Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mixtape For A Crush

Two things before I get to this final mixtape of 2011: 1) For the sake of full disclosure, during the weekends I usually put BriPod on shuffle to see how many of the 12,000 songs I can get through before Monday. 2) Today was my last day of work until the New Year. These are two facts that are seemingly unrelated but need to be shared before this next thing. So the song to come on upon finishing the last thing I needed to do before essentially, "calling it a year," was The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up." Well, first it got me thinking about how awesome The Prodigy was. But then I thought of how appropriate this song was for that moment. From what I remember, when asked what the title meant, Keith Flint was notorious for telling the press that it was just some dumb phrase that meant letting  loose and going crazy. Admittedly, I may or may not have just made that up. In all honesty, I'm not sure if Keith Flint ever really said that or if it was Liam or Maxim that said it -- remember, I'm a big Prodigy fan (Music For The Jilted Generation is easily one of my favorite albums of the 90's.) Or maybe it wasn't even said at all. But in my mind, that was what the title meant. Like instead of saying "Time to get my groove on!" one could yell out "Time to smack my bitch up!" Well anyway, that was one of my first thoughts when leaving work today...that and "How the hell did George Michael's 'Freedom '90' get stuck in my head? I don't even have any George Michael on BriPod?!"

All goofiness aside, this last mixtape came to be because of a dare. I had recently posted that Band Of Horses' "No One's Gonna Love You" is a surefire inclusion if I was a to make a mix for a crush. My friend, Amber called me on it and pretty much challenged me to come up with my "Top 10 songs to give a crush on a mixtape." Well, she didn't really challenge me...she was more interested in what I would come up with. Whatever my motivation was, after giving it some serious thought, here we are, a week later with my perfect playlist for that special someone, whoever she may be. A little New Wave, a little indie, a little pop, and even a hair metal ballad for good measure.

Mixtape For A Crush
(This playlist is also up on Spotify: Mixtape For A Crush)

1. The Magnetic Fields, "The Book Of Love": I always found Stephin Meritt's songwriting to be clever and witty and, yes, at times really funny. What I like about this song, other than the fact that I sound exactly like Stephin Meritt when I sing along to it (no, really, I totally do), is the simplicity of the line "I love it when you sing to me. You can sing most anything." In one sense, I'm a living High Fidelity character because I always wanted to have a girl sing to me. Even if she had a terrible voice, the sappy part of me would kind of love it.

2. Band Of Horses, "No One's Gonna Love You": This song might be a little aggressive for just a crush. I mean that, not in the "blow your speakers and puncture your eardrums"-sort of way, but more in the "whoa...pump the breaks"-variety of "aggressive." But sometimes even crushes can be intense. Luckily, Ben Bridwell sings the lyric, "no one's gonna love you more than I do" in such a sweet tenor that it's able to come across as charming romantic hyperbole.

3. INXS, "Never Tear Us Apart": The first tape I ever bought with my own money was Kick by INXS. To this day, it's still one of my all-time favorite albums. "Never Tear Us Apart" is high on the melodrama scale with its swelling strings and syrupy sax solo. But it also has the kind of lyrics that "High School Brian" would've scribbled onto a note to give a girl after school. And when this song ended up on the tape that I'd pass to the girl (yes, along with the note with the scribbled lyrics), it helped that Michael Hutchence sang it with such believable conviction that he made for a very worthy stand-in.

4. Bat For Lashes & Beck, "Let's Get Lost": Yes, I realize this song is on one of the Twilight movies. No, I've never seen any of them and no, I have zero intention of ever seeing any of them. But the soundtracks are decent. Anyway, this song is on here for just one lyric: "Just for tonight, darling. Let's get lost." Even "Cynical Brian" can get all mushy after hearing a line like that.

5. Yaz, "Only You": Some songs on this list really need no explanation. This is one of those songs. I can see someone getting all misty-eyed at Alison Moyet's almost gut-wrenching delivery, just letting the song's title hang there at the tip of her lips almost as if she wanted to take it back the second she sings it. Rumor has it that after leaving Depeche Mode, Vince Clarke offered to remain the band's songwriter with this being his first post-departure contribution. Instead, it became Yaz's first song. Just imagine, if Depeche Mode had done "Only You." But alas, we're left with this version...not a bad fate after all.

6. The Cure, "Lovesong": I'm willing to bet that there are people who have used these lyrics, rewritten in a letter, word-for-word and passed it off as their own thoughts. And why not? Robert Smith really does come up with a template for the perfect love note. Now if only we can all collectively unhear 311's desecration of this song.

7. Cheap Trick, "The Flame": This is a totally sappy pop ballad. And I'll be honest, it used to be a guilty pleasure. But I've seen Cheap Trick do this song live fairly recently, and goddamnit, Robin Zander hits those high notes flawlessly. Now, I don't care who knows it- I love this song.

8. Mr. Big, "To Be With You": I'm a child of the 80's. While that means I grew up listening to some awesome New Wave, I also absorbed a ton of hair metal. And I'd be a giant liar if I said I didn't love power ballads. Even ones that didn't have that much power. "To Be With You" is far superior to Extreme's "More Than Words" (sorry, Nuno) because of that sing-along chorus...oh and because of the handclaps. If you were a girl I hung out with in high school and had a crush on, you definitely received a mixtape with this song on it.

9. The Lemonheads, "Into Your Arms": Remember when Evan Dando was the next big alt rock pin-up? Yeah, that was a while ago. This song is from that time. If someone's never heard this song before it could still pass for a current indie pop love song. It just sounds timeless mainly because of its heartfelt sentiment.

10. Modern English, "I Melt With You": This one may be forever linked to the 80's but this time that isn't such a bad thing. It's been used over and over again in commercials (Burger King? Really?) but it still can't take away from the sudden rush of lovesick nervousness of that chorus ("I'll stop the world and melt with you.")

11. The Divine Comedy, "At The Indie Disco": I couldn't resist. I just have to include this. At first listen, "At The Indie Disco" sounds more like it's a love note to Britpop (and a little New Wave) namedropping Blur, Morrissey, and The Cure. But as the song progresses it becomes clear that it's also a love song to a crush. The real kicker though is the line "she makes my heart beat the same way / as at the start of 'Blue Monday.'" Isn't that what all of us are looking for, after all?

There you have it. Sometimes romantic, at times sappy, but always catchy. Have a listen and swoon.


  1. This is an awesome mix tape, Brian! INXS would definitely make it onto any mix tapes for potential crushes of mine.

  2. Yeah, "Never Tear Us Apart" is totally slow-dance worthy! :-)