December 12, 2008

Yankee Swap 2008: "The Future"

The theme of this year's Yankee Swap was THE FUTURE. I was very pleased when a CD-R of my mix got "swapped" several times around the party!

When I first thought of this idea, all I had in mind was "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Mr Roboto" by Styx, and "The Body Electric" by Rush. I had an OK first draft done when I asked my lovely wife for her perspective. She thought it was too focused on robots and spaceships, and she started suggesting songs about "things that will happen someday" which are NOT sci-fi oriented. Her ideas vastly improved the mix, as you will see...

  1. Battlestar Galactica Theme: My brother used this song (from the classic 1970s TV show) as his wedding ceremony recessional theme. I kid you not.
  2. "1999" Prince: A 26-year-old song, about partying 9 years ago, IS about the future.
  3. "Fly Like An Eagle" Steve Miller Band, aka "Time keeps on slippin, slippin, slippin... into the future!"
  4. "Until The End of the World": My wife thought of this one.
  5. "Robots [live]" From the Flight of the Conchords CD THE DISTANT FUTURE: 'It is the distant future. The year 2000.'
  6. "The Body Electric" Rush
  7. "Someday I Suppose" I found this Mighty Mighty Bosstones song because it's next to "Someday, Someway" in my iTunes.
  8. "My Science Fiction Twin" Elvis Costello: Another suggestion from my wife.
  9. "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades" Timbuk 3
  10. I found the Leonard Cohen song "The Future", from the Natural Born Killers soundtrack, by searching for FUTURE in iTunes.
  11. I bought the Flaming Lips song "One More Robot/Sympathy 3000-21" especially for this mix,
  12. "Robot Chicken Theme" The show Robot Chicken isn't actually about the future per se, but this Les Claypool instrumental is short and fun.
  13. "Pets" by Porno for Pyros song is perfect for this mix. I first heard this song as Beavis & Butthead were watching the video for it on MTV!
  14. "In The Year 2525" The words to this Zager & Evans hit are kinda weird!
  15. "Robot Parade" There were many They Might Be Giants songs to choose from.
  16. "Mr. Roboto" Styx
  17. The Jetsons Theme: I could not find the original theme song on iTunes, so I settled for this barely-better-than Casio keyboard recording.
  18. "Attack El Robot! Attack!" Calexico
  19. "When I'm Sixty Three and a Half" After the Beatles recorded "When I'm Sixty-Four" in late 1966, Paul McCartney, intending to make his voice sound "younger", asked producer George Martin to speed up the master tape, just enough to shift the key of the song a half-step sharp. To undo this change, I have pitch-shifted the song a half-step down (flat), to match the key in which McCartney originally sang it. The tempo has not been changed.)
  20. "Someday We'll Know" New Radicals
  21. "Someday, Someway" Marshall Crenshaw
  22. "My Flying Saucer" Billy Bragg & Wilco
  23. Star Trek Theme
  24. "Tomorrow Never Knows" The Beatles

December 08, 2008

Two Minutes, 42 seconds

As I write this, I am listening to a mix of songs which only have one thing in common- they're all 2 minutes, 42 seconds long. There's this internet "meme" going around which says that 2:42 is a "magic number" for great songs, so I'm putting it to the test. I sorted my entire iTunes library by length (13,000 songs). Then I selected ALL the songs which clock in at 2:42. Then I weeded it down to about 30 songs, down to a small group of songs or bands I especially like. I haven't sequenced this group at all. Here's the result:
  • "Under The Boardwalk" The Drifters
  • "Streets of Fire" New Pornographers
  • "Lighten Up" Beastie Boys
  • "Oceans" Pearl Jam
  • "September Gurls" The Bangles
  • "The Way You Do The Things You Do" The Temptations
  • "In My Room" Grant Lee Buffalo
  • "Divine Hammer" The Breeders
  • "Sheila Take a Bow" The Smiths
  • "Revolving Dora" Fountains of Wayne
  • "Leggy Blonde" Flight of the Conchords
  • "Lovely Rita" The Beatles
  • "Poison Ivy" The Coasters
  • "May Queen" Liz Phair
  • "Come See About Me" Supremes
  • "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" Nick Lowe
  • "Don't Worry Baby" Beach Boys
  • "From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come)" Bruce Springsteen
  • "Pictures of Lily" The Who
  • "I Second That Emotion" Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
  • "You Never Can Tell" Chuck Berry
  • "Go Home" Barenaked Ladies
  • "California Dreamin'" The Mamas & Papas
  • "Teen Beat" Fleetwood Mac
Not surprisingly, the mix leans heavily on the early 1960s, and the 1970s and 1980s are barely present!

November 04, 2008

119: ROCK You Can Believe In

Use of my iPod's "Shuffle Songs" tool continues to heavily influence my song selection: letting pure chance pick out great unknown songs from my favorite bands is paying dividends!
  1. "Dropped" Phantom Planet: A great kick-off song. I find a lot of new songs and new artists these days from the soundtracks of TV shows. For example, NBC's action-comedy Chuck includes a lot of alt-rock music on the soundtrack. But where do I go when I want to hear more from the band whose song was featured in that chase sequence? Most popular shows have fansites which list songs from each episode. I love the Internet!
  2. "Sarayushka" Andy West, Henry Kaiser, & Michael Maksymenko: This is a faithful cover of the ZZ Top song "La Grange", sung in Russian. The LP is called Crazy Backwards Alphabet. In college, I was the host of a radio show Gyroscope on WERS-FM Boston, which featured world music, plus all sorts of avant garde jazz, and whatever else the college DJs felt like. Having no world music background, I specialized in covers of classic rock: The Gipsy Kings covering "Hotel California" in Spanish, Tito Puente covering "Day Tripper", A polka rendition of "People Are Strange", a bluegrass cover of "Brain Damage", and this nugget.
  3. "Wild Rock Music!" is a mashup: Madonna singing "Music" over Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild". Mashed up by
  4. "27 Jennifers": Mike Doughty is the former lead singer of Soul Coughing. The singles off his solo CDs (this song is from Golden Delicious) are decidedly more "poppy" and less "out there" than Soul Coughing (which I appreciate!)
  5. "Should've Been In Love" from Wilco's debut album A.M.
  6. "Sweet Soul Dream" World Party: All my favorite contemporary bands in high school were heavily Beatles-influenced, including World Party. I found this track thanks to my iPod's "Shuffle Songs" setting.
  7. "Nobody's Child", The Traveling Wilburys donated this maudlin track to Nobody's Child, a CD to benefit Romanian orphans.
  8. "Debra" An exceedingly silly "white soul" classic from Beck.
  9. "Smile On" Deee-Lite
  10. "Proto-Pretty", The Wondermints were a one-hit wonder. I found this song on the Power Pop collection Poptopia.
  11. "My Bird Performs", XTC: I did not like the XTC album Nonsuch at first, but it's grown on me.
  12. "Great DJ", The Ting Tings: I heard this song featured on the podcast of a good friend of mine. Check out Radio Free Jersey.
  13. "Something Beautiful": Back in the late 1990s, I was a big fan of Tracy Bonham's first two albums, The Burdens of Being Upright and Down Here, but I had lost track of her over the last decade. I went on iTunes and bought a few more recent tracks of hers, including this gem.
  14. "The Twist", Frightened Rabbit: This song (also featured on the TV show Chuck) needs a better arrangement, but it's catchy nonetheless.
  15. "Dance Me to the End of Love": All I know about Madeline Peyroux is that she sounds just like Billie Holliday.
  16. "Dark Side of Night": Foxboro Hot Tubs are a "secret" side project of Green Day. They're going for a mid-1960s garage rock sound here.
  17. "Borrowing Time", Aimee Mann
  18. "You Don't Know Me", Ben Folds featuring Regina Spektor: There aren't many artists whose CDs I will buy automatically when they come out. Aimee Mann and Ben Folds are on the list. This Ben Folds song, a duet with Regina Spektor, is insanely catchy. The album, Way To Normal, is hit-or-miss, but the several gems make up for some underbaked dross. I think I mixed too many metaphors there!
  19. "Chelsea Dagger", The Fratellis: Also known as "the song from that Amstel Light commercial."
  20. "The 20th Century Is Over", Ellis Paul: My wife and her parents are huge Ellis Paul fans. I think he's great too, but I am still getting to know his stuff, including this dark, non-folky track from his album Sweet Mistakes.
  21. "Fake Empire" The National: This song was featured on at least one Obama campaign video, including the one played in Chicago soon before Barack stepped onstage on Election Night. My friend Julie heard it and identified it for us. Obama's campaign slogan CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN was the inspiration for this mix's title.

October 07, 2008

118: I Hear The Bells

  1. Aye Davanita - Pearl Jam. I found this brief instrumental from Vitalogy thanks to the Shuffle Songs feature on my iPod.
  2. Watch The Sunrise - Big Star. Ditto.
  3. Viva La Vida - Coldplay. Another iPod commercial song!
  4. Use It (live) - The New Pornographers perform one of my favorite songs of theirs (an iTunes exclusive.)
  5. You Can Call Me Late - Paul Simon. I went to a wedding this summer where the awesome wedding band played "You Can Call Me Al" followed by "Late in the Evening." A few months later, as I deejayed a birthday party for a friend, I cross-faded these two songs together, right at the bass solo in "Al." The birthday girl had danced at the wedding, so I hoped she would get a kick out of dancing to these two songs again. It worked!
  6. Hanging Upside Down - David Byrne. Another iPod shuffle discovery.
  7. Too Much of Nothing - Peter, Paul and Mary. Ditto.
  8. Why Do You Let Me Stay Here? - She & Him.
  9. Celebrity Sanctum - Dogs Die in Hot Cars. Another iPod shuffle discovery. DDIHC are also known as "That Band That Sounds Exactly Like XTC. Seriously, It's Uncanny."
  10. Good Times - Hoodoo Gurus, featuring The Bangles on backup vocals. The Bangles have also contributed backing vocals to a Tom Petty song, "Waiting For Tonight."
  11. I Hear The Bells - Mike Doughty.
  12. Stars & Planets - Liz Phair.
  13. Shine - Tracy Bonham was a alt-rock star for one season in the Alanis Morrisette Era, with her song "Mother Mother". I have two of her CDs, and I am glad to hear she's still making music.
  14. High & Dry - Jamie Cullum
  15. I Feel It All - Feist
  16. I Still Want You - The Del Fuegos. I found the Del Fuegos' LP Boston, Mass. at a hipster's yard sale in Arlington last summer. The Del Fuegos were one of those early 1980s rock bands who got signed to a major label, put out one LP, and were never heard from again. Every local music scene has that band which "shoulda been a contender", but never caught anyone's attention at the national level. The Del Fuegos have become a footnote to lead singer Dan Zanes' successful second careeer as a children's music star.
  17. Scare Easy - Mudcrutch. This boring Tom Petty song is from his reunion-ized early 1970s band Mudcrutch.
  18. F.N.T. - Semisonic. I read the rock memoir from the drummer of Semisonic. Titled "So You Want to be A Rock & Roll Star", it might as well have been called "Diary of a One-Hit Wonder." I like their music: their hit "Closing Time" might be my least-favorite song of theirs. After reading about the endless touring and promotional interviews for their singles, I felt obliged to buy a few of these songs from iTunes!
  19. Sweet Sweet Baby (I'm Falling) - Lone Justice
  20. Surfin' Bird - The Trashmen.

September 27, 2008

Sharon's Birthday Dance Party

Here's a playlist I assembled in preparation for a four-hour birthday dance party for my friends Sharon and Marc. Of course, there's no way to play 100 songs in four hours, so many of these songs didn't get played that night, but this was my roadmap for the night's voyage.

Instrumental Background Music: these ten instrumentals were set aside for the first hour when the guests were arriving.

  1. Groove Holmes • Beastie Boys
  2. Mick's Up • Style Council
  3. Cantaloupe Island
  4. Guero Canelo • Calexico
  5. The Staunton Lick • Lemon Jelly
  6. Untitled Instrumental • Bo Diddley
  7. Flying • The Beatles
  8. Homage to Patagonia • Lemon Jelly
  9. S'il vous Plait • Fantastic Plastic Machine
  10. Rodney Yates • David Holmes
Swing & Soul: It's important to play some golden oldies at the outset, to give the older early birds (parents, grandparents) something easy to dance to before they split.
  1. A String of Pearls • Glenn Miller
  2. Flip, Flop, and Fly • Big Joe Turner
  3. Jump, Jive, and Wail • Louis Prima
  4. Rock Around The Clock • Bill Haley & His Comets
  5. Mustang Sally • Wilson Pickett
  6. Lonely Teardrops • Jackie Wilson
  7. Tequila • The Champs
  8. Diner • Martin Sexton
  9. Little Bitty Pretty One • Clyde McPhatter
  10. Let's Stay Together • Al Green
  11. Mr. Big Stuff • Jean Knight
  12. Ruby Baby • The Drifters
  13. Sweet Soul Music • Arthur Conley
  14. Tears Dry on Their Own • Amy Winehouse
  15. Birthday • The Beatles
  16. Let's Get This Party Started • Black-Eyed Peas
  17. Mr. Blue Sky • ELO
  18. History Repeating • The Propellerheads featuring Shirley Bassey
  19. My Sharona • The Knack
  20. You Dropped a Bomb On Me • The Gap Band
  21. Best of My Love • Emotions
  22. I'm Coming Out • Diana Ross
  23. What I Like About You • The Romantics
  24. September • Earth, Wind, and Fire
  25. Atomic Dog • George Clinton
  26. If You Don't Know Me By Now • Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
  27. Take a Chance On Me • ABBA
  28. Like A Virgin [ext dance mix] • Madonna
  29. Faith • George Michael
Totally Eighties: Alternative & New Wave
  1. Kiss Me On The Bus • The Replacements
  2. This Charming Man • Smiths
  3. Just Can't Get Enough • Depeche Mode
  4. Bizarre Love Triangle • New Order
  5. Tainted Love • Soft Cell
  6. Don't You Want Me • Human League
  7. The Safety Dance • Men Without Hats
  8. Don't Bring Me Down • ELO
  9. Borderline [new mix] • Madonna
  10. Don't Stop Til You Get Enough • Michael Jackson
  11. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go • Wham!
  12. Love Shack • The B-52's
Hip Hop
  1. Hey Ladies • The Beastie Boys
  2. Bust A Move • Young MC
  3. Me Myself and I • De La Soul
  4. Fantastic Voyage • Coolio
  5. Cantaloop • US3
  6. Connected • Stereo MC's
  1. Dashboard • Modest Mouse
  2. Jackie Wilson Said • Van Morrison
  3. The Underdog • Spoon
  4. Everyday People • Sly & The Family Stone
  5. Sly • The Cat Empire
  6. Short Skirt, Long Jacket • Cake
  7. Tenderness • General Public
  8. Close To Me • The Cure
  9. When The Stars Go Blue • Blake Lewis
  10. Sexx Laws • Beck
  11. Groove Is In The Heart • Deeee-Lite
  12. Shotgun • Junior Walker & The All-Stars
  13. Do You Love Me? • The Contours
  14. Good Times • Chic
  15. Come On Eileen • Dexy's Midnight Runners
  16. Private Eyes • Hall & Oates
  17. Soul Finger • The Bar-Kays
  18. Night Fever • The Bee Gees
  19. Waterloo • ABBA
  20. Signed, Sealed, Delivered • Stevie Wonder
  21. Hey Ya! • Outkast
  22. Raspberry Beret • Prince & The Revolution
  23. I Wanna Dance With Somebody • Whitney Houston
  24. Machine Gun • Kool & The Gang
  25. Superstition • Stevie Wonder
  26. It Wouldnt Have Made Any Difference • Todd Rundgren
  27. Ain't Too Proud To Beg • The Temptations
  28. I Got Ants In My Pants • James Brown
  29. Tears of A Clown • Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
  30. Good Lovin' • The Rascals
  31. You Can Call Me Al/Late In The Evening • Paul Simon
  32. Suspicious Minds • Elvis Presley
  33. Poison • Bel Biv Devoe
  34. Creep • TLC
Last Call: The Party Wraps Up. Because I knew that I had over-scheduled the playlist, I set aside 10 songs for the end of the night. I went to this section when I discovered the "last gasp" of the party about to arrive.
  1. Been Caught Stealing [12" remix] • Jane's Addiction
  2. Love Rollercoaster • The Ohio Players
  3. Rock Your Body • Justin Timberlake
  4. Smile • Lily Allen
  5. The Sweet Escape • Gwen Stefani
  6. Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex • CSS
  7. Get Ur Freak On • Missy Elliott
  8. Dancing Queen • ABBA
  9. Dancing With Myself • Billy Idol
  10. Let's Go Crazy • Prince & The Revolution

May 14, 2008

117: Empress Zhangsun

I got the title and "artist" of this mix from a posting on the Brainiac blog at The game was to create a real-sounding artist and CD title from random Wikipedia entries, and real-looking cover art from random images on the Web.
ARTIST: Empress Zhangsun
TITLE: Effect of a Habit
  1. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield
  2. Music is My Hot, Hot Sex - CSS (from an iPod Touch commercial.)
  3. Soul Meets Body - Death Cab for Cutie
  4. Hold Your Head Up - Argent (one of the true one-hit wonders. I don't think Argent ever had another Top 40 single.)
  5. The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani (aka my ringtone)
  6. Don't Bring Me Down (live) - A cover of the ELO song by The New Pornographers (an iTunes exclusive)
  7. Sweet Emotion - Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke (a mellow cover of the Aerosmith song)
  8. Looking at the World from the Bottom of a Well - Mike Doughty
  9. From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come) - Dave Edmunds covers a fun, late-1970s Bruce Springsteen song. Edmunds is one of the rare rockers of the singer-songwriter era to specialize in covering his contemporaries' material. I bought this LP at a yard sale exclusively for this song.
  10. Everybody Went Low - John Hiatt
  11. Reggae Merengue - Tommy McCook & The Supersonics (this instrumental was sampled by Lily Allen for her song "LDN")
  12. Pick Up The Pieces - Average White Band (how are you supposed to find instrumentals like this when there's no lyrics? Also, DJs don't announce all their songs anymore. I may have gone online to check a station's online playlist to track down this frequent movie soundtrack staple.)
  13. Gotta Get Back - Shelby Lynne
  14. Please Read The Letter - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  15. Precious (live) The Pretenders, live at the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea, December 1979. I bought the two-LP set in Central Square, Cambridge, last winter.
  16. Thankful - Glenn Phillips (This song from the former Toad The Wet Sprocket singer was a free download from iTunes. I think I was given this promo download as a credit-card-style coupon at SXSW in 2007?
  17. Blue - The Thorns
  18. Gypsy March - Grand Ole Party (I saw the GOP at the free party for BUST Magazine, at SXSW 2008.)
  19. Bodysnatchers - Radiohead
  20. Ball of Confusion (That's What the World Is Today) - The Temptations

February 17, 2008

116: Soup Du Jour

I don't know why I haven't called a mix "Soup of the Day" before?

The Cover: A collage of snaps from our digital camera, including a view of New York City, me playing guitar at this very desk, our cat Max and his needlepoint doppleganger, and our infant friend Isaac.

The Tracks: Only six of the songs are from the 20th century:

  1. Oh Well- Leo Kottke & Mike Gordon (a cover of the Fleetwood Mac song)
  2. Smile (Mark Ronson Remix) - Lily Allen
  3. Pressure Drop - Keith Richards and Toots & The Maytals (free? on iTunes)
  4. Tenderness (Live at the Channel 1984) - I really like this modern soul song from General Public. Too much of the soul music of the Eighties has aged poorly, but this track still sounds good. I found this live recording on a cancer benefit record called LIVE! for LIFE, which we had in the library of my high school radio station, WBMT 88.3 FM. In those days, I had a negative bias against live recordings, but now I am totally into finding rare live records like this. I also like the idea that this was recorded in Boston, a mere 28 miles from where I was living my 12-year-old existence, playing air guitar along with "Footloose" and dreaming of seeing Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium.
  5. Union, Jack - Big Audio Dynamite (I only heard this song once before: when I was interning for Neal Robert at WFNX in 1993, he played this track, whose drum track sounds like a sample from "Honky Tonk Women". Fast forward 14 years, and I buy a used vinyl copy of Megatop Phoenix at a record shop in Red Bank, NJ, for $2, and here we are...)
  6. You Only Live Once - The Strokes (I think I found this song while listening to the Adult Alternative channel on my cable TV.)
  7. Hollywood - Collective Soul (I heard this shameless Cars style-ripoff on WXRV and I knew it would make it onto a mix someday.)
  8. If You're Into It - Flight of the Conchords
  9. The Way I Am - Ingrid Michaelson (I am only a little embarrassed when I include songs from iTunes commercials on my mixes.)
  10. Dark Horse - The title track from the George Harrison LP best known for George's rough, laryngitis-damaged vocals.
  11. Everywhere I Go - I really like the chorus of Shawn Mullins's almost-hit.
  12. Fair - This piano arrangement on this recording-- from Ben Folds's 1990 solo demo tape-- sounds like "Virtual Insanity", which never ceases to amuse me.
  13. Make It Easier - My high school radio station, WBMT 88.3 FM, was on the mailing list of only a few select record labels. Because we had nearly no budget for buying music, we ended up playing a lot of music from artists whose music we got for free. One of those labels who sent us free records was Epic, home of Living Coloür and Indigo Girls, along others. That's the long story of where I got to know Indigo Girls's music from the very beginning.
  14. Ride - The Vines
  15. Fell In Love with A Boy - Joss Stone
  16. Long Limbed Girl - Nick Lowe (from his latest album "At My Age")
  17. To Know Him Is To Love Him (Napster live session) - Amy Winehouse
  18. Someone To Love - Fountains of Wayne
  19. Yellow Ledbetter - A great Pearl Jam B-side from the Versus era. This song always reminds me of my old friend Meg (Goldstein) Chapman, who was the biggest PJ fan in the world back then.
  20. September Gurls - From The Bangles second LP, Different Light, which I got for a penny from the RCA record club.
  21. Wake Up - Rage Against The Machine (aka the closing credits song from The Matrix.)

115: Eye In The Sky

#115 and 116 were composed simultaneously. The Cover: My wife's new commute route takes her past this monstrosity on a hill every day- that's her woodsy pondside road cutting diagonally through this Microsoft Visual Earth photo.

This disc is very current-heavy: over half the tracks are from the last five years, and seven of them are from 2007:

  1. Tears Dry On Their Own - Amy Winehouse
  2. Winning Ways - The Vines (I found this song on Music Choice channel 414.)
  3. Hero Takes a Fall (Live in London 1986) - The Bangles
  4. Robots (Live in NYC 2007) - Flight of the Conchords
  5. LDN - Lily Allen
  6. Our Town - Marshall Crenshaw
  7. Traffic and Weather - Fountains of Wayne
  8. Don't You Evah - Spoon
  9. A Life Without You (Is No Life at All) - John C. Reilly (Reilly as Dewey Cox, singing a Roy Orbison-style torch song.)
  10. Eye In The Sky - Jonatha Brooke (an interesting cover song, discovered on iTunes while looking for songs for my "1982" mix. I actually met Ms. Brooke circa 1992, when her former folk duo The Story visited WERS-FM.)
  11. The Breakup Song - Greg Kihn (heard on the PA system before a New Pornographers concert.)
  12. Casimir Pulaski Day - Sufjan Stevens (My wife included this song on a mix. Possibly the saddest song of the year!)
  13. Uncle Walter - Ben Folds Five
  14. Seen The Doctor - Michael Penn
  15. All In My Head - Shawn Mullins
  16. Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) - Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
  17. Getting Better (Live 2002) - Paul McCartney (I only bought this song because I remember liking the newly-arranged ending when I saw this show at the Meadowlands with my friend Robert.)
  18. Happier (Live In Portland 2003) - Guster
  19. Are We Ourselves? - The Fixx
  20. Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen
  21. The Melee - Beastie Boys

January 19, 2008

1980s Party Playlist

January 2008: My wife and I threw a birthday party for me at the local Elks lodge. We dragged my turntable, speakers, and an old receiver borrowed from my Dad from the back of my little Honda, we hung up some of my vintage 1980s T-shirts on the wall, and dressed up like the way we thought was cool in 1986 (see right).
Anticipation is half the fun, so I worked out a playlist in advance. I didn't have a mixer, so the transitions were all going to stink, but I wanted to be prepared. Besides bringing almost all of the 60 songs on vinyl, I also burned CD-Rs of the playlist and borrowed my wife's laptop + iTunes to play music too. I don't remember exactly how closely we stuck to the playlist, so I've edited the list below to reflect as many of the changes as I can recall.
Fifteen songs per hour is average, but many of these are extended remixes from 12-inch singles, so these 60 songs are closer to 5 hours of music.
I have learned the hard way not to start off too big. At the beginning of a party, no one's dancing yet anyway. The first half hour at least should be mood-setting, almost background music.
  1. Is It Love • Mr. Mister: Not many people give a crap about Mr. Mister, and I must be the only person on Earth who still remembers this song. I got the LP from the RCA Record & Tape Club. That's how old school I am.
  2. You Might Think • The Cars
  3. Sanctify Yourself • Simple Minds
  4. Raspberry Beret • Prince & The Revolution: Midtempo and not really danceable, but everyone loves Prince.
  5. Sussudio • Phil Collins
  6. Sledgehammer (extended dance remix) • Peter Gabriel: Petey was my first concert (the tour for this album in 1987) and I bought all the 12" singles for the So LP.
  7. We Close Our Eyes (club mix) • Go West: File next to Mr Mister under "Bands Only I Remember Anymore"
  8. Say Say Say • Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
  9. Like a Virgin (extended dance remix) • Madonna: There's lots of Madonna on this playlist. She never fails!
  10. Be Near Me (munich mix) • ABC
  11. Too Shy • Kajagoogoo
  12. Dancing In The Dark (blaster mix) • Bruce Springsteen released three 12 inch singles from the album Born In The U.S.A. comprised of disco-fied remixes by dance producer Arthur Baker. This is the best of the bunch.
  13. Freeway of Love (Extended Remix) • Aretha Franklin
  14. Two Hearts (club mix) • I was totally surprised to find a 12 inch single of U2 remixes from so early in their career. I own several remixes of songs from Rattle & Hum and Achtung Baby, but finding this vinyl was a total surprise. The remix is tasteful, and seems to preserve Larry Mullen's original drum track.
  15. Love Bites • Def Leppard
Here's the "Late 80s English Alternative" section:
  1. Why Can't I Be You? • The Cure
  2. Kiss Me On The Bus • The Replacements
  3. This Charming Man • The Smiths
  4. Just Can't Get Enough • Depeche Mode
  5. Bizarre Love Triangle • New Order
  6. New Sensation (nicks mix) • INXS
  7. I Cant Wait (dutch mix) • Nu Shooz
  8. I'll Tumble 4 Ya (12" remix) • Culture Club
  9. Borderline (new mix) • Madonna
  10. Drive • The Cars: A note on ballads. Only play 1 at a time, and space them out, every 20 or 30 minutes max.
  11. Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go • Wham!
Here's the "Late 80s Novelty Hip Hop" section:
  1. Hey Ladies • Beastie Boys
  2. Bust a Move • Young MC
  3. Me Myself And I • De La Soul
  4. Wild Wild Life (extended mix) • Talking Heads
  5. Escapade • Janet Jackson
  6. Big Time • Peter Gabriel
  7. Something About You • Level 42
  8. Poison Arrow (remix) • ABC
  9. Angel (extended dance remix) • Madonna
  10. Hello • Lionel Richie
  11. Rio • Duran Duran
  12. Tenderness • General Public: Nobody knows this band, but everyone loves the song.
  13. Steppin' Out • Joe Jackson
  14. True • Spandau Ballet
  15. Don't You Want Me • The Human League
  16. The Safety Dance • Men Without Hats: People LOVE dancing to this song. Any dance song which is also a novelty hit song works great.
  17. I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) • Whitney Houston
  18. Billie Jean • Michael Jackson
  19. Heaven • Bryan Adams
  20. I Feel For You • Chaka Khan
  21. Material Girl (extended dance remix) • Madonna
  22. Things Can Only Get Better • Howard Jones
  23. Take On Me • A-Ha
  24. That's Why They Call It the Blues • Elton John
  25. Come On Eileen • Dexy's Midnight Runners: Another must-have.
  26. Angel • Aerosmith
  27. Hungry Like The Wolf • Duran Duran
  28. Girls Just Want To Have Fun • Cyndi Lauper
  29. When I Think Of You • Janet Jackson
  30. Relax • Frankie Goes To Hollywood
  31. Dancing With Myself • Billy Idol: People literally rushed to the dance floor like someone threw hundred-dollar bills everywhere.
  32. Let's Go Crazy • Prince & The Revolution: The ideal last-song capper.
What did I take away from hosting my first live dance party?
  • People like to dance to novelty hits from their youth.
  • People like to dance to songs they know already. I tried playing some very danceable Style Council ("My Ever-Changing Moods"), and nobody danced. "But this song shows how cool I am!" I thought to myself. On the flip side (not literally), I didn't want to play "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" because it is hopelessly uncool. My wife forced me to play it AND SHE WAS RIGHT. The whole crowd danced their asses off.
  • Don't blow your wad right away. I hosted a dance party once where the first five songs were super hot and danceable, yet everyone was still saying "hi" and settling in, so no one danced.
  • I didn't think anyone would dance to "Dancing With Myself", but it really worked.
  • If you want to rock the "jacket with the sleeves pushed up" look (see my photo, top), you have to roll them up BEFORE you put the jacket on.