I don’t expect an all-encompassing best of list to suit my tastes that well, but this compilation by Xbox Music is pretty disappointing. This makes me sound old, but I feel like music is in a pretty sad state in 2013. The best stuff being made is the Top 40 R&B, dance, hip-hop, pop, etc. The rock and indie scenes are decimated. Brooklyn’s full of hipsters who have re-discovered 1983 and just decided to recreate it on their iPad and release it as something new. But all I hear is Cutting Crew outtakes.
Also everything is mixed way too loud/hot. I’m sick of hearing it and you’re sick of hearing about it, so here’s my track by track breakdown.
- Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton) – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – I can’t stand Macklemore, but I do like this song. But even then, I just like the singing, so I guess that means I just like Ray Dalton. Also my UW alumni magazine says Ryan Lewis is a pop music icon, but I don’t think they know what “icon” means.
- The Wire – Haim – This doesn’t have to be recorded this hot. Totally mid-80’s. And just the same line over and over. Totally sucks.
- Diane Young – Vampire Weekend – Why is this recorded so hot? Fine song, but argh so nutsy sounds like crap.
- Hold On, We’re Going Home – Drake – Maybe my favorite song on the mix. But still too fucking hot.
- My Number – Foals – So 80’s. Kinda surprised I left it as open. Blegh. Naw, it’s going to broken. Sucks.
- Closer – Tegan And Sara – So 80’s. I feel like this band is capable of so much more, but I’m not really an expert. Terrible. Lots of “oohh oohhh ooohh ooh” lyrics. And there’s that rapid squeaky vocal rise on the end of a ton of their lines, including “closer,” and that is super annoying.
- Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams) – Daft Punk – When this song was blowing up this summer, one of my friends noted, “This song is so simple and straightforward. Can’t you imagine just anybody doing it? The only reason it’s huge is because Daft Punk did it.” I totally agree. But I also still really like it. Cognitive Dissonance. But there’s a craft here that extends beyond the simple song. The sounds are really well crafted and the way they weave in and out is expertly done. The rhythm is simple and repetitive, but I feel like there was a ton of love put into programming it perfectly right down to the microsecond so that certain parts of the track hit just a titch earlier than others…just perfectly to cause your body to move. It’s those kinds of details that cause this to be elevated above the pre-programmed track on your Casio keyboard.
- Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu) – Janelle Monáe – Given how huge Janelle Monáe is, I can’t believe there’s not a less boring song they could have picked for this. Just leaves me meh. At least until the rap. Hate the “even if it makes others uncomfortable” part.
- Shuggie – Foxygen – Laid back crooning. Pretty cool. Too hot, but that’s a little under the radar. Reminds me of some old school vocalist.
- Follow Your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves – SUCKS! I think she just needs to hang out with better people who allow her a little wiggle room between prude and drunk. How does something this stupid become a massive hit? Just because of cutesie references to gay love and marijuana being okay? HATE!
- Sirens – Pearl Jam – Argh, one of the worst from their album. And it’s like 5:40? Good lord. Reviewed.
- Easy Easy – King Krule – snot nosed brit. laid back. just him and a guitar. gawd guitar is so refreshing in 2013.
- Open Ended Life – The Avett Brothers – I listened to this album right when it came out due to liking one other Avett Brothers song. I didn’t like it. Spending some more time with this, it is a well-written song, but his voice drives me insane-o here. Late move to full as I’m listening to it loud.
- The Stars (Are Out Tonight) – David Bowie – Pretty much standard David Bowie. Why are so many lyrics on this playlist just “ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo?” I kinda like this song, but Bowie’s presentation often leaves me a little cold, it’s a bit too buttoned up British straight.
- The One That Got Away – The Civil Wars – I find The Civil Wars too repetitive and long, a problem exacerbated by their ridiculously slow tempi, but I do like the first half of most of their songs. This is 3.5 minutes, but only needs to be about 2.5. The ridiculous bridge is just them dragging things out to reach some magical length that they think is worthy of a song.
- Wakin On A Pretty Day – Kurt Vile – 9.5 minutes. Amazingly doesn’t seem that long. Seems long, just not that long. Which is even more surprising because he doesn’t cover a lot of ground. I do like it, though. You know, this is like one of those long Neil Young songs from On The Beach.
- 25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring) – Danny Brown – He seems to be restrained with the sung-chorus thing here. Plus it’s a bit slower and longer and doesn’t repeat at each run, so it doesn’t get as worn thin.
- Weight – Mikal Cronin – Pretty good, upbeat, straightforward singer songwriter stuff, but less acoustic guitar than you associate with that genre. More keys and drums driving things (machine?). Multi-tracked vox.
- Holy Grail – Jay-Z – Sophomoric. You can’t pull this off, Jay-Z. First of all, too much with the chorus…too many times. Second, you can’t pull of these lyrics: “I just can’t crack your code/One day your screaming you love me loud/The next day you’re so cold.” No, no, no. You are not getting the runaround from ladies the way a high school boy does, and even if one were to try that you wouldn’t have time for it. Finally, you can’t pull off the lyrics about how you can’t take your daughter for a walk because paparazzi, even if you do brush the lyrics aside immediately afterwards. You hardly have to parent. You probably have at least two live-in nannies. Nobody is feeling sorry for you because you can’t take your daughter for a walk. If you wanted, you could buy a private island and walk your daughter all around that island with nobody to bother you.
- Overgrown – James Blake – Basically like every other James Blake song. Sounds great. but too long and repetitive.
- Tennis Court – Lorde – ugh boring. repetitive. do not get the hype.
- Chum – Earl Sweatshirt – Verse about him missing his dad makes me sad.
- Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke – The only thing I can think of when this song is Robin Thicke -> Alan Thicke -> Kirk Cameron -> Bananas are proof of God. Douchetastic.
- Turn It Around – Lucius – reviewed
- The Monster – Eminem – Very good but has that problem with hip-hop where the chorus is just repeated too often. And it’s one of those choruses that is like the same melodic line four times in a row. Ugh. Also big surprise is that this song is about him.
- Open – Rhye – On the 80’s tip, isn’t this just Sade?
- Take The Night Off – Laura Marling – Reminds me a lot of Kelly Joe Phelps.
- Daedalus (What We Have) – San Fermin – One of our haunts in Cambridge. Very slow. Cool orchestration with horns and chorus. Low voice sings almost deadpan throughout. Putting as full mostly out of intrigue.
- I Should Live In Salt – The National – Something just a little off with the delivery/rhythms here, but it’s pretty good. It’s in like 17.
- Wake Me Up (Radio Edit) – Avicii – Well hasn’t this been done a hundred times already? So I guess this guy is a DJ and the singer is another person (Aloe Blacc, who I swear I’ve heard elsewhere.) Anyway, the DJ stuff seems a-ite, but the vox and guitar really bug me.
- Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire – too hot. A bunch of decent but not great songs from bands I’ve heard countless amazing things about. This is one of them. Also 6.5 minutes, wtf?
- Ride On / Right On – Phosphorescent – Just as laid back and hippie as you’d expect from the title. Sounds like jangling spurs.
- We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus – I want the popular shit to be good. Like Madonna or Lady Gaga. This is shite, though. Amazing production…amazing. Like, the studio work is fucking textbook. So good. The song and performance are complete shit. God what stupid lyrics.
- The Mother We Share – CHVRCHES – 80’s again. Lots of “oo oo ooo oo” lyrics. But a sweet little hooky song.
- Latch – Disclosure – oh god hate so bad. worst song on playlist. makes me angry in first few seconds.
- Suit & Tie – Justin Timberlake – Like this, I want the popular shit to be good like this. Though this is way too long and recorded TOO FUCKING HOT! Rapper is Jay-Z.
- Wildest Moments – Jessie Ware – Just like Lorde and the other one on here that sounds like Lorde. London Grammar? hate.
- Keep Your Eyes Peeled – Queens Of The Stone Age – blegh. these guys used to be so good.
- Chamakay – Blood Orange – Reminds me of Frank Ocean. Very breathy vox. Definitely in that mid-80’s vibe, but this one I really like. I’m going to try not to think too hard about it before I start to hate it. Tasty bass line at about 0:55.
- Hey Now – London Grammar – boring, oh so 80’s.
- Drop The Game – Flume – Meh. Loses despite his awesome name.
- Do What U Want – Lady Gaga – Not her best stuff. The “do what we want” is kind of a theme, huh? “Follow Your Arrow,” “We Can’t Stop,” “Do What U Want.” “No invitations, it’s a private party.” If it’s a private party then you do need invitations. still squeaks into full heart territory. I feel like it’s Drake helping out. It’s R. Kelly.
- Do I Wanna Know? – Arctic Monkeys – Kinda black keys rip-off-y. Still like my fave thing I’ve ever heard by these guys so fine full heart.
- She Will – Savages – Aggressive and punky. Somewhat intrigued, though I’m not crazy about it. Distorted.
- Born To Die – King Khan And the Shrines – Kinda dirty punk, like the vox are delivered totally lazy. A cleaned-up version of Sub Pop’s METZ. This is pretty cool. Got some nice horn sounds. And it’s produced really well, doesn’t sound too hot finally. I’ll move it into full because I do want to hear more of them.
- Stoked And Broke – FIDLAR – bratty snot nosed punk. I have to be in the right mood.
- Stoned And Starving – Parquet Courts – It’s about being stoned and starving. Too long for the content, but I like what’s there and on a mix like this I want to be generous about what … nah, f it, it’s an open heart.
- Man – Neko Case – A defense of men, boys, testosterone. Kinda clunks, but the strident guitar part is awesome. Might be full if not for the lyrics, which don’t resonate for me, and which don’t fit the rhythm the content wants them to have. There’s this part near the end, where it builds with a fast delivery, an f-bomb, crescendo, and then there’s a bit pause and she’s only got two words left (“showed you”) to spread out over several bars and it does not work.
- I Come From The Mountain – The Oh Sees – Noisy melodic punk. Okay.
- Black Skinhead – Kanye West – So how come Kanye can pull off the angry but Jay-Z can’t? Kanye’s more wiry. Jay-Z is kinda large and in charge. These are cultivated images, but the fact that Jay-Z has cultivated his business man king-like image means he CAN’T BITCH ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO TAKE HIS DAUGHTER FOR A WALK. Kanye and Eminem can, though. Because they’ve never let that chip get off of their shoulder.
Mix: “Hold On, We’re Doing Home” (Drake), “Get Lucky (feat. Pharrell Williams)” (Daft Punk)
– “Can’t Hold Us (feat. Ray Dalton)” (Macklemore & Ryan Lewis), “Shuggie” (Foxygen), “Easy Easy” (King Krule), “Open Ended Life” (The Avett Brothers), “The One That Got Away” (The Civil Wars), “Wakin On A Pretty Day” (Kurt Vile), “Weight” (Mikal Cronin), “25 Bucks (feat. Purity Ring)” (Danny Brown), “Overgrown” (James Blake), “Chum” (Earl Sweatshirt), “Turn It Around” (Lucius), “The Monster” (Eminem), “Daedalus (What We Have)” (San Fermin), “I Should Live In Salt” (The National), “Here Comes The Night Time” (Arcade Fire), “Ride On / Right On” (Phosphorescent), “The Mother We Share” (CHVRCHES), “Chamakay” (Blood Orange), “Do What You Want” (Lady Gaga), “Born To Die” (King Khan & The Shrines),”Do I Wanna Know?” (Arctic Monkeys), “Born To Die” (King Khan & The Shrines), “Black Skinhead” (Kanye West)
– “Diane Young” (Vampire Weekend), “Q.U.E.E.N. (feat. Erykah Badu)” (Janelle Monáe), “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” (David Bowie), “Take The Night Off” (Laura Marling), “Suit & Tie” (Justin Timberlake), “She Will” (Savages), “Stoked And Broke” (FIDLAR), “Stoned And Starving” (Parquet Courts), “Man” (Neko Case), “I Come From The Mountains” (The Oh Sees)
– “The Wire” (Haim), “My Number” (Foals), “Closer” (Tegan And Sara), “Follow Your Arrow” (Kacey Musgraves), “Holy Grail” (Jay-Z), “Tennis Court” (Lorde), “Blurred Lines” (Robin Thicke), “Open” (Rhye), “Wake Me Up (Radio Edit)” (Avicii), “We Can’t Stop” (Miley Cyrus), “Latch” (Disclosure), “Wildest Moments” (Jessie Ware), “Keep Your Eyes Peeled” (Queens Of The Stone Age), “Hey Now” (London Grammar), “Drop The Game” (Flume)