The breakup (but I want you back) mix

Ah, the breakup mix.  Is there anything quite so classic (cliché?) as sitting home alone in your underwear with the lights out eating ice cream out of the container while listening to sad music after a breakup?  No, no there isn’t. In this edition of Mike’s Mixology I bring you the ultimate breakup mix for if you are sad, depressed, lonely and longing. It might not be a very happy mix, but it gets the job done. As long as that job is making you cry and sing along with some sad songs.

Track 1. “Last Night I dreamt that Somebody Loved Me” by The Smiths

So it is not really a breakup song per say. It is mostly just Morrissey singing about how nobody will ever love him (probably because he is a huge ass). Still it works, and is a nice way to ease us into the heartbreak and loss that will follow. The minute long intro works well in this situation as well at the start of the mix.

Track 2. “Always on My Mind” by Willie Nelson

This song has been covered by numerous people in various genres, but I think this one works the best. Nelson acknowledges that it is his fault that the relationship ends, but he still wants to let her know that he still thinks of her. Charming and sweet, it is hard not to feel for the guy.

Track 3. “Crown of Love” by Arcade Fire

“I carved your name across my eyelids.” Wow. That is some deep devotion right there. Helpless devotion makes this a great love song, but for me I have always heard it more as a breakup song than anything else. It ends with hopeful music, but we all know that is probably bullshit.

Track 4. “Nothing Compares 2 U” Sinead O’Connor

Classic. Prince wrote it but it is unquestionable that Sinead owns it. Aimless wandering, unwanted freedom, this song has all the classic elements of a breakup. The fact that it sort of made Sinead crazy helps the song even more.

Track 5. “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley

If your eyes are still dry after this song you clearly don’t have a heart. Or you have just totally cried all your tears out. Wanting to give up everything, including your life, for just a little more time with your love is a classic sentiment that has never been rendered so perfectly anywhere else.

Track 6. “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5

If things don’t get more upbeat you will just be totally destroyed by the midway point of the mix. This is easily the happiest sounding song on the mix, but the lyrics hit just as hard as anything on here. It is also easily one of the greatest songs ever written, so that helps.

Track 7. “Vacation” by The Go-Go’s

Getting the hell out of town is a well used plan to get over a relationship. It almost never works, and the Go-Go’s know that. Add to this my long standing crush on Jane Wiedlin (a crush I have recently gotten over seeing pictures of her now [long blond hair does NOT work on her]) and this has to be on the mix.

Track 8. “Losing You” by Solange

Yes, it sort of sounds like a party is going on. But between Solange’s longing voice and the melancholy of the synths it is pretty clear what this song is really about. Bonus points for the great music video and her sweet dance moves.

Track 9. “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

I am loading the middle of the mix with danceable tracks because “dancing the pain away” is a long theme in music and pop culture. I have never really found it to be that effective, but then I am not at all a dancer. Unless I am really drunk. And drinking the pain away is a whole other thing. Great song though, and we really needed a few classics on this one.

Track 10. “Cold War” by Janelle Monae

Yeah, she is by no means the first to equate love and war but specifically calling it a cold war is a great move. There are no actually shots fired, but there can be no doubt as to the feelings. Sometimes we don’t even know what we are fighting for, but we often fight even harder then.

Track 11. “Dry Your Eyes” by The Streets

The most brilliant line in this song is probably “I’m not gonna fuckin’ just fuckin’ leave it all now.” Never has the anger, impotence, and inarticulateness of heartbreak been better put into words. The fairly useless “friend voice” of the chorus is perfect as well.

Track 12. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” by The Shangri-Las

My absolute favorite of the ’60s girl groups. Nobody captured teenage melodrama better, and if there is anything that reduce an adult to teenage melodrama it a breakup. Nobody has ever had better spoken word parts in songs that these ladies as well.

Track 13. “Come Pick Me Up” by Ryan Adams

Or how to make a banjo sound depressing. He talks about wanting to be with her while stating all the awful things she did to him. Yeah, that sounds like love right there. Even though stealing records might be a totally unforgiveable crime.

Track 14. “Maps” by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

This song has the distinction of being both one of the greatest prom songs as well as a powerful breakup anthem. Which is a pretty neat trick. It has always felt more like a breakup to me though, and it hits insanely hard. Right in the heart.

Track 15. “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver

If you spoke only Swahili you would still instantly recognize this as a song about a lost love. The lyrics add, but a certainly secondary to the feeling in the voice. Plus the story about it being written after a break up which saw Justin Vernon retreating from the world in a cabin only makes it better.

Track 16. “One More Hour” by Sleater-Kinney

There are two female vocalists on this song. It is about their breakup. Can you even imagine being in a band with your ex, much less having to sing this amazing song with her ever night? The way their voices play off each other shows why they dated, the lyrics tell of why they stopped.

Track 17. “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men

At this point you have listened to about an hour of sad songs about how much you are still in love with someone who trampled all over your heart. If you can make it through this pure ’90s uber-melodrama without cracking a smile about the whole ridiculousness of everything your heart is truly broken. But seriously, the spoken word part of this song might just be the most absurd thing ever recorded.

Track 18. “I Don’t Want to get Over You” by The Magnetic Fields

Time for some reality. Heartbreak is, in a strange literary sense, a good feeling. We fetishize it and allow those going through it latitude we would not otherwise give. The part in this song about wearing black and reading Camus is so perfect you forget that you probably didn’t even know who Camus was until you were in your 20s and then probably pronounced it wrong.

Track 19. “Woke Up New” by The Mountain Goats

Guess what? The world is not going to end. Life is going to go on. The rest of the world didn’t even notice that your life as you knew it ended. It affected, at most, about 20 people and really only 2 of them need to make major changes. John has no idea what he is going to do without her, but he knows by the end that the answer is just keep living. In a few days he will make the correct amount of coffee, the house will seem less strange and maybe he will get a pet to talk with. The important thing is that while the future is uncertain, it is not totally unknown. You just need to get ready for it.

This was a fun one to make for me, just because I am a big fan of “old sad bastard” music. Some of these songs still hold quite powerful memories of certain people for me, but they are all in their own way cathartic and enjoyable. The funny thing is this mix actually probably reflects my musical tastes more than last week’s, and the whole point of that one was to show off my musical tastes. Wow, just two weeks in and already I am totally screwing this up.

Join me next week(ish) as a make a mix of country music for a friend who doesn’t like country music. And no, it will not just be Johnny Cash/Hank Williams/other people that everyone loves. That would be cheating. I will probably include one each of their songs though, I am not an idiot. Any suggestions/comments/feedback/whatever would be appreciated as always. See you next week(ish).

Mix tape for a crush (whose musical taste you don’t know)

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This is probably the most common reason to make a mix tape, or at least for one you are going to give to someone.  This is also, by far in my opinion, the hardest one to make.  What kind of songs do you put on it?  What if she (I will be using female pronouns because it is easier for me, but they could easily go either way.) doesn’t like it?  What if she thinks Sigur Ros is a bunch of dirty foreigners and Sufjan Stevens is a pussy?  (If she thinks those that then she is actually an awful person and it is lucky you found at about it now instead of after actually starting some kind of relationship with her.)  What if she sort of liked it, but wished you rocked harder or listened to more female singers or listened to more current music or older music?  What if she thinks too many of the bands you listen to have bad vocalists?  What if, what if, what if?  There are more questions you can have about this than there could possibly be answers to.  You want to put out all your good qualities while keeping your more shameful secrets to yourself (notice there will be no Xiu Xiu, Haysi Fantayzee or Fiery Furnaces on this tape). So, in essence, it is just like starting a relationship.

And that is what makes this mix tape so exciting.  It is scary, but it could be amazing.  Perhaps a relationship happens between the two of you, perhaps not.  In all likelihood this will just end up as a footnote in both of your lives.  But maybe, just maybe, one of the songs on this could be played at your wedding.  All you need to do is take the chance make the tape.

I will not be posting youtube links because I don’t feel like doing all the work and you guys know how the internet works by now. Bonus points if you make this mix tape and play it for yourself. Extra super bonus points if you are single and the mix tape makes you think of how awesome I am.

 

Track 1. “Only Shallow” by My Bloody Valentine

Few songs demand the attention of the listener quite like this one.  It is loud and has guitar all over the place.  This is rock.  But then it reels itself in with those soaring yet whispered vocals.  If it works right, she will have no options about listening to what comes next.  Perfect way to start.

Track 2. “I’ll Believe in Anything” by Wolf Parade

This could be my favorite song of all time.  Not even joking.  It is absolutely in my top 5 (and there is that again, it only took until my first real post of the new format to bring up top 5 lists).  It is also hopeful and triumphant and has those amazing driving drums and is great to sing along with.  Also the first of the “This guy has an unusual voice” category of songs.

Track 3. “Just Like Honey” by Jesus and Mary Chain”

If you have seen/read “Hi Fidelity” then you know you need to bring it down for the third track or you risk blowing you load.  This song does a great job of that while keeping the intensity of the previous songs, thanks to the “Be My Baby” drums.  Only risk is she might think I am a bigger shoegaze fan than I actually am (although bigger risk that she will not even know what shoegaze is).

Track 4. “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens

If she doesn’t like Sufjan, I don’t like her.  That simple.  Best intro track of his even though I prefer “Casimir Pulaski Day”. But lets not bring bone cancer into this mix, ok.

Track 5. “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem

This is the point you need to show you listen to multiple genres of music.  Yes, LCD Soundsystem fall into the umbrella of “indie rock” but the distinction gets more pronounced after this.  Also, brilliant fucking song.  Perchance a bit of a downer, but there are few songs that fully capture being in your 30s.  I am worried about it “showing my age” though.

Track 6. “Temptation” by New Order

And I was worried about the last song being a downer.  The great thing is this is a great happy dance song until you really listen to it and understand where the band was at mentally when they wrote it (shortly after Ian Curtis’ suicide).  She probably doesn’t know that, and if she does then she probably already loves this song and is a keeper.

Track 7. “No Diggity” by Blackstreet

I have never met a woman who doesn’t love this song. Ok, so I probably have, but I just don’t even consider them people. Yes, not liking the greatest new jack swing song of all time (or at least the mid ’90s, kind of hard to argue against “Poison”) makes you less than human to me.

Track 8. “Paid In Full” by Eric B. and Rakim

Old school hip-hop is the best hip-hop.  Eric B. and Rakim might just be the best at old school hip-hop, and this might be their best song.  Has there ever been such a smooth flowing song about bank robbery?  These guys are the definition of street.

Track 9. “B.O.B.” by Outkast

Very nearly the greatest song ever made.  I have few words for how absolutely wonderful this song is.  Andre has probably the greatest verse ever and Big Boi’s holds up following it.  Another song that demands attention to be paid.

Track 10. “Starman” by David Bowie

With the little dance/hip-hop journey over, who better to bring us back than Bowie.  This is not my favorite Bowie song, nor is it even my 2nd favorite song on the album it is from, but I think it is the most neutral.  Not in a bad way, but you don’t want to evoke the end of the world (“Five Years”) or show how much of an egotistical ass you are (“Ziggy Stardust”) on this mix.  Best to play it safe.

Track 11. “Come Undone” by Duran Duran

Because Duran Duran kicks ass.  That is really the only reason.

Track 12.  “Portland, Oregon” by Loretta Lynn ft. Jack White

Great song from one of the greatest singers of all time.  Jack White adds so much without taking anything over.  This also shows that you have a discriminating ear and will listen to any good music, regardless of genre.

Track 13. “Calamity Song” by The Decemberists

Again, not my favorite Decemberists song, but probably the most accessible one. Bonus for the David Foster Wallace reference (and the video just being a totally DFW fest) and use of the word Andalusian. Most people probably don’t assume your intelligence based on the songs you listen to, but if they do Decemberists are always a good idea.

Track 14. “This Year” by The Mountain Goats

“No Children” is right out, all the old stuff is a bad idea until you know someone better, and I would call this the second best known MG song anyways. This is probably the happiest sounding song about being an abused child forcing himself not to think about suicide as can possibly be made.

Track 15. “I am a Scientist” by Guided by Voices

If it is not their best song (way too large of a pool to pick from) it is almost certainly their most traditional. This is pure pop simplicity, but done so masterfully that you don’t even notice that it was recorded in a basement.

Track 16. “Hippipolla” by Sigur Ros

Just try and describe this song without using words like inspiring, beautiful or soaring. Can’t be done. If Iceland is half as amazing as Sigur Ros, I don’t know why people ever vacation anywhere else. The only band that can invent a language and not be mercilessly mocked for it.

Track 17. “Oh Comely” by Neutral Milk Hotel

And the conclusion, the biggest risk on the mix. When people describe what makes a great song you will rarely here phrases like “more than eight minutes”, “voice cracking”, “just acoustic guitar and a little bit of trumpet”, “fetuses, semen and ovaries in the lyrics”, “Holocaust references”, and “strange voiced singer” but this song has all of that and more. The most powerful song on the mix, easily. A natural album closer, even though it isn’t its own album’s closer. If everything works she will be satisfied but desiring more, just like how a good relationship should be.

So there it is. This is a deeply personal list, obviously, but I think with a few adjustments it could be suited to anyone’s tastes. The format is easy: start strong, mix up the genres, don’t go with just obvious love songs, throw in some smart and some funny (but not joke) songs, show you are sensitive but still strong and have a good ending. I regret some songs/artists I left off, I really wanted to have a lesser known Prince song and don’t have a single song from the ’60s and only one song released after 2007, but I think it came out ok.

Join me next week(ish) as this wonderful relationship falls apart and I craft a mix tape for a break up (want to get back together version).

The lists are dead. Long live the lists.

This might come as no surprise to all of you, but I am fantastically sick of top 5 lists about contrived musical themes.  So instead I will be bringing you a new form of lists based on contrived musical themes. 

I miss mix tapes in a way that hurts my soul.  I used to make mix tapes when I was a kid from the radio.  I graduated to making mix CDs, that we still called mix tapes, for any girl that I was even remotely interested in.  I even made a mix tape for a girl I worked with because she had, I had no doubt about this in any way, the worst taste in music I had ever heard of in any person.  I made mix tapes for myself for such mundane tasks as washing dishes, cleaning the house and mowing the lawn.  I had a workout mix (I think I used it once) and a bike riding mix and a new mix for every road trip.  I have made mix tapes for Halloween costumes even.  I love mix tapes and miss that people have mostly abandoned the art.  No, playlists don’t count.  I mean, yes, they count for your personal use, but you can’t give someone a playlist.  Not like you can a CD or tape. 

And that is the key to the mix tape. It is real and physical. You don’t give e-flowers on Mother’s Day (and if you do your mom clearly did an awful job raising you.) but if you give her a mix tape of James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens (and mix in a little Sufjan Stevens) she knows you did something for her from your heart (mostly because she knows you don’t like Linda Ronstadt, can’t stand James Taylor, and Cat Stevens is her favorite of them all.) So give your mom a mix tape for Mother’s Day, along with some real flowers (or chocolate or whatever it is she likes) and skip the card because they are mostly bullshit.
But so then now we get to the real heart of what it is that I want to do with this page now that I have given up the Top 5 lists (for the third time). I am going to take a topic, and present what my ideal playlist for that topic. Again, they will be based only on my taste and feelings at that particular moment. They will range from reasonably broad (like wedding songs) to fantastically specific (like mix of country for a friend that doesn’t like country). I will have a SHORT (the emphasis is more for myself than for you guys, who love to read what I write) write up on each song and why it is on the list. I will also be limiting the total running time of the tape to under 80 minutes, the classic length of a mix CD (and even though I always talk about tapes, most of my experience is from CDs). I will try and post once a week and will post the next topic the week before so you can all throw out suggestions or ideas or whatever. I will start with the classic reason to make someone a mix tape. The first topic will be “Crush (unknown musical taste)”. This will be songs for a person you have a serious crush on but have absolutely no idea what her/his musical tastes are like.
Anyways, I hope this is a good idea and I hope you like the new change in direction and can accept that I must evolve and change. And you know what, the Top 5 lists are a little bit like cigarettes, we know that no matter how many times I give them up I am just going to start up again at some time.

Aside

Top 5 reasons I hate Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton is to asshole musicians what HIV is to STDs.  Yes, they are all bad.  But these ones are so over the top awful that some people think they were sent as divine punishment.  Some of you might not know exactly how much hate I have for Clapton.  Let me briefly illustrate.  I once said if I had a time machine with only one use I would use it to kill him after Cream broke up.  My first ever Facebook post was about how much I don’t like him.  My mood can go from super happy to beyond pissed when some burnout never-was plays “Cocaine” on the jukebox (and it is always “Cocaine”).

Now before you think I am just picking on him, let me put out some good points about him.  He is, unquestionably, a fantastic guitarist.  Cream (and to a lesser extent The Yardbirds [less than the sum of its parts]) was a fantastic band.  He plays the lead guitar part on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, my favorite Beatles song, and it sounds amazing.  These are things he should be praised for.  The rest of this list, however; prove that anyone that sees him should legally be allowed to beat him just hard enough so that no permanent damage is done that way his life is just constant pain and fear without the release of sweet, sweet death.

Just to show how awful a person Clapton is, only two of these five reasons are about his music.  And I really, really hate his post-Cream music.  The youtube links will have nothing to do with the topic, but will instead be Cream or other Clapton related songs that don’t suck.  I might not be able to find five of them.

5. His awful covers    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDZqmF3zS04

Think of an Eric Clapton song.  If it is not a cover then it probably falls into the category I will be covering in reason three.  “Cocaine”, cover.  “Crossroads”, cover.  “I Shot the Sheriff”, you better know that is a cover.  I have no problem with covering songs, The Beatles used to do it until they really figured out songwriting.  Aretha Franklin’s signature song is a cover.  Placebo killed it with their version of “Running Up that Hill”.  The difference between these covers and Clapton’s are these artists actually did something with the source material to make it their own.  Clapton just plays the songs basically the same way but with louder guitar work while missing the point of the song entirely.  “Cocaine” was written by Clapton’s friend and frequent collaborator JJ Cale.  In Cale’s original it is obviously an anti drug song.  But Clapton’s nearly identical but louder version sounds pro drug.  Why?  Simple, Cale understands subtlety and Clapton is an idiot.  In “Crossroads” Clapton takes a song about a poor black man selling his soul to the Devil to play kickass guitar and turns it into a song about a white, clueless, asshole.  Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff” is about standing up to the oppression of The (white) Man.  Clapton’s version is about a white, , clueless, insensitive, shit-for-brains, fucking asshole.  Clapton covering “I Shot the Sheriff” is like if U2 would have covered “Fuck tha Police” in 1989, a year after the NWA original.  Even if you keep all the lyrics the same (and I would pay good money to hear Bono drop the n-bombs) you lose all real meaning.

4. He broke up Cream because of a single bad review.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_NholHANoY

The following is a quote from Eric Clapton.  It pretty well sums up how shitty of a person he is.

“All during Cream I was riding high on the ‘Clapton is God’ myth that had been started up. I was flying high on an ego trip; I was sure I was the best thing happening that was popular. Then we got our first kind of bad review, which was in Rolling Stone. “The magazine ran an interview with us in which we were really praising ourselves, and it was followed by a review that said how boring and repetitious our performance had been. And it was true! The ring of truth had just knocked me backward; I was in a restaurant, and I fainted. And after I woke up, I immediately decided that that was the end of the band.”

So instead of trying to make his awesome force of nature band change with the times and adapt and come up with some new and amazing stuff he decided to end the band.  Hey jackass, you know who else Rolling Stone trashed?  Everyone good and right in the world.  Guys like Zeppelin and Sabbath, even Nirvana got a mediocre review for “Nevermind”, as well as anyone that got tons of praise somewhere else first.  And it is not like the music you made anywhere else was really breaking any new ground with the fresh sound.  Which does transition nicely to my next topic.

3. All his well known ’70s love songs are about his best friend’s wife  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs7jxtPCqks

Ok, so technically Pattie Boyd and Clapton were together when he wrote “Wonderful Tonight”, but still, that just means it was about his best friend’s ex-wife who he was now shacking up with.  That doesn’t make it any better.  “Bell Bottom Blues” and his absolute, no question, signature, classic rock staple, most famous song “Layla” plus several other songs that I really don’t care about in any way shape or form are totally about Pattie Boyd, who at the time was George Harrison’s wife.  Also, he was not even being subtle about it, Layla was Pattie’s nickname. Now it is really a testament to just how great a human being Harrison was (yes, I have heard he was also an asshole.  But he will always be my favorite Beatle so that has to count for something.) that instead of just beating the living shit out of Clapton he remained friends with him until he died.  Class act that George.  Unlike that douchebag Clapton. And the worst thing about this is that I really want to like “Bell Bottom Blues” but he ruined it for me, like so many other things he ruined for so many other people.

2. He is a huge racist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LC3w4LtPyo
So instead of posting a song, I posted a rant that he (drunkenly, as if that excuses any of his comments) made at a concert. I honestly don’t need to write anything to back up my claims, this does it for me. I highly recommend you listen to it, even though it is a fairly awful recreation of the speech. It is an obviously computer voice because, presumably, nobody could read his lines without vomiting. There is no recording of Clapton saying this because it was the ’70s as the only people that had recording equipment in their pockets were spies and people with gigantic fucking pockets, but several reporters were there and gave the same account. I especially love that the asshole who ruined “I Shot the Sheriff” talked shit about Jamaicans. I guess he doesn’t consider raping and pillaging an entire race’s music a crime if you don’t consider them people.

1. He beat and raped his wife https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WrsfJHLx5YA
Yeah, I found something to top racism. I really wish I didn’t, but facts are facts. Once again, I am just going to let Clapton make my point for me. Again, direct quote here. “There were times when I took sex with my wife by force and thought that was my entitlement. I had absolutely no concern for other people.” In her book Pattie also talks about the physical abuse, but by this point I just don’t have the heart to elaborate on it. I didn’t even have the heart to include a Cream song so instead I went with Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” because honestly, I need some uplifting lyrics about the unglamorous side of drug dealing after doing all this research about how awful a human being Eric Clapton is. I am not even joking, this is one of those guys that should have spent most of his life in jail being ostracized from society, not held up as some amazing talent. And remember, I like my celebrities to be egotistical nut jobs. But Kanye never raped anyone and R. Kelly was acquitted.
In conclusion, fuck Clapton.

Join me next week when I talk about the top 5 bands that got better after selling out. Just going to flush all my indie cred down the toilet with that one. Ground rules, must have released at least two LPs on indie labels (not counting self released demos or anything like that) and must have been at least somewhat known (or at least known in the right circles) before signing with a major.

Top 5 worst sex metaphors in music

This is one I always wanted to do, it was actually on the original list of topics I came up with two years ago.  So why did it take me so long to get around to it?  The biggest problem with this list is that there are so many songs that could/should be on this list.  Hell, I could do a top 10 or 20 list of just R. Kelly songs.  And I love R. Kelly.  But does anyone, including R. Kelly himself, know what the hell he is talking about when he says “It’s like ‘Murder She Wrote’, once I get ya out them clothes”?  Then you have to include every ’80s hair metal band, every rapper without much talent and every rock band that thinks clever and middle school level humor are the same thing to really see how awful this list can be.  And the worst thing is even the greats, like Chuck Berry and sex metaphor incarnate Prince, have stumbled.

As always, this is a totally subjective list put together by an expert panel (of one) and might not reflect the views of everyone.  If you disagree, agree or just feel like it, go ahead and comment below.  I promise I will probably read it.

5. Bloodhound Gang – “The Bad Touch”  Offending lyric – Basically all of them except “Me and you do the kind of stuff that only Prince would sing about,”and the chorus but especially “Like the lost catacombs of Egypt, only God knows where we stuck it.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xat1GVnl8-k

I honestly don’t hate this song.  Sure, it is massively immature, sexist, dumb and shows no musical skill, but does that really mean it is a bad song?  I adore ’80s new wave, so if I said yes that would make me a gigantic hypocrite.  And seriously, that Prince line is pure genius and the chorus is reasonably cleaver as well.  But then there is every other part of the song.  Comparing yourself to Siskel and Ebert works if you want someone to take you seriously as a critic, not so well if you want to sex with that person.  Has there ever been two more sexually unappealing men referenced in a sex song?  Does anyone ever want think about the clean up after sex, especially if it needs a mop and bucket?  While you might not know where you stuck it, I would bet large sums of money that she does.  Unless you missed her altogether and spent ten minutes raping the duvet.  And then, after going on and on about how impressive he is at sex, the reveal that sex with Bloodhound Guy (I am not going to look up his actual name, names are for closers) is so boring that both parties really just want to watch “X-Files”.

4. Def Leppard – “Pour Some Sugar on Me”  Offending lyric – “You got the peaches, I got the cream” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0UIB9Y4OFPs

Peaches = Vagina  Cream = Semen  The less said about this song the better.

3. Live – “The Dolphin’s Cry”  Offending lyric- “God laid me down into your rose garden of trust” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBHmcORu4og

You know what, I am going to blame Def Leppard for this one as well.  If not for the absolute awfulness of the sexist, obvious and stupid lyrics they, and many other ’80s hair bands, wrote then maybe the pendulum would not have swung quite so far the other way.  How else do you explain the “rose garden of trust” line?  I don’t even want to think about it because honestly all I can think of when I hear that line is 8th grade girls who read too much poetry, and now that I am no longer in 8th grade myself that is one of the least erotic things ever.  And do you really think that God was involved in literally placing you inside her?  That is some Kanye West levels of ego there.  Then there is the video, which is either great or awful and after watching it about 5 times this week I am still not sure which.  The album this song is on came out, and I shit you not on this, the same week as the album “The Bad Touch” was on.  That was like the worst week for sexual metaphors in the history of music.

2. Led Zeppelin – “Lemon Song”  Offending lyric – “Squeeze me baby, til the juice runs down my leg”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taDziWqDo7o

This is a fantastic song, let me make that perfectly clear.  The other songs on this list have not really been good songs, but this one is great.  This shows just how great rock and roll can be when it sticks to a simple formula of blues influenced riffs.  There is nothing that complicated in the music, at least by Led Zeppelin standards.  It is just one of those super bad ass songs that prove yes, Zeppelin might just be the greatest all time band ever.  This song is a mountain of awesome.  If you don’t like this song, then you don’t like rock and roll.  The lyrics are pretty standard blues man with a two timing woman kind of lyrics until, inexplicably, this line pops up.  I guess they needed to work the title into the song somehow and figured that was a good a way as any.  But really, the reason this makes number two on the list is the metaphor.  There are so many more appropriate fruits and vegetables you could compare your penis to.  For example: banana, carrot, cucumber, jalapeno, plantain, sweet potato, zucchini.  That took me less than a minute and I even went in alphabetical order.  Also, when I think of the color yellow (for lemon juice) and running down my leg well, lets just say semen is not what I am thinking of.  I’m thinking of piss.  Maybe this song is about piss and I just misread it.  But probably not, it is just a really bad metaphor.

1. R. Kelly – “Feelin’ You in Stereo”  Offending lyric – “Put me in your CD player, I’m gonna hit it nice and slow”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBiaRmGlGI0

You didn’t think I would leave Kells of the list did you?  Did you really?

There are two types of people in this world, people who think R. Kelly is a musical genius and people who are just fucking wrong.  I knew R. Kelly was going to be number one on this list, but I just wasn’t sure which song to use.  I could have gone with the sublime brilliance of “Ignition (Remix)” and the “Murder She Wrote” line, but I figured you guys are probably pretty sick of me and that song by now.  I could have gone with “She’s Got that Vibe” when he makes a “Flintstones” reference that isn’t some lame ass Bedrock line.  Or “Whole Lotta Kisses” when he, and this is really crazy even for Robert, compares a woman’s vagina to a grave.  But I went with “Feelin’ You in Stereo” for a few very specific reasons.  First, this is one of those totally insane R. Kelly songs.  There is a line in this song that talks about a few of his friends making love to this song.  I’m sorry, did this happen in the studio between verses?  I could never get away with writing a song about people I know sexing to the song I am writing, but nobody even questions that R. Kelly can do it.  Because he is right, I am sure quite a few of his friends have made love to this song, it is a total baby maker.  R. Kelly’s part is as close to gibberish as you can get while being just cognizant enough to be sexy.  Jay-Z’s part on the other hand, is just gibberish.  Second, R. Kelly has a mind that, at least I think, doesn’t work like any other person’s mind.  I honestly believe that R. Kelly believes that he can fly.  I think he thinks he and unnamed lady deserve an award for their sexing.  Specifically a music award because, actually I have no idea on the because.  You would have to ask R. Kelly to explain that one to you like he explained echos (look it up, it is worth it).  Third, the CD player as vagina is as brilliant at it is stupid.  And that is the real key, he mixes his metaphors quite a bit here (Widescreen stereo?  Widescreen anything in the car?  Are her boobs the widescreen, does that make sense?  Why would you need to bootleg your own sex?  How can this song be about what happens after the song is released?  Is R. Kelly a time traveler?  That would actually explain quite about about him.) but none of that matters.  The only thing that matters is that I have been listening to this song on repeat for the last 30 minutes and I am so hot I need to go dance with myself, if you get my metaphor.

Join me next week when the topic will be Top 5 reasons to hate Eric Clapton.  Again, limiting myself to 5 is going to be very difficult.

The Triumphant Re-Return of Mike’s Top 5

Guess who’s back, back again?  My insightful/insane top five lists are back, tell a friend.

Now that I got that out of my system, I am re-re-launching the top five lists.  This time I am doing it on the blog, so all the songs in the list will show up on the same day, which will probably be Fridays, but that could change from week to week.  Ok, it will change from week to week and I might not even post for sure on every week.  I would really like to keep this going for all eternity and post every week, but life and running out of topics can be problematic.  So, without further ado, here is the list.

TOP FIVE SONGS ONLY I LIKE

Clearly, that title is not meant to be taken literally.  Of course there are other people who like these songs, otherwise I would have never even heard of them.  These are songs that the vast majority of people will not only not like, but fail to understand how someone — most notably someone with the refined taste is music that I have — could even listen to this crap.  I also didn’t wimp out and put anything like free jazz or anything from Bitches Brew on here (mostly because free jazz normally sucks and if you don’t like Bitches Brew you are probably not my friend, or at least I will have a much lower opinion of you.)  These are songs that will be hard for me to convince others of their merit, and even harder for some of you to listen to.  May God have mercy on your souls.

5. Broken Social Scene – “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDqNL0js0iU

Broken Social Scene released one of the greatest albums of all time (I shit you not, it is a fantastic, genre bending/defining work that can only be the product of about 20 insanely talented people with a somewhat common idea but still the freedom to do their own thing.  It could/should have been a total mess [kind of like the follow-up] but it somehow came together.) in 2003’s “You Forgot it in People”.  The album has between six and twelve genius indie rock songs and then this bizarre little number.  It could only have come from that early/mid ’00s Canadian scene that gave us Arcade Fire and Wolf Parade as well.  I hated this song the first fiveish times I heard it, but now it is probably one of my three favorites from the album (it is a really great album, top three is high praise).

4. Haysi Fantayzee – “Shiny Shiny”                                https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjsnkIP4ddo

All you need to know about this song is pretty well summed up in the band’s name.  Look at that shit, that is the dumbest way to spell those words that you could fever dream up.  If you actually listen to the song you are bombarded with awful ’80s white guy rap about what I think is nuclear war over some new waveish beats.  And don’t even get me started on the video.  And those clothes, those are even awful by ’80s standards (thank God she is actually pretty hot, there is no redeeming him though.  There is a fiddle solo and the song should probably be a two-minute song instead of pushing four.  “I’m a hot retard” is actually a line from the song.  Yet every time I hear it I instantly want to hear it again.  I blame Rob Sheffield for reintroducing me to this song, as a chapter of his excellent  book “Talking to Girls About Duran Duran” is dedicated to this song.  I don’t think he is sure why he likes it so much either.

3. Deerhoof – “Panda Panda Panda”                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meGnmAnW1DY

And now it is stuck in your head for at least the next week.  And you also probably hate it.  I used to use this song to wake up my younger brother, at like 1:00 pm so really it was his own fault, and he hated it so much.  This is what happens when you get a band of weirdos drunk as shit at the zoo and then tell them to play a song about their favorite animal.  The drummer is probably all pissed of because he was like, “The pandas were boring, but we got to see the king cobra eat a rat.  How cool was that!” but the rest of the band just gave into the tiny Asian woman’s demands that they sing her tale to the panda (Yes, that was a Sifl and Olly reference.  And yes, that panda song is much better — but everyone that has heard it loves it so it would not make this list.).  The best part of this song though, is any word that is not panda.  The bye-bye near the 2:00 mark might just be the best thing ever.

2. Xiu Xiu – “I Luv The Valley OH!”                              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEW5U3-h5n0

Xiu Xiu is fucked up.  Like seriously fucked up in the head, and we should all be cautious about how we handle him/them.  The music is basically daring you to enjoy it, and is intentionally confrontational and difficult.  Jamie Stewart writes about the worst things in the world, like child abuse, rape, suicide, depression (ok, so every songwriter writes about that one, but Stewart makes it more…well, depressing) and doesn’t even try to make happy music to go along with it.  But still, every time I hear this song all I can really think about is how damn awesome it is.  I know of some friends who even share much of my “everyone else thinks this music fucking sucks” opinions that cannot stand this song.  I am not even joking a little bit when I tell you that this is his most accessible song off his most accessible album.  If I really wanted to scar you, I would have used the video for “Dear God, I Hate Myself”.

1. Fiery Furnaces – “Blueberry Boat”                       https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6fktHmQQlc

So what makes this song number one?  Is it the fact that it is at least twice as long as any of the other songs?  Is it the multiple tempo/style/instrument changes?  Is it that the song is about pirates and a boat shipping blueberries?  Is it because this is my go to song to play on the jukebox when the bar needs cleared?  The answer to all those questions is, of course, yes.  This song is the Voltron (or Power Rangers for the young’in’s) of difficult music.  On their own the individual obnoxiousnesses would be probably land the song on the list.  But when combined they become something even greater than the sum of the parts.  They become the first song I think about when I want people to not enjoy music I enjoy.  Sure, that might be an overly hipster douche bag thing to say and think, but it is true.  Sometimes you just need to prove how cool you are by showing off how unlistenable your music is.

 

NEXT WEEKS THEME: WORST SEX METAPHORS IN MUSIC

Feel free to discuss what you think should be on next weeks list or what I screwed up on this list.  Although considering this was a totally personal list you will be hard pressed to say I screwed anything up, unless you are one of those pricks that think that your opinions are the only ones that matter.  And we already have one of those guys here thank you very much.

 

I wasn’t slacking, I had legitimate reasons

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Yeah, it has been a while since I have done one of these, and I totally forgot to do the one about the Super Bowl halftime show that I said I would do.  Let me give you the details about what I would have said.  Bruno Mars was awesome, Red Hot Chile Peppers are old, Kanye West should do next year (the only problem with that being giving Kanye West a mic and a TV camera generally produces insane unscripted moments [see 2006 European VMAs, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”, “I’mma let you finish”, many other examples]).

So anyways, back problems that were solved by muscle relaxants that had me sleeping over half the day were the legitimate reasons I have not posted.  The point of this blog is to let you all know that I will be attending the Eastern Oregon Film Festival, and am going to try very very hard to watch every movie and attend ever after party.  Well, I can be sure that I will miss at least one film due to there being two shown at the same time.  But other than that, I am going to try and watch all of them and then will be providing a wrap up/review/award presentation on the blog after.  It should be great times.

And I am totally serious about Kanye West being the best person for next year’s Super Bowl halftime show.  I am pretty sure Pepsi or whoever sponsors it will wimp out and go with someone safe and boring.  After how awesome the last two years have been there is no way they can keep it going.  Considering the withered husks of The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Beatles (Paul McCartney at least, nobody give a shit about Ringo) have all performed I guess The Kinks would be logical.  Maybe Herman’s Hermits.  The Dave Clark Five.  Some other band only septuagenarians care about.  Actually, I changed my mind.  Herman’s Hermits is the perfect choice for next years Super Bowl.

Per prima luce dell’alba…

As I checked my Facebook after the Super Bowl, two things became abundantly clear to me.  First, I wondered what the point of posting about the game while it was happening.  There are only three types of people that could read that, the people watching the game, the people that don’t care about the game and the people that were going to watch the game later.  The people watching the game were watching the game so they clearly knew what was happening, so the post was meaningless to them.  The people that didn’t care about the game didn’t care, so it was meaningless to them.  The people who were going to watch it later were going to watch it later so it was spoiling it for them (although why they would be on Facebook would be a mystery to me).  All these post did was prove you could work a phone while watching TV, at that is an accomplishment somewhere along the lines of being able to dress yourself.

The second thing bothered me quite a bit more.  It seems that a large, or at least vocal, number of people were bothered by Coke’s “America the Beautiful” ad.  Now if you were bothered by the presumption that a soft drink can magically make everything better, that is a fair and valid point and you can be as angry at this ad as you want.  But that is not why people were angry about it.  People felt that is was disrespectful or something to have a classic ‘Merican  song be sung by people that talk funny.  Now some of you might think that last sentence is being disrespectful to a group of people’s beliefs and is mocking them.  If you felt that then good, I got my message across.

I talked with my mom the day after the Super Bowl about it, and she was just as surprised as I was.  Neither of us could even fathom that anyone could be offended by the ad.  The reason I bring this up is that me and my mom have vastly different political views.  She is a conservative Republican who at one time in her life attended about 4 church functions a week.  I am a liberal Democrat who at one time attended about 4 rock concerts a week.  She is getting a little better though, I finally won our long standing battle over marriage equality.  Still, she has much more in common with the group of people that were offended than I do.

But then, maybe she is even farther away from them.  Gather round children, it is time for Mike’s family history time.  My Nana (Grandmother) came over to the United States from Sicily in 1947 after the war pretty much made life in Europe suck.  She was married to my Nanu (Grandfather) in 1950 (they had met before the war back in Aspra, their hometown).  They both became American citizens, both had jobs – Nanu co-founded businesses that are still there today- and raised 3 children.  They also never spoke anything more than broken English.  Their children learned English in school and from older siblings and cousins, and now speak it fluently (Yes mom, I called you fluent in English.  Even though sometimes the words you use only make sense to you.).  In turn at least one of their children is now so in love with the English language that people take pleasure reading the words he writes.  It is happening right now in fact.

As I just said, I love English.  But that doesn’t mean I need to hate the other languages to prove just how in love I am.  I also love a good steak, but that doesn’t mean I am going to get pissed off when someone gives me fried chicken.  Because that would be stupid.  Yeah, I understand that “America the Beautiful” is a patriotic song and English is the primary language of the United States.  But I said primary, not only or exclusive or even official.  Because we don’t have an official language.  Now, unless you are 100% Anglo-Saxon, at some point in your history your relatives came here speaking little or no English.  But they made sure their children learned it.  And so on.

Some people think we need to make English the official language of the United States to ensure the preservation of the English Language.  Please, don’t make me laugh.  Are you telling me that we need a law to preserve the language of Vonnegut, of Dickens, of Wilde, of Whitman, of Melville, of Shakespeare?  Are you saying that films like “Casablanca” and “Star Wars”, “The Godfather” and “Citizen Kane”, “Gone With the Wind” and “Up” will be somehow forgotten?  That the lyrics of Dylan, Springsteen, Lennon and Darnielle will become irrelevant?  Again, I say please.  People will be learning English from now until the end of human existence.  No law is going to change or ensure that, and no force can stop it.

And if you were wondering about the title of this entry, it is Italian.  For “By the dawn’s early light…”  If you are offended by that, I suggest you reread this article.  Or just fuck off and shut up, either one is fine with me.

RIP PSH

This should not be breaking news to anyone, but in case you didn’t know Philip Seymour Hoffman died on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2, 2014.  He died of an apparent drug overdose.  I will get into the details of that later, but let me just say that while most celebrity don’t hit me that hard anymore, not since Cobain really, this one did.  I have been coming to terms with why that is, and also reflecting on his career.  I guess to put it in the simplest terms, I am saddened and disappointed that I will never see him in a new movie.

Hoffman might have been the greatest living actor, which would certainly put him high on the list of all time actors.  Some of you might think I am just over-estimating his talent as he just passed away, but I can back up my claim.  “Boggie Nights” and “The Big Lebowski” were released 4 months and a week apart from each other.  In each film Hoffman plays a minor role, something that most actors would not really be able to make shine. Looking at “Boggie Nights” he delivers what might just be the best performance of the entire film.  Scotty J is a character made of unrequited love.  We first see him in ill fitting clothes and a nervous demeanor, with Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” playing in the background.  Fast forward to him at the party for the last night of the ’70s.  His clothes fit, he has a new car, and he makes his move on Dirk Diggler.  He is, of course, shut down.  When he is crying in his car, calling himself a fucking idiot we know that things will never be the same.  And they are not, this is the pivotal point in the movie when things get bad.  Everything that came before was light, everything after is dark.

In “The Big Lebowski” Hoffman plays Brant, a character that could have easily been lost in the shuffle of outsized roles contained in this film.  But he plays it to such perfection that you are forced to pay attention and remember him, as much for how normal a character he is in this sea of madness than anything else.  These two films are filled with so many great actors being larger than life that when Hoffman is on camera he requires you to notice how unremarkable he is.

This trend changes in “Punch Drunk Love”.  Hoffman establishes a character better using two words, “Shut Up”, than many actors can do with an hour of dialogue.  In this one he is over the top, and he makes a lasting impression despite very limited screen time.  His resolution, with a simple “That’s that” is again brilliantly delivered.  I would doubt that his character says more than 50 words in the entire movie, but each one works so well that it is all he needs.

His trend of doing more with small parts essentially became his trademark.  Lester Bangs in “Almost Famous” and Phil in “Magnolia” are two more places where he has stole the show in lesser roles (ok, calling Lester Bangs a lesser role is criminal in my world but he isn’t a star of the film).  Nobody was better at making a small role a film stealing one.  Plus working with Paul Thomas Anderson so many times helps quite a bit.

“Capote” is the only film he won an Oscar for, and it is somewhat strange that he won it as a lead.  But, naturally, he was amazing at it.  Hoffman made me want to read Capote’s work.  That right there is enough for me to be eternally grateful to him.  He was both able to be a cult figure and a mainstream star, a difficult balance to maintain.

So, now we turn to the ugly part.  He died of a drug overdose, some sources even saying he was found with a needle in his arm.  That sucks.  But I am not going to make some grand anti-drug message here or talk about what a waste it was.  Going back as long as people cared to make record of it, artists have turned to chemicals for a little help to get them through.  Dickens loved opium, Wilde and Van Gogh drank absinthe like water and all of rock and roll is built upon towers of drugs.  That is just the way it is, always has been and probably always will be.  Such is life.

A pizza based Velevet Underground cover band exists, and MACAULAY FUCKING CULKIN fronts it.

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In many stories, if you just read the headline you will miss many of the important details on the subject and some information that could even show that the headline is misleading.  This is not one of those times.  Macaulay Culkin is in a Velvet Underground cover band that makes all the lyrics about pizza instead of heroin.  The genius of this must be listened to for one to truly grasp just how mind blowingly amazing it is.  Instead of “Stephanie Says” you get “Papa John Says”, “Perfect Day” becomes “Pizza Day” (yes, I know “Perfect Day” is a Lou Reed solo song and not a Velvet Underground song, but who cares?  We are talking about one of the greatest ideas anyone has ever had and you are going to argue semantics with me?  I don’t think so.) and so on.

The demo, which manages to cram nine songs in as many minutes, has the recording quality of an early Mountain Goats or Guided by Voices record.  If you are not familiar with the early works of those bands stop reading this bullshit and listen to the albums “All Hail West Texas” by the Mountain Goats and “Alien Lanes” or “Bee Thousand” (or both) by Guided by Voices.  You’re Welcome.  For those of you not familiar with those albums who also just wants to finish reading this article and then will maybe get around to listening to those albums if the feel like it, the point I was making is the recording quality is very lo-fi.  I would not be surprised to learn it was all done in one take around a single mic.  But that makes it even better.

Honestly, just listen to it.  Some of you might hate it, some of you might not entirely get it, some of you might just smile and think it was kind of nice.  But there might be one of you out there who, much like myself, just found their new favorite band.