Here is my Worst Mixtape
This took me way longer than I thought it would. Thanks to Dean, Joe, Eric, Sarah, and everyone who commented on the Facebook thread.
The point of this project was to create a hypothetical mixtape that one could make reasonably attempting to make a good mixtape, but failing spectacularly. As Dean put it, this is like when people play Springsteen’s Born in the USA as a rousing, patriotic, pro-America anthem.
There are many reasons an otherwise proper song would be a spectacular failure on a mixtape. Utter overplay may make a song devoid of any actual meaning, despite its popularity. A songs lyrics may be misconstrued to have a romantic tone, while actually the song is anything but. Young love often drives feelings to insane ends, leading to completely inappropriate emotional exposition via song. Attempts to introduce one’s own personal taste can fall flat. Sometimes songs just interrupt the flow of an album.
Of course, just because it is on this mixtape does not necessarily mean it is a bad song. I tried to emphasize that point by including a few songs that I personally enjoy but would admittedly make awful contributions to a romantic mixtape.
For the sake of this Worst Mixtape, it is hypothetically sent from me, the dator, to a random young woman datee. Of course, knowledge about the datee’s own personal tastes can allow the creation of custom awfulness, which will have to be lacking here.
Now enjoy, or don’t, as is appropriate.
I Gotta Feeling, by the Black Eyed Peas
Ah, nominated for Record of the Year at the 52nd Grammy Awards, winner of the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. How could this possibly be a bad song to start off mix tape? After all, one would want tonight to be a good, good night with whatever datee is receiving this mixtape.
But a mere scratch of the surface reveals a justified loathing for this ubiquitous song. This ultimate in Secretary Jamz is a hollow, meaningless exploration of studio-recorded noise and misplaced Yiddish. But given the utter popularity of the song, if the datee doesn’t loathe it, she probably already owns it.
And even the datee does like it, how can a song that seems to have a contract with the world to be played every 15 minutes communicate any sense of romance or intimacy? How can it send a message besides one of utter genericness? Unless this is an Annie Hall situation where she’s very shallow and empty and has no ideas and nothing interesting to say, and she’s exactly the same way, this is one of the worst possible choices for a mixtape.
The only way you could choose a worse song if you went with the cover of I Gotta Feeling by Alvin and the Chipmunks and the Chipettes from Alvin and the Chipmunks 2: the Squeakquel.
Tears, by Rush
One of the purposes of a mixtape is to introduce a new romantic interest to your own personal taste in music. This is part of a healthy relationship. So browse through your iTunes when the choice for next song becomes obvious: Rush!
Fact: No girl likes Rush.
“No!” you say. “She’s different! And even if she doesn’t, it probably is because she hasn’t heard their best stuff. I’ll put Spirit of Radio on the mixtape. She’ll love it!”
Fact: No girl likes Rush.
“OK, well maybe Spirit of Radio isn’t completely appropriate for a pseudo-romantic mixtape. But maybe there is a song that will introduce her to Rush while also conveying a sense of romance”
Fact: No girl likes Rush.
“Yeah! I’ll put on Tears, from 2112. I don’t usually listen to the B-side of that album, but it could get her interested in the band and it would be totally appropriate for the mixtape.”
Fact: No girl likes Rush.
“She is going to look so hot wearing my Snakes and Arrows shirt as pajamas after we do it.”
No she won’t.
Toxic, by Britney Spears, as covered in Glee
This may seem like fun little ditty. Hey, maybe she’ll dance to it or do a little strip. Plus, she probably likes Glee. Who doesn’t like Glee? With this song you get the two-in-one bonus.
This Swedish-written, joyless mass may function well as a Kylie Minogue reject, but as sung by a high school Glee club teacher it is just creepy.
This creepiness is further compounded by the lyrics. Who wants to be addicted to someone? We should want to be around people, and they be around us, due to rational decisions or at least the inexorable force of romantic emotions. But addiction? What are we, cigarettes?
(This is) The Dream of Evan and Chan, as sung by The Postal Service
Using a song with the datee’s name in it may seem like a cute move, but it tempts the gods of creepdom. The only thing worse than that would be to use a song with your own name in it. Thus, The Dream of Evan and Chan. Not only does it have my name, but the opening minute is an annoying synth mumbling that elicits responses like “is the CD scratched?” Or for the modern era, “Is the file corrupted?”
Songs like Owl City’s Firefly may be too obvious a choice of wimpy twee pop for anyone besides the biggest middle school Nancy to put on a mixtape, but The Postal Service has just enough age and reputation to make one of their deeper cuts seem like a good idea. It is not. Even for those of us who still like the group and have fond memories of having Feelings to Such Great Heights in high school, the Postal Service still takes part in that Platonic ideal of wuss rock. And you do not want your datee to think you are a wuss. If you want to reveal personal emotion while still retaining some semblance of inner strength, go with Springsteen.
Meat Loaf’s ditty sounds like a wonderful love ballad. It is not.
Inspired by Elvis’ “I Want You, I Need You, I Love You,” Meat Loaf set out to write a simple, popular love song. And upon first listen, it seems like a romantic expression of wanting and needing, explained via routine metaphor. Aww, Meat Loaf is in love. But he isn’t! He will never love her.
That is the message this song sends. This couple may have fun, they may develop emotion for each other, but there will never, ever be mutual love. And is that the message you want to send a datee? “Oh hey babe, you’re great, and we may have a fun relationship, but I will never, ever love you.”
It may be the truth. It may be pretty darn good. But no one wants to hear that two out of three ain’t bad. Believe me, I’ve tried.
There ain’t no Coupe de Ville hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.
Good song. Bad mixtape song.
This is a great song about a romance with a man who could set things on fire with his breath. She won’t think it is a great song. She’ll just be confused and slightly angry by the use of the word Negro. Should have gone with Cindy Tells Me or On Some Faraway Beach, instead. Yeah, definitely On Some Faraway Beach.
The appropriate response to any Air Supply song is, “Really? Air Supplyinterrobang” This soft rock sentimentality belongs in the bins of 99 cent CDs at the local carwash. But through the reality warping veil of puppylove, these Australian crooners may seem to say everything that words cannot. The specific choice of this song among all of Air Supply is the music video, which I’m pretty sure was made by Tim and Eric.
Any sense of seriousness this song has is completely lost after viewing the music video.
This loosely defined “song” may sound like an appropriate love/sex song to MSI fans, but to normal people it sounds like an Awful. Much like Rush’s Rain, the sort of song that you would put on a tape to try to introduce a datee to the sort of music you like after she said that she hates the genre. But in the end, it won’t engrain her to the music, it’ll just make her hate you too.
I once dated a girl who had this song on a friend mixtape. She had never heard the whole song, because the opening several minutes are sing-talk dialogue between the annoying child-like characters who don’t want to have to pay for things. I could not find a youtube version of the song with the broadway soundtrack lead-in, but you can imagine.
And even if you do listen enough to get to the actual song, lyrics about AIDS and azidothymidine are not exactly surefire ways to set the right mood.
You mean the theme song to Charmed?
This and the preceding song would both be examples of, as Eric puts it, “someone trying to demonstrate their eclectic tastes, so [he] would probably include some just-on-the-edge-of-indie bands.”
With this song, the mixtape saved the best/worst for last.
“Singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, columnist, graphic designer, television host, comedian, [and] photographer” John Mayer wrote this song specifically to appeal to annoying girls you hate.
Again, this is a circumstance where if she doesn’t hate it, she already owns it and it was probably “Her Song” for some high school or college relationship with perfectly affable douche who wished he was John Mayer.
Some stand up comedian I cannot recall has a bit about the rather common going back to a girl’s place, where she tries to get the mood all sexed up by turning out the lights and then putting on some music to which she can appropriately undress, only to turn on some John Mayer. In what crazyland do Mayer’s mushmouthed lyrrrrrrarrrrcs convey any sense beyond that of a turgidity assassin. Spoiler alert: the crazyland of 14-year-old girls and those who never grew out of it. Appropriately enough, Mayer says he wrote the song when he was 14.
Ah, it all makes sense.
Admittedly, I don’t recall ever actually hearing this song. I’m sure I had, but I just can’t think of a specific time when I listened to this song. So after sitting down and listening to it, I was reminded of another song with a similar message and lyrics.