Readers recommend playlist: songs that say hello

A reader welcomes you into a playlist with greetings from Gorillaz, Shonen Knife and Soft Cell

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

Hello! HELLO! Is anybody there? Gorillaz open our playlist with a loud hail. A1 M1 may not otherwise be on topic, but I had to open with the word itself – sampled from the Day of the Dead – didn’t I? I’d made a decision that I wanted our “Hellos” (or equivalent in other languages) to be greetings to strangers: whether uttered as an exclamation, declaration or question, and was looking to avoid obvious familiarity. Unfortunately that meant I redirected several excellent songs that came knocking at my door looking for friends, family and lovers down the hall to apartment (I’ll publish a B-list in the comments later!).

Shonen Knife’s Konnichiwa got in by the simple justification from Pairubu that it is “Quite heavy this one, used as a show opener, unsurprisingly perhaps.” After saying hello, they implore us to have “a good time tonight”.

Drugstore don’t limit their greeting to paying gig-goers; they’re much more inclusive. They will Say Hello, “to all the clumsy lovers who can never get it right/and to all the ones I know who’ll never get to see the light/To everyone out there who likes to hang out with the stars/To every man in black and anyone who plays guitars.”

I don’t think either of those two bands is after anything more than a communal good vibe. Jim Morrison, on the other hand, is rather more focused. At least his libido has retained some conversational decency. As gordonimmel said in nominating, “Jim gets straight to the point”. The Doors’ Hello, I Love You may be quite forward, but at least it’s polite. The coarse Hey Sexy from South African rappers Die Antwoord is most definitely NOT: it comes with an offensive material warning and a scathing putdown in the comment made by its recommender (Pairubu again, on absolutely top form this week) – “What a compliment it is to be so hailed by a sweaty bloke in a vest with his bum crack on show. Sometimes I am so proud of the human race”. This unfortunately leads me on to our next caller, with Hello, Hello, I’m Back Again – a song I used to sing along to at gigs most enthusiastically. But no more.

We need to get out of the gutter and go greet someone more wholesome. Dan Zanes and Barbara Brousal sing Hello most sweetly, and in a number of languages too. Just as endearing is the enigmatic In Love With A Ghost, who turns an abrupt hello into the lovely invitation We’ve Never Met, But Can We Have a Coffee or Something?

Off to foreign lands again now. Two greetings from different parts of Africa, neither of which I’d ever heard before. Firstly, Congolese but based in Paris its Kékélé, with Mbote Ya Pamba. Nominating, LyntonCrosby assures us that “mbote” is Lingala for “hello”, or “greetings”. Then ngoo takes us to Burundi to listen to Michel Vuylsteke’s remarkable 1967 recording of Akazehe Par Deux Jeunes Filles.

I’ve given the Shoehorn of the Week award to Thesubhuman. Kia Ora is “a Maori language greeting”! Who knew? Reason enough for me to go back to my 70s childhood again, and A-list Red Menace’s Kia Ora (Lab Rat Dub), which is a real [sunny...] delight. Other refreshing means of making your kids hyper are available, folks.

As I got through my task of picking Hello songs, I realised I had a problem. How do you end on a Hello? Ah, here we go: John Cale and Hello There: “Hello there everybody, when’s the next train out of here? / I’m sorry but I’m much too young for this! / I’ll come back again next year.” And last but not least, I suppose it has to be Soft Cell’s Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. I am A-listing Ball and Almond, but check out this duet between Marc Almond and Imelda May. Aloha, everyone.

Not all songs appear on the Spotify playlist as some are unavailable on the service.

New theme: how to join in

The new theme will be announced at 8pm (BST) on Thursday 18 May. You have until 11pm on Monday 22 May to submit nominations.

Here is a reminder of some of the guidelines for readers recommend:


Richard T Clayton

The GuardianTramp

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