A letter to Matt concerning the Summer Jams
Since the beginning of the iPod era (it’s been like 6 years or so, for me), I’ve been making these seasonal playlists, two per year. It’s been been kind of a ritual by this point, and it usually involves a liberal mix of modern hits and classic music I’ve retrospectively discovered. If you followed these things over the year you’d see me first discovering The Smiths in fall 2008, the Beatles in fall 2009, and the Clash in fall 2010. It’s like watching your little brother discover rock n’ roll. Which, come to think of it, is a great song. A few notes:
Pressure Zone: Okay, I think that Sea Change is basically the best Beck album and also one of the greatest albums of all time. But right before that album was Midnite Vultures — this freaky album he made in 1999. At the time, this aggressively freaky foray into R&B, conducted under the unpronounceable sign of Prince, was was considered a bizarre abberation from Beck’s trademark white-boy rapfolk material, and now it strikes me as the road not taken. This song is not strictly representative but it is the one that gets me the most hyped.
Hang On Sloopy: This all-time classic also functions as the unofficial theme song of Ohio, the land of my birth. I gather, from context, that Sloopy is a woman of some kind. But what she is supposed to be hanging onto? What is the hazard here? History is silent on these topics.
Price Tag and Bright Lights, Bigger City: These songs both figure prominently in the denoument of the feature film Pitch Perfect. Matthew, I watched this film on a plane flight back from America last December, and I am still aca-ashamed of how much I enjoyed it. I might have watched it two times on that plane flight alone. I suppose it is fashionable to hate popular music but I cannot pass up gems like these.
I Feel Free: I’ve finally gotten around to the first season of The Sopranos. This song plays over the credits of the second to last episode of the first season, the one where he hallucinates about the voluptuous Italian dental student next door, over at the Cuzmanos’. In context, it has a somewhat ominous undertone.
Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe (Remix) feat. Jay Z: Jigga is squarely in the Greg Maddux phase of his career. I mean, you expect him to be pretty workmanlike and not make any stupid mistakes. But then occasionally he finds himself inspired and pitch a series of shutout innings. Listen, I’m not great with sports metaphors. I’m lead to believe Greg Maddux was a famous sportsman of our era.
Tangerine (Gentleman’s Club Remix) feat. Rick Ross, Fabolous, and Bun B: Uhh, this song is incredible, perhaps the finest of the stripper-homage rap tracks on wax. It’s greatest feat is Rick Ross rapping that he’s “Got Pocohontas on his Yokohamas”, although I also enjoy everything that Bun B does on principle.
Starships: My 5-year-old nephew is, incongruously, a really big Niki Minaj fan. He likes to sing along to this song, oblivious its fairly raunchy lyrics. For the record I’ve always been in favour of Niki Minaj despite her being somewhat crazy, because of the incredibly high quality of her peak output. It takes quite a lady to kill Jay Z on a Kanye West track.
The Motto: Both the anthem of our era, Matthew, and also the finest Drake song yet to touch the earth. I blame the gorgeous beat and Lil’ Wayne’s effortlessly gonzo contribution. I honestly don’t know how this man has established himself as the most successful rappers of his generation. It would be like William S. Burroughs dominating the New York Times Bestseller list for a solid decade.
In Da Wind: I am not entirely certain who Trick Daddy is, but I’m pretty certain that he adores today’s youth.