Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Top ten (actually fourteen) bicycle songs

10. Queen, "Bicycle Race"
This was, of course, unavoidable. It is probably the best known song about cycling. Queen (and specially early John Deacon songs) are now a guilty pleasure for me. But when I was a kid I unashamedly liked them. The naked "fat bottomed girls" of this video helped, I must say. When I was at school there was an inexplicably antinomy: you were either a Queen fan or a Kiss fan. You had to choose between them, as if there were no other rock groups in the world. I was a Queen fan. They played in Argentina when I was 11 and, at that age, it was a revulsive event to see (on TV) a real british rock band with an ambiguously provocative singer in leotards! The "I don't like Star Wars" and "I don't believe in Superman" lyrics posed a minor problem to me, but I discovered that I could disagree with them and still like the song.

9. Ex aequo: Beach Boys, "It's a beautiful day" / Shonen Knife, "Cycling is fun"
The Beach Boys song is a b-side saved by a rocking piano and a propulsive chorus. Brian Wilson was long gone (we're talking 1979 here) so this is not exactly their finest hour. But who can dislike a song that talks about californian freeways jammed with bikes instead of cars. Shonen Knife is a mix of a 60's group and Sonic Youth in an all-girl japanese trio. That is to say that their song feels as sunny and fun as the boys tune.

8. Ex aequo: Tomorrow, "My white bike" / Pink Floyd, "Bike" / Dukes of Stratosphere, "Bike ride to the moon"
Tomorrow are an overlooked British invasion group and this was their only hit (later covered by hard rock disaster Nazareth). The Pink Floyd song has a similar psychedelic sound since it's from the Barrett era. It's the closing track on their first album but it doesn't compare with masterpieces such as "Lucifer Sam". The Dukes song is clearly based on the Barrett tune.

7. Tom Waits, "Broken Bicycles"
The bike as metaphor for lost love. From the great One from the heart soundtrack.

6. Sugarcubes, "Motorcrash"
Seems to be about a girl that rescues injured people from car accidents with her bike. Nice Björk vocals.

5. Boards of Canada, "Happy cycling"
Great track off their superb Music has the right to children album (1998). I think the video was done much later and the idea was lifted from Michel Gondry's video for the Chemical Brothers' "Star guitar" (or perhaps it was the other way around).

And now, for something completely different
Bonus track: Ives Montand, "A bicyclette"

Back to the countdown. The last four...
4. The Clientele, "Bicycles"

3. TV on the radio, "Bicycles are red hot"

2. The Smiths, "This Charming man"
This is really not about cycling, but it starts with the words "A punctured bicycle / On a hillside desolate" so I think it counts. And, anyway, this is one of the best song ever, so it could fit in any "best of" list. If you don't think it's valid, replace it with The Pixies' "Tony's Theme".

And the quintessential
1. Kraftwerk, "Tour de France"

What's missing?


BikeBoy said...

Goog list!
Add Bicycle by Red Hot Chili Peppers!

Hernan said...

Not a big RHCP aficionado so I didn't know about that one. Thanx!

Harvey Bikebell said...

Great List, good to see Shonen Knife and Dukes of Stratosspere

we building a bike ride to the moon

some tunes for you from our B-Bike-a-lula pedal powered sound system

Old bikes The Trucks

Big Afros The Trucks

Because We Do The Ditty Bops

The Acoustic Motorbike Luka Bloom

The Pushbike Song Mungo Jerry

Brand New Key Melanie

Wheely Wheely Early B

Rockin’ Bicycle Fats Domino

B-B-Bicycles The Bicycles

Bicycle Luis Bacalov

(Zazie Fait De La) Bicyclette
The Plastiscines

À bicyclette Bourvil

Peeni Walli Eek A Mouse

Pedal Your Blues Away Robert Crumb

RdA said...

Hey! check it out!:

QuestionBlock- All you haters (suck my balls)

Las Manos de Filippi- Mountain Bike

Anonymous said...

by: San Marcos Cycling

Chicks in Spandex
Share the Road
Every Ride
Country Bike
Sprinters Dream
The Best I Do
I Wanna Be
Bicycle Blues
Bicycle Love
Night Ride
Day Dreamin
White Bike
– San Marcos Cycling