Here at Popdust HQ on the East Coast, we’d normally be planning our weekend playlisting around getting ready for drinking, partying and general good times. This weekend, however, we’re a little more focused on window-boarding, supply-hoarding and general personal safety. So while we still have some happy fun-times songs on this weekend’s ten-song playlist, forgive us if we include a couple of songs keyed around our Hurricane Irene-related anxieties. At the very least, we promise that Dexy’s Midnight Runners will not be mentioned again after this sentence. (Seriously, people, try harder.)
AALIYAH, “ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY?”
This Thursday, we passed the tenth anniversary of Aaliyah’s plane-crash death at the age of 22, a premature departure that was every big a hit to pop music as Amy Winehouse’s similarly untimely death earlier this year. Choosing a favorite Aaliyah song is much harder than it should be for someone who was barely even drinking age when their career was cut short—”One in a Million,” “Rock the Boat,” “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “We Need a Resolution” and “Try Again” would all be the obvious high point for 95% of other female R&B singers of the last 20 years—but for a definitive single, we probably have to go with “Are You That Somebody?,” a genre-hybrid tango that remains every bit as transfixing, inscrutable and addictive as it was 13 years ago. Don’t lie—you never stopped singing along with the baby noises, either.
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS, “RADIOACTIVE”
Marina and the Diamonds’ impressive bid for a mainstream crossover after lighting up the underground a year or two back with the excellent “I Am Not a Robot,” “Radioactive” sounds every bit the part of a modern Top 40 hit, with its skipping, Stargate-produced beat, syncopated synth hook and instantly memorable chorus hook. (Marina also happens to look very pretty in her letterman jacket, if you’re into that sort of thing.) She also might have a concept album in the hopper somewhere, and we know how much the kids love their concept albums. Best of luck, Marina.
LIL WAYNE, “NIGHTMARES OF THE BOTTOM”
You know we had to pick a representative song of Tha Carter IV, but it’s tough, since all our favorite songs off the album were the previously-released singles that are old hat by this point. So we’re compromising here with “Nightmares of the Bottom,” available previously only as an MTV Unplugged performance. One of the album’s most endearing and intimate numbers—hence the Unplugged fit—”Nightmares” rides an odd piano-based hook that isn’t quite catchy, but gets under your skin nonetheless, while Weezy raps about the various things his middle “F” stands for. (Cheat sheet: “Fuck Yourself,” but not “Flawed” or “Fear”.)
ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, “SIRIUS” / “EYE IN THE SKY”
Speaking of Wayne, he made the perplexing decision to sample The Alan Parson Project’s “The Cask of Amantillado” for his not-very-good “It’s Good” track, a slow, heavy-handed cut off APP’s Edgar Allan Poe-themed concept album Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Next time, Weezy, go the obvious route—either of the “Sirius” / “Eye in the Sky” two-fer that leads off the Project’s Eye in the Sky album. The latter is an 80s soft-rock classic, a lovely, chugging and significantly creepy love song with some stellar chorus harmonies, while the former will be instantly familiar to anyone who’s ever watched a professional basketball game as one of the most badass, instantly epic instrumentals in rock history. Trust us, Jay-Z would take the dis a lot more seriously with one of these songs underneath it.
THE ARCADE FIRE, “NEIGHBORHOOD #3 (POWER OUT)”
New Yorkers don’t exactly handle power outages well, so after Hurricane Irene inevitably strips us of our modern creature comforts sometime today or tomorrow, don’t be surprised if we quickly turn into a nomadic people, trawling the rain-soaked streets and yelling “WE FOUND THE LIGHT!!” Side question: Does anyone remember what people actually do for enjoyment when the power’s out? You can still drink beer, at least, right? Beer still doesn’t run on electricity, if we remember correctly.
For lots more weekend jams, Irene-related or no, click NEXT.