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Monday, May 16, 2005
The Annotated (postmodernbarney.com) Music Mix
Not too long ago, I participated in the mix-disc exchange LeftyBrown organized. I've now had a chance to listen to every participant's disc at least once, and I'm going to start offering up some thoughts on the songs I really liked starting tonight, but before I do that, I wanted to take some time to reveal what songs I put on my disc, and why.
Shirley Bassey, "Hey Big Spender (Wild Oscar Mix)": I could listen to this song all day. It's fun and energetic and just a little weird. I was racking my brains trying to think what song to start up the disc with. I wanted to do a "best foot forward" sort of thing and start off with a strong song, but I also wanted a song that would set the mood for the material to follow. So, it was natural that I come to this song. It's quirky and tends to catch people off guard, but when you give in to it it's really damn good.
Polyphonic Spree, "Wig in a Box": I love the sound of the Spree. It may surprise you, as I have a bit of a reputation as a dour guy, that I really like bouncy, upbeat and fun music. And that's what you get with the Spree. I particularly like this song, a cover of a tune from the film/play "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" that appears on the Hedwig tribute album, not only because of my general enjoyment of covers, the stranger and more eccentric the better, but because the Spree's, well, "happy" take on the song improves it.
Avenue Q Cast, "If You Were Gay": This was mostly me just mixing my weird sense of humor with my genetic love of musical theatre. I mean, it's puppets that sound vaguely like Bert and Ernie singing a song about how best friends will accept you no matter what, with a perfect imitation of a Joe Raposo melody backing it. How can you not fall in love with that?
Magnetic Fields, "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend": Tom's almost got it right, I do sometimes get really fed up with heterosexism in mass media, so I will seek out specifically gay music and musicians to counter-act it. That's partly why I chose this Fields song rather than any of their other songs. Of the songs on their newest album, it's the one I most relate to. Of course, I think all their songs are great, because this is another one of those bands whose sound I really like, so it's hard for them to do wrong by me.
Emilie Simon, "Flowers": One of my other musical weaknesses is French pop songs. There's a very distinctive sound to French pop that makes it unmistakable and unique. Simon has a crushingly beautiful and delicate voice, and this is a great "dis" song, a subgenre of anti-love songs that always amuse me, especially in the way it builds up to the dis after going on about how swell the guy is. It's a clever subverting of the form.
Robbie Williams, "Supreme": Again, I just like happy, unpretentious music most of the time, and it's hard to go wrong with just straight-forward, unapologetic pop music, especially when it's handled by someone like Robbie, who has a good voice (rare for pop music), a clever turn of phrase and a sense of humor about his work. I had lots of songs by Robbie to choose from, but I went with this one because it's got a big, "jangly" type of sound to it that goes well with several other songs on the disc.
Dolly Parton, "Jolene": And so we round off the "pain of love" section of the disc with my favorite work by Dolly. It's achingly sad and heartfelt, and it's got that incredible guitar back-up that just works so perfectly as accompaniment.
Phil Ochs, "Pretty Smart on my Part": This is another musician that I had lots of material to choose from, and I pretty much had to put a song by Phil on the disc, as he's my favorite singer/musician of all time. He's biting, and smart and cynical, and everything music with an opinion should be. I wanted to put a song of his that embodied that aspect of his music, that had a sense of humor and something to say, and it was pretty much a toss up between this and "Outside a Small Circle of Friends." I think, in the end, I chose this song because it is slightly shorter. This is also the song that I expected lots of "Dorian, are you feeling okay?" responses to, given the over-whelming sense of paranoia and violence in the song.
Hidden Cameras, "Doot Doot Plot": And despite what Tom may think about my choice of songs, this is probably the only non-gay song from the Cameras. I didn't want to over-whelm folks and all, so I chose a song from their latest album that, for the most part, doesn't deal with sexuality at all. Again, a band whose sound I really like, and I like the word-play and silly rhymes in this tune.
Peter & Gordon, "You've Had Better Times": This was more of a recent rediscovery of mine than a song I've been listening to a lot lately. The sound quality isn't very good because I ripped the MP3 from my vinyl album, which has seen better days itself. This was also a last minute replacement song, as I thought that all of the songs from George Michael's newest album that I tried to fit into this space were running a little long. But, it's from the very rare Peter and Gordon album "Hot Cold and Custard" and it's a very listenable song of the "frustrated love" genre, which is another genre I tend to respond well to.
Jeffrey Altergott, "Runt": I've got nothing too deep to say about this song. I like his voice, I like the music, I respond to this song and identify a bit of myself in it, and I like the guy who sings it. So I'm going to do him a favor and link to a way to buy his music.
Eartha Kitt, "I Want to be Evil": I love Eartha Kitt. I love her voice and I love the attitude she brings to her music. This is one of my favorite songs by her. It's just so wicked and funny and cruel. I mean, that line about "trumping an ace"...you have to be a real jerk to do that to your partner.
Nina Simone, "Pirate Jenny": I like Nina Simone a lot as well. She's almost like an angry Eartha at times. I also really like Bertholt Brecht's work, especially "The Threepenny Opera." So this song was a no-brainer for me. This is the other song I expected to get concerned e-mails about, since it's basically a graphic revenge fantasy from a maid in a whore-house.
Franz Ferdinand, "Michael": I've really been enjoying the debut album from Franz Ferdinand, and this is my favorite track off of it. Given the general state of rock music these days, it's remarkable for me to find a rock band that I like this much. It's fast and it's danceable and it has lyrics that don't mean much but sound as if they do. What more do you want from a rock band?
Paul Williams, "Phantom's Theme": From the film "Phantom of the Paradise", a great "bad" movie. I've always thought that Williams was a really under-rated song-writer, with excellent melodies and engaging lyrics and a pretty good, if a little raw, voice. His score for this film is excellent, with a great blend of drama and humor.
Scissor Sisters, "Backwoods Discotheque": My God, it's an actual B-side! This band shows up because I love their sound. And I chose this song because it's not on their album and thus had a good chance of being new to many people, even those who understand the appeal of the Sisters.
Johnny McGovern, "Soccer Practice": Okay, I admit it. This was just me being naughty and putting an incredibly dirty and naughty song on the mix just because I could. But, to be honest, as Mike said to me, this song pretty accurately sums up a lot of things about my taste in music, my sense of humor and my personality. I'm not sure if he was complimenting me or not.
Harvey Fierstien, "Love for Sale": I really like the song, and I like covers, so Harvey's version of the song from "Torch Song Trilogy" really works for me. It's funny and knowing, but it also works as a unironic sentiment. It's a song of many contradictions, and I respond to that.
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, "Cabaret": Like the first track, I was trying to think of a good song to end the disc with. So this song came to me. I like covers a lot, so it needs to be an all cover band. And it needs to respond back not only to the first song, but to the album as a whole. So what better song than a punk cover, from a notoriously gay musical, about a drugged out and sexed up cabaret show? I mean, that's sort of the impression I take away from my little mix, why not drive the point home?
Secret Hidden Bonus Track It's a techno remix of the German version of the song "Rubber Ducky." It's meant to take you by surprise, and maybe make the world seem like a slightly more confusing place than you thought it was.