…Mix of the Summer 2014…

I Whistle a Happy Tune

July 11, 2015 By: Andrew Category: Mixings

Summer is here! And I am so tardy to the party with this year’s summer mix that it’s almost autumn. #atcfail

To be honest, it’s been a challenging year to single out the bonafide summer pop anthems. The Top 40 scene is a little less sugary and a little more moody lately… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just required me to look for some less obvious choices.

The first half of this mix will sound a lot like the mixes of years past, and somewhere after the halfway point it gets a little more mellow before finishing with the requisite cheesiness that is my trademark.

I’ve opted to include only 20 tracks for this initial release. I will later crown five victory lap winners on or around Labor Day. Intriguing! After all, it’s always a challenge to predict the biggest jams when some of them haven’t even hit yet.

Hop on over to this mix on Spotify or hit me up directly for the Dropbox link if you’re not on that platform. (I’m looking at you, Taylor Swift.)

For an added good time, I’ve also uploaded to Spotify my famous 90s mixes from high school that unofficially started my obsession with the post-mixtape-era mixtape. Consider it my thank you gift for this one being so late!

  1. “Want to Want Me” by Jason Derulo | If you would have told me one year ago that a Derulo ditty would find its way onto one of my summer mixes (as the lead track no less!), I would have told you to stop sniffing Sharpies. But there’s simply no denying the summery groove of this song, propelled in all the right places by homeboy’s oddly satisfying, melismatic falsetto.
  2. “Emotion” by Carly Rae Jepsen | This track makes me happy because (a.) I grow more in love with Carly’s smoky, unfussy vocals with each listen, (b.) it name-checks Mariah song titles all over the place and (c.) it further supports the theory that this gal has a great career ahead of her and need not be overshadowed by “Call Me Maybe” for the rest of time. Well played, Jepsen.
  3. “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon | The first time I heard this song, it was performed live as the centerpiece of a surprise marriage proposal (heart you, E Stace). The formula was so familiar I assumed it was a classic 80s song I had somehow missed in my musical education. Come to find out, Walk the Moon released this driving dance floor anthem last year and it’s just now finding its footing on pop radio and at wedding receptions across the nation. Color me educated.
  4. “Black Magic” by Little Mix | Does anybody else remember B*Witched? Let’s all consider ourselves blessed that they said no to this song 15 years ago and left it on the shelf to be dusted off by tween pop’s premiere girl group. (I’m not entirely sure that this happened, but it seems very likely.)
  5. “This Summer…” by Maroon 5 | You know when you love a song and decide to really invest in it by taking a deeper listen to learn all the lyrics? Please don’t do that with this song. They are really predictable. And unimaginative. And profane to a fault. But, hey, it fits the summer mix profile – clearly an obvious and desperate attempt by the M5 boys to make it onto my mix. They win! (And so do you, Anna Pandorf.)
  6. “Lick My Lips” by Katharine McPhee | You guys, I’m having a vision. It’s of us all throwing on our favorite pair of daisy dukes, meeting at Coney Island and roller skating as a group down the boardwalk while applying our favorite respective flavors of Lip Smackers and listening to this song on repeat. Can we please make this happen? (Hats off to my favorite hunty Brent McCreary for this recommendation.)
  7. “I Don’t Like It, I Love It” by Flo Rida feat. Robin Thicke & Verdine White | There are a couple of tracks on this year’s mix that I’ve included solely for the irresistible chorus. You can put this one in that category. Flo Rida doesn’t do a ton for me, but you could put pretty much anything with a bouncy, whistle-y Robin Thicke moment and I’m all set. (The all-knowing Krissi Diers gets brownie points for putting this one on my radar.)
  8. “Beat of My Drum” by Powers | I get so many applications from budding indie pop acts to snag a spot on my summer playlist every year and I have to turn most of them down because they’re always way more indie (read: boring) than pop (read: winning). But LA-based duo Powers had me with those finger snaps and thundering drum beats at the very top of this offering. I expect great things in the future from them!
  9. “Hold My Hand” by Jess Glynne | This British singer/songwriter is on the eve of releasing her debut studio album and I’d say she’s setting the bar pretty high with her singles output so far, the centerpiece of which is this dancey, saxy (that’s an “a” not an “e”), sun-soaked concoction. Has there ever been a more effervescent ode to love? Probably! But this one’s pretty great too.
  10. “SummerThing!” by Afrojack feat. Mike Taylor | Here’s another one of those sneaky tracks that barges its way into the rotation with an oh-so-appropriate title. I really dig what Afrojack has whipped up here – it’s a buoyant summery jam at first blush and then it deconstructs itself into some more house-like territory … in a non-douchey way. Neat!
  11. “Talking Body” by Tove Lo | So I originally thought this chick was saying “we fought for life” in the chorus. But I was confused because it didn’t make sense why someone would put their body on hers if they were having relationship issues. Then I read the lyrics and realized they were doing the opposite of fighting for life. And it all made sense. #truestory
  12. “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd | Abel Tesfaye is the name of the guy behind The Weeknd. He ups the sultry vibe he introduced with “Earned It” and puts a bass-heavy pop spin on it with this new jam. I’m really in love with it and I think it will make him a lot of money. He’s saving up to buy that final “e” from Vanna White. At least I hope he is.
  13. “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding | What’s more thrilling than being whisked away in a private leer jet by Christian Grey? This pulsing anthem of desire and ecstasy, GURL. I love the way this track builds on itself, piling on more layers of sound until it reaches that brilliant climax (tehehe) at the two-minute mark, washing us away with its full power. Ahhhh….
  14. “Good Thing” by Sage the Gemini feat. Nick Jonas | Same thing as with the Flo Rida song – I wouldn’t exactly call my self a Sage fan, but if he’s gonna bring everyone’s favorite good-boy-gone-bad Nick Jonas along for the ride to provide a chorus as hypnotic as this, I’m all in. Real talk, though, when did Jonas become such a formidable player in the pop pantheon?
  15. “Pray to God” by Calvin Harris feat. HAIM | While we’re all beside ourselves waiting for a new full-length album from the Haim harem, this regal dance cut spearheaded by surprise-I’m-distractingly-jacked Calvin Harris will fill the void in the meantime.
  16. “Where Are Ü Now” by Skrillex & Diplo feat. Justin Bieber | So many thoughts. A very well-executed step in the Bieber Comeback Playbook. Sounds like a trippy tribal safari somewhere around the middle. Best use of the umlaut since I don’t know when. And a shoe-in for the end credits in a hipster film version of “Where’s Waldo.”
  17. “Restart” by Sam Smith | I bought the deluxe version of Mr. Smith’s album last year and was surprised to find that this particular gem isn’t on the standard issue release. It won’t be blowing up radio any time in the near future, but it’s cool, smooth and refreshing. And in the grand scheme of Sam Smith’s musical oeuvre, it’s practically bubblegum pop.
  18. “Crave” by Parachute | This pop/rock outfit has been on my radar for a few years but I haven’t really been obsessed with any of their stuff until now. There’s something very Rob Thomas-y about the lead vocals on this one (a check plus in my book) and the sassy female BGVs are icing on the cake.
  19. “Honey, I’m Good” by Andy Grammer | 5 points for knowing your alcohol limits, Andy. 10 more points for monogamy. And bonus points if you can record a song within a clap along, honky tonk sensibility as shameless as this and still sell it as a mainstream pop. This marks his third appearance on one of my mixes. I promise this guy doesn’t have an unfair advantage… that I know of.
  20. “Marvin Gaye” by Charlie Puth feat. Meghan Trainor | I love a good tribute to an R&B legend sung by adorable Caucasian children who can riff. What a concept! While they could never hope to match the unrelenting sexiness of any of Mr. Gaye’s original records, Charlie and Meghan make up for it with their similarly unrelenting preciousness.

Meet me back here in a little less than two months to figure out what the lucky back five songs will be!

Midnight Radio

July 01, 2014 By: Andrew Category: Mixings

The time has come, my friends! You all have so patiently waited for this year’s Mix of the Summer and I have miraculously found a few spare moments to post my annual blog entry in honor of said mix.

It was a really fun collection to put together this year. I felt like there weren’t nearly as many obvious choices this time around which made the research process all the more engrossing and all of the suggestions I received along the way all the more helpful.

If last year was the dawn of the all-digital model, this year is the dawn of the Spotify era. In addition to Dropbox access like last year, I’ve uploaded this year’s Mix of the Summer to my Spotify account, so be sure to follow me there.

As an added bonus, I’ve imported all of my previous summer mixes as separate playlists, dating back to 2006! So if you’re in the mood for a trip down memory lane, get ready for some sugar-coated, pop perfection goodness. On to the latest batch…

  1. “Problem” by Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea | Ariana’s debut effort last year quickly became my go-to anytime album thanks to its effervescent sonic delights. This lead track from her forthcoming sophomore release promises similar good times, with a bit more welcome grit. I know I said there weren’t many shoo-ins this year … this was basically the only one.
  2. “Classic” by MKTO | I always hesitate to duplicate tracks from the only other essential Mix of the Summer (Dawn Kusinski’s … duh), but there was no world in which this gem of a ditty from the LA-based pop duo MKTO would not be on my mix. It’s riffy guitars are just as throwback-y as the subject material. And it always sounds like they’re name checking Marin Mazzie at 2:12 even though I know they’re not. Talk about classic!
  3. “Birthday” by Katy Perry | I knew from the second I listened to Prism last year that this track was a necessity for this year’s summer set. When the reigning queen of bubble gum music puts out a song that is ultra catchy even by her standards, all bets are off. Also, the structure of this song makes me want to line dance. Who’s with me?
  4. “Sing” by Ed Sheeran | This song came on the radio a few weeks ago and the chorus was immediately stuck in my head. But it took repeated listens for me to process that it was Ed Sheeran a.k.a. Ron Weasley meets Jason Mraz. I’m really into how hypnotic this song can be with no more than an acoustic guitar and a few well-placed beats.
  5. “You Don’t Know What to Do” by Mariah Carey feat. Wale | As a true MC devotee, I’m a little bummed (but not entirely surprised) that more folks aren’t picking up her latest release. But you’ve got to hand it to the girl, she still knows her way around a light-as-a-feather summer jam with an obligatory rapper assist. And this one has disco vibes. Neat!
  6. “Calling All Hearts” by DJ Cassidy feat. Robin Thicke and Jessie J | Speaking of disco, I don’t know where in the world this throwback tune came from but I’m glad its unabashed cheesiness found its way onto my playlist. In the absence of a new Jessie J album (when is that going to happen, please?) and a Robin Thicke track that’s not about his estranged wife, this selection fills a very important hole on this year’s mix.
  7. “She Looks So Perfect” by 5 Seconds of Summer | Forget One Direction, these boys are from Down Under … and that’s, like, so much cooler. They’re serving us Aussie teenybopper realness and (ironically) giving American Apparel the best advertising campaign they never asked for.
  8. “#GETITRIGHT” by Miley Cyrus | I gave Bangerz a few listens when it came out last year and, oddly, this was the earworm that stuck in my head and never left. I’m not going to make excuses for what Miley’s espousing here. This song is tacky with a capital T. But just listen to that addictive hook courtesy of Pharrell. I mean…
  9. “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors | I’m pretty sure this song was written solely to be the background music for car commercials and TV reality show “journey” montages. But I really don’t care. Every time I listen to it, my spirits are lifted and I would swear to you that today will indeed be the best day of my life.
  10. “Lightning in a Bottle” by The Summer Set | Put these guys down in the category of me only knowing them by their inclusion on summer mixes. The same pluck and charm that made their “Someone Like You” such a good fit for the 2011 mix is back here and amped up to perfect summery effect.
  11. “One Night Town” by Ingrid Michaelson feat. Mat Kearney | Ingrid’s musical stylings are sometimes a little too quirky for my liking. Which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I found this song from her new album Lights Out. I came for the Mat Kearney feature but I stayed for the driving chorus and sweet collaboration.
  12. “Don’t Kill the Magic” by Magic! | These crazy Canucks have, by my count, only one album (which literally just came out) and only one single (this one is soon to be the second). But they seem to be blowing up in all the right ways. There’s something about this song that sounds really fresh but still familiar. Me likey.
  13. “The Wire” by Haim | If I had to pick one album to be a Mix of the Summer in and of itself, it would be Days Are Gone from the sisters Haim and their drummer friend Dash. But that would be lazy of me. So I’ll just pick this standout single from their debut collection and threaten you if you don’t go buy the whole thing. Go do it now. I’m watching you…
  14. “Not a Bad Thing” by Justin Timberlake | There’s not a whole lot of mid-tempo fare that gets past my spam filter when crafting the Mix of the Summer. But JT can get out of much stickier situations based on his smooth voice and suave production value. To be honest, I wasn’t aware that anyone ever thought it was a bad thing to fall in love with him, but I’m glad he makes the case here.
  15. “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith | My homeboy Sam Smith’s debut album is real good but it’s also a real downer, y’all. This Disclosure track was the one that first brought him into the public eye and I still can’t get past its trancy fabulousness. It’s undeniably effective in the stripped down version featured on his solo effort. But my heart belongs to this one.
  16. “Undressed” by Kim Cesarion | If you’re wondering why this song is still in your head several days after hearing it, it’s because this dude is from Sweden. They have this stuff in spades over there. Thankfully, this tune is a little more progressive than, say, Ace of Base or ABBA. Not that there’s anything wrong with those two groups. They just aren’t this sexy.
  17. “Boom Clap” by Charlie XCX | I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know a lot about this song. I know it’s on The Fault in Our Stars soundtrack. I know it’s by the chickadee that featured on Icona Pop’s “I Love It” from last year’s summer mix. And I know you’re gonna love it. #boom
  18. “Back Home” by Andy Grammer | I didn’t peg Mr. Grammer to be very soulful based on his last summer mix inclusion, 2012’s “Fine By Me.” That selection was nothing but fun, bouncy pop rock. But it turns out he has been flirting with country vibes and call-and-response Mumford-y imitations all along. Fine by me!
  19. “Borrow My Heart” by Taylor Henderson | This little dude was one of the finalists on Australia’s Got Talent. And I almost didn’t include this track because it’s such a blatant rip-off of Phillip Phillip’s “Home” which is, itself, such a blatant rip-off of so many before it. But in the end, that’s of course the best reason to include it. That and the fact that the very tail end of the chorus sounds like BSB’s “Quit Playing Games With My Heart.” Swoon.
  20. “Leave the Night On” by Sam Hunt | Now what would a Mix of the Summer be without a paint-by-numbers, feel-good country ditty to send you off into the sunset? Mr. Hunt has been a Nashville songwriter for a while now, but now he’s making a go at the artist thang. And this song is just plain brilliant. You see, he says “leave the night on” instead of “leave the light on.” See what he did there?!

And you’re also getting five almost-made-the-cut (but-really-they-did-make-the-cut-because-it’s-digital) bonus tracks:

  1. “Hello World” by Aloe Blacc | Because that Avicci remix finally shot him into the stratosphere and honey child is not gonna sit by and accept that his fame is limited to 15 minutes.
  2. “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charlie XCX | Because the opening beat is textbook lady gangsta and the Miranda Sings cover video never fails to make my boyfriend giggle.
  3. “Rollercoaster” by Bleachers | Because there’s more to Fun. than Nate Ruess and more to Jack Antonoff than being Lena Dunham’s squeeze.
  4. “All the Way” by Timeflies | Because it’s two guys in one group singing electronica-influenced dance pop and I’m perpetually in search of the next Savage Garden.
  5. “On Top of the World” by Imagine Dragons | Because there’s clapping and hey’s and a catchy, carefree chorus and that’s pretty much all you need in life.

Everybody Say Yeah

July 02, 2013 By: Andrew Category: Mixings

It’s the dawning of (slightly) new era, my Mix of the Summer devotees. Due to the ever-expanding world of technology and the ever-decreasing amount of my expendable income, today marks the first digital-only launch date in the history of these rad little collections. Huzzah!

The digital age is here, but that don't mean I still can't be fancy.Don’t get too bummed out, I think I may still print a few limited edition hard copies for old time’s sake and of course there’s already some art prepared to give this year’s group an identity of its own. Ain’t it fancy?

But now there is really no excuse for you not to have this year’s finest collection of trashy pop music and solid summer jamz. No matter where you are in the world.

And to all of those people whom I have promised to get these things to in past years… woof sorry. Going to the post office apparently takes a lot of effort. Shoot me your e-mail and I’ll hook you up with the 2013 anthology. Which includes 20 tracks along with 5 bonus tracks specific to the online edition only! Here we go…

  1. “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake | I love me some JT because he always puts out songs that are a reinvention of his own sound, new and different while still retaining the same flavor that has made him a radio heartthrob since he embarked on his solo career. Now if only he would make music more often…
  2. “#Beautiful” by Mariah Carey feat. Miguel | It’s no secret that MC is my diva of choice, so that’s why this undeniably breezy track from her forthcoming album filled me with such delight when I heard it the first time. With the effervescence of an old school summer classic like “Dreamlover,” this is a welcome return to form and the assist from Miguel probably has more than a little to do with it.
  3. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke feat. T.I. and Pharrell | Its misogynistic and totally random music video notwithstanding, this ditty is clearly the song of the summer. A hypnotic retro vibe and flashes of MJ’s Off the Wall-era grooves make for an addictive earworm… and that “Hey, Hey, Hey” interspersed throughout will. not. leave. my. head.
  4. “Closer” by Tegan and Sara | I’ve been peripherally aware of this granola crunchy sister duo for several years now, but of course the first song of theirs that I would really gravitate toward is this sonic pop jam that sounds like that lovechild of Robyn and The Cranberries.
  5. “The Stars Are Ours” by Mayer Hawthorne | Everything this guy does just sounds slick, particularly his melodies which can make unexpected turns that feel so soulful. The pulsing boogie guitars and carefree pace of this track scream summer and make me excited to see what else he has up his sleeve.
  6. “Next to Me” by Emeli Sandé | There are a lot of things I love about this song, but the main one is probably the way it can rise and contract to fit different moments. Blare it on your speakers and it’s a big, epic wall of sound that sprints toward the finish line. Play it softer in a quiet setting and it’s a tender, earnest affirmation of her man’s commitment. #layers
  7. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell | I’m really glad Donna Summer decided to put a new single out and relinquish the vocal duties solely to Pharrell… because he didn’t seem to have a lot else going on lately.
  8. “Holy Ground” by Taylor Swift | This isn’t a single off Red and I know it’s been out for the better part of a year, but the first time I heard it last fall (on an awesome road trip to Delaware with my BOC homies) I knew it was a solid contender for this year’s summer mix. Say what you want about T. Swizzle but she’s got this glossy pop shiz on lock.
  9. “Troublemaker” by Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida | I’m not sure where this guy came from, who told him Flo Rida would be a inspired artist to feature or who gave him permission to sound like SoulDecision. But I’m okay with all of it.
  10. “Something That We’re Not” by Demi Lovato | I felt obligated to put something by Demi and/or Selena Gomez on this year’s anthology, but their radio tracks honestly didn’t do that much for me. This album cut off Demi’s eponymous release, on the other hand, is everything a good summer song should be – a sassy, endlessly catchy kiss-off.
  11. “Treasure” by Bruno Mars | One of the most consistently awesome new artists of the past several years, Bruno Mars can do no wrong in my book. I was leaning toward putting his “Natalie” on the mix this year, but once he got behind this fun and funky ditty full force, the die was cast.
  12. “Here’s to Never Growing Up” by Avril Lavigne | The verses of this song are almost indistinguishable from her first big hit “Complicated,” but if something ain’t broke, I say don’t fix it. Avril is one of those people who you want to grow musically like 1% with each album she makes, mainly because her stuff is so sugary and hypnotic to begin with.
  13. “Wings” by Little Mix | I first heard this song as a pupil in a Circuit Party class at MFF and it certainly propelled us ninjas to tackle those battle ropes (how I loathe them) with extra glory. These ladies are like the Spice Girls had a baby with the Pussycat Dolls and it took acid. I consider this to be a good thing.
  14. “Crickets” by Drop City Yacht Club feat. Jeremih | I don’t know a lot about this track, except that I looked it up after reading about it in one of Entertainment Weekly’s Summer Music Previews. I’m glad I did. It feels a lot like that song “Butterfly” by Crazy Town. Remember that one? Yeah, I thought so.
  15. “Brave” by Sara Bareilles | It’s rare that a gal with Sara’s talent and unshakably sincere point-of-view can make a dent in the music industry these days. But she’s proven herself a force to be reckoned with and this new track, a battle cry for boldness with a frothy pop sheen, is no exception.
  16. “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” by The Lone Bellow | Zach Williams’ voice will always remind me of the first summer I moved to NYC and wore out his Story Time album. His new outfit’s debut release is excellent from top bottom and this, the lead track, is an expansive, country-tinged voyage.
  17. “Tears Always Win” by Alicia Keys | Alicia is one of those artists we’ll look back on in thirty years and be like, “Wow, this music sounds just as good now as it did back then.” Something about this song, despite its forlorn subject matter, feels undeniably hopeful and triumphant. You betta sang gurl.
  18. “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic | Is OneRepublic the new Coldplay? Is Ryan Tedder better than Chris Martin? Discuss.
  19. “Royals” by Lorde | I would try and pretend that I first heard this song three months before I heard her perform at some hip music festival… but I know none of you would believe that. I saw an online article on Billboard about this making a jump on the AAA chart and I looked it up to see if it was too cool for me. It is, but I’m nonetheless hooked.
  20. “Cruise” by Florida Georgia Line feat. Nelly | So much twang. So much Nelly. So much fun! It’s no secret that I like to end these collections with something straight out of Nashville. This one took a detour in St. Louis on the way to your eardrums. Next stop: every summer road trip you take this year.

Bonus Tracks

  1. “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” by Fergie feat. Q-Tip and GoonRock | Because The Great Gatsby was everything I hoped it would be and the soundtrack had pretty much everything to do with it.
  2. “Remix (I Like The)” by New Kids on the Block | Because Krissi Diers told me to and it’s actually really catchy.
  3. “That’s What I Like” by Kelsi Luck | Because I heard it in a random souvenir shop on Long Beach Island like two weeks ago, Shazammed it and didn’t care that the this girl has done nothing else. It’s just so fun.
  4. “Our Song” by Matchbox Twenty | Because I’m the only person left in America that still listens to them and I’ll go to my grave thinking they’re cool and hip even if they’re not and that all music should sound like the 90s.
  5. “I Love It” by Icona Pop feat. Charli XCX | Because Marc Viscardi can be really passive aggressive but he’s a dear friend and I can take a hint.

Summertime (Living = Easy)

July 03, 2012 By: Andrew Category: Mixings

Truth be told, Mix of the Summer 2012 has been ready for about three weeks now but it’s taken me a while to actually put it out (sorry!) for a couple of reasons.

Namely, I’m lazy and haven’t had much free time to sit down and burn these puppies. Still haven’t done that actually.

The wait is over!But more importantly, I’ve used the preceding days as a sort of “soft” launch for the latest entry in my series of trashy pop goodness. And I like to think the finished product has turned out better as a result of this exercise.

Playing these stone cold winners on baller day trips to Six Flags, on party buses to upstate work retreats or at backyard pool birthday parties has afforded me the opportunity to test the waters of this latest set of hits and wannabe hits, confirming the gems, weeding out the stinkers and reiterating why I make a new one every year: to share good tunes and fun hangs with the people I love!

So here’s the music I think you should jam to this glorious summer season. I would say these are in no particular order but, let’s be for realsies, I’m not playing games and this is in a very particular order.

  1. “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction | I remember seeing these little pipsqueaks on The Today Show about four months ago and thinking to myself that I was getting old because I had absolutely no idea who they were. I also thought that they would be gone within a matter of weeks. I was right about the former but wrong about the latter because this adorable little declaration of inner and outer beauty is infectious. And not like an STD! It peaked on the charts a little while back and I think they have bigger songs now but there’s no other choice for the lead track this year. Also, if you haven’t checked out the “What Makes You Beautiful” web video made by the Broadway company of Anything Goes, do yourself a favor and get on that train.
  2. “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen | There’s really nothing left to say about Carly Rae Jepsen that hasn’t already been said. She came to us from the exotic land of Canada, Beiber “discovered” her and brought her to our prosperous terrain, she released the catchiest song of all time and BAM, a million YouTube videos were launched. I’d just like to state for the record that Carly Rae is eerily older than this song might lead you to believe (26 going on 27!) and that Sean Lynam, Margaux Cornelison and I still hold the record for clutchest “Call Me Maybe” YouTube rendition. Get into it.
  3. “Some Nights” by fun. | If I had released this mix several weeks back I might have been able to gain some sort of cool kid cred for “calling” this song before it actually hit. Alas, it’s already been included on pretty much every other summer playlist this year so my claims at trailblazing are pitiful at best. But what’s not to love about pulsing drum beats and random autotune falsetto? The trio that also brought us “We Are Young” build upon their cuddly alternative package with style to spare, this track clearly being the best example of said cuddliness.
  4. “Domino” by Jessie J | Sure, this song was released toward the tail end of last summer, but it didn’t get big until several months later and I could not think of a slinkier, sexier, carefree July-time opus than this killer tune from the vocally acrobatic Jessica Cornish. Sure her range is elastic, but the real clincher to this song for me is the composition. It’s perfectly structured with clever lyrics to boot. I would expect nothing less from the lass who also penned “Party in the U.S.A.” Just call me Jack Dawson because I’m going to press repeat and never. let. go.
  5. “I Feel Better” by Gotye | That scruffy Belgian crooner known as Gotye gave us such a walloping surprise smash earlier this year with “Somebody That I Used to Know” that it’s unlikely he’ll ever reach the same heights of commercial success ever again. But if ever there were a worthy heir to his mini-empire of indie rock wonderment it’s this track from his breakthrough album Making Mirrors. It’s funky, soulful, drenched in horns and makes him sound a little bit like Cee-Lo. Which is a marvel. I mean look at the guy.
  6. “Starships” by Nicki Minaj | It’s a beautiful thing when a song immediately conjures in your mind great memories and a specific date / time / event / place in your life. When the chorus on this song hits, I will forever think of swinging kettle bells and soldiering through side planks with a crazy set of Snatched ninjas over at the Mark Fisher Fitness clubhouse (amidst a barrage of f-bombs and inappropriate sexual references of course). Mind you, sexy gym ubiquity is the highest compliment that can be paid a song in this here city. So I’d say Nicki is doing pretty well for herself. Thanks for the memories GURL!
  7. “One More Night” by Maroon 5 | Another reason for the delayed release on this set (I should stop making excuses already… but this one is legit) was to wait until one new Maroon 5 song, any new Maroon 5 song, was released that was not “Payphone.” I’m glad I waited because this lead track from their new LP Overexposed is slow burn pop / reggae chic / hypnotic swagger in audible form. If you don’t immediately warm up to it like some of their other ear candy, give it a few spins. I promise it will work its voodoo magic.
  8. “Dark Side” by Kelly Clarkson | I had a pretty philosophical debate with fellow mixmaker and road press agent Justin O’Neill several weeks back about why this Kelly Clarkson song should be included on mixtapes made this summer over other offerings from her latest album. I thought it was a little too melancholy and he played the “But it’s her latest single and you pretty much have to do it” card which is always hard to beat in my book. Even if it’s not happy-go-lucky in sentiment, it makes up for it in sheer earnestness. Plus, it’s a nice little break amidst the frothiness of some of these other songs. Seriously go buy this girl’s album though. She can sing her face off. #oldnews
  9. “Drive By” by Train | After the seeming anomaly that was “Hey Soul Sister,” I was content to return Train to their proper place in my life. That is, listening to their self-titled debut about once a year and sneaking listens of “Drops of Jupiter” on any day that ended in “y.” And then along came this ludicrous cut from their California 37 release with its dance club underpinnings and blatantly atrocious lyrics. Creepy Pat Monahan is pushing 60 at this point I’m sure, but I still have hope that he’ll find that two-ply hefty bag to hold is love. Until he does, we have buh-mazing songs like this to comfort us as he makes that treacherous journey.
  10. “Baby Come Home” by Scissor Sisters | Jake Shears and Co. certainly know their way around a sinful little dance tune, eh? Perhaps you’ve recently heard the term “kiki.” As in, let’s have one. For the uninformed, non-dance party elite amongst you out there, “kiki” is shorthand for “party.” Whereas that song is an extended exploration into the exhilarative pleasures of merrymaking (and way too long to include on a summer mix), this song is a blink-or-you-missed-it, bouncy ball of sassy fun. If Elton John were still making music today (by the way, is Elton John still making music today?), he would surely come up with something along these lines.
  11. “Brokenhearted” by Karmin | Just think of engaged couple Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan as this decade’s Savage Garden. Except they’re not from Australia. And they’re actually together in real life. And really the only thing they have in common is that they write unflinchingly sugary capsules of happiness. Their songs are in-your-face pop in every sense of the word but they like to pepper their ditties with words like “Cheerio” to make it seem like they’re from across the pond. But they’re not. I will not lie to you, the chorus on this song simply owns.
  12. “Fine by Me” by Andy Grammer | I found this guy while browsing iTunes for under-the-radar folks to include on this year’s collection and I was immediately taken by this jam’s paint-by-number catchiness and Mr. Grammer’s carefree, laid-back style. Jason Mraz and John Mayer were putting out really sleepy stuff this year so I threw caution to the wind and said, “Forget it! I’m gonna put some rando in their place and I’m gonna be happy about it!” His album came out last year but this is his new(er) single so I’m claiming it as a 2012-er for my own selfish purposes.
  13. “I Want You Back” by Cher Lloyd | I know what you’re thinking, “Who in the world is Cher Lloyd?” She’s not even big enough to be one of the featured artists at the tail end of a Now That’s What I Call Music! release. To you I say, don’t be a player hater and just listen to this girl grunt with white girl angst just about every 10 seconds in this song. I truly cannot stop listening to her Ritalin-exposed rumination on lost love. It’s nothing like the Jackson 5 tune with which it shares a moniker, but it’s similarly spiffy in all senses of the word.
  14. “Hollywood” by RAC feat. Poison Penguin | If you know me, you know I don’t consciously seek out artists that find themselves most comfortable as the background music at a Willimasburg bonfire night (I’m physically just not that cool) but you also know that I have friends who majored in this type of music in college (almost literally) and every now and then I’ll hear a song that fits this bill that I can call my own. This is such a song. RAC is an Arizona-based alt surfer boy outfit that apparently specializes in breezy concoctions that make me smile. And I’m guessing Poison Penguin is one of the villains in the new Christopher Nolan Batman flick? Discuss.
  15. “She’s So Mean” by Matchbox Twenty | If you know me at all, you know I’m obsessed with the 90s. And, more specifically, 90s music. Matchbox Twenty almost singularly represents this golden era in music for me… something about Rob Thomas’ precise lite rock vocals, their approachable grooves, or the fact that almost every radio format can get away with playing something from one of their albums. When I saw this single to their upcoming project North (due in September) pop up online, I knew before I even listened to it that it was destined for summer mix glory. And then I listened to it, with its hummable pre-chorus that builds into a sensible, contained pop/rock denouement and it was like these guys had never left my life for the past 10 years. Welcome back.
  16. “Be Careful What You Ask For” by Everclear | Speaking of the 90s, you guys, Everclear is still around. I’m not kidding. Their brand new effort Invisible Stars takes their signature sound and puts it squarely in the middle of today’s predictable radio dial while still remaining true to their “I Will Buy You a New Life” / “Father of Mine” glory days. I’m pretty sure no one on this song was around for those earlier years (except probably the lead dude) but it’s not like we’re talking about rock royalty here. It’s Everclear! They’re disposable. And so is this song. (And I mean that in the best possible way.)
  17. “Hard Way Home” by Brandi Carlile | There are certain artists I include on these mixes not because they will become the next radio darling but simply because they are credible artists who make good music. I’ve been a fan of Brandi since Day One and her new album makes me want to move up into the mountains, chop wood, and drink something warm. Not sure if that makes it the most likely contender for summer mix inclusion, but this jaunty little gift fits in just fine with its upbeat pacing and Ms. Carlile’s soothing vocals.
  18. “Watching You Watch Him” by Eric Hutchinson | Remember that cute little Eric Hutchinson song from a couple years ago called “Rock and Roll”? (True devotees will know it more readily as Track #19 on Mix of the Summer 2009. Snap.) Well apparently that guy is still around! This was actually the first song I decided to put on the mix this year. It was a free iTunes single several months back and I downloaded it on a whim because I liked that other song he had. This is a wistful little number and let’s not pretend like we all haven’t been there… watching someone you like like someone else a heckuva lot more than they like you. Sounds more fun we he sings it!
  19. “One Way Ticket” by Carrie Underwood | I’m going to go ahead and give all the credit to this find to one Ms. Katie Scipioni. She heard of my quest to find the most summerworthy jamz over beer and shrimp salad at a surprisingly non-sketchy Jersey Shore watering hole after a day of nothing but roller coasters. She simply mentioned that I should include this album cut from Ms. Underwood’s Blown Away offering in my consideration pool. How right she was. The message of this song is completely in line with the spirit of Mix of the Summer, perhaps more than any other track, and the approach could not be more playful, fun little whistles and all.
  20. “Summertime” by Luke Bryan | Country songs can be really gimmicky. Summertime country songs can be even more so. Summertime country songs named “Summertime” have gone so far past the gimmicky line that, well, they’re just kind of brilliant. Luke Bryan’s slow-burning ballad to a girl that makes his speakers go “boom-boom” and rates a “9.9” (which FYI is essentially the same thing as saying there’s a least something a little bit wrong with her) is the only way to end a summer mix. It’s commercial country crooning at its best and will make you want to immediately listen to One Direction upon completion. Lather, rinse, repeat y’all!

So I’m going to be spending the next few days (weeks, months?) pressing these things. I actually put aside a budget for mailing them this year. So if you want one, let me know and if I get my act together (that’s a big if) your mailbox might be graced with one.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

I’m So That Guy

June 21, 2011 By: Andrew Category: Mixings

Today is important for two reasons. A. Mix of the Summer 2011 officially drops and you can all stop wondering what in the world to listen to during your beach-bound road trips and backyard barbecues. B. I have finally come to the realization that this blog is now merely a receptacle for announcing my mixes because I clearly haven’t posted an update since last year’s release date. Excuse me while I blush in embarrassment.

Look how fancy! Don't you want one of your very own?!I will say, though, that if there were any reason to revive this ole relic of a web log, it would be the time-honored tradition of picking 20 carefree summer jams and packaging them into a nice little compilation for my friends everywhere! Before delving into my mix-making philosophy and a little commentary on each of this year’s selections (unabashedly stealing this idea from the equally gifted mix master Dawn Kusinski), please remember that I do not make these mixes to be highbrow and I do not make these mixes to predict the next chart toppers. I make these mixes because they make me happy. And I can only hope they make you happy too.

  1. “Bright Lights Bigger City” by Cee Lo Green | The most important ingredient to any mix CD is the first track. If it sucks, chances are your listener will abandon your efforts right then and there. Cee Lo’s up-and-coming selection from his Lady Killer set does not disappoint and I would also be so bold as to argue that it’s better than his better known tune “F*ck You” which is destined to live in the outer realms of ubiquity until the Lord comes home. “Bright Lights” is ghetto epicness at its finest and I dare you not to put it on when you’re primping to go out prior to a night on the town.
  2. “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)” by Katy Perry | There were several Katy Perry cuts that could have easily made the list this year, but there’s something so bubbly and tickety-tack about this song that made it the clear winner when all was said and done. Props to you if you can successfully memorize the litany of mistakes that make up the chorus (it took me a few weeks but I’ve got it down pat now!) and double props if you immediately watch the accompanying music video, featuring cameos by Rebecca Black, Hanson and Debbie… I’m sorry Deborah Gibson.
  3. “Don’t Turn Out the Lights” by NKOTBSB | I’m not gonna lie. I’m slightly ashamed that this song is on the CD. In all honesty, I wasn’t intending to put a boy band song on this year’s mix and, quite frankly, I was mildly surprised to discover that boy bands were still around. Although these guys will obviously never return to the height of their respective popularities, they can still maneuver their way around a guilt-inducing infectious pop ditty. And for that I am grateful. And I know (secretly) you are too.
  4. “What the Hell” by Avril Lavigne | Unbeknownst to America, there was a neck-and-neck race between this Avril track and her new single “Smile” (which is quite cute, given the source) to make this year’s summer mix, but I opted for this frothy confection of oh-so-transparent angst because it’s Avril doing what Avril does best: laying down an earnest lyric of nonconformity over the catchiest pop rock melody you’ve ever heard. You’ve gotta love the irony. I almost made this the lead song of the collection, but I didn’t want to get too repetitious for any longtime subscribers who would immediately notice I did the same thing with her playground jam “Girlfriend” on Mix of the Summer 2007.
  5. “Marry You” by Bruno Mars | I didn’t have to think very long to decide that I would not include any songs from the Glee kids on this year’s mix. I mean, they steal people’s music, they vacillate between adorable and annoying like the two are going out of style and, most importantly, these things have to be evergreen, people! If I looked back at this mix in 2045, I would undoubtedly judge myself for including such material. That being said, the episode where they sang this at the nuptials of Finn’s mom and Kurt’s dad was totes presh… and I had no idea it was Bruno Mars at the time! I have since corrected this oversight and find it to be an altogether winning summery serenade.
  6. “I Do” by Colbie Caillat | Did anyone else really like William on this season The Bachelorette before that God-awful episode with the roast (that Ashley clearly greenlit, btw)? He was seriously my first pick until that moment based on his goofy first date that found the two traipsing through Vegas and “almost eloping” before stumbling upon (surprise!) Colbie Caillat performing a private concert of this song just for them. Suffice it to say, this track is heads and tails above “On the Wings of Love” and it’s under three minutes which is great from a mix-making standpoint. That is to say, you have to have a small selection of short tracks to ensure you’ll have enough room for the longer ones you really love and still meet your 20-song quota.
  7. “Love on Top” by Beyonce | “Run the World (Girls)” is too bizarre and “Best Thing I Never Had” is legit but a little too melancholy for the summer mix so Ms. Knowles is represented here by this sizzling effort from her upcoming fourth studio album. The whole set is essentially her getting in the mood to have Jay-Z’s babies (thought courtesy of Rachel Perkins) which primarily results in slow jam sexytime music. This is hands down the most effervescent song of the bunch and it’s hard not to ride the waves of euphoria with Queen B (she changes keys, what, like five times?!) as she wails of her love for her man. Think of it as “Dreamlover” but 18 years later.
  8. “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj | Finally, I think I get Nicki Minaj. She’s been buzzy and overhyped for the better part of two years (granted I’m not her target audience) which has resulted in a number of satisfying featured slots on other artist’s singles but nary a huge hit of her own. Until now. I don’t think “Super Bass” will be a blockbuster, but it’s her best shot, mind-boggling rhymes, infectious hooks and all. She has a really distinctive, guttural style to her rapping… and her sentiments are pretty lovely too: “He might sell coke”? That’s awesome! Bring him home to mom! We’ll just say this one is #winning.
  9. “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga | I had many sleepless nights agonizing over which Gaga track to bless you with on this anthology. Well maybe not sleepless, but I did give it some good thought. To that end, “Government Hooker” and “You and I” are just so dandy they merit mixes of their own. (Maybe I’ll make a B-Sides album this year!) Current single “The Edge of Glory” won out in the end and, indeed, has it all: pulsing dancey vibe complete with unforgettable chorus (oh hey Cher’s “Song for the Lonely”! Is that you with a weave?!), bawse vocals, and that no-brainer Clarence Clemons sax solo. God rest his retro-licious soul.
  10. “Jet Lag” Simple Plan featuring Natasha Bedingfield | This song brings to mind a myriad of questions… Is Natasha Bedingfield dating against the pop star food chain and doing the nasty with one of the kids from Simple Plan? Don’t all throwaway pop acts live in L.A. and, if so, why are these two having such insurmountable time zone issues? And, holy 2002, how is Simple Plan still together?! In a case such as this, it’s best not to think too hard and just enjoy this cute collab which is simultaneously tuneful and completely out of left field. Special thanks to James and Marissa Rosano for notifying me of this offering… over margaritas and an ebonics primer.
  11. “I Feel Like Dancin’” by All Time Low | The lyrics to this song sit right up there with Plato in my opinion. There’s something about the idea of partying like it’s my civil right that just sits so right with me. Furthermore, the line that says “Now I know how Ke$ha must be feeling” in reference to some guy touching his junk made me literally laugh out loud (or LOL for those of you who don’t speak longhand). Just call it my sly way of getting Ke$ha on the mix without actually having to put Ke$ha on my mix. This one narrowly beat out Hot Chelle Rae’s “Tonight, Tonight” for the completely sugary alt-pop slot. I’m glad it won.
  12. “Call Your Girlfriend” by Robyn | Let me just say that Robyn was very low on my maybe list for inclusion on the mix this year (shameful, I know) until one enchanting evening when Emily Bines proceeded to play it on repeat for what must have been at least 10 times during a fateful Williamsburg dance party. Welp, now it’s essentially my anthem for the summer even if it was released back in the dark ages of 2010. But for good reason! Its sly approach to the subject of infidelity is downright cheeky. Of course we would expect nothing less from our favorite Swedish pop tart!
  13. “Someone Like You” by The Summer Set | What up Razor and Tie?! I had no idea these guys existed until my darling roommate turned me onto their latest single, which I later learned is off of their sophomore LP (due out next month). And no, this little gem is not the theme song of the similarly titled classic Ashley Judd / Hugh Jackman romcom about bull mating and sexual politics, but it’s equally as endearing. Think acoustic pop, meets guy lead singer who almost sounds like a girl, meets sweet sentimentality and you’ve got all the fixins for this ever-lovin’ summertime track.
  14. “Different” by Ximena Sariñana | What up Q Prime?! The lovely Anna Pandorf also turned me on to this stone cold winner and I’m not just putting it on the mix to make her happy. (Though I will gladly welcome any and all perks its inclusion might afford me via your client roster, AP!). Ximena has a cool pop/rock/jazz vibe going for her that doesn’t necessarily point to her Mexican roots (well, not here anyway) but it does highlight her extreme adorability. Think Sara Bareilles meets Ingrid Michaelson. And if those two artists are the same to you then you will probably hate this whole mix and why have you even read up to this point? For a bonus dose of cuteness go look up the lyrics video (different that the music video) for this track. It stars a puppet who is obsessed with Ximena. Weeeeee!
  15. “MoneyGrabber” by Fitz and the Tantrums | These guys were actually the first track I knew would go on the mix and one Ms. Holly Darnell confirmed their needed presence during our glorious Grayton Beach vacay earlier this summer. They fall at the beginning of a three-track section I lovingly call the Under the Radar set. This track is all Motown horns and neo soul. Please partake of its wannabe retro goodness immediately and thank me later.
  16. “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People | This song could very well be the lovechild of Gorillaz’s “Feel Good Inc.” and the theme song to The Drew Carey Show. (You know the one… “All the little chicks with the crimson lips go, ‘Cleveland rocks…’”) I know that might not sound like a compliment, but it is. “Pumped Up Kicks” goes down as entry #2 in the Under the Radar section and it’s best not to listen too closely to the lyrics as they are ambiguously disturbing. Some kid named Robert finds a gun and his daddy comes home bringing a surprise? I bet it’s not a puppy! I also bet I don’t care because this song is eerily delightful.
  17. “Young Blood” by The Naked and Famous | Closing out the Under the Radar trio is this precocious offering from the New Zealand quintet The Naked and Famous. I should really clear up what I mean by Under the Radar at this point… essentially it means that the number of songs these bands have had played on Gossip Girl most likely outweighs their album sales by a 2:1 ratio. But no matter. Even if they don’t become any more famous (or naked?) than they are now, these kiddos will ride the groove of their atmospheric indie rock all the way off into the sunset of your heart.
  18. “Put You in a Song” by Keith Urban | Call me a sucker for missing Music Row, but the country section of the summer mix has been expanded from one song to three this year. And leave it to me to pick the three most homogenized country songs on the radio right now! Chief among them is Keith Urban’s ode to love so uncategorizable he must sing about it. And not just in any song… this song! What’s that you say? A country song with gimmicky word play? I’ve never heard such a brilliant idea! Urban is the king of windows down, sunshiny anthems and this is a worthy addition to his canon. That Kidman chick must feel pretty dern special.
  19. “Mine” by Taylor Swift | Sometimes I think about not putting T. Swift on a summer mix. And then I die a little bit inside. What’s not to love? She’s young, she’s talented, and her songs are simple but they have such a sweet honesty to them that most people would be lucky to concoct by artificial means. Pretty sure Tay Tay sang this at a special concert I attended with Kira, Betz and Brenty prior to her third album selling a patrillion copies. All the new cuts were vaguely catchy at first but I knew every last one of them would eventually end up stuck in my head. They always do. That saucy minx.
  20. “Don’t You Wanna Stay” by Jason Aldean featuring Kelly Clarkson | I know what you’re thinking. “Why would Andrew end such a peppy mix with such a low key slow burn?” And to that I answer: because it’s tradition! I can’t think of a better slow burn than this bluesy duet between Jason Don’t-Own-Another-Song-By-Him Aldean and Kelly She-Should-Never-Leave-Country Clarkson. It’s standard paint-by-number perfect Nashvegas balladry with Clarkson’s ballin’ pipes thrown in for good measure. Listen to her effortless riffs at the end of the second verse (“it’s a sad goodbyeyeyeyeye”)… a fitting farewell to this year’s summertime collection indeed!

So there you have it: Mix of the Summer 2011. If you live in the NYC area, chances are you will have one of these forced upon you by me in the coming weeks. If you don’t live near me and would like a copy, e-mail me your address and I will try my darndest to snail mail you one but know that I have to pay Manhattan rent once a month and I might need to wait until my next paycheck to afford the postage.

Happy Summer to all!