In Random Rules, The A.V. Club asks some of its favorite people to set their MP3 players to shuffle and comment on the first few tracks that come up—no cheating or skipping embarrassing tracks allowed.
The shuffler: Jake Shears, lead singer for Scissor Sisters, the New York art-disco band whose latest album, Ta-Dah, finds the deeper, sometimes darker meaning behind the happy sounds of '70s AM pop.
George Thorogood & The Destroyers, "Bad To The Bone"
Jake Shears: This is from a collection of songs from John Carpenter movies. This isn't one of his songs, but it was in Christine, over the credits I think. Carpenter's such a good composer, too. I'm a fan. I'm a big horror-movie fan.
Nine Inch Nails, "The Wretched"
JS: From Things Falling Apart, which I think might be a remix record. I don't know this song. I know most of Nine Inch Nails' stuff, and I know the majority of With Teeth, which was their last record. But Things Falling Apart? Oh, you know what? It's remixes from The Fragile, which I never got into. I thought With Teeth was much better. I think Trent Reznor is amazing.
The A.V. Club: Nine Inch Nails doesn't seem very Scissors Sister-y.
JS: Oh, you'd be very surprised. We've got big Tool fanatics in the band, and I grew up listening to tons of Chicago industrial dance. I love My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, KMFDM, and Die Warzau, and anything that Al Jourgensen was doing. So that's definitely part of our vocabulary. I mean, nothing gets better than The Downward Spiral. It's a fucking great album.
Bette Midler, "Rain"
JS: The LP version, from Thighs And Whispers. Bette Midler's somebody that I can always, always, always listen to. If there's a snapshot of what a Scissor Sisters show is like, I think one of the best comparisons would be a Bette Midler concert, though I think she's far and away a better performer. She's in another class. Her music and her performances are very, very, very, very, very inspiring. Thighs And Whispers also contains a song called "My Knight In Black Leather," which is just a really fabulous disco song.
Madonna, "In This Life"
JS: Ew. I wish this hadn't popped up. She's fine, it's just that Erotica's not my favorite record by her. Although I really, really love the title track and… Oh wait, I know this song. Hang on one second… This is a great song, actually. This was a single. I think this was that song in the video where she had Christopher Walken playing an angel or something.
Richard And Linda Thompson, "Beat The Retreat"
JS: This song almost sounds like Beck. It's very One Foot In The Grave. [Hums the tune.] Pour Down Like Silver and I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight, I've actually been listening to those quite a bit lately. They're really, really, really amazing. This song's beautiful. The chorus on this is so amazing. I got turned on to them because I heard a DJ play a song off of I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight—the title track, actually.
Roxy Music, "Flesh And Blood"
JS: I love this record. This is probably my second favorite Roxy Music record. Manifesto is their last punky rock album; when Flesh + Blood came out, they gave up all pretensions of being anything other than a smooth pop band. I think it's the best stuff they did. I'm very partial to when a band gives up. Like Talking Heads or Roxy, you know, at the very end they're just like, "Fuck trying to be cool," and they start making pop music. That's my favorite.
Free, "Get Where I Belong"
JS: I have no idea who Free is.
AVC: They're a really good band, actually. Sort of post-Zeppelin stoner-rock from the late '60s, early '70s.
JS: Well, this song sounds nice, anyway.
Aphrodite's Child, "Lontano Dagli Occhi"
JS: This stuff is really cool. It's like super-proggy, electronic. It sounds like the guy is singing in Italian. It's all weird hippie electronic analog. Pretty ridiculous, but kind of great. I just loaded this computer up with tons of stuff. Lately I've been trying to keep stuff out of the iPod that I'm really familiar with, because that way, I can listen to stuff that I need to spend more time with. And there's certain things I'll always keep in the library and will just not take out. People like Neil Young, Lou Reed, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Roxy Music. Those kinds of things will always be in there, just because those are records I will always listen to, at any given time.