Song Siblings – From ‘Royals’ And ‘Thrift Shop’ To Beyond

Just before scooping up her sweet selection of Grammys, teenage triumph Lorde said that the award chugging ‘Royals’ and ‘Thrift Shop’ – by fellow Grammy champs Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – were “kin”. With their anti-materialist subject matter and dismissing of a gold-plated, champagne showered and haute couture sporting celebrity lifestyle, the two tracks are definitely thematic relatives. “It was a crazy thing; it did feel like those two songs were kind of kin to each other,” she commented. It’s not just ‘Royals’ and ‘Thrift Shop’ that are song siblings. There are plenty of other tune-bros out there, tackling issues a little more offbeat than love and the loss of it (i.e. 99% of all songs, basically). Here are a few NME favourites about…


…being wasted and horny
‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High’ by Arctic Monkeys and ‘Awkward’ by Fidlar

Arctic Monkeys and Fidlar have got more in common than living in Los Angeles. Both bands have penned hymns to being off your tits in the wee small hours and attempting to hit on the object of your affections. Whereas Alex Turner is texting some lass at 3am, Zac Carper of Fidlar is doing it face-to-face. “I’m at a party and I’m barfing/I can barely see/And every time I talk to you well I can never breathe,” he growls through a Xanax and High Life fug. Both songs end the same – no-one gets laid.


…that moment when you finally get over your ex
‘My Number’ by Foals and ‘Go Your Own Way’ by Fleetwood Mac

Is there any better reason for a bit of bop than that weight-off-your shoulders revelation that comes when you realise you’re no longer in love with your ex? It can take weeks, months, even years, but when it finally does happen it’s something worth making a song and dance about. Yannis Philippakis and Lindsay Buckingham are brothers in arms when it comes to post-relationship relief. In ‘My Number’ Yannis shakes himself from the clutches of a former love. “We can move beyond it now,” he sings, much like Lindsay telling Stevie Nicks to bugger off out of his love life – but not Fleetwood Mac – leading to much awkwardness.


…urban sprawl
‘Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)’ by Arcade Fire and ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ by Joni Mitchell

Unsurprisingly, you don’t get many songs about destructive town planning. However, of the limited tunes about the subject, there are some utter bangers. “Dead shopping malls rise like mountains beyond mountains/And there’s no end in sight,” sings Regine Chassagne like Debbie Harry’s distant disco cousin on ‘Sprawl II’, bemoaning the clumsy urban takeover of the earth. Fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell made the same complaint back in 1970. “They paved paradise/And put up a parking lot,” she states cheerily, before going on to rail against deforestation and the use of DDT as a pesticide.


…having a panic attacks
‘Avant Gardener’ by Courtney Barnett and ‘She’s Lost Control’ by Joy Division

Oh you know, just another one of those songs about tending to the shrubs and then suddenly having a massive panic attack. Aussie singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett isn’t the first to take on a breakdown in song, though granted, she did it with something of lighter touch than Ian Curtis did back in 1979. ‘She’s Lost Control’ is the bleaker side of the same coin. Here deadpan wit is swapped for doomy portent and Hooky’s sinister bass. “Confusion in her eyes that says it all/She’s lost control,” boomed Ian, going on to reference his own epilepsy alongside the very public breakdown of a mystery woman.


…platonic friendship
‘Best Of Friends’ by Palma Violets and ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’ by The White Stripes

“I wanna be your best friend/I don’t want you to be my girl,” sang Palmas in their breakthrough hit, a grunge-popper about plantonic mate-dom between guys and girls. Its jagged clatter of guitars sits in sharp sonic contrast to The White Stripes’ folksy 2002 strumalong ‘We’re Going To Be Friends’. The message though is the same, with Jack stripping back his usual bare-bones sensuality for a coy song about chumming up with a girl called Suzy-Lee in the classroom. Bless.