How many of us have not wondered if it is possible to do a fantastic playlist with songs that have numbers in the title? Well, probably only a few, but these are the kind of questions that keep me up at night. But fear not, dear reader, I now have the answer, and that answer is yes – say hello to AS x Numbers (Vol.1), a collection of the best songs whose titles go from the number 1 to 20. The “(Vol. 1)” part is mostly to keep you waiting for the following playlist while constantly reminding myself to eventually tackle numbers 20 to 40 [Author’s note: I tried following the same approach with AS x Hedonism (Vol. 1), but I must confess so far that hasn’t really paid off]. For this playlist the criteria was, as you might have guessed, pretty straightforward – 20 songs, 20 numbers, 20 references to those numbers in the title and artists cannot be repeated. Some choices were, as one would expect, no-brainers, while others involved a lot more research and “creativity” around their acceptance criteria, I have to admit. It’s not like I had given too much thought about the number 16 in music history before, for example.
Well, in any case, and as a homage to my parents and their influence in my musical taste, lets kick off this playlist with Aimee Mann’s version of One, most famous for being in Paul Thomas Anderson’s iconic Magnolia. Numbers 2 and 3 were quite the easy picks, I must say – as a huge Damon Albarn fan, Blur’s iconic track Song 2 had to be included, while Bob Marley lends his classic Three Little Birds to our list. Moving on, allow me to correct Radiohead’s math skills and use their iconic track 2+2=5 as our number 4, as that is effectively the solution to that problem. It also provides our playlist with a tune from one of Audio Snobbery’s – and, in particular, El Mascarado’s – favourite artists, so that’s a plus.
French electronic duo Her and their debut single Five Minutes are followed by 6pm, Kings of Tomorrow’s smooth house track accompanied by Nina Lares’ soft vocals. This one is probably the most “underground” track of our playlist and one of the numbers that involved the most research, so worth the listen. For number 7, once again the choice is quite obvious – The White Stripes’ universal and timeless anthem Seven Nation Army. Not really sure what else to add here, nor regarding our next song, Eight Days a Week from the Fab Four, the boys from Liverpool, The Beatles. For number 9, allow me to dwell into my teenage years and propose Jamiroquai’s Cloud 9. To this day I genuinely think it’s impossible not to groove to Jamiroquai’s unique sound.
Next up, allow me to slightly bend our rules (not like there is a playlist maths police) [Editor’s note: there is.] and present Arctic Monkey’s 505 as 5+5, the number 10 in our playlist – the first big milestone in our playlist needs to be accompanied by an equally big track, and what best than the Sheffield boys’ , and my personal favourite [Author’s note: shout out to Feist’s 1234, that was also a strong contender for “rule bending” as 1+2+3+4].
Number 11 is where I struggled the most, I must confess. There aren’t a lot of tracks with 11 on them, are there? Well, as you probably wouldn’t know that, let me answer it for you – no, there aren’t. It seems 11 is not a number musicians have devoted a lot of time to. In any case, after digging through the depths of the dark web, I came across Blondie’s 11.59, which technically should be number 12 and not 11, but, again, thankfully we live in a world where there is no playlist maths police (only democratic ones). Under the same reasoning, we move on to The Strokes’ 12.51, which will be our number 12 rather than the mathematically correct 13.
From the uplifting and indie rock mood of the early 2000’s we go to the sombre tone of the man in black, Johnny Cash, and his 1994 classic Thirteen. A playlist always has to have a few melancholic touches here and there to makes enjoy even more the overall positive mood of the entire thing, you know. For number 14, it seemed once again that I was hitting a dead end when I was saved by my mother’s endless love and constant praise of Rufus Wainwright, as it turns out the American-Canadian singer-songwriter actually has a fantastic tune called 14th Street. For number 15, thankfully there was plenty of sea to fish from: Radiohead’s 15 Step would have probably been my immediate choice, but given we are already using them for number 4 and, unlike our dear friend number 11, one of Audio Snobbery’s main goals is to showcase great music, so we turn instead to the great David Bowie and TVC15 from his 1976 album Station to Station. We follow one of Audio Snobbery’s heroes with another late and great, this time B.B. King and his epic blues ballad Sweet Sixteen.
For number 17, let’s again pick up the melancholic tone left at number 13 and choose Janis Ian’s timeless classic At Seventeen because, well, melancholy. But we quickly follow that with the more uplifting 18 Pari, from the late Italian orchestrator, composer, conductor, trumpet player… well, the fantastic Ennio Morricone.
As we get closer to the end, and realising there is not enough Albarn in the playlist, one just has to dig in the never-ending discography of his various projects and pick Gorillaz’ iconic 19-2000. Now, I did struggle between the original and Soulchild’s remix, but given that one of the few rules I had imposed upon myself was that no artist could be repeated, I found a loophole on my own legislation by going for the remix, most famous for, as we all know, being on the soundtrack of FIFA 2002 [Author’s note: from Gorillaz to Major Lazer in FIFA 2020? what’s up with that, EA?]. For our closer we once again turn to the wisdom of the old greats, this time the King himself, Elvis Presley, and his love ballad Twenty Days and Twenty Nights.
And there you have it – 20 fantastic songs, with the respective numbers in their title. Some things in life need to be shared just for the fun of it [Editor’s note: and to highlight the importance of a good, old-fashioned count], so enjoy!