I think one of the most obvious reasons I love music is the powerful nostalgia it brings. I’m low-key obsessed with the science behind music and memory and the way the human brain works. Why is it that music from your youth sticks with you the most? And how does it work that people with dementia and memory loss respond to music and can recall lyrics better than the names of their own family members?
Science aside, sometimes I just like listening to the music I’ve loved over the years of my life to relive some days gone past or gain a new appreciation of a song I’ve heard thousands of times.
I had to start with Shanks & Bigfoot’s 1999 garage banger “Sweet Like Chocolate” because the whole idea of this came from an article I read in The Guardian. This guy has been working on getting obscure forgotten songs (mainly British pop hits) onto streaming services as part of a campaign he’s called Pop Music Activism. But because record labels have changed ownership, merged, or become defunct over the years, the ownership of a lot of these songs is muddled, and so no one has the “responsibility” to get it catalogued onto streaming services where a majority of listeners are now.
That means people like me who have been trying to listen to “Sweet Like Chocolate” on Spotify (and therefore generating even a tiny bit of revenue for both Shanks and Bigfoot) haven’t been able to, and lots of songs like it have been exist only as bad quality YouTube rips.
While I was down this spiral of British pop songs that I forgot existed, I found out just how cool and prolific Shanks & Bigfoot – real names Steven Meade and Danny Langsman – actually were. “Sweet Like Chocolate” was a breakthrough hit for garage music, which existed largely off the charts and on pirate radio.
From the outside it sounds like a good pop song, but it’s the garage bits – the two-step beats and the rhythm-making bass and strings – that make it so every time I hear this song I end up on a garage mix rabbit hole on YouTube. Britney Spears and Beyonce even asked the duo to write for them, even the “Sweet Like Chocolate” was never officially released in the U.S.
Sometimes I think if I could time travel, of all the places I could go I’d choose to be a person of club-going age in London in the late ‘90s early ‘00s when the garage scene was blooming. Garage was the more soulful offshoot of jungle and incorporated a lot of American RnB, with acts like the Artful Dodger, Craig David, and Shanks & Bigfoot bringing it to mainstream charts.
Meade and Langsman have long since disappeared into obscurity because they don’t like the limelight, which leads us to today, where no one can get the rights to the song, so I can’t add one of my favorite songs to every playlist I have on Spotify.