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#12playlists mix 2: L.O.V.E.

9 Mar

February’s 12 Playlists challenge was L.O.V.E. – here’s my interpretation of it:

Love… It’s a funny old thing, isn’t it.

I was going to go super slushy and pull out a mix of epic love-making/heart-breaking bangers, but I felt that would be a.) nauseating for all involved and b) way too personal. I’m in a fun mood tonight, so what you’re getting is my take on the songs that sort-of shaped how I view love. And by that, I mean of all the motown, 80s and soft-rock lurve songs that my ‘rents used to play when I was growing up. I have fond memories of driving around in their Mitsubishi Space Wagon with my brothers and sisters, shouting ‘NO NO NO NO!’ at the tops of our voices to Celine Dion…


#12playlists mix 1: You’re so cool

24 Jan

My first #12playlists mix is here!

no1_so_cool #12playlists you're so cool 12 playlists gemma critchley

So, after a fruitful (are mixtapes a fruit?) year of making and sharing playlists as part of #13for2013, we decided we want to carry on into 2014 and beyond and have this adopted a new name: #12playlists. The idea is simple: create a playlist each month around a set theme and share this on Twitter or Facebook using #12playlists.

This month’s theme is ‘You’re so cool’ and I have decided to interpret it like this…

I decided to choose songs that encapsulate ‘cool’ to me, with a view to finding out the answer to that age old question that has baffled scientists, philosophers, artists and NME readers alike over the years:

What is cool?

For the record, Dr. Google gives this helpful definition:

#12playlists cool 12 playlists 12playlists gemma critchley @12playlists

Anyway, let the Cool Study commence. My tracks are…

Busted – Air Hostess
One of my bezzies Cath and I went to watch Busted play twice in Sheffield and they were amazing both times. We also once made her colleague come over to ours to be the photographer for our very own Busted shoot one night. None of this is ironic. Irony is not cool. We just liked Busted. What’s wrong with just liking stuff?

Verdict: Genuine enthusiasm is cool.

My Chemical Romance – I’m not okay
The video to this song is one of the coolest videos ever. Growing up on American teen movies and secretly always rooting for the underdog, this is everything you could ever wish for in a music video. It’s also great for throwing COOL dance moves to whilst you act out a particularly heart-wrenching scene of a rock opera. TRUST ME.

Verdict: Expressing your emotions in an overly theatrical manner is cool.

Roxy Music – More than this
This is the song that should play as the end credits roll at the end of every perfect night out. Picture this: the year is 2007. The scene is a sunrise over a grimy, glittering city skyline in Northern England. Our heroes leave the neon of the nightclub and walk off into the sparkling dawn, down a charity shop fashion show catwalk in what might have been a dream.

Verdict: Disgraceful disco dancing until dawn is cool

Piebald – Holden Caulfield
Reading is for winners, every cool kid worth his or her salt knows this. They also know how hard it is to choose a favourite book. I’ve gone with a Catcher in the Rye-inspired song choice, but I was tempted to go for Bukowski by Modest Mouse. Anyway, books are cool. People who read books are cooler than people who don’t.

Verdict: Reading books is cool.

DJ Earworm – United States of Pop 2009
Ooh, I do love a good mashup. Nothing like a concentrated aural blast of whatever’s cool at the moment (and occasionally what’s not, but by virtue of being part of said mashup becomes ‘cool’ – see also 2ManyDJs/Dolly Parton) to get your toes tapping. I was going to opt for one of my favourite acts ever, Girl Talk; but Nico already covered that off in his excellent mix, so I’ve opted for DJ Earworm. Now, it’s not the most current mashup, but it’s just so clever. The video is clever too. Which is handy, because the song isn’t on Spotify so I’ve put it here instead.

Verdict: Clever is cool.

Pulp – Death goes to the Disco
I promise not to fill every mixtape in the #12playlists challenge with Pulp, but I couldn’t let the theme of ‘cool’ go by without including a song by a band who is fronted by the coolest man in music, Jarvis Cocker. Okay, no more Pulp. Maybe.

Verdict: Obsession is cool.

Andrew WK – Party Hard
Cast your mind back. No, further. Through the mists of time to a land before Twitter. Before Facebook. Heck, maybe even MySpace wasn’t around in the funk of time that I’m thinking of. The year is 2001. Some dude who likes pizza, beer, white denim and busted noses stage dives onto the scene (no one’s quite sure which scene) with one of the best party records ever. Just the murmur of the piano in this song conjures up images of beer in red cups, students in shopping trolleys, toilet roll in trees and fists in the air. He is cool. Maybe not anymore, but back then, he just was.

Verdict: Partying (yes, it’s a verb) is cool.

Groove Armada – Song 4 Mutya
I love this song. I know the lyrics are meant to be about seeing an ex with a new girl but I don’t buy that. I like to believe that Groove Armada wrote this Mutya Buena when she left the Sugababes as a ‘Don’t worry, you’re awesome, their loss, we’ve got your back’ kind of message. I definitely get empowering and inspiring vibes off it and if put it on when I’m having a bad day, it usually makes me feel a bit better.

Verdict: Supporting and empowering people is cool

Justice – We are your friends

Not just a floor-filler with a killer chorus, Justice are up there with Daft Punk, Kavinsky et al in terms of just being incredibly cool. There’s definitely some je ne sais quoi going down there. Bonus track fact: I resisted putting Internet Friends by Knife Party on here – it’s an absolute banger but the message is the antithesis of this Justice track. See also: Pretentious Friends by Modeselektor

Verdict: Friendship is cool.

Jonanthan Coulton – code monkey
Jonathan Coulton is a brilliant musician who just so happens to be pretty funny too. This song is all about a frustrated developer who’s in (unrequited) love with a receptionist. As someone who has worked in dev/design/online for a good few years, I like nothing more than geeking out over code or design and love it when people are just as nerdy about it as I am. Being passionate about stuff that isn’t considered traditionally cool is cool in my book.

Verdict: nerdiness is cool.

Beastie Boys – Gratitude
Okay, so the Beastie Boys are cool enough to warrant being on this list anyway, but this song is just about being thankful, which is a cool concept. It also kind of covers off manners, which – as we all know – cost nothing and are worth their weight in gold. We all have plenty to be thankful for and it’s cool to acknowledge that, I think.

Verdict: Gratitude is cool

Modest Mouse – The world at large
This track is about keeping moving. I was looking for a song that more broadly conveyed going on adventures, whether this was to a new park in town or half way around the world. Nothing is cooler than swapping real life for an adventure, even if it’s just for a little bit.

Verdict: adventure is cool.

So, there you have it. Through the medium of #12playlists, I have managed to distill years of mystery down to a handy checklist, which you may print out and tick off your leisure to become cool.*

Be enthusiastic

Show how you feel



Be clever



Support the people you believe in

Be a good friend

Geek out

Be grateful

Have adventures

Got other ideas about what cool is? Share them using #12playlists on Facebook and Twitter and see what other people thought on Tumblr.

* May or may not work.

A new mixtape era: 12Playlists

21 Jan

Post by Tom, from the 12Playlists Tumblr

Last year saw a group of music-lovers get together and found #13for2013, a challenge where we curated thirteen playlists in response to a series of monthly themes (plus a bonus one for good measure). We enjoyed ourselves so much we have vowed to carry on. As a result @12Playlists was born.

12playlists #12playlists mixtapes 2014 challenge gemma critchley

In 2014, and hopefully beyond (shoot for the moon and all that), we want as many people as possible to get involved and both create and suggest playlist themes. Compile your ideas into a 12-track mixtape using Spotify, YouTube, Soundcloud, a barber’s shop quartet, a real C90 cassette tape, whatever, and we’ll link them all here. It’s always better if you explain your choices because no-one is a mind reader (except the people who knew we were going to put that) and it allows people to go off piste and super-creative with their interpretation of the theme.

The first theme brief will go up soon, but in the meantime please be sure to follow @12Playlists on Twitter, and if you include the #12Playlists hashtag in your tweet it will automatically get shared.

Please spread the word and get involved. We are not muso snobs, everything from Vanessa Carlton to T’Pau to Deftones to Diplo was used last year and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Thanks for reading and hopefully welcome on board!

12Playlists x

#13for2013 13: Frankenstein’s Mixtape

16 Jan

Take a bow, friends – we completed the #13for2013 mixtape challenge!


This year, Tom and I decided to ask our friends and anyone else who wanted to get involved to put together a themed mixtape each month as a way to share and discover new music. I’ve ended up finding some stuff I would never have listened to before, making some good friends through it, forming a winning quiz team with a fellow mixtape challenger and neighbour Patrick, going to our first #13for2013 meet up, getting a logo and a Twitter account thanks to the excellent work of Paul, receiving one of the best things ever in the post from Perks in the shape of ‘An RV Dream’ mixtape #5 – Holiday Destinations…

an RV dream

… Stumbling across a few great new blogs and generally having a ball being part of something so creative. It’s been ace seeing people’s enthusiasm for the project, whether they did one mix or 13, or just listened or interacted with us on Twitter.

This Thursday (that’s tonight) we’re meeting at about 7pm at The Owl & The Pussycat in Shoreditch to celebrate the 2013 challenge and to explore how we could take the challenge forward for 2014. If you fancy getting involved, have ideas to share or just fancy a pint, come join us! Everyone’s welcome.

Here are my picks of the #13for2013 mixtapes. Enjoy, and thanks to everyone for taking part.

1. The Best of your Best – Me (sorry): Pulp – Like a Friend

2. A Time and a Place – Nico Adams: Neutral Milk Hotel – Holland 1945

3. Animals – Lauren Potts: TV on the Radio – Wolf like me (Honorable mentions: Vincent K for Pelican by the Maccabees and Alan Dooney for his concept playlist featuring the Chinese Zodiac)

4. Holiday Destinations – Danny Sturgess: Flying Lotus – Orbit Brazil

5. Opposites Attract – Bob Flood: Artful Dodger – Rewind (The crowd say bo selecta)

6. At the Movies – Suz H: Joni Mitchell – Both Sides Now

7. What? When? Who? Why? – Paul Sturgess: Twin Shadow – When we’re dancing

8. Fashion – Patrick Connor: Diplo – I’m barely standing

9. Back to School – Gav Hutchinson: Super Furry Animals – Hermann Loves Pauline

10. Going Solo – Tom Hooper: Laura Marling – New Romantic.

11. World Music – Imogen Shepherd: Annett Louisan – Wurdest Du

12. Christmas – Patrick Conor – A Hipster Christmas

#13for2013 #11 – World Music

5 Nov

Like Michael Palin, Phileas Fogg and that chap off of the Gap Yah videos, many people have been around the world. Now, it’s your turn to load up your backpack, pay attention to the safety demonstration and take us on your own musical journey around the globe. Rather than focus on songs about travelling, the idea is to broaden our musical horizons beyond the acts most of us would normally listen to by featuring bands and artists that aren’t from round ‘ere.

you're not from round here, are you? This is a local shop for local people.

So, without further ado…

… This month’s mixtape theme (theme number 11 would you believe – there are just two left!) is based around an idea from Gav Hutchinson, one of the mixtapers from the #13for2013 challenge. Gav’s idea is to put together a compilation of songs that come from artists that are not from England or America. Call it the Tony and George Dubya clause, or the Maggie And Ronald, if you will (that’s courtesy of Tom).

I’m excited to discover some new music instead of defaulting to my favourite (predominantly English and American) artists and also looking forward to seeking out some foreign language songs. This is a broad brief, any genre and any song/piece of music goes. It’s time to spread your musical wings…

Up for the challenge? Simply create a 12-song Spotify playlist/blogpost/mixtape/CD/YouTube playlist and share this via Twitter using #13for2013 before 30th November 2013. Follow @13for2013 to see your fellow mixtapers’ mixes – this month’s theme is sure to uncover some undiscovered gems.

Happy mixtaping!

#13for2013 mixtape 9: Schooled

2 Oct

Okay, so you might have noticed I’ve been frantically updating my late mixtapes. I’ve always shared them via Twitter but due to various (boring) reasons, I’ve been a bit slack on the old blogging front of late. ANYWAY, I’m back!

September’s mixtape challenge, which was set in one of my favourite posts of the #13for2013 challenge so far, was ‘Back to school’. So, here’s my offering:

Most of the songs on there are chosen because they’re about school. I really enjoyed this challenge; not least because I discovered a few songs I hadn’t heard before or in a while from bands I love, like Modest Mouse, The Lawrence Arms and Perfume Genius; but I also got to discover a few songs that I ended up really enjoying – yes, I’m talking about ‘Bikeshed’ by Let Loose (sorry).

There are a couple of curve balls in there – namely Gangster’s Paradise (it was on that film about school – Dangerous Minds? – and was basically played non-stop when I first started secondary school) and Song for Whoever, by the Beautiful South, which references the humble pencil case – one of the things that always sticks in my mind when I think about school. Many a lesson was spent scratching the coating off my pencil tin with a compass or declaring my latest crush via the medium of permanent marker on a pen holder cleverly disguised as a crisp packet.

A*s all round to the mixtapes I’ve heard so far!

#13for2013 mixtape 10: Going solo

2 Oct

So, we’re on to the 10th mixtape challenge of the year – where does time go?

The theme for this month’s mixtape is going solo, and was an idea from Tom, which came from a suggestion by Paul, one of our long-running mixtapers, which I’m now blogging for your mixtape briefing pleasure (we do like to collaborate, don’t we?). Paul suggested going down a singer/songwriter route, so to open that up a bit, we thought of going it alone with the solo theme.

Not to be confused with popular life philosophy of going YOLO, this is a nice, open topic – feel free to interpret it in whichever way you like. Your mix could feature solo artists, band members who’ve gone solo, songs with awesome guitar solos… You get the idea.

solo debit card

This month’s mixtape theme: your flexible friend

Usual rules apply, one playlist in any format you like (Spotify, YouTube, a basic list, an actual tape or CD, whatever you like), with 12 songs, shared via Twitter; tagging @13for2013 or hashtagging #13for2013.

If you’ve never done a mixtape with us before, give it a go!

Happy mixtaping…



#13for2013 mixtape 8: FASH LIFE

1 Aug

Styling it out for mixtape 8 – fash life!

#13for2013 mixtape 7: Any questions?

1 Jul

Life is full of questions… Just like the 7th mixtape of the #13for2013 challenge.

#13for2013 6: The Movies

30 Jun

The #13for2013 mixtape challenge for June is the movies. I chose to go with Danny Boyle films for my take on the brief – his films are always full of magic and the music is as important as what’s happening on screen in his work.

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