Broad selection ranges from Minchin to Bowie via The Lonely Island and Father John Misty
As the nine-strong Choir of Man prepare to bring their sublime cover version magic to the Fringe (with full bar in attendance), we ask them about their favourite songs and the ones they'd move heaven and earth to turn off...
Which song always makes you cry? Aidan Banyard: 'White Wine in the Sun' by Tim Minchin. It makes me miss my family: sad times. Tom Brandon: 'Heroes Or Ghosts' by the Coronas: a beautiful song. Andy Carter: Peter Gabriel's 'The Book of Love': that last episode of Scrubs. Every time … Freddie Huddleston: 'Till I Hear You Sing' from Love Never Dies. Peter Lawrence: Brownstone: 'Half of You'. Mark Loveday: I cry when I listen 'Lazarus' by David Bowie. That's if I can actually bring myself to listen to it. It's beautiful but brutal. It crushes me. Ben Norris: Songs don't regularly make me properly cry actual physical tears, but a timely Joni Mitchell number might get me going, and 'Serenade to Music' by Ralph Vaughan Williams always tugs hard at the heartstrings. It's always contextual really. Placed at the right point in a poignant film, anything could do it! Jami Quarrell: Usually one of my own sad songs while I'm singing them: I'm a responsive audience. John Sheehy: 'Have a Little Faith in Me' by John Hiatt.
Which song always makes you laugh? Aidan: 'The Good Book' also by Tim Minchin. Tom: 'Mother-in-Law' by Cy Coleman. Check it out. Andy: 'Escape (The Piña Colada Song)' by Rupert Holmes. Freddie: 'September' by Earth, Wind & Fire. Peter: Flight of the Conchords: 'I'm Not Crying'. Mark: 'A Boy Named Sue' By Johnny Cash always makes me chuckle. I always imagine the story playing out in my mind. Ben: Father John Misty's 'Pure Comedy' is as bleak as it is hilarious, but it is hilarious; the most damning indictment of the human project imaginable, yet you have to laugh. Otherwise you'd throw yourself off a cliff. You might still. There are some brilliantly funny musical theatre songs too: pretty much the entire score of Avenue Q immediately springs to mind. And 'My Old Man's a Dustman': why not? Jami: The shredded version of 1D's 'Story of My Life' reduces me to a crying, giggling mess. John: 'I'm on a Boat'. I spent a summer in Boston and got arrested for breaking a boat while drunk. As I spent the night in the drunk tank (cell), that song kept going through my head.
Is there a song that you would race across the room to switch off if it was being played on the radio? Aidan: 'Girls Like' by Tinie Tempah. His name alone is enough to make me want to throw myself off a bridge let alone the awful rhyme in this song and endless pointlessness of its being. Tom: '(I've Had) The Time of My Life' from Dirty Dancing: just no. Andy: 'Blurred Lines'. Freddie: Anything by Crazy Frog. Peter: Anything with Pitbull. Mark: I really detest 'She's So Lovely' by Scouting for Girls. Forget about the room: I'd run a marathon to turn that off. Ben: I don't know if a particular song would inspire such rage, but I'm not a massive fan of commercial radio in general, as much for the 'banter' (or lack thereof) as for the music. So if I turn on the kitchen DAB and one of my housemates has been listening to Capital FM (*calmly inhales and exhales*) then I'll scroll as fast as humanly possible to 6Music shouting LALALALALA HELPME HELPME HELPME like the massive hipster wanker I am. Jami: The Rihanna 'work work' song. John: 'Hollaback Girl' by Gwen Stefani. It's bananas.
Favourite line? Aidan: I have no idea. Tom: 'Stones taught me to fly / Love taught me to lie / And life taught me to die / So it's not hard to fall / When you float like a cannonball'. Andy: 'It's the end of the world as we know it / And I feel fine'. Freddie: 'I gets weary, and sick of trying / I'm tired of livin', but I'm scared of dyin' / But ol' man river, he just keeps rollin' along'. Peter: 'Real eyes, realise, real lies'. Mark: 'I'm forever blowing bubbles / Pretty bubbles in the air / They fly so high, nearly reach the sky / And like my dreams they fade and die.' These slightly sad words define who I am and what I believe in. I'll always love West Ham. Ben: There are so many. Elbow's lyrics are superb, as are Joni's, and Rufus Wainwright too. But right now it's probably the opening of the aforementioned 'Pure Comedy' that's rattling round my head: 'The comedy of man starts like this / Our brains are way too big for our mothers' hips / And so Nature, she divines this alternative / We emerge half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end / Is kind enough to fill us in / And, babies, that's pretty much how it's been ever since'. Jami: 'How strange the change / From major to minor'. John: 'I've looked at life from both sides now / From win and lose and still somehow / It's life's illusions I recall / I really don't know life at all'.
Favourite cover version? Aidan: 'Starships' covered by Pentatonix. To be fair, all of their covers are incredible so that's a hard choice. Tom: 'Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow' by Amy Winehouse. Andy: 'Teardrop' by Newton Faulkner. Freddie: 'City of Stars' by Gavin James. Peter: Prince: 'A Case of You'. Mark: John Cash's cover of 'Hurt' by Nine Inch Nails. It's just perfect. Ben: I know it's incredibly well known, but that doesn't mean Jeff Buckley's version of Cohen's 'Hallelujah' isn't also incredibly brilliant. I also really like James Blake's cover of 'A Case of You'. And it almost goes without saying but 'Valerie' is an absolute banger. I have a massive soft spot, arguably too soft a spot, for Jamie Cullum's covers of musical theatre songs, especially 'Pure Imagination' from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and 'Not While I'm Around' from Sweeney Todd. I don't mind admitting that I own the sheet music for those. Jami: Nina Simone covering Bach and no one covering Nina Simone. John: 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' from Sara Bareilles.
Favourite female vocalist? Aidan: Aretha Franklin for sheer velocity, grandeur and class. Tom: Amy Winehouse. Andy: Aretha Franklin. Pipes for days. Freddie: Whitney Houston. Peter: Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive. Mark: Shirley Bassey, I could listen to 'Diamonds Are Forever' all day. Ben: Laura Marling is superb. Little Simz is one the most exciting British rappers right now. Honourable mention again to J Mitch. Bellatrix is absurdly good, and doing something quite unlike anyone else (live-looping her world-champion beatboxing skills and layering lots of vocal on top, creating these mesmeric sound-storms, as well as wicked more 'normal' songs). I've come shamefully late to the genius of Amy Winehouse, but I'm fully at the party now. I was recently lucky enough to work with Rebecca Taylor from Slow Club, and she has a ridiculously good voice (as well as also being a hilarious and on-point lyricist, socially and emotionally). Plus the Staves who can send me into a dreamlike trance like few others. I think that'll do for now. Jami: Ella Fitzgerald. John: Celine Dion. I think most of my vocal technique comes from listening to Celine as a kid.
First song you remember hearing as a child? Aidan: 'Bat out of Hell' by Meat Loaf. He was a favourite of my dad's as we drove to school. Either that or 'Baby Love' by the Supremes, a favourite of my mum's. Tom: 'Lucky' by Britney Spears. I even bought the album #noshame. Andy: 'Tiger Feet'. Dad had massive tiger slippers and used to dance around the house. Freddie: 'Step in Time' by Dick Van Dyke from Mary Poppins. Peter: Diana Krall's 'Frim Fram Sauce'. Mark: I remember dancing around the front room to 'You Could Be Mine' by Guns N' Roses. It was on the Terminator 2 soundtrack and I was a child with a bit of an Arnold Schwarzenegger obsession. Ben: It's mostly my dad's stuff, cassettes from long car journeys. I love Steely Dan in particular. But I think I heard dad's poorly-sung versions of most songs before I heard the actual songs themselves. When I heard them they were obviously nothing like what he'd been singing: to this day I find myself humming bits of the Who or Stevie Winwood completely incorrectly, and this is my dad's bizarre legacy. I quite like it, actually. Jami: Sinatra's 'Young at Heart' or 'Me and My Shadow'. John: Baywatch theme tune. I used to sing this non-stop as a child.
Which song defined your teenage years? Aidan: 'Is it Just Me?' by the Darkness. Tom: Anything by Scooter. Andy: 'Holiday' by Green Day. Freddie: 'Beyond the Sea' by Bobby Darin. Peter: Panic! at the Disco's album A Fever You Can't Sweat Out. Mark: 'Mr Brightside' by the Killers. It brings back all the memories of being an awkward teen at school discos attempting, and failing, to flirt with the girls. Ben: I'm not far from Sheffield, and about the time I shed trackies for jeans, the Arctic Monkeys burst into the world. It was real coming-of-age stuff for me, hearing songs in roughly my accent, singing about very, very British things. I also had a really niche love affair with Robert Randolph & the Family Band, an American quasi-Christian funk rock group (which isn't what I normally go for at all) because I think I once heard them on a Windows XP advert and fell completely, inexplicably, in love with them and their sound. 'I Need More Love' was on my iPod near constantly for years after that. Jami: 'Open Your Heart' by Madonna or 'Give it Away' by Red Hot Chili Peppers. John: Boston's 'More Than a Feeling'.
Which song will play at your funeral as the mourners troop out? Aidan: 'The Throne Room' by John Williams from Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. Have you ever heard such a victorious hope-filled song to go out on? Tom: 'Bridge Over Troubled Water'. They'd be weeping! Andy: 'Send Me on My Way' by Rusted Root. Freddie: 'PM's Love Theme' by Craig Armstrong. Peter: 'Father and Son' by Cat Stevens. Mark: 'Mr Blue Sky' by ELO. It always brings a smile to my face when I hear it and always leaves me wanting more. That's the best way to go right? Always leave them wanting more. Ben: If there's no Elbow at my funeral then I will die. Oh wait … Jami: I'd have to go for an extended version of 'Under the Sea' from The Little Mermaid. Possibly not the most appropriate but I friggin' love it. Would have to be with full steel-drum orchestra obvs. John: 'You'll Never Walk Alone'. I'm a huge Liverpool fan, but besides that, I think the hopeful and positive message behind the song is beautiful.
Choir of Man, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, Thu 3–Sun 27 Aug (not Mon 14).
Andrew Kay and Nic Doodson
From the creators of Gobsmacked! and Soweto Gospel Choir comes the Choir of Man – the all singing, all stomping, all drinking, all night party. Your landlords for the evening are nine outstanding singers, dancers and musicians who will invite the audience to drink, sing and party with them on…