The Streets’ Mike Skinner’s favourite songs of all time
Mike Skinner is an institution of British music. Ever since The Streets landed in public consciousness back in 2002 when Skinner turned heads all over the country with the zeitgeisty, Original Pirate Material, this album would mark a new dawn for music. Skinner had brought something new to the table and reaped the rewards of being an uber-relatable figure who had a prodigal way with words.
His sophomore album, A Grand Don’t Come For Free, saw Skinner lay out his songwriting credentials even further when his rap opera solidified his genius status. Skinner returned to discuss his own life on The Hardest Way To Make A Living, a project that sees him balance the trials and tribulations from being a star with a burgeoning penchant for drugs and women. He later followed this up with Everything Is Borrowed, a more emotive project which sees The Streets man searching from within after becoming a father and, tragically, losing his own.
In 2011, Skinner waved goodbye to The Streets with their fifth and final album Computers and Blues. His life had changed, he now was no longer this ‘Jack The Lad’ in his early 20s, and he put The Streets moniker to bed. The next few years would see him link up with The Music’s Rob Harvey to form The D.O.T. before retiring the new band after two albums and focusing on life as a DJ Before eventually reuniting The Streets in 2017 and falling back in love with the project.
However, in this interim period during The Streets’ retirement when DJing was Skinner’s life, and this is clear in the feature he did with The Guardian in 2015 about his favourite tracks. His selections were extremely dance-orientated, and it provides an up-close glimpse to where Skinner’s head was during this period when reuniting The Streets was the last thing on his mind.
Even if reuniting The Streets wasn’t on his agenda, he labelled ‘Blinded By The Lights’ as the ideal festival track. Rather than boasting about the song’s greatness, he went off at a tangent about why festivals aren’t the best place to play, ranting: “Festivals are tough. Everyone staring at their lanyard mounted schedule decorated with photos of the Mercury-nominated and Annie Mac co-signed laptop jockeys. Glastonbury Tonga [Skinner’s club night] was amazing though. We played on the Thursday and there was nothing else to do.”
Skinner also claimed that his dance-track ‘Flag In The Water’ is the most slept-on song of the year and his reason is hilariously self-aware. “This is the bit where you plug your own tune, I read this column every week. To be fair, this tune always works when I play it. You know when your own tunes don’t work. You can see it. But this one makes me feel like I’ve still got it,” he said.
In a sombre moment, Skinner revealed that he wants the heart-wrenching hymn, ‘Before The Ending Of The Day’, to be played at his funeral. “I don’t get people who choose ironic disco re-edits for their funeral,” Skinner furiously stated. “I think they should all be forced to listen to ecclesiastical organs as their family sing-along in that weird way where they don’t know whether to sing too high or too low. From the moment I die till I am incinerated, I want to hear hymns – and only just above the audible noise floor of desolation.”
Skinner then opened up about the biggest mistake he made in his career which wasn’t signing Kano’s track ‘P’s and Q’s’ to his now-defunct record label, The Beats. “I would have messed up Kano’s career, and he did sign with the best label in the country,” Skinner honestly admits. “But that doesn’t stop me wondering how much better life would have been with him.”
He also had his say on the ultimate dancefloor filler, Double 99’s ‘R.I.P. Groove’. He explained: “Streets tunes always get a reaction because some people think they are at a Streets gig and don’t like slow jams. But in reality this is my biggest rescue weapon.”