegs/comps over the years.
2. My Bloody Valentine – ‘Sunny Sunday Smile’
Title track of the last My Bloody Valentine EP to feature Dave Conway on vocals, before he left and Kevin Shields skippered the classic line up to more innovative and historically lauded places. Not to say this isn’t worth of attention also, though – far from it. A simple, up, breezy, naïve, straightforward indie pop tune this may be, but it’s a frickin good one.
3. Johnny Mathis – ‘A Certain Smile’
This comes from the Francoise Sagan film of the same name, in which Johnny appears crooning this quite beautifully old fashioned song. Listen below. Swoon. Smile.
4. Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – ‘Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me)’
Oh OK, this is another one about revenge-grinning, directed by Steve Harley at his former band members who he felt had abandoned him. But again, it’s a biggie: covered about ninety million times, by everyone from Duran Duran to the Wedding Present, and been on about as many film soundtracks and adverts. And when we get around to doing a Listomania about false endings, it will be number one.
5. Marvin Gaye – ‘The Shadow Of My Smile’
There are loads of versions of this, by Nancy Sinatra, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Shirley Bassey… but if you ask me, none of them come close to this one.
6. Shanice – ‘I Love Your Smile’
“Do do do do doooo do do-do!” This is more like it: forget them rockers and their jealous getting-one-over-songs, this is one of those early-nineties super-happy hits complete with novelty rap that, if you say you don’t like, makes you a joyless knob. The “I rilly do!” bit at the end is just the most irresistibly cute thing ever.
7. Paul McCartney – ‘Smile Away’
It would be absolutely crazy to have a list about being mindlessly happy without Macca making the list: he’s kind of the patron saint and this, from ‘Ram’, is as brain dead, glam stomping and stupid a thing as he’s ever come up with. Will irritate the fuck out of a lot of folk, but for me the little guitar licks are sunshine personified.
8. Lily Allen – ‘Smile’
Remember when Lily wasn’t a national megastar/treasure, and was just Keith Allen’s daughter, who wore bridal dresses and Reeboks and sang beautifully airy pop songs like this, her debut single? Seems ages ago, don’t it? Not surprisingly, Lil was as vocal as anyone about the events of the last few days… now let’s celebrate her way with a melody, and forget.
9. Nat King Cole – ‘Smile’
Just ‘cos it sort of has to be, doesn’t it?
“You’ll get by, if you smile through your fear and sorrow/Smile, and maybe tomorrow, you’ll see the sun come shining through”
Amen to that.
10. Kasabian – ‘Switchblade Smiles’
Usual, unusually over-excited electronic-rave-rock business from Kasabian that prefaced ‘Velociraptor!’ How anyone can dislike this band anymore is beyond me: look at the way Serge just goes “WWWWWWWWWWRRRRRRRAAAAAAGGGGGGHHHHH!” at the start, or the way it charges through about 20 mini-choruses like an attention span-ravaged toddler. Makes me smile, that’s for sure.