Desert island discs

In the second installment of the series, Senior History lecturer Dr. Jason Harris talks us through his favourite tracks and artists.

I listen to a wide range of different types of music, but increasingly, like a lot of people, I’ve been listening to individual songs rather than albums or particular groups/singers.

If I had to single out one person or group I like and admire most it would be David Bowie, because I prefer lyrics that show intelligence or humour, often with political or social comment, and I really like people who develop themes from song to song and album to album.

Next would come Queen, largely because I grew up in a family obsessed by them, but also because of their inventiveness, their sense of fun, and the underlying tone of alienation in some of their lyrics.

I listen to quite a lot of music that is harsher in tone or content, ranging from Eminem to System of a Down, or, on the pop end of things, Lily Allen; for more interesting music I listen to the White Stripes and Tom Waits; but I wouldn’t pick out any of them as my favourite acts.

Likewise, media comparisons with Queen and Bowie made me listen to Lady Gaga, but I’m not convinced. If I were to pick out my two favourite albums at the minute, they would be Green Day’s American Idiot and (for local flavour) Elephant’s In the Moon; the former because it has some great anthems with a strong social-political message; the latter because I think the lyrics are sometimes brilliant, their music is clever and fun, and Catherine Ireton’s voice is stunning.

As for favourite song of the moment, I wanted “Horse Outside” to be Christmas no.1 (though the last minute of the video is pretty objectionable), but I suspect I’m tired of it already. What I never tire of is “E Lucevan le Stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca, especially sung by Placido Domingo.

Finally, on the theme of opera, I’m a big fan of Anna Netrebko, particularly alongside Rolando Villazon in La Traviata, which was an amazing production.

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