“The making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you’re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.” (High Fidelity)
Over the past few weeks, one of my work projects has me thinking about playlists a lot: about how they can capture a mood perfectly, about how they can change your mood more effectively than almost anything else, and how they indeed are a very subtle art.
As the first of what might become a regular feature of this blog, I’m going to share a playlist. This one seeks to capture the feeling of the song title that wraps it up: one Sunday morning.
Here’s the screen shot of the songs and artists; below is a link that will take you to the music itself (technology willing). Enjoy.
There’s something about the end of the year that brings me back to my days as a music store employee. Part promoter, part critic, entirely focused on getting those around me to appreciate the year in music as they… well, should. So, with a bit of time to breathe this week, I’m going to return to this oft-neglected blog and highlight both the best songs of this past year and the brightest stars that are now emerging to make their mark on the year to come. Each day will feature one of these pairings, and I’ll seek to write each and every day.
Though these days aren’t choreographed to follow any particular order, it feels right to begin with Frank Ocean. There was no other artist in this past year that highlighted so much of what’s right and wrong with the music industry. Getting his start in the shadows of others as a songwriter, Ocean landed his own contract only to languish with an album that he couldn’t get released. Frustrated by a label who didn’t know what to do with him, Ocean “self-released” his music via Twitter and a blog and set forth a torrent of acclaim that landed him– among other places– as the first voice you hear on “Watch the Throne.” Despite continued enthusiasm that marks him as the closest thing to a sure bet in the age after Napster, his label has yet to release his album for anything other than free.
Despite this commercial confusion, Ocean helps lead the creative resurgence that has broken R&B free from the retrospective references that had marked it for years as a genre that was little more than mood music.
On the early end of the hype of mixtape marketing is an artist who goes by the name of Jhameel. With a bio pitch-perfect for the Gaga age, Jhameel combines Korean, Japanese and Mongolian ancestry with an ardent androgyny and a penchant for pop hooks. Though his first few complete albums have the expected unevenness of an artist finding his way, songs like these make you wonder what might be next.
So, for day number 2 of the thirty days of music, the tables turn from my favorite to my least favorite song. And, for reasons similar to those faced when choosing the top of the charts, this decision also is quite difficult. My sights initially turned to the Dave Matthews Band, because their aimless noodling, their inexplicable popularity, and their non-musical septic crimes against the City of Chicago all conspire to make them eminently loathe-worthy. But, the more I thought about it, there’s one song in particular that has baffled and tortured me for over twenty years. I think we have our winner.
I first heard “Love Shack” when working in a music store back in high school (the beginnings of my parallel life as a character in High Fidelity). Continue reading →