Each month we ask an artist what's actually their favourite song
Luke Cartledge: Hello Oliver Sim. Let’s imagine you’re trying to impress someone with your extremely cool music taste. What are you pretending is your favourite song?
Oliver Sim: It depends on the company. Is this person a romantic interest, or not?
Luke Cartledge: If that helps you imagine you’re trying to impress me, yes.
OS: Hmm… maybe Cocteau Twins. Yeah, perhaps ‘Cherry Coloured Funk’ by Cocteau Twins. Like, it’s obscure, but not to the point where it’s alienating. And I’d say that’s a hot song as well.
LC: So what’s the flipside of that? The track that you don’t have any pretensions about, that you unironically love, but that if you were talking to someone hot and interesting rather than me, you’d probably make a joke out of.
OS: [No hesitation] ‘Happiness’ by Alexis Jordan.
LC: The one from American Idol. What’s so special to you about this song?
OS: I always feel like the best word is ‘activated’. I’ll always feel activated by a trancey, dancey banger, with a woman belting over the top. Much like many other gay men, that will always get me. It’s like a Eurovision winner.
I guess it came out about ten years ago, so for me that was early 20s, and that’s a really exciting time. 21, in G-A-Y in Soho, walls made of TV screens playing music videos – this song epitomises that place to me.
LC: Do you have a specific memory of hearing it, or are we just talking about a general vibe here?
OS: Well, this was in my drinking days…
LC: Good start.
OS: …so I can’t remember specifics, but I can remember a feeling of pure joy and excitement when hearing this song, with a lot of the friends I used to run around with. And around then, when I was 20, 21, there was a real time and a place for shows like American Idol. Like, The X Factor was a real event each week.
LC: Here’s what everybody wants to know now: how do you think you’d do if you went on one of those shows?
OS: It’s an inside joke between me and Romy that we’d get knocked out in the first round – as in, way before you actually go in front of Simon Cowell or whoever. We 100% wouldn’t make it through.
LC: Because you’d be too shy and mysterious, almost like two members of The xx?
OS: Because we’re not belters! You’ve got to project to the back of the room. It just wouldn’t work.
LC: Speaking of belting, where do you stand on karaoke?
OS: I do karaoke now and then. What would be my song…? I like a croon. I like to stick to what I know. There’s a really good song from Grease called ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’…
LC: I see you’re really not trying to impress me now.
OS: We did karaoke at Romy’s hen do last year, and there were a few big bangers to do, but I stuck to crooning.
LC: Would you ever try ‘Happiness’ by Alexis Jordan?
OS: Ooooh, no! I’d never reach the notes – I couldn’t get through a verse, let alone a chorus. The instrumental for that song was given to Kylie Minogue before Alexis Jordan, and her demo is somewhere on the internet; I remember hearing it, and I looove Kylie, but she’s not a belter, so it just doesn’t hit as hard as a woman with, like, big pipes.
LC: When you were asked to think about this special song for us, were there any others in contention for it?
OS: The Saturdays have a song called ‘All Fired Up’, which again is just like trancey and intense, BPM never below 120, and I think Kelly Rowland definitely had a moment with Eurodance around that time.
I hope she wouldn’t mind me saying, but Romy is working on her record at the moment, and she’s going for Euro diva. Her reference points are things we both love and share, and she sent me a playlist of them and Sonique was on there. I think she’s gonna be my new diva, for fancy synths and a woman belting.
Gift subscriptions are now available
It’s been a long time coming, but you can now buy your pal/lover/offended party a subscription to Loud And Quiet, for any occasion or no occasion at all.
Gift them a month or a full year. And get yourself one too.
Whoever it’s for, subscriptions allow us to keep producing Loud And Quiet and supporting independent new artists, labels and journalism.