Sometimes I find that a tiny element of a song can transfix me. A riff. A lyric. A voice. Here, for example, are my all-time top three snare drums in pop music:

3 – Swing Out Sister – Breakout

Apparently not about the hit computer game, SOS provided a top notch bit of smooth 80s pop, and there’s something about the snare on this that utterly captivated me (and which I spent many hours trying to emulate through various drum machines at the time and since).

2 – Joyce – Aldeia De Ogum

I first came across this on the spectacular first Blue Brazil Blue Note compilation album which I picked up in the late 90s. This song by Joyce stole my heart and in large part because of the amazing drumming, and in particular the snare that rolls along throughout the track, in a weird way reminiscent of some of the Drum and Bass I was listening to at the same time. The whole of Joyce’s album from which this song originates, Feminina is also wonderful.

1 – Xenia Rubinos – Lonely Lover

This popped up one week in my Spotify Discover Weekly playlist, and I had it on repeat forever. The Miles Davis Sketches of Spain Sample, Xenia’s dark, slightly unhinged, hypnotic lyrics and voice, and that snare. Oh, that snare. The undisputed best snare drum of all time in pop music. And I’m willing to die on this hill.

The album, Black Terry Cat, is a joy. Complex, political, raw. I liked it so much that I went to see her play at a basement club in Dalston, a place I’d spent much of my twenties before it became all hipster. She was incredible, too big a performance personality for the admittedly tiny stage.

You can see the #51for50 project to date here: https://mmitii.mattballantine.com/category/projects/51-for-50/

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