Readers recommend playlist: your songs with alliteration

This week a reader picks from your suggestions after trawling lyrics and titles for alliteration. Roots, the Smiths, AC/DC – and Benny Hill – make the cut

Here is this week’s playlist – songs picked by a reader from your suggestions after last week’s callout. Thanks for them all. Read more about how our weekly Readers Recommend series works at the end of the piece.

One of the hidden benefits of taking a spin in the RR “guru” chair is that you get the chance – or accept the obligation – to read through all the nominations and comments. This week’s offerings produced a couple of interesting points about the game generally, and the list-selection process in particular. On that basis, I’m throwing in a few more explanatory notes on the A-list than usual this time around. They may even help anyone who fancies their first turn behind the wheel to avoid a pothole or two.

The YouTube playlist.

Alliteration promised to be a fruitful topic for rap and hip-hop-type songs. It possibly still was, but the returns would have been even better had I noticed earlier that two nailed-on-from-the-outset choices were zedded years ago (Blackalicious with Alphabet Aerobics and Eric B & Rakim with Follow the Leader, if you’re asking). Our list thus commences with Roots and Mellow My Man, a rhyming onslaught containing the wholly relevant lines “manic mad musicians … makers of noise erupt abruptly”.

A recurring dilemma for the “guru” – well, this one anyway – is whether to favour songs that suit one’s own taste, or embrace those that, shall we say, untick the boxes. Suffice to say that if I stuck resolutely to the former approach then Rusholme Ruffians by the Smiths would not have featured here. The justification by reader ScarletsOHywel was too good to resist, though: “The title has both alliteration and assonance and, as a bonus, alliterates in the same way as readers recommend.” Very well played!

Pursuing that point, some difficult decisions had to be made this week between eminent wordsmiths, and one particular head-to-head gave me much food for thought. Ultimately, tales of “Two Ton Ted from Teddington” and treacle tart-based temptation tipped the balance in favour of Benny Hill and Ernie (The Fastest Milkman in the West). Joni Mitchell did make the B-List, in fairness ...

Certain other selections need less explanation:

“Be mine sister salvation, Juke Joint Jezebel is coming for my cremation,” warn KMFDM. And if anybody nominated a song with a more arrestingly alliterative name than Ku Klux Klan by Steel Pulse, it escaped my notice.

Another obvious fit for the topic was Lowkey & Faith SFX with Alphabet Assassin. An undeniably apt title, and I can summarise the song no better than by quoting a YouTube commenter who opined: “My man compressed the dictionary like a zip file.” Quite.

Regardless of personal musical taste, any playlist needs light and shade, and the next two choices stood out for vivid rather than exuberant phraseology:

“Helplessly hoping her harlequin hovers nearby / Gasping at glimpses of gentle true spirit.” The image conjured up by Richie Havens in Helplessly Hoping is a fine one, but perhaps not quite as cinematic as Patti Smith’s Kimberley:

“So I ran through the fields as the bats with their baby vein faces / Burst from the barn and flames in a violent violet sky.”

The musing in the comments during the week on whether a relatively small number of participants enjoy disproportionate listing “success” made me pause and reflect. To me, RR has always been a level playing field, but a thought did occur – might a guru encounter a conflict of interest if someone raised such a concern? Would there be pressure to spread the selection net wider? Happily, in my case, the eternal consideration is whether nominations are in any way reminiscent of Warren Zevon’s lyrical genius, so (musing notwithstanding) Metro make the list on merit with Flame: “I see flames along the Seine / I know the stains on your satin skirt / Come from another lover.”

In similar vein, Olivia Chaney on the pitfalls of cramped, shared accommodation in Too Social: “This house is too social / Kitchen constant coffee confessional.”

Our penultimate track is Flip, Flop and Fly by Big Joe Turner. The Elvis version was also nominated, but Big Joe edged it; scoring additional points by being introduced onstage as “The Boss of the Blues”.

Finally, what better way to conclude a playlist on this topic than with a remarkably economical use of capital letters, for both band and song title, to fine alliterative effect: AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap.

Note: not all songs appear on the Spotify playlist because some are unavailable on the service.

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (GMT) on Thursday 12 January. You have until 11pm on Monday 16 January to submit nominations.

Here’s a reminder of some of the guidelines for RR:

  • If you have a good theme idea, or if you’d like to volunteer to compile a playlist from readers’ suggestions and write a blog about it, please email
  • There is a wealth of data on RR, including the songs that are “zedded”, at the Marconium. It also tells you the meaning of “zedded”, “donds” and other strange words used by RR regulars.
  • Many RR regulars also congregate at the ’Spill blog.


Scott Blair

The GuardianTramp

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