AKA, Blame It on Bérubé. Last Friday Michael Bérubé, blogger/professor/father/hockey player extraordinaire (just read his site and he'll tell you all that) set off a chain o' comments a humble internets home like INOTBB could only dream of--almost 200 responses to what is the perfect pop song
. He picked a very fine candidate, Nick Lowe's "Cruel to Be Kind," but given I figure my taste is tastier than most, I had to chime in (not until comment 134, which sort of proves I do
some other things besides blog and read blogs).
And then I had to make a tape. I've defended my tape-making troglodytism elsewhere
, so for now I'll just discuss making the mix and let the technology hiss for itself. This was hard. First, my turntable is on the fritz (it's a Bang & Olafusen, therefore breaks down in German), so using any of my vinyl was out. Second, there are just too many perfect pop songs out there, even if many of them are pop denuded of their "ular." Still, not having the weight of public opinion behind me never stopped me from making a stand; after all, I vote Democrat. Third, once I start making a tape, there's the whole segue issue (hmm, how hard is it to have two consecutive words that end in "ue" in a sentence that makes sense and doesn't refer to Blues Clues?), and therefore the flow of things helped me make some of my choices (which is one way to say all apologies to the half dozen Fountains of Wayne songs that might have been in "Denise"'s shoes).
Fourth, it's hard to stay in the parameters established by Bérubé's rules: "The surface of the perfect pop song is clear and untroubled; and below the surface . . . there is no below the surface. See 'no emotional depths,' above." That ruled out all sorts of pop with perhaps too much edge to scare off the sweet young things, from Boomtown Rats' "I Don't Like Mondays" to Superchunk's "Slack Motherfucker," from anything sung by the pre-disco Mick Jagger (his menace and swagger makes his pop too priapic) to anything featuring Robert Quine's guitar (emotion+angles+adventure+
Ayler=too much attention called to the virtuoso solos).
So, without further ado...side one
Nick Lowe, "So It Goes"
Replacements, "Can't Hardly Wait"
Syd Straw, "Toughest Girl in the World"
Pooh Sticks, "Young People"
Pixies, "Dig for Fire"
That Dog, "Minneapolis"
Fountains of Wayne, "Denise"
Built to Spill, "Big Dipper"
They Might Be Giants, "Birdhouse in Your Soul"
The Clash, "Train in Vain"
Lucinda Williams, "Passionate Kisses"
Amy Rigby, "All I Want"
Elvis Costello, "(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes"side two
Marshall Crenshaw, "I'll Do Anything"
Flamin' Groovies, "Shake Some Action"
Tommy Keene, "Places That Are Gone"
Dramarama, "Work for Food"
Yo La Tengo, "Tom Courtenay"
Buzzcocks, "Ever Fallen in Love?"
Ryan Adams, "Nuclear"
Old 97's "Rollerskate Skinny"
XTC, "Mayor of Simpleton"
Magnetic Fields, "100,000 Fireflies"
Big Star, "September Gurls"
Ben Vaughn, "Shingaling with Me"
Matthew Sweet, "We're the Same"