This is Epth Nation

Epth is a state of mind, not a place. Reading this will give you a virtual drivers license in that state, but you'll still need to be 21 to purchase alcohol. And you can't get any there anyway, so stop asking.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Anatomy of a Semi-Bad Mix Cd

The Second Most Recent Mix CD I Made For Myself.

I’m terrible at making mix CD’s. I don’t know if it’s my lack of taste in music or what, but I always end up with: at least 2 songs I absolutely hate and will skip over every time; a bunch of songs back-to-back-to-back that are confusing and don’t really flow together; and one song I end up putting on repeat because it towers over all the others. The thing is, I try to get it right every time. It’s not like I want a bunch of disks that I pop in just to hear one song – I mean, we make mix CD’s to get away from that very thing, right? Every time I think I’ve gotten it right, and every time it turns out I’ve gotten it wrong. I’m like the Wyle E. Coyote of song-mixing.

With that in mind, I present to you a mix CD I made last month, a CD that embodies both my effort and my total failure. In doing so, I hope to discover what’s wrong with my CD-making methodology as well as my musical preferences. Self-discovery is fun!

And it’s not like I hate the CD. It’s actually one of the better one’s I’ve done lately. It’s good, but deeply flawed, much like Kobe Bryant’s game. I’m full of analogies today.

TRACK 1: “Ana Ng” by They Might Be Giants

Great opening – to the CD, and the song itself. I love it so much that when I get to the end of the first chorus, I just go back to the beginning to hear that staccato guitar part again. If I were a tool with a ringtone, that would be it*. This old TMBG song isn’t perfect, and drags at the end, but I still love it. The lyrics are cool, too – “My apartment looks upside-down from here” to signify being on the other side of the world. There are other examples, too. You can’t really go wrong with TMBG (unless you go with something off of John Henry, but even still, it’s probably right anyway), so congratulations, me.

TRACK 2: “Concrete Bed” by Nada Surf

This song sounded good in pre-selection, which means it started out snappy. That’s how it ended up on this CD. I have no idea how it ended up as Track 2, which should theoretically be one of the best tracks on the CD. It’s not. Imagine my shock as the chorus belted out the self-help axiom, “To find someone you love, you gotta be someone you love.” This is a confirmed lie. I mean, just love somebody. Now, selfish self-loathing is destructive, yes, but the solution isn’t “being someone you love.” That’s a dead end. Again, just love people. Just decide to, because it’s the right thing to do. I may be guilty of oversimplification here. Anyway, this is a decent enough song, but I turn it off when it gets to the self-help b.s.

TRACK 3: “Enjoy the Silence: Linkin Park 2005 Remix” by Depeche Mode, or at least their vocal track.

First of all, I enjoy this song because it’s a great song. It’s a top 5 Depeche Mode song, which is saying something. Second of all, it’s the perfect song to sing along to if you’re trying to perfect a David Gahan impression (and I happen to think mine is better than most – the hardest part is the ending vibrato). But there’s just something wrong about this version, which has Linkin Park bombastic crap-rock playing behind it. Now, I’m on record as admitting I like Linkin Park, but I also recognize that they truly suck. If they were going to do a version of “Enjoy the Silence,” they should have had their little guy with the glasses sing it, the guy who sounds as if he’s always constipated. At least that would make sense, and we could laugh at it. This just sounds like a good song that they almost ruined with overproduction. Still, I sing along with the whole thing.

Track 4: “Go Junior, Go Senior” by Junior Senior.

So what’s the deal with Junior Senior anyway? Are they a father/son duo? Brothers? Friends? More than Friends? Nobody knows**. This song is very bouncy and happy, and totally enjoyable to listen to – even if I feel myself getting dumber as I listen to the inane party lyrics that mean nothing. The song it reminds me of most is “Mickey” by Toni Basil, and that’s not a bad thing to be reminded of.

Track 5: “A100” by Billy “I Can’t Sing” Corgan.

This is the first of three songs in a row by Mr. Corgan, and one might wonder why I’d put 3 songs by a guy whose voice I can’t stand on a mix CD that I expect to like. I think you might be onto something there. The truth is, I really like the opening synth riffs to these three songs. They would be really good as instrumentals, but Billy just has to stick his overrated voice in there. When the ratio of crappy voice annoyance to cool music hits 1/1, I flip to the next song:

Track 6: “DIA” by Billy “I Still Can’t Sing” Corgan.

This song is about half as good as “A100,” and therefore gets turned off twice as fast. Hey, it gets me through the CD faster, which I suppose is the exact opposite of the point. You know, I really like that one song from this album, that “Can I give my old house to you?” song. The rest, well, I don’t really know what I was thinking. Maybe I thought I could overlook the voice, the bald head, the shadow of ugly James Iha. I was wrong.

Track 7: “Now (and Then)” by Billy “Razor Voice” Corgan.

Bring the house lights down and bust out the lighters, because Billy’s trying his version of a ballad. The first part (the one without his voice) sounds like it could be the theme for a Twin Peaks-like TV show or something. It’s cool, with fuzzy guitars and slow synths. I don’t think I need to tell you what happens when he starts singing, though. Yikes.

Track 8: “It’s All About Us” by TATU.

No, its not the famed Dallas-area soccer player, it’s two underage girls from Russia. I say underage instead of teenage because their handlers have done something almost unconscionably sketchy – played up their friendship as some sort of proto-lesbian love story, complete with kissing in videos. Most of their songs have to do with “we don’t care what other people say, we’re just fine as long as we stick together,” which would be great in another context but terrible in this one. To say that I’m conflicted about listening to them is an understatement. On the plus side, they never mention their fake love affair, and keep everything in completely general terms. Also, songs like “It’s All About Us” kick all kinds of butt. Some would say its overproduced dance-pop (for example, my wife just walked in here and said “Whatever song you’re listening to – it super sucks”) -- But it’s awesome overproduced dance-pop, and the girls can sing. In Russian accents, no less. I just pretend I’m listening to girls who are Russian, adult, and who attend church regularly.

Track 9: “Perfect Enemy: by TATU.

I feel like I have to justify this TATU-listening some more. I would definitely never buy a TATU album and support their evil moneymaking scheme, nor would I even call them talented (especially since there’s no guarantee that the girls proclaiming themselves to be TATU are the ones singing on the album), but this song in particular, with it’s chorus of (as far as I can tell – it’s in a Russian accent remember), “You don’t tell me off I will never fail, please I like (?) before I not for sale, keep yourself away far away from me, I forever stay your perfect enemy,” could have hundreds of decent life applications. Ok, maybe not hundreds. Maybe just two or three. But you see what I’m saying, right?

Fine -- they suck. But I still like them.

Track 10: “Dangerous and Moving” by TATU.

I freely admit that I have no idea what this song is about, since the girls just sort of throw concepts out there that don’t seem to be connected at all. Dangerous and Moving? Opticals and Signs? If it were a good song, that could be a plus. It’s not, and it just serves to confuse us. Bad TATU song.

Track 11: “Stand (feat. Xhibit) by Alice Cooper.

We move unstably from TATU to Alice, who I’ve come to realize is actually a pretty good pop songwriter, even if he tends to be lame lyricist. This song is a great example of that, as he takes the cliché “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything” and makes it the clichéd chorus of his song. Xhibit takes some time off from pimping rides to rap over the pop-rock, and he sounds funny as he throws out random gangsta “yeah’s” and “uh-huh’s.” When they showcase him, however, he’s very good. Alice just sounds old, especially when he’s talk-singing the verses with no sense of the beat. He’s still a pretty good rock screamer, though. It also must be said that the message of the song (that individual voices need to be heard) isn’t bad, it’s just unfortunately phrased as a series of bumper-sticker messages. Yeah, I fast-forward through most of this most of the time.

Track 12: “Popcorn” by Crazy Frog.

As I understand it, this Crazy Frog sells ringtones in the U.K., and the people behind him created a number one hit by putting munchkin-noises (actually, it sounds a lot like Twiggy from the old Buck Rogers TV show, complete with “biddy biddy’s”) over the 80’s classic “Axel F” and making a video where said Frog acts all crazy. Not content to frog up just one classic pop instrumental, the ringtone company responsible for the Crazy Frog followed that up with this version of “Popcorn,” which I downloaded solely because I must own a copy of every remake of that wonderful song. You see, I grew up in a home with brothers that owned the 45’ of the original 70’s version of the song by Hot Butter, a song I loved. All later incarnations pale in comparison with the original, but I still like them. As for this version, the frog noises are totally over-the-top, which cracks me up. I usually listen until the frog starts to beat-box. That’s right, the frog beat-boxes, and it sounds just like Twiggy would if he was beat-boxing at Erin Gray. After those heights of unintentional comedy, the song has nowhere to go but down.

Track 13: “Hey Mama (original album version)” by the Black Eyed Peas.

I’m not going to comment on the merits of this catchy yet brainless song, but I will point out the many changes the song has gone through as it was homogenized for radio: obviously, “s___” was changed to “stuff” in the chorus; “n_____” was changed to another word I can’t think of right now in the first verse; also in the first verse, “drop bombs like we’re in the middle east” was changed to the way less interesting “drop bombs like we’re shakin’ to the beat” ; in the second verse, the whole end of it was changed from “we don’t want to squeeze triggers we just was to squeeze t___” to something way less sexist; the second time the Jamaican guy raps his verse is interrupted by Fergie, and she does her “off the rictah” chant – it originally was all the Peas singing, “Till Infinity”; the entire last part of the song is cut off, the part where the Jamaican guy goes on an insane-sounding rant about chicken stuffing or somesuch. Totally different song. And don’t even get me started on “Let’s Get it Started.”

Track 14: “We Be Burning” by Sean Paul

I find Sean Paul to be a fascinating lyricist, probably because I can only understand about one out of every three words he says. The meaning of this song, however, is crystal clear – weed is good. As he hammers home that point, he goes into some rather hilarious soliloquies about marijuana that would probably make even the President of NORML blush in embarassment. This song is just begging to be parsed, line-by-line, to show how ridiculous it is (at one point I think he says that those who smoke pot have the “wisdom of Solomon.” Worst. Biblical Reference. Ever.) But give him a break – after all, he’s Jamaican. It’s not like this is coming totally out of the blue.

Track 15: “White Flag” by Dido.

I just love this song – the trippy backbeat, the sad lyrics, the killer voice of Dido. See? I do so have musical taste. It’s not all Mexican Techno*** and Early 80’s moron-pop. I have some substance…at times.

Track 16: “(Reach Up for the) Sunrise” by Duran Duran.

Duran Duran aren’t even trying anymore. Remember “Rio,” with the energy, the base line, etc.? That’s all gone and has finally been replaced with a bunch of bland pop robots rehashing the latest crappy musical trends. While this song is ok, it only serves to remind me of and make me pine for their past greatness. Oh, and no song named “Reach Up for the Sunrise” will ever be good. It’s just too generic. What was I thinking? I just ended up with a burned-up hand.

Track 17: “This Fffire” by Franz Ferdinand.

I appreciate Franz Ferdinand and what they’re trying to do. They’re cool, but somehow this song doesn’t add up to as much goodness as I thought it would. Maybe I’m just not the target audience, since I have no real desire to “burn this city.” If they give me another speeding ticket, I’ll think about it. Until then, I fast forward through most of this.

Track 18: “Kids in America” by Kim Lian.

This song sounds exactly like the early-80’s Kim Wilde version. Exactly. It’s perhaps the least needed song ever made, and it ended up on my mix CD. Even though I recognize it’s inherent lameness, I can’t help liking it. I have a weakness for catchy pop anthems with lyrics that make no sense, what can I say?

Track 19: “I Can’t Get Behind That” by William Shatner and some unknown Fred Willard sound-alike.

Shatner is a brilliant non-singer, and he shows off his chops here by ranting about a variety of things ranging from suicide bombers to leaf blowers to himself. It’s kind of funny the first time you hear it, but suffers from the Law of Diminishing Shatner (LDS) from the second time on.

Track 20: “88 Lines about 44 Women” by They Might Be Giants.

I really like the kickin’ music, but the song’s “bit” – 2 lyric lines summing up each of the 44 women referred to in the title -- gets exhausting after about girl 20. They do four women, hum for a while, and then do four more. That would be 11 verses, holmes. No song should have 11 verses, no matter how short the verses are. It’s just too much. Plus, this is the last song, and pushing forward means I go back to song 1, which has the awesome opening guitar riff. Needless to say, I only hear about 22 lines about 11 women or so.

What have we learned from all this?

1) I really have no musical taste.

2) Sean Paul loves weed.

3) I need to reevaluate my love for TATU.

4) I tend to enjoy catchy songs with no real meaning.

Maybe next time I can make a CD that generations of Papes can listen to and not be bothered by…nah, forget that – bring on some dubious techno that cracks me up instead.

*I’m not saying that all people who use ringtones are tools. Some of my best friends use ringtones. It’s just that I would feel like a big ol’ tool if I personally had one. I’d feel like I was trying to be cool, and that would make me a classic “poser.”

** I wrote this because it sounds good. It is obviously untrue.

***Unimportant side note: I name all my mix CD’s, so I can get a gist of what they’re about when I bust them out later. I’m actually pretty good at remembering what song is associated with what name. This particular CD is called “Power Meex,” which is a reference to the Mexican techno station I used to listen to. Every Friday night would feature said “meex,” which is apparently Spansh for “mix.”


  • At 1:25 AM, Blogger the professional said…

    michael. (sigh). i abhor this post.

    tomorrow, when i am sober, i will explain why -- in detail.

    and you can bet that it will be entertaining.
    but probably not.

    if not, i know you'll at least find this entertaining.

    (right now, i'm in chicago. this is not interesting. what IS interesting, is that the people in the apartment above me are obviously playing super mario 3. leave it to 8-bit Nintendo to pack their flagship games with tons of bass.)

  • At 6:02 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    I'm sure it's just the fact that you hear Super Mario 3 in your head right now. When you're sober, you will recognize the post's brilliance.

  • At 6:50 AM, Blogger Flybeard the Sailor said…

    Wow... for so many reasons.

    Drew- what are you doing in Chicago?

  • At 6:53 AM, Blogger Flybeard the Sailor said…

    Let me also give you some sound advice... from High Fidelity

    "The making of a great compilation tape, like 'Breaking Up Is Hard To Do' takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don't wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules."

    That should at least get you through the first three tracks.

  • At 7:51 AM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    There's a lot of wisdom in that, Paul. I actually thought of that scene in the movie (I haven't read the book) when I was doing this.

    And Drew, why are you in Chicago? Why aren't you in Dallas?

  • At 9:05 AM, Blogger the professional said…

    i'd rather be in dallas, believe me. maggie's best friend from high school is getting married tomorrow and she's in the wedding. so we're here, $200 more broke for having flown, totally stoked for a wedding-packed weekend. if i hadn't been the only common denominator guy in the amy potter/david loner and marcus choppa/holly hanson weddings, you could have asked that guy how much i love weddings and he would have told you i spend the whole time making everyone around me miserable because i'm so cynical about them. i can't help it. i think they're obnoxious -- especially "Chicago weddings."

    the one good thing that came from having to attend this wedding is that i was forced to buy a suit. at 22-almost-23 i had yet to own a suit and it was getting a bit ridiculous.

    on sunday we're going to see my parents, on monday we're going to iowa city to see college friends and the families that we became close to from babysitting and our respective jobs, eat at our favorite restaurants, and generally soak in its brilliance.

    on tuesday we're back in rockford for the afternoon and then we fly out on wednesday morning .

    so that's the whole explanation.
    and i don't feel like abhorring your post any longer. last night's transgressions need to come out and it's beginning to feel rather urgent.

  • At 6:29 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Fred Willard?

    PS--The internet and I are trying to reconcile, but I don't want to get anyone's hopes up. We do still love each other in some way.

  • At 8:37 PM, Blogger Mike Pape said…

    Now that you mention it, it did sound like Mr. Low S.O. himself. I never would have caught that.

  • At 7:26 AM, Blogger jill said…

    dude, brian, call back already. mine was a great message. i want credit.


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