Dan Bull asked on twitter: Link me something you consider to be perfect. And I had a few things, which I felt should be recorded for posterity. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t like. But equally there’s quite a bit of stuff which I feel is a perfect shining jewel of the moment it was created; that it could not be improved; that I love it; that it’s perfect.
A Doctor Who minimalist poster
I love this song. People who have known me since university will be aware of this. Dummy by Portishead is the finest album ever, and Roads is the best song on it. Unusually, the above link is to a live version, because I actually think the live version is even better. Beth’s voice is perfection. Heartbreak. This song is the most wonderful thing.
Hell’s Bells, live
This is Hell’s Bells, by AC/DC, played live at River Plate2. If you gave me a choice of any person, anywhere, that I could be, and I didn’t have to go back and kill Hitler or anything like that, I’d be Brian Johnson, swinging on the rope at River Plate. I’ve never seen AC/DC live, and now I likely never will, but this is the finest gig there’s ever been. Look at the people. Hundreds of thousands of them. That must be something, feeling that wave.
The Secret History
A book by Donna Tartt. The Secret History was a story I first read — was first published — while I was at university. I’ve read much, both before and after it. I can name individual paragraphs from other books that I prefer. But TSH is still, after all these years, my favourite book. That I can’t help but construe certain tragic similarities between Richard Papen and myself, to quote Francis, is where some of its appeal lies. And a day when I don’t quote the book or be influenced by it in some context is unusual, not that anyone else knows that.
The Assassin’s Creed Revelations E3 trailer
I’ve never seen anything like this. When it was released I watched it over and over and over again. The soundtrack (Iron by Woodkid) is marvellous, and the video meshes with it ideally; this is not just some song they dropped into the trailer because they couldn’t find anything better. But it’s looking at it that I can hardly believe. It’s jaw-dropping. Look at Ezio’s hood when he’s pushed out onto the balcony, or Leandros’s skin. The trip across the desert, and perching on top of a mountain like Batman. Watch Ezio duck under a swung spear and then nut a guy with a metal helmet on. Better, watch him get shot in the shoulder, look around him like a hunted wolf, and then snap the arrow off. It is unbelieveable. The story, the characterisation, the graphics3, the music. Sure, the game wasn’t perfect, but the trailer is.
Golden Leaves by Passenger
I’ve listened to a lot of music. Hell’s Bells makes me feel happy. Roads is like being stroked with fur gloves. But Golden Leaves, and specifically this recording, done in Cambridge with an orchestra, is the concept of melancholy made material, for me. There’s something compelling about melancholy, a sweet langorous sense of feeling sorry for yourself or for everything and yet being touched by it. There’s not a note wrong, not a lyric misplaced, in this recording of this song. It is wonderful.
Preliator by Globus
And this, this is what I listen to when I want to feel heroic. I’ve never known a song like this. Listening to it makes me feel six inches taller. Like I could stand in the fire and be unharmed. Globus have taken the idea of huge, orchestral, imposing, world-shaking music which Wagner and Verdi had and redone it for modern times.4 This is hero music for everyone. I defy you to listen to it and not imagine yourself at the point of the lightning bolt, marching through the fields of enemy slain and laying all waste before you. What is good in life? This is.
Zero Punctuation: Assassin’s Creed Unity
I like well-written comedy which also manages to be relevant to stuff I care about. We do that5 on Bad Voltage. The review sections are, at least to me, things that ought to be Zero Punctuation; Yahtzee fires a whole bunch of blanks at times, but when he gets it right he really really gets it right, and this particular review of a not-very-good game doesn’t put a single foot wrong. Describing the Assassin’s Creed backstory as the “yay downtrodden, boo aristos dynamic” is all of incisive, accurate, and terribly amusing. Arno just being Ezio 2.0 because he has a four-letter-name with an “O” on the end fits ideally into the rhythm. Inspired, every time I watch it.
Ants Go Marching In, hero version
You may know this tune as When Johnny Comes Marching Home. I’d call it The Animals Went In Two By Two. When Michael Kamen took it for Die Hard With A Vengeance and made it into hero music, I could hardly believe it. Preliator is hero music for sweeping the battlefield with power. This, this is about being heroic in your actual life. It’s a kid’s song, made epic — made into the definition of the word epic — just by being well orchestrated. Think of the circularly marching students in Dead Poets Society crossed with Scar’s Be Prepared6. It is inspirational to a degree I can barely express in words. Six inches taller, again.
Perfection is finality. Finality is death. Nothing is perfect. There are lumps in it.
So, what’s perfect? Go tell Dan Bull, and tell me. Link me what you think is perfect. Not just good, but perfect. Post it. We need more perfection in the world.
- Regret that I never bought one of these as an actual poster. Although I might get the Matt Smith one. Geronimo. ↩
- Yes I know I said that me liking live versions is unusual. You wouldn’t know it from this post, though. ↩
- honest word? the bit where Ezio gets his head pulled off is the first part where he looks like a computer character. Uncanny Valley. Right up until then, he looks totally completely realistic. That tiny bit I find disappointing. But I pretend it isn’t there. ↩
- fine, for film soundtracks, but you find your patrons where you can ↩
- or at least try ↩
- which very, very nearly made it onto this list itself, but it’s a villain song. It is perfect; Scar is not. ↩