Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears was thrilled to find out in 2012 — and proclaim on social media — that the Parrots loved his band’s music. Specifically, however, a British study found that an African gray parrot named Leo used its beak to push a button that played “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin'” hundreds of times in a single month, choosing it above the Greek vibe. favorite song of his companion Shango.
I can’t really blame Leo; this song is pretty good. But we wonder if our avian friend would have made the same choice if a “Take Your Mama” button was also available. (If I were a parrot, I’d even prefer “Laura.”) Or maybe Leo’s place in the food chain would lead him to appreciate the lyrics to “Skin This Cat.”
Our pets’ habits are pretty inscrutable, and most of us don’t have touchscreen buttons to play the music they want. So I propose to make them into playlists full of animal-oriented songs. At least this way they can interact with the material on a personal level.
‘The Wolf (bonus track)’
I thought it might be ironic to open a playlist with a bonus track. (Now that I’ve done that, it seems a bit pointless.) I get why the band chose to exclude this from the standard version of their 2014 album “Into the Wide” – as awesome as it is, you don’t You can’t exactly have a seven-minute odyssey like this at the start of a tracklist and then go back to catchy three-minute rock songs. Anyway, here’s the rest of my playlist!
‘Black Cat Heavy Metal’
Dan Luke and the Raid
This song has an extremely catchy hook and I love the gritty instrumentation, but I still found the lyrics totally absurd. Bad news for me, then, that frontman Daniel Shulz calls it “the pinnacle of the record” and adds that “the theme of this song is the theme of the whole album”. “Heavy metal black cat and neon sign / Passed out on the sidewalk where legends die”? Luckily pets don’t really understand language!
You can always count on this Jersey City band to provide some choice animal metaphors. (Relax – cicadas are in the Animalia kingdom.) They’ve done it in songs like “Hive Collapse”, “Lichen” and “They Shoot Horses”, but “Cicada” is probably my favorite example, in part. because Lily Mastrodimos seems to examine her own tendency to rely on this kind of imagery: “I want to write about all the colors I’ve seen / But what I write becomes self-mockery.”
big big bad guys
Even though this song sounds like it belongs in an off-Broadway musical, I can’t help but get sucked in every time I listen to it. It’s endlessly upbeat and features soaring horns – you can hear the band’s ska influences – as well as occasional interesting drum flourishes and an undeniably catchy chorus. I almost forgot to include this song because I always misinterpreted the odd title as “Yellowknife”, which is not an animal but the capital of the Northwest Territories. (The band hails from Lancaster, Pa.)
This song immediately grabbed me the first time I heard it with that sinister low piano line. Then I stayed for the extended allusions to William Blake’s “The Tyger” and the relentless questioning lyrics. It’s kind of hard not to remember June Moone, Cara Delevingne’s villain from the disastrous 2016 movie “Suicide Squad,” when I listen to Joon Moon, but this song helps drive those intrusive thoughts away.
‘Fog Horns (Mtn. Lions)’
We’ve got a double whammy here, with animals in the song title and the unfortunate band name. I’ll give Dan Kirkwood and his Jukebox the Ghost collaborators credit for choosing a particularly terrible band name that lends such a distinctive space-western vibe to their self-titled album. And I’ll give them credit for a few crisp blues rock songs like “Foghorns.” But could they have at least put a hyphen on Obi-Wan?
Nightmare and the cat
To conclude the playlist, we come full circle with birds and cats. This group, led by brothers Django and Samuel Stewart, sons of Dave Stewart and Siobhan Fahey, only existed for five years but lasted long enough to have an impact on me. Perhaps it could also have an impact on your pet.
Journalist Henry Greenstein can be reached at 661-395-7374. Follow him on Twitter: @HenryGreenstein.