Pick a superior Christmas No. 1 from El Reg's computer crooning compilation

Do you have The Higgs Boson Blues or Virtual Insanity?

Vinyl grooves

Poll With December 25th bearing down upon us, we're mere days away from anointing a festive chart-topper as Christmas Number One.

A hot tip for this year's top tune? It'll be sentimental and/or disposable pop junk.

Reg readers deserve better, so we've cobbled together a list of ten songs that reflect the fare we serve up around here. Have a listen, pick a favourite in the poll below and help us anoint our very own vulturous Christmas chart-topper!

Curtain up and ... play that funky music ...

1. Code Monkey – Jonathan Coulton

In a year of job losses galore – at Sprint, Microsoft, HP and Cisco, among others – Jonathan Coulton's Code Monkey deserves another listen.

Poor Code Monkey feels under-appreciated, lonely, unloved and precarious. If you can find a better-expressed cry of frustration with management than this excerpt, do let us know.

Code Monkey have boring meeting / With boring manager Rob Rob say Code Monkey very diligent / But his output stink / His code not "functional" or "elegant" / What do Code Monkey think? / Code Monkey think maybe manager want to write god damned login page himself

Yeah, Code Monkey! Stick it to that boring manager Rob! Stick it to all of them!

2. Computer Games – Mi-Sex

Games are never far from our headlines, as shown by Gamergate and recent news of Australian retailers deciding not to sell GTAV.

How to celebrate games in song? Readers beyond the antipodes will probably be asking Mi-Who? But in 1979 Kiwi outfit Mi-Sex popped out this synth-laden track just as games cabinets sprouted around the world.

As is often the case with music about computers, there's a dystopian tang to the lyrics. Here's the first verse:

I fidget with the digit dots and cry an anxious tear / As the XU-1 connects the spot / But the matrix grid don't care / Get a message to my mother / What number would she be / There's a million angry citizens / Looking down their tubes at me

The result was a Number 1 in Australia, Number 2 in Canada and top 40 entries in Argentina and Austria, a fitting result for a song that's rather deeper – musically and lyrically – than contemporaries such as Pac-Man Fever.


3. The Higgs Boson Blues – Nick Cave

CERN's terrific particle-spotting efforts and influential IT rigs are common Reg fare. The former, improbably, has been celebrated by Goth deity Nick Cave.

Cave's best work touches on sex, God, the Devil and death, preferably all at once. If one considers the metaphysical aspects of quantum physics, his recent track The Higgs Boson Blues is therefore pretty close to his usual lyrical stomping ground.

Look! / Here come the missionary / With his smallpox and flu / Saving them savages with his Higgs Boson Blues

4. I'm on Standby – Grandaddy

Reg readers understand what it is to go Titsup. But at least one vendor thought we were being rather rude to them this year, so we explained the term as standing for Total Inability To Support Usual Performance back in August.

A fine way to celebrate TITSUP in song is Grandaddy's 2003 effort I'm on Standby, which is sung from the point of view of a computer that's been sent (hopefully) for restorative maintenance.

Here's a sample.

I'm on Standby / According to the work order / That you signed / I'll be down for some time

Call me sentimental, but sometimes when I hear that I get the urge to turn on the netbook I've been neglecting since trying to find something other than Windows XP for it to run. I'll boot you one day, old friend. Promise. Because Grandaddy's taught me no computer deserves indefinite TITSUP.

5. Home Computer – Kraftwerk

The PC market might just be wobbling towards something resembling growth, so – to celebrate – let's exhume Kraftwerk's Home Computer.

The song's lyric is simple:

I program my home computer / Beam myself into the future

Sadly that lyric didn't happen: those of us who programmed computers beamed ourselves into a future in which the command line is unknown to the overwhelming majority of device owners. Maybe that's why tablet sales are tanking.

6. Virtual Insanity – Jamiroquai

A year in which Facebook spent $2bn on Oculus Rift and Google delivered a Cardboard VR headset deserves to be celebrated with Jamairoquai's Virtual Insanity.

Here's the words:

Futures made of virtual insanity now / Always seem to be governed by this love we have / For useless, twisting, our new technology / Oh, now there is no sound – for we all live underground

Underground? In the virtual future? That's not what Oculus promises!

Try not to think too deeply and just dance, okay? Dance like you spent $2bn on goggles.

7. Why Does The Sun Shine and Why Does the Sun Really Shine – They Might Be Giants

Just what's going on in Earth's atmosphere, along with speculation of humanity's role in any changes, often features in these pages.

Let's celebrate that coverage with a pair of tunes that debate about just what's going on inside the Sun.

Why Does The Sun Shine opens with this refrain:

The sun is a mass of incandescent gas / A gigantic nuclear furnace / Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees

Why Does the Sun Really Shine extols an alternative theory:

The Sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma / The sun's not simply made out of gas

It's highly unusual to hear lyrics about this stuff at all, never mind to find competing theories extolled in successive songs. Did we mention that these two tunes come from an album called Here Comes Science that's aimed at kids?

They Might Be Giants are an endearing and enduring oddity. This pair of songs shows why.

8. Technologic – Daft Punk

With the following lyric, how could we leave Technologic off the list?

Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, / Trash it, change it, mail - upgrade it, / Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it, / Snap it, work it, quick - erase it, / Write it, cut it, paste it, save it, / Load it, check it, quick - rewrite it, / Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it, / Drag and drop it, zip - unzip it, / Lock it, fill it, call it, find it, / View it, code it, jam - unlock it, / Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it, / Cross it, crack it, switch - update it, / Name it, rate it, tune it, print it, / Scan it, send it, fax - rename it, / Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it, / Turn it, leave it, start - format it.

If you like it, pick it, click it, in the poll down there, you'll see it.

9. Intergalactic – The Beastie Boys

In a year full of ace space news – top marks to Rosetta and NASA's Mars rovers – we need a tune to celebrate space.

Yes, we could have tapped into the David Bowie catalogue for a space-related song, but The Beastie Boys' Intergalactic crosses over into other Reg concerns with the following lyric:

If you try to knock me you'll get mocked / I'll stir fry you in my wok / Your knees'll start shaking and your fingers pop / Like a pinch on the neck of Mr Spock

The Trek reference gets it over the line ahead of many rivals. For all those wondering why Paranoid Android isn't on the list, it's not about androids and was written before Android was a glimmer in Google's eye. And I don't think Subterranean Homesick Alien is a very good song. You know where the comments are, people!

10. Secret Agent Man – DEVO

Master spy blabbermouth Edward Snowden's ongoing leaks and our own revelations about GCHQ's activities mean we can't leave the year without a musical celebration of the intelligence community.

What better way to do that than with DEVO's Secret Agent Man, which offers this refrain:

You know I live a life of danger For the FBI / Keeping tabs on our nation / On the land, on the sea, in the sky

Bonus track: Robots – Flight of the Conchords

There's no news angle on this one, but how could we fail to include the “binary solo” from Flight of the Conchords' Robots.

Here's how it goes:

0000001 00000011 000000111 0000001111 (0) 0000001 (00) 00000011 (01) 000000111 (10)

That solo and the next line – “Come on, sucker, lick my battery” - meant we couldn't ignore this as a Christmas Number One Candidate.

So there you have it, music lovers. A year of news and many years of music. Which one do you want to pick as our Christmas number One? Hit the poll, don't be a grinch! ®

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