Music To My Ears: Toby Cooke

Our Carolynne Online Editor Toby Cooke shares some of the tunes that have characterised his life so far!

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A Song That Reminds You of Childhood? – ‘Wide Awake’ by The Twang

I was lucky enough to be brought up with parents have that have a cool music taste, and that perhaps is why I’ve grown up to be a bit of a music snob! It was mostly Britpop acts that I’d hear around the house, and I remember Arctic Monkeys’ first album having an extended residency in the car, as well as The Streets’ ‘A Grand Don’t Come For Free’ and Jamie T’s ‘Panic Prevention’, all of which are some of my favourite albums now also. However, it was ‘Wide Awake’ by the pretty awful, now archaic indie band ‘The Twang’ that has stuck with me and I always associate with childhood. We owned it on CD single and it was one of those where the case had snapped because you’d taken it out so much. Still… would probably not recommend the song.

First Album You Ever Bought? – Funky Dory by Rachel Stevens

My integrity has gone already. This was probably the first album I bought for myself on CD. Rachel Stevens was very of her time, and ‘Sweet Dreams My LA Ex’ is still a tune, but it is an all-round embarrassing choice nonetheless. It’s probably sitting in a Stockport charity shop right now.

A Song That You Listen To When You’re Sad? – ‘GMF’ by John Grant

John Grant is one of my favourite singer-songwriters, his lyrics and use of music are really eclectic and something fresh to listen to. His lyrics are deeply personal, to the extent I’ve not heard from any other musician, he reveals something new on every one of his records. However, my favourite song of his is ‘GMF’, acronymised for obvious reasons if you’ve heard the song. It’s a story of self-love and disregarding the opinions of others. I interpret the song as Grant’s way of shouting back against the societal stigma of his sexuality and HIV diagnosis. It’s a beautiful track and is accompanied by the backing vocals of Sinead O’Connor, whom he collaborates with often. He’s definitely an artist to check out.

If You Were A Song What Would It Be? – ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’ by Frank Turner

This is a massive banger, and I identify with some of the lyrics in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way, the way that Frank probably intended it to be listened to. It’s a cheeky and uplifting song, and if I was a musician and could actually sing, I would open my setlist with this. I particularly love the line “I’m building bonfires out of my vanities and doubts, to get warm just like everybody else”.

Favourite Album Ever? – Blue by Joni Mitchell

This is the single most beautiful 35 minutes you will ever experience. The album has a consistent melancholic style throughout, despite being instrumentally variant. It is a display of what it means to be an artist, honest songwriting, beautiful vocal performance and genius instrumentation. There’s not one weak track and it is impossible to find a stand-out too. I would have killed to see this album live. Along with Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell is the kind of subtle musical genius that doesn’t really exist in today’s industry dominated by celebrity culture. It’s such an accessible, listener-friendly album too, I urge everybody reading this to give it a go.

Guilty Pleasure? – Troye Sivan

Listening to Troye is the musical equivalent of going to a restaurant and only ordering dessert. His music is so extra, but leaves you addicted, wanting to listen all the time. Some of his most known stuff like ‘Youth’ and ‘Wild’ are just really good quality pop songs, thus not as much of a guilty pleasure. But it’s when you dig further into his discography to songs like ‘Bite’ and some of his new stuff like ‘Bloom’, that you find the true guilt, and the best socially unacceptable bops around.