This summer, I spent a lot of time driving my daughter and her friends to summer camp. The trip took about thirty minutes.
On day one, I had a CD in the player. I know I picked something simple and bouncy and upbeat to appeal to the kids, but I can’t remember what it was. It might have been the Cars or the Dandy Warhols.
And, oh good lord, you’d have thought I had passed out frosty refreshing bottles of vinegar laced with ant poison. The kids were absolutely stricken with loathing. I think my daughter apologized for my very existence. It was like everyone’s puppy died.
Needless to say, we switched right on over to 92.3 hot hit radio and those kids were just pleased as punch. All of them (two twelve-year-olds, a ten-year-old and an eight-year-old) sang right along with every song. They were little divas and knew every line, especially the ones with lewd content. They expressed great interest in the half-hourly “Dirty on the 30” scandal-sheet gossip update and knew every celebrity referenced therein. (I had to switch away from that feature about twice a week when the content would cross the PG-13 threshold.)
As the summer progressed, I came to enjoy my 30-minute daily exposure to pure, unadulterated pop-hit, Top-10 radio. I grew to enjoy that song about the girl giving her number to a guy in a club (even though it might be crazy) and that other song about the guy hoping to get his whistle blown. Yes, the songs are fairly simple and assembled from a limited toolbox of melodic effects and beats. But they’re catchy anyway and derive much of their energy from the sheer over-the-top enthusiasm the vocal performers bring to the songs. I guess I enjoyed more than anything else the kids’ uninhibited joy in hearing them.
Those songs aren’t here (with one exception) because I didn’t buy them and put them on my iPod. I didn’t need to; I heard them every morning in the car. But the experience served as a handy reminder of how narrow and regimented my supposedly eclectic listening habits are. Music doesn’t necessarily have to be comprised of one dour recluse pushing a piano off a ledge and boom-miking the result. When it comes to music, the kids are usually right. That’s what I remembered this year.
Anyway, here’s the list. Most of the songs have YouTube links. The Spotify playlist is at the bottom (minus the Windy and Carl song, which isn’t on Spotify. Click the YouTube link for that one.). As in previous years, placement on the list is governed strictly by the number of plays it got on my iPod. If it got a lot, it’s here; if it didn’t, it’s not.
Kill For Love / Chromatics
The last time I bought sunglasses, a few years ago, I was in a Sunglass Hut in the Monmouth Mall, looking at Ray-Bans. Most sunglasses look stupid on my head, so I had to search awhile before I finally found a pair of aviators that I liked. I turned to the clerk in the store, put the sunglasses on, and said, “What do you think?” She was probably eighteen years old. She smirked at me and said, “They’re very ’80s.” “Honey,” I replied, “That was my decade.”
First Contact / PS I Love You
I have this thing about the last song on a record. Sometimes otherwise terrific artists just put too much thought into songs. You’re listening to that second track on a record and you can tell you’re listening to the 12th take of a song that sounded much better on the first take. And there’s some weird production touches on it, too. And then along comes the tenth song on a ten-track record and all that mannered preciousness drops out. The last song on the record is often the longest track and it’s sometimes a shambolic mess. That one’s the keeper. PS I Love You is Paul Saulnier. He seems to have been around a long time without putting much out. I’ve had a song of his from a Rocket Girl Records comp, “I Want You,” on various iPods for a decade. And now there’s this one. Continue reading