Mix Disc Monday: I hate myself for loving this song

Guilty pleasures. We all have them. Actually, I never had any until recently, because I figured that if I didn’t feel any shame about liking a song, then it wasn’t a guilty pleasure. Ah, what a naïve child I once was. I surely should have known that music would turn on me and become something I didn’t like, and then that something I didn’t like would create something I liked (ahem, “I Want It That Way”).

So I was inspired to reexamine my CD collection and cast a hairy eye at which songs have not exactly held their own against Father Time. I still like all of the songs on this list, mind you; let’s just say I have since come around to understanding why others may disagree with me.

I Beg Your Pardon,” Kon Kan (Move to Move)
I think the laconic vocal is what hooked me, as opposed to some over-sampled tenor like Dino or Paul “Boom Boom, Let’s Go Back to My Room” Lekakis. I remember, as early as the following year, someone played that song at our local college dance bar, and as people were leaving, they were mock-imitating the keyboard riff. Not much of shelf life for this one.

Strawberry Fields Forever,” Candy Flip (Madstock…)
It must have been the use of “Funky Drummer” in a cover version of one of my all-time favorite songs. That clearly blinded me to the breathier than breathy vocal, the impossibly slow BPM, and, well, pretty much everything else about it.

Hello,” The Beloved (Happiness)
It’s a List Song, which is always a bad sign. When the choruses consist of the names of celebrities, followed by “Hello, hello, hello, hello,” you should know straight away that you are not dealing with a band that’s going to change the world. Especially when two of the celebrities paired together are Willy Wonka and William Tell. In the interest of full disclosure, I have granted a full List Song pardon to Simple Minds’ “Up on the Catwalk,” because the drums are just too damn cool.

Hella Good,” No Doubt (Rock Steady)
I was very, very late to the No Doubt party, and then as soon as I started to like them, they started falling apart. The individual tracks to this intrigue me – I can totally envision Arthur Baker working his mid-‘80s mojo on it – but truth be told, there isn’t much of a song here.

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Flashback Friday #1 – Greetings To The New Feature

No one asked for it, but here it is, anyway: a new feature on ESDMusic which, hopefully, will become a regular reason for you to visit the site…provided, of course, that we can come up with enough material to maintain it. But, frankly, when you hear the premise, I think you’ll agree that with all of the music geeks we’ve got around here, that shouldn’t be an issue…

Borrowing on the same general concept as Bullz-Eye’s Mix Disc Monday, Flashback Friday will allow our writers to venture into the depths of their possibly-embarrassing personal histories by pulling out old mix tapes and writing about them. In theory, this should reveal a lot about where we were musically at the time we made the tapes; in reality, however, it may just indicate how limited our budget was at the time…or, at least, that’s what this tape of mine shows.

That’s right, as the person who came up with this idea, it’s only fair that I get the ball rolling, and lemme tell ya: I was attending Averett College in Danville, VA (go, Cougars!), and it was a real rarity for me to buy anything that wasn’t on its second or third markdown in the cut-out bin…and, believe me, you can tell.

Title: Greetings from Averett, Vol. 2
Date of creation: late March 1991 (approximate)

Side 1:

“Main Title / Rebel Blockade Runner,” John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra (Star Wars: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

I’ve always been of the mind that every mix needs to start off with something witty, clever, funny, or just, y’know, something memorable. Given that this was 1991 and we were on what would turn out to be a 16-year drought between new “Star Wars” films, beginning the tape with the familiar main titles from the original flick – now known as “Star Wars: A New Hope” – certainly qualified. Unfortunately, the title theme segues directly into another track, ”Rebel Blockade Runner,” and as a result, the whole thing ends up going on longer than most normal people would ever maintain interest. I mean, I love that soundtrack, and even *I* started to get bored. By the way, while I’ve attributed this to the actual “Star Wars” soundtrack, given my budget, I have to believe that this was much more likely taken from an el-cheapo recording done by, say, the Generic Philharmonic Orchestra…which means it’s almost certainly not John Williams conducting but, probably, his non-union Mexican equivalent. (Juan Williams?)

“Losing My Religion,” R.E.M. (Out of Time)

This is the track on Side 1 which most definitively dates the tape for me. As noted, I was a man with limited funds, and most of my purchases were CDs and cassettes that I’d rescued from the cut-out bin at the record chain in the local mall, but I sucked it up and bought Out of Time on its first day of release. I still remember writing a review for the Averett College newspaper, The Chanticleer, and declaring that this song’s lyrics sounded like a parody of the band’s style. (“I think I thought I saw you try” is the one that leaps immediately to mind.) I must’ve made this tape within a day or two of the album’s release and only known this song; otherwise, I almost certainly would’ve put “Texarkana,” “Near Wild Heaven,” or “Shiny Happy People” on here instead.

“This Is the World Calling,” Bob Geldof (Deep in the Heart of Nowhere)

Wow, did this album get reamed when it was first released. I’m sure Bob didn’t expect much else, though; after you’ve been held up as the pop star who fed the world, you ought to know that the press is going to tear your next LP a new center hole. Yeah, that’s right, Geldof’s fallible. So what? And, anyway, Deep in the Heart of Nowhere wasn’t nearly as bad as everyone said; it just wasn’t as good as, say, your average Boomtown Rats album. I still say the first half of the album is pretty damned good, and this song, which leads off the record, is definitely a highlight.

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Mix Disc Monday: When the postman don’t call on Valentine’s Day

Quick show of hands: does anyone really like Valentine’s Day? For single people, it’s an unpleasant reminder that you’re single (and therefore, in the eyes of the good people at Hallmark Cards, a loser). For couples, it’s yet another obligation to go out and do something special for your sweetie, despite the fact that you’ve already done that at Christmas, your anniversary, Mother’s/Father’s Day, his or her birthday and, if you really go overboard, your date-iversary as well. Enough already.

While everyone at Bullz-Eye is either happily married or happily involved (except for our fearless leader, who is happily neither), we see both sides of this dilemma, and have assembled a mix disc for the lovers and another for the fighters. There’s plenty of joy and pain (but not sunshine and rain) to go around. Dig in.

Mix One: Ain’t Love Grand

Ah, love. Love rules. It’s a scientific fact that when you’re in love, the sun shines a little bit brighter, people are nicer, and your car gets better gas mileage. People in love, according to a song by the Feeling, get special treatment. They know of what they speak. And yet, so few truly great songs have been written about the subject. For every “We’ve Only Just Begun,” there are ten songs like “Everything I Do (I Do It for You).” Because of that, this is officially declared a Bryan Adams-free zone. Feel better already, don’t you?

“You’re the Best Thing,” The Style Council (My Ever Changing Moods)
Shameless homer pick, this one. My wife and I danced to this at our wedding.

“La La Love You,” The Pixies (Doolittle)
Because there aren’t enough love songs with monster drum tracks that have someone shouting “Shake your butt!” in the background.

“(They Long to Be) Close to You,” The Carpenters (Close to You)
Okay, so the bit about sprinkling moon dust is pretty silly. But this is one of the greatest melodies in the history of pop. Period.

“Here, There and Everywhere,” The Beatles (Revolver)
Picking one Beatles love song is like choosing to keep only three toes on each foot. My apologies to “Michelle,” “Something” and “And I Love Her,” among others.

To see the rest of Mix One, click here.

Mix Two: Love Bites

If love is supposedly the most wonderful thing in the world, then why the hell does it hurt so much? There’s an old saying that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Try telling that to someone who has just loved and lost. From invincible to unlovable in seconds flat, nothing will make you feel as unworthy as a failed relationship, especially when it’s capped with a crushing one-liner like “I like everything about my life except my relationship with you.” My college girlfriend actually said that to me, no joke. And in return, I sang a number of these songs to her.

“House of Love,” Squeeze (Play)
I nearly put “Wicked and Cruel” in here instead – indeed, Play is pretty much one giant Dear Jane letter – but this song wins out for a laundry list of one-liners. “She was full of lies and boredom, it came as no surprise that she would cheat,” “I wasn’t Shakespeare, it’s simple / Did she expect me to kiss her feet,” and then the chorus hits: “We seemed the best of friends, life had just begun / But on the roof, a tile began to slip / The house of love caved in, and that was it.”

“I Believe She’s Lying,” Jon Brion (Meaningless)
Like Play, Meaningless has several candidates for this list, but I’m choosing “I Believe She’s Lying” for delivering the killer lyric with an even more killer drum track. “As soon as we’re committing, we’re admitting our mistake / So of course it’s only fitting, that the course we’re going to take is drawn / And whereupon, I’m slamming on the brakes.” You’ve all done it, and you can’t undo it. It’s the only way you learn.

“Say Anything,” Aimee Mann (Whatever)
It makes sense to put Brion and Mann back to back, since they used to date and he produced her first three solo records (plus she co-wrote the lyrics to “I Believe She’s Lying”). Was she talking about him when she said, “If you were everything you say, things would be different today / I would be happy to believe / But I’d have to be much more naive”?

“Good Luck,” Basement Jaxx w/ Lisa Kekaula (Kish Kash)
The flip side to “Ice Cream.” It’s angry, defiant, and there isn’t a woman alive who doesn’t love this song. “Good luck in your new bed / Enjoy your nightmares, honey, while you’re resting your head.” And hot DAMN, can Kekaula sing.

To see the rest of Mix Two, click here.


Mix Disc Monday: A holi-holi-ho, and a holi-holi-hey, another holiday



Get to Know: Regina Spektor

Russian-born Regina Spektor makes quirky, piano-driven music for the hipster set. She scored a minor hit this year with “Fidelity” from Begin to Hope, her fourth full-length release, but her catalog features several great songs. Where possible, I included links to a live performance or the proper video for each song (hosted by YouTube). I also included links to iTunes and/or Amazon for convenient purchase. Let’s get to know Regina Spektor.

“Fidelity” – Begin to Hope

This song is insanely catchy, from the lovely melody to the creative chorus. It’s one of the few of her songs that doesn’t feature the piano, but it works nonetheless.
iTunes | Amazon

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