Sunday, 3 May 2020

The World Cup of...Frank Turner

In these days of lockdown, and staying in all the time, the main thing I’ve been looking for is to keep occupied. That could involve just staring at the TV, playing a game on my iPad or endlessly scrolling through social media. And occasionally, doing my job (I jest, that takes most of my time…if anyone from work is reading that is!) One thing I saw today which I really liked was someone on Twitter had done a March Madness type affair with Frank Turner’s solo material and created a knockout tournament of 64 of his songs. There is a ranking system which I don’t entirely follow (I only know March Madness by name) but the accompanying tweet explained the labour of love that went into it, and it certainly seems as though time has been spent on this. To read about, and see the original knockout bracket, click here for the twitter thread. I saw this and decided to play out (so to speak) the bracket they created and see what would end up winning for me.

For the purposes of this here blog, I’ve decided from here to refer to this as the World Cup of Frank Turner (as said above, don’t really know much about March Madness, and also it is now May). My bracket in full is here, but it is much too big for screenshots for this here blog, so I thought I would write out the matchups and the winners etc. The link to the bracket is very much the TL;DR version of this post. Without further ado though, the first round of 64! An advance note, this is all a bit of fun and some of these summaries are very cheesy.

  1. Recovery v Song for Eva Mae - A clear early win for Recovery here. I like Song for Eva Mae, but Recovery could go deep into this tournament.
  2. Smiling at Strangers on Trains v Journey of the Magi - I wouldn’t call either of these songs “go-to” songs for me personally, so I’ve chosen Smiling at Strangers on Trains.
  3. I Am Disappeared v Must Try Harder - Another straightforward choice for me here – I Am Disappeared advances to the Round of 32.
  4.  Be More Kind v 21st Century Survival Blues – If this were a sports tournament, the “Be More Kind” derby would be a highly entertaining score draw which would go to penalties. This one was tough, but the nod has been given to Be More Kind. Even as I typed that, I second guessed it, but no! The title track makes it through.
  5. A Decent Cup of Tea v Tell Tale Signs - Tell Tale Signs wins this, but not a straightforward win. 
  6. Substitute v Wherefore Art Thou Gene Simmons - I think I could count the number of times I’ve listened to Gene Simmons on one hand, so Substitute runs away with this match. 
  7. 1933 v Poetry of the Deed – 1933 straight through here. One of my favourites from Be More Kind. 
  8. Get Better v Romantic Fatigue – Get Better progresses into the next round. 
  9. Love, Ire and Song v Sand In The Gears. I am not familiar with Sand In The Gears, whilst Love, Ire and Song is a favourite. Clear winner. 
  10. Sons of Liberty v To Take You Home – Sons of Liberty is another song I’m not massively familiar with, and I do really like To Take You Home, so that is the one that makes the next round. 
  11. Four Simple Words v Mittens – This is brutal. Four Simple Words wins, but I am gutted to see Mittens fall so early. 
  12. The Way I Tend To Be v Going Nowhere – The Way I Tend To Be eases through into round 2. 
  13. Jet Lag v Live Fast Die Old – Live Fast Die Old has advanced here. 
  14. Make America Great Again v Isabel – Make America Great Again, by allowing this song to advance into the next round. And by not giving fascism another 4 years. But that is another discussion for another day. 
  15. Glorious You v Imperfect Tense – This was tough, but after a bit of thought Imperfect Tense made it through. 
  16. Photosynthesis v Broken Piano – No giant killings today, Photosynthesis makes it through
  17. The Ballad of Me and My Friends v Sister Rosetta – The first representation from No Man’s Land sadly falls at the first hurdle. I like Sister Rosetta, but The Ballad progresses. 
  18. Tattoos v Fastest Way Back Home – Tattoos is going through here. Another example of two songs I’m not massively familiar with being drawn against each other. 
  19. Try This At Home v Brave Face – This was another tough first round tie, but Try This At Home makes it through. 
  20. If Ever I Stray v There She Is – If Ever I Stray progresses here, another one that could go deep. 
  21. Vital Signs v We Shall Not Overcome – Vital Signs from the debut album wins out here against a song I’m not massively familiar with. 
  22. Peggy Sang The Blues v A Love Worth Keeping – Peggy Sang The Blues, and Peggy progresses into the next round. 
  23. The Real Damage v St Christopher Is Coming Home – One of the toughest decisions of the first round this, and I’m very sad The Real Damage doesn’t advance further, but St Christopher, much like football, is coming home. 
  24. Long Live The Queen v Faithful Son – Long Live The Queen progresses though this matchup with ease. 
  25. I Still Believe v Love 40 Down – I Still Believe, one of the favourites, makes it through. Love 40 Down though is underrated. 
  26. The Lioness v Worse Things Happen at Sea – I really ought to choose Worse Things Happen At Sea here, given I have a tattoo with those words written on it, but I prefer The Lioness as a song, so that makes it through. 
  27. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot v Rivers – Reasons Not To Be An Idiot is one of the best songs on Love, Ire and Song, which is an excellent album. A straightforward win. 
  28. The Next Storm v Wanderlust – The Next Storm blows past Wanderlust and into the next round (no, I will not get my coat!)
  29. Plain Sailing Weather v Little Changes – This was a tough little match, but Plain Sailing Weather makes it through. 
  30. The Road v Nashville, Tennessee – The Road beneath my feet leads to the next round of this contest. 
  31. Polaroid Picture v Don’t Worry – Don’t Worry had to worry about this one, I really wasn’t sure which way this would go. In the end, Polaroid Picture falls short – great song though.
  32. I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous v Song For Josh – I feel bad for Song For Josh here, but Prufrock has to advance. 
And that ends the first round. Sticking with this format, we already know how round 2 shapes up, so let’s get to it. Again, the TL;DR version (ie, the full bracket) can be accessed here.

  1. Recovery v Smiling At Strangers On Trains – I am presently listening to Million Dead as I type this (something I don’t do nearly enough by the way). That being said, the Million Dead cover falls against Recovery here.
  2. I Am Disappeared v Be More Kind – It is at this point of the tournament that I ask myself “whose bloody idea was it to do this” and then I realise that me running through this set up myself was my idea. Moving swiftly on, this was a hard choice but I’ve given the nod to I Am Disappeared.
  3. Tell Tale Signs v Substitute – Substitute wins this one. Probably one of the easier decisions of this round I think
  4. 1933 v Get Better – For fucks sake. This could be the final if the draw was different! Get Better advances, but that was a nasty decision. One which I am already second guessing as I type this. I get the feeling this will happen a lot. Bloody hell.
  5. Love, Ire and Song v To Take You Home – The title track takes this one. Not as tough of a decision as the last one, it has to be said.
  6. Four Simple Words v The Way I Tend To Be – Four Simple Words advances here. A tough old route to the final for Four Simple Words so far!
  7. Live Fast Die Old v Make America Great Again – Another tough one, but the nod goes to Live Fast Die Old. I really like both songs though. This is just going to get harder now. Argh!
  8. Imperfect Tense v Photosynthesis – Photosynthesis continues its assent through the tournament. I feel like Imperfect Tense winning this would be viewed as a “giant killing” if this was an FA Cup match.
  9. The Ballad of Me and My Friends v Tattoos – An easier win for The Ballad this time out than in the first round.
  10. Try This At Home v If Ever I Stray - If Ever I Stray advances again but this was another tough contest.
  11.  Vital Signs v Peggy Sang The Blues – Vital Signs advances through here but this was another tough old one.
  12. St Christopher Is Coming Home v Long Live The Queen – Long Live The Queen was one of the first Frank Turner songs I heard, and I do really like it. That being said, I think I prefer St Christopher Is Coming Home – and so that is what advances. 
  13.  I Still Believe v The Lioness – I still Believe advances here. The Lioness is probably my 2nd favourite song from No Man’s Land (my favourite not represented on this here tournament – Jenny Bingham’s Ghost in case you were wondering which I am sure you weren’t), but I Still Believe is one of those that would probably make most people’s “best of Frank Turner” lists. It would mine, that is for sure.
  14. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot v The Next Storm – I went back and forth on this one, much like several of the contests in this round. In the end, I have settled for Reasons Not To Be An Idiot. 
  15.  Plain Sailing Weather v The Road – This is just horrible. I love both songs, they would both make my best of list that I referred to just above. However, I remember how happy I was to hear Plain Sailing Weather being played live in Bournemouth (if memory serves, I wasn’t expecting to hear it, so that caught me off guard as well). For that reason alone, I’ve chosen that to advance. How has The Road lost here? I am as perplexed as you.
  16. Don’t Worry v I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous – I personally didn’t know Prufrock before he got famous, nor do I know him now. What I do know though is that this is the song that finalises this round (goodness me that was lame by even my standards). 

Well, that was tough in a lot of places. I am now expecting every, or almost every, decision to be a horrible one to make. I would quip it is like Sophie's Choice, but to be honest all of these outcomes are okay really - no-one dies. Anyway, the last 16!

  1. Recovery v I Am Disappeared – Recovery wins this one. I would rate this as one of the easier round decisions and it was not easy at all!
  2. Substitute v Get Better – Get Better wins this one. Do I need to type how all of these from now are not easy? Probably not, but still!
  3. Love, Ire and Song v Four Simple Words – Four Simple Words. This is the first one where I almost binned the whole thing. Both deserve to make it through! Ghastly decision to make
  4. Live Fast Die Old v Photosynthesis – Photosynthesis wins this, and this probably is the easiest decision of the last 16 so far…Sorry LFDO!
  5. The Ballad of Me and My Friends v If Ever I Stray – The Ballad advances. If you were to ask why, I am not sure I could give you a coherent answer.
  6. Vital Signs v St Christopher Is Coming Home – Will football ever come home? Not if penalties are involved. What I do know though is that St Christopher is Coming Home is in the last 8, and I would not have guessed that when starting this.
  7. I Still Believe v Reasons Not To Be An Idiot – See above about the coherent answer, but apply it to this one with I Still Believe going through.
  8. Plain Sailing Weather v I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous – I am shaking my head somewhat in disbelief as I type this, but I Knew Prufrock…has not made the last four. Plain Sailing Weather has, and I am fine with that. 

Some of those decisions were not as bad as I was expecting, but some of them were just plain horrible. Looking at the bracket now for the quarter final matches and my head shaking of disbelief has continued. 
  1. Recovery v Get Better – Get Better immediately came to mind with this one, so that progresses.
  2. Four Simple Words v Photosynthesis – The ride of Four Simple Words ends here. This one I went back and forth on several times, and concluded I would likely change my mind if I thought on it for much longer…and then probably change it another x number of times.
  3. The Ballad of Me and My Friends v St Christopher Is Coming Home – The two with the longest titles battle it out and St Christopher makes it to the last 4. How did this happen? I should be able to answer this as I decided upon it, but there we are.
  4. I Still Believe v Plain Sailing Weather – I Still Believe ends the glorious run of Plain Sailing Weather. I feel somewhat sad for this, but I think I would have trolled myself if I Still Believe didn’t win this one!  
We are down to the last 4 songs. Some of these decisions were horrible in round one - just know they are somehow worse now.

  1. Get Better v Photosynthesis – As soon as I typed that out, the first thought straight away was “it is Get Better though”. So, it is Get Better. Somehow. Argh!
  2. St Christopher Is Coming Home v I Still Believe – I’ve gone through this blog making little jokes about the coming home part of St Christopher’s title and making references to the Baddiel & Skinner song Three Lions. They first wrote that song for Euro 96, at which England went out in the semi-finals. Football didn’t come home then, and St Christopher joins England in going out in the semi finals (addendum, this is the most I’ve written about football in years!). Does that make I Still Believe the Germany of this competition? I guess so, in a way. Unexpected twist.
And so, after several hours of listening to Frank Turner and working through this bracket, I finally reach the final. This has been a lot of fun but bloody hell some of this decision making has been just nasty. The final is Get Better v I Still Believe. Weirdly, this decision isn't all that tough now we're here. The winner of the World Cup of Frank Turner is...Once We Were Anarchists. Seriously, where is that song? All joking aside, the winner is:

That was fun. Early on when I started doing this, I thought it might be fun at this stage to flip the script and say Get Better won the World Cup (March Madness), but who would win the FA Cup of Frank Turner, with randomised draws for each round. I may revisit that idea (we might have a bit of lockdown to go yet, who knows!). For now though, I will leave it there.