Play That One Song – and once you pop you just can’t stop

A discerning and addictive new music site goes for quality over popularity

Jay-Z and 99 Problems – who’d have come up with that one?

Jay-Z and 99 Problems – who’d have come up with that one?


Take three songs, say Bruce Springsteen’s I’m on Fire , Kanye West’s Black Skinhead and Kings of Leon’s Supersoaker . Now, none is the best-selling songs from the artist in question. In fact, Black Skinhead only limped to No 69 on the Billboard charts on its release; Supersoaker couldn’t even break the UK top 30.

So, these aren’t the first songs you think of when you think of Springsteen, West or Kings of Leon. But according to a fascinating and addictive new site called That One Song ( song) I’m on Fire, Black Skinhead and Supersoaker are the one songs by each of the three artists that you must listen to. As in, they are That One Song by the band in question.

Emerging from the recent Midem Music Hack Day, That One Song is simple to use: go to the page, type in the name of an act and let the site automatically choose that one song you simply have to hear. This is the band’s biggest hit single – not judged by sales or reviews, but by the rankings of music fans.

That One Song comes to you via This Is My Jam, which allows you to post the song that you are particularly vibing to on that particular day or week. This Is My Jam has been up and running for more than two years, and data collected feeds into the tunes offered up by That One Song.

Any other poll for an act’s best or most-loved song would probably come up with predictable titles, such as Born in the USA for Springsteen or Empire State of Mind for Jay-Z. At That One Song they go for a far superior Springsteen track and, in Jay-Z’s case, come up trumps with 99 Problems .

Once you pop, you can’t stop. For Bob Dylan it’s not Blowin’ in the Wind but Lay Lady Lay . For Metallica it’s Master of Puppets ; for Skrillex it’s Bangarang . The acid test was to see what they would come up with for The Replacements and The Go-Betweens. Astonishingly, the site got it absolutely right on both counts: Alex Chilton for the former and Cattle and Cane for the latter.

And it goes on: For The Beatles they brilliantly ignore all the Lennon-McCartney compositions (and that’s brave) and go for Here Comes the Sun . For Abba it’s not Dancing Queen but Gimme, Gimme, Gimme . Look up Something Happens and it won’t be Parachute or Hello , but Momentary Thing . Cult Dubliner Brian gets the still magnificent You Don’t Want a Boyfriend .

Sure, some predictables do slip through –London Calling for The Clash is silly while Sinéad O’Connor gets you the obvious, even though it should have been Mandinka . On the other hand, they’re 100 per cent on The Rolling Stones choice.

“The most popular song – often the crowd pleaser – isn’t always the best song,” says This is My Jam founder Matt Ogle. “That One Song will suggest something different to the top tracks on other services.”

Great idea, great site: away now and listen to Alex Chilton .

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