It's almost 2010, but here is my 2008 mix, late of course, but why not keep this thing up? I had kind of a busy year, what with getting married and publishing two books (yes, I'm bragging), but I'm back now and ready with what is actually a pretty good mix considering 2008 was not a great year for music. Fortunately, '09 is shaping up much better, but enough of that, onto the list!
A lot of R&B again, no surprise considering that the genre continues to dominate charts, even into 2009. Great songs from Beyoncé, Ne-Yo, Usher, and Estelle, plus some old-school soul from one of the many British singers Amy Winehouse paved the way for, Duffy. Fortunately, we only have one convicted domestic abuser on the list, with Chris Brown's "Forever," which was originally meant to be a jingle for Doublemint gum. "Forever" is one of two tracks on this mix that will forever be associated with a television show for me: the Chris Brown song was heavily featured in the wedding of Pam and Jim on the Office (which took their cue from the actual wedding that hit it big on YouTube). The other song is "DLZ" by TV on the Radio, which was used at the end of a particularly intense episode of "Breaking Bad," a show which should be ESSENTIAL viewing for all five people reading this plus everyone else who is alive.
Kanye West again dominates the list with three songs, while Lil' Wayne has two, but the real story here is a slight revival of rock music from the likes of Vampire Weekend, Kings of Leon, and sorta kinda MGMT and Portishead (who, with Third, made the best record of 2008). And yes, that is a Coldplay song. Don't knock it, it's good, and they are still the biggest rock band in the world, even if that title doesn't mean what it once did.
Two artists to single out here, though, are Pitchfork favs Bon Iver and Hercules and the Love Affair. The former deserves every bit of praise he has received for his excellent 2008 indie folk record, For Emma, Forever Ago, and "Skinny Love" is a strong and memorable single. The latter, in this writer's humble opinion, is a tad overrated, but it's hard to hate on "Blind," with vocals from Antony from Antony and the Johnsons. A great dance song, and a good keystone for this mix which rates as one of the more enjoyable of the second half of this decade. Hope you like it:
1. Time to Pretend - MGMT
2. A-Punk - Vampire Weekend
3. Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) - Beyoncé
4. Closer - Ne-Yo
5. Blind - Hercules & Love Affair
6. Love in this Club Feat. Young Jeezy - Usher
7. Forever - Chris Brown
8. Swagga Like Us - Jay-Z and T.I. feat. Kanye West and Lil Wayne
9. Lollipop (ft. Static Major) - Lil Wayne
10. Love Lockdown - Kanye West
11. DLZ - TV on the Radio
12. L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
13. Livin Your Life (Feat. Rihanna) - T.I.
14. American Boy (Ft. Kanye West) (Prod. By Will.I.Am) - Estelle
15. Mercy - Duffy
16. Sex On Fire - Kings Of Leon
17. Viva La Vida - Coldplay
18. Skinny Love - Bon Iver
19. The Rip - Portishead
It's like you waited your whole life for this one link.
Monday, May 12
Now that I've settled into my one post a year rhythm, the time has come for my 2007 mix. All in all a somewhat disappointing year, with everything kind of settling into an R&B routine that, in this writer's humble opinion, reflects the general malaise of the populace. In this shitty modern time, where everything is going in the toilet, it's inevitable people would turn to pop to help them through the hard times.
Still, there is some great pop here, particularly dance-focused tracks ranging from Justice to Chris Brown. Two tracks featuring T-Pain grace the mix - there could have been three with Kanye's "Good Life," (not to mention T-Pain's own work) but I went with "Can't Tell Me Nothing" (which I prefer to "Stronger," which does not approach the original Daft Punk track for energy or quality). Great female R&B is provided from Alicia Keys, Rihanna, and the infamous Amy Winehouse, who despite being a truly depressing human being continues to show enormous promise as an artist if she ever gets her shit together. Let's hope this isn't another Pete Doherty in the making...
Elsewhere, some great indie singles from Arcade Fire and Spoon (who would have thought they would become as big as they are?), another Mac marketing success story, and some honest-to-god hip hop from Pharoahe Monch, southern gods UGK and Outkast (RIP Pimp C), and the phenomenon that is Soulja Boy. There's also a spectacular cut from MIA's Kala, the best record of 2007, and Lil' Wayne's most successful track (out of approximately 4000 released last year). He's already having a huge year in 2008, and it will only get bigger when his official full-length is released.
The year was mostly a holding pattern, but a strong one in some regards. Here's the list, hope you like it:
1. Crank Dat Soulja Boy - Soulja Boy
2. Rehab - Amy Winehouse
3. Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You) Featuring Outkast - UGK
4. Paper Planes - M.I.A.
5. Way I Are (Feat. Keri Hilson & D.O.E.) - Timbaland
6. Kiss Kiss (Feat.T-Pain) - Chris Brown
7. Can't Tell Me Nothing - Kanye West
8. You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) - The White Stripes
9. Duffel Bag Boy (Feat. Lil' Wayne) - Playaz Circle
10. Gravity's Rainbow - Klaxons
11. Body Baby - Pharoahe Monch
12. The Underdog - Spoon
13. 1 2 3 4 - Feist
14. Archangel - Burial
15. D.A.N.C.E - Justice
16. All My Friends - LCD Soundsystem
17. Keep The Car Running - The Arcade Fire
18. Low (Feat. T-Pain) - Flo Rida
19. Umbrella (Feat. Jay Z) - Rihanna
20. No One - Alicia Keys
Download the mix here.
Tuesday, July 3
Okay, I know no one is around, but here I am anyway posting my mix. I've been very behind on this, so I apologize, mostly to myself.
Last year was a fairly strong one for singles. There were three huge smashes in "Crazy," "My Love," and "Irreplaceable." The first is still rough to listen to after so much overplay, but in a few years this will be remembered as the classic track it is. I picked "My Love" over "SexyBack" not only because it is a better song, but because the T.I. verse looks so nice sitting next to the ATL emcee's smash "What You Know" from the best selling hip hop album of 2006. And finally, "Irreplaceable," Beyonce's biggest hit to date and Ne-Yo's best song to date, is a few minutes of perfect pop that this decade could use a lot more of. It's also a shining example of the music that has basically dominated the charts for the past, oh, twenty years. It's all about female R&B when it comes to the hot 100.
The biggest thing to note here is the almost complete absence of rock. 2006 (and so far, 2007) has shown how dead the genre that previously ruled music is. TV on the Radio has heavy electronic influences, which leaves The Strokes and the 20 year olds of Arctic Monkeys as the only representation from this once dominant genre.
Anyway, here's the mix.
1. Wind It Up - Gwen Stefani
2. You Only Live Once - The Strokes
3. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
4. My Love (feat. T.I) - Justin Timberlake
5. What You Know - T.I.
6. Moving Like A Train - Herbert
7. Waters Of Nazareth - Justice
8. I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor - Arctic Monkeys
9. Wolf Like Me - TV on the Radio
10. Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera
11. Irreplaceable - Beyonce
12. Be Without You - Mary J. Blige
13. I Wanna Fuck You (Feat. Akon) - Snoop Dogg
14. Hip Hop Is Dead - Nas
15. Wamp Wamp (What It Do) (Feat. Slim Thug) - Clipse
16. Wouldn't Get Far (Feat. Kanye West) - The Game
17. Tapped (Feat. JME) - Skream
18. So Sick - Ne-Yo
19. That's Life - Killer Mike
20. Lost Ones (Feat. Chrissette Michel) - Jay-Z
Download the mix here.
Wednesday, August 16
I broke a rule to begin 2005, I put in the awesome, buzzworthy, relevant Boondocks theme just to give the record a nice little opening. As for the rest of the mix, while it is a little hip hop heavy, it's a great set of songs, stuff that really holds up a year later. Listening to it, I really changed my mind about last year and the strength of the lineup. "Welcome to Jamrock," "Still Tippin," "Chicago," and "Banquet" were big hits in their own ways, all major successes that still sound massive. "Chicago," of course, was not actually released as a single (see also "Smells Like Content" and "Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left"), but by 2005 blogs had made actual single releases irrelevant, and now you don't need to have a release or even radio play to have a big individual stand-out.
After jumping forty-five years in one week, does anything remain from 1960? Ray Charles, of course, but past that there seems to be very little you can point to. The slow evolution back in time showed such clear patterns, and yet here we are, looking at pop, the much maligned form of music that never changes, never grows, and always sounds the same, and we can't even recognize it. I find that pretty cool, even in the stretched out context.
So, all things must end, and though this project will go on (all of these lists are constantly being reconsidered, many have already been changed, and I will be making a new one each year) this blog will be in suspended animation for at least the next couple weeks as I am moving and I don't have enough time to come up with anything to do with it right away. I want to thank everyone who has been here from (around) the beginning, and all those who came towards the end. I hope you got even half as much pleasure listening to these mixes as I got making them. Feel free to come back, post on whatever mixes you have ideas for, complain about songs I included or omitted, and tell me what you've grown to love. Nothing would make me happier than that last one, because this project is really about discovering new (old) music and learning to understand and appreciate music history. I don't know how well I succeeded, but it was certainly fun to try.
Here's the mix, enjoy.
1. The Boondocks Theme Song - Asheru - 0:32
2. Banquet - Bloc Party - 3:19
3. Welcome To Jamrock - Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley - 3:33
4. Still Tippin' Feat. Slim Thug & Paul Wall - Mike Jones - 4:32
5. Dreams - The Game - 4:46
6. My Friend Dario - Vitalic - 3:37
7. Testify - Common - 2:36
8. One Thing - Amerie - 3:41
9. Ch Ching - Lady Sovereign - 4:45
10. Daft Punk Is Playing At My House - LCD Soundsystem - 5:16
11. Do You Want To - Franz Ferdinand - 3:38
12. Stay Fly (Ft. Young Buck and Eightball) - Three 6 Mafia - 3:56
13. Feel Good Inc - Gorillaz - 3:41
14. Gold Digger (Feat. Jamie Foxx) - Kanye West - 3:28
15. A Nervous Tic Motion Of The Head To The Left - Andrew Bird - 4:59
16. Hate It Or Love It Remix (Feat. G-Unit) - 50 Cent - 4:23
17. Breathe Me - Sia - 4:35
18. Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple - 3:44
19. Smells Like Content - The Books - 3:41
20. Chicago - Sufjan Stevens - 6:04
Monday, August 7
NOTE: Next week, I'll be publishing my 2005 mix.
Well, we've come to the end of the road. A few people have asked why I picked 1960 as the year to go back to. I though about 1964, and 1950 seemed like a nice round number (which I might still get to if I ever have the time), but 1960 seemed right for a few reasons. First of all, anything earlier would have been very difficult, as it is the nature of references and the internet to be much more current, and considering the fact that I am young, anything before 1960 would have been a lot more work, work that I just didn't have time to do.
But as I look at 1960, I can't imagine a better year to end on. Just the first ten songs here alone are so legendary, so archetypal, so set in the memories of pop fans everywhere, that it's easy to see where this was the beginning of something big. There was pop before 1960, there was a booming music industry, powerful radio stations, even some TV performances, but this was when the local became the national, and the collective consciousness really took hold. That's what is exciting about pop, and it's what I found exciting about these mixes, looking over the great songs of each year, charting national taste and artistic growth. America, in all its flawed glory, has produced fantastic music over the past half decade. I hope everyone enjoys the mix, and come back next week to make a forty-five year jump to last year and the last mix I've finished.
1. Money (That's What I Want) - Barrett Strong - 2:37
2. The Twist - Chubby Checker - 2:36
3. Save The Last Dance For Me - The Drifters - 2:30
4. Cathy's Clown - Everly Brothers - 2:25
5. Only The Lonely - Roy Orbison - 2:27
6. Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles - 3:39
7. A Fool in Love - Ike and Tina Turner - 2:53
8. All I Could Do Was Cry - Etta James - 2:57
9. Shop Around [national version] - The Miracles - 2:48
10. Chain Gang - Sam Cooke - 2:33
11. Walking to New Orleans - Fats Domino - 2:11
12. Stay (Just a Little Bit Longer) - Maurice Williams - 1:36
13. You're Sixteen - Johnny Burnette - 1:54
14. You Talk Too Much - Joe Jones - 2:39
15. Walk Don't Run - Ventures - 2:07
16. Shakin' All Over - Johnny Kidd And The Pirates - 2:21
17. Back Door Man - Howlin' Wolf - 2:51
18. Alley Oop - Hollywood Argyles - 2:42
19. Harbour lights - The Platters - 3:09
20. Apache - The Shadows - 2:52
21. Will You Love Me Tomorrow - The Shirelles - 2:44
22. Its Now Or Never - Elvis Presley - 3:12
23. Everybody's Somebody's Fool - Connie Francis - 2:40
24. Baby (You've Got What It Takes) - Brook Benton & Dinah Washington - 2:47
25. Airegin - Wes Montgomery - 4:29
26. Rank Strangers to Me - Stanley Bros. - 3:06
27. In My Little Corner Of The World - Anita Bryant - 2:40
28. Theme From A Summer Place - Percy Faith - 2:31
29. Beyond The Sea - Bobby Darin - 2:53
Monday, July 31
There are a lot of songs here that have become novelty songs, mostly because they are immediately identifiable and have been used so much in other contexts. I've talked about this a lot, but it's harder to remember, simply because the songs are so old, a time when "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" or "Hit the Road Jack" were not attached to Disney movies and cracker commercials (or whatever). Or for that matter, "Runaway," "Barbara Ann," "She Thinks I Still Care," Please Mr. Postman," "Michael," Stand By Me," "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You," or the fantastic "Crazy." All of them have been run into the ground to varying success, but divorced from everything they stand up remarkably well, which is the best thing I've discovered from making these mixes. When you take these songs at face value, it's easy to see why they were so successful in their time.
There are some great lesser-known songs here too though. Bobby Blue Bland was a great singer who has been unjustly forgotten by the majority of the population, and "Big Boss Man" may be the best blues song represented on these mixes.
Then there is "At Last," one of the best songs ever and truly deserving of its place at the end of this mix. Hope you enjoy.
Download the mix here.
1. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Tokens - 2:39
2. Runaround Sue - Dion - 2:34
3. Hit the Road Jack - Ray Charles - 2:01
4. Runaway - Del Shannon - 2:19
5. Tossin' and Turnin' - Bobby Lewis - 2:35
6. Blue Moon - Marcels - 2:15
7. Barbara-Ann - The Regents - 2:16
8. Hello Mary Lou - Ricky Nelson - 2:19
9. Mother-in-law - Ernie K-Doe - 2:36
10. Turn On Your Love Light - Bobby Blue Bland - 2:38
11. Hideaway - Freddy King - 2:36
12. Rainin' In My Heart - Slim Harpo - 2:34
13. Big Boss Man - Jimmy Reed - 2:51
14. Hello Walls - Faron Young - 2:24
15. She Thinks I Still Care - George Jones - 2:35
16. My True Story - The Jive Five - 2:34
17. I Like It Like That - Chris Kenner - 1:58
18. Take Good Care Of My Baby - Bobby Vee - 2:38
19. It Will Stand - The Showmen - 2:25
20. Quarter To Three - Gary U.S. Bonds - 2:30
21. Let's Go Trippin' - Dick Dale & His Del Tones - 2:10
22. It's Gonna Work Out Fine - Ike & Tina Turner - 3:04
23. I Don't Want To Take A Chance - Mary Wells - 2:49
24. Mama Said - The Shirelles - 2:11
25. Please Mr. Postman - The Marvelettes - 2:30
26. Gypsy Woman - Curtis Mayfield And The Impressions - 2:20
27. Michael (Row the Boat Ashore) - The Highwaymen - 2:45
28. I Can't Help Falling In Love With You - Elvis Presley - 3:05
29. Crazy - Patsy Cline - 2:43
30. Stand By Me - Ben E. King - 2:54
31. At Last - Etta James - 2:58
Monday, July 24
Girl groups and ballads were dominant in the early 60s, since it was basically still the stereotypical 50s in America. There were some great songs within that mold though, and black groups were starting to have crossover hits of their own (The Exciters' "Tell Him" is a fantastic example), which would pave the way for Motown to really break through (they have a few classics here already with songs like "Two Lovers" and "You Really Got a Hold On Me"). You've heard most of these songs on your oldies stations, but listening to them as if they were new displays their progressive production and their influential melodies. Like it or not, a lot of your favorite rock and roll came from this music, and while it was cool at the time (and it still is now) to mention blues greats and early R&B favorites, this was the unavoidable music, and it's easy to see how The Beatles first big single, "Love Me Do" can sit right next to them in a mix and seem like little more than a British take on the style of the time.
Enjoy the mix, I'm almost done here, can't believe it's been more than 40 weeks... By the way, if anyone has any suggestions as to what I should do with the site once I'm finished, let me know in the comments section. Thanks!
Download the mix here.
1. Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance) - Contours - 2:54
2. Tell Him - The Exciters - 2:39
3. Johnny Angel - Shelley Fabares - 2:21
4. He's a Rebel - The Crystals - 2:26
5. The Loco-motion - Little Eva - 2:25
6. Let Me In - Sensations - 3:06
7. Big Girls Don't Cry - Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - 2:23
8. Wah-Watusi - Orlons - 2:30
9. Don't Make Me Over - Dionne Warwick - 3:23
10. Stop The Wedding - Etta James - 2:51
11. You Really Got a Hold On Me - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - 2:58
12. Up on the Roof - Drifters - 2:40
13. Two Lovers - Mary Wells - 2:48
14. Cry To Me - Solomon Burke - 2:36
15. Twisting The Night Away - Sam Cooke - 2:43
16. Telstar - The Tornados - 3:20
17. Green Onions - Booker T and the MG's - 2:55
18. Boom Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker - 2:33
19. Backdoor Man - Howlin' Wolf - 2:49
20. Desafinado - Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd - 5:47
21. I Left My Heart In San Francisco - Tony Bennett - 2:51
22. If I Had a Hammer - Peter, Paul, and Mary - 2:11
23. I Can't Stop Loving You - Ray Charles - 4:14
24. She's Got You - Patsy Cline - 3:00
25. Love Letters - Ketty Lester - 2:36
26. Roses Are Red (My Love) - Bobby Vinton - 2:39
27. Love Me Do - The Beatles - 2:24