Published on November 22, 2012 | by Jawad Elattar


Awkward shuffle

A portrait of Jawad Elattar

Jawad remembers songs which jog certain memories throughout his love life. [Jemma Newman]

Jawad Elattar – Features editor

There are moments in life when music is integral to your mood. Particular tracks at particular times can feed into your attitude so well.

For example, whenever I listen to Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant – which admittedly isn’t very often – I am taken on a journey from my father’s endless renditions of said song during my childhood through to the summer of 2008 when, having just celebrated my 18th birthday, I had the pleasure of seeing the man himself live at Glastonbury.

The sun was shining in a seemingly effortless manner, almost as effortless as Grant’s performance, and when I remember all of this, I am happy.

There is a distinction to be made here though; no matter how I may be judged for saying this, I choose to listen to the aforementioned song.

This is where my problem lies – Apple’s shuffle feature. It appears to be some sort of evil genius. Before even beginning to explain how it somehow manages to know how to musically kick me while I’m down, I have to address why it even exists in the first place.

I don’t think I’m alone in turning my iPod on to shuffle and then proceeding to skip through track after track until I find something that I want to listen to. It could be argued that the shuffle feature makes this process easier than looking through every song you have in order to find one that you feel like hearing, and I suppose that is a valid point.

But really? I mean, really really? That’s what playlists are for. I’d rather spend the five or so minutes that it takes to create a miniature set than hit my thumb repeatedly on a screen to the sound of, “no, no, no, no,” and nothing more that the first few seconds of a song.

Now, on to the matter at hand. At the beginning of this article I ascertained that there are moments whereby music is an essential informant to my temperament. However, it appears that whenever I am affected by heartbreak, shuffle manages to pick the most inappropriate songs to play.

Take my last break up. Walking away from it all, I figured, “Let’s listen to Prince. He’s all psychedelic and crazy and fun. Nothing can go wrong when you experience the wonder that is the man formerly known as a symbol.” How incorrect I was.

I decided to play the iPhone version of Russian roulette and no sooner had I chosen to do so than I heard the opening F chord of Nothing Compares 2 U. So I decided to chance it with my entire library and the next song that came on was Panic! At The Disco’s, Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off.

It may just be me, but having broken up with someone the last thing I want to hear is, “I’ve got more wit, a better kiss, a hotter touch, a better fuck than any boy you’ll ever meet, sweetie you had me.” A bruised ego doesn’t need that kind of empathy.

I thought it was over. The following song was Tive Razao by Seu Jorge. What a way to escape the significance that I attributed to every song in that situation. Seu Jorge is a Brazilian artist – anyone who watched the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games will have seen him perform.

Surely a song in Portuguese couldn’t affect me? I don’t even speak the language. Again, mistake on my part. I decided that I’d been listening to the song for too long without knowing what he was saying. I looked up the lyrics and wow; a whole song about how a relationship had broken down and that the protagonist would wait until his love came back to him.

When I broke up with my first girlfriend the same thing happened. I swear to the god that I don’t believe in – but many do – that I put my iPod on shuffle and the first song that came up was Don’t Know Much by Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville. As ridiculous as that may sound, anyone who has watched Scrubs will understand.

There is a scene in the third series in which Turk is in the elevator singing that song. I showed this episode to my former girlfriend and we laughed hysterically at it. After that, it became a personal joke between us, mostly because I was obsessed with Scrubs and had perfected the impersonation.

Press the skip button. Next song? Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable – the duet that we had performed a couple of years before at a jazz concert. (I must point out that we had no say in this; the school decided that it would be ‘cute’.)

In contrast, there are times when shuffle can be a beautiful thing. Times when you’re on a high and that song comes on which makes you feel like a god. There was a point at which I slept with a girl after a few meetings and, having left her house, I put my earphones in and randomly listened to Foreign Beggars, Mind Out. I loved it, just for the line, “with a smile wider than a disabled toilet,” because that was exactly what was on my face at the time.

I have overlooked an important point in all of this. Who determines what songs go on to my iPod? That’s right. Me. I am solely responsible for the music that makes the soundtrack to my day. But that doesn’t excuse shuffle in times of hardship.

Some may say I’m intentionally looking for meaning in emotional states like those mentioned above but I disagree. I guess it can all be played off as a peculiar coincidence. I’m not saying that Apple has some sort of vendetta against me. I’m not egotistical enough to think that. I know it is mostly in my head.

However, in my humble opinion, shuffle is like a dick in a lesbian bar; nobody really needs it.

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