Welcome to it, Popsters! Each week I hope to delight you and yours with some musical goodness mixed the old fashioned way: with thought given to the song order in a mix. You see, kids, I’m an old school jock (slang for DJ) who has done quite a bit of time behind the mic in radio. Moreover, I’ve also done some hard time behind the turntables in that cauldron of hell known as the wedding reception. Just outside the cauldron is the middle school dance, which is right next to the corporate holiday party. But despite my cynicism toward social gatherings that involve endless requests for “Hey Ya,” I did learn quite a few things about mixing music. What to do, and what not to do. Forgive my wizened ways, but something has really gotten lost in the age of shuffle mode. Songs that don’t mix well often get played in a sequence that, in radio terms, is often called a train wreck. Oh, and don’t think that I’m some kind of booster for radio (even though that’s where I derive my income). Alas, the radio industry is one where the creative mind of a DJ has been pretty much lobotomized by The Suits and their consultant cronies.
You’re probably saying “Good Christ, man! Bitter much?” Fair question. But the answer is no. I’m actually really stoked by this whole Popdose enterprise, and I’m hoping that old art of mixing songs will find an enthusiastic audience here. So to start off our maiden voyage of weekly mix goodness, I chose an appropriate (if not obvious) theme.
M, “Pop Muzik”
Even though this song was one of a handful that marked the beginning of “New Wave” music of the early ’80s, it does have a timeless quality to it. I find it to be one of those songs that marked the beginning of a trend that is either hated for the elevation of synth over substance, or loved because it seemed people needed a break from overblown arena rock bands so they could get their geek on for a bit.
Many may have asked “Just what is dirty pop?” when this song came out. It took JT to expose Janet’s boob for the world to really know. When you look at the pecking order of N*Suck, er, N*Sync in the boy band craze of the mid to late 90s, I’m not sure that one would spot the progressive pop instincts of JT until this song came out.
Prince, “Pop Life”
Just when things were getting too commercial/Michael Jackson/Thriller for Prince, he pulled a fast one and released an album that was the anti-Purple Rain â€” with mixed results. This was kind of a laconic pop tune with Prince sounding a bit checked out. But goddamn, this song was an unlikely hit on the dance floor back in the day. Maybe because had a very basic beat and you could dance with your grandparents to it.
Men Without Hats, “Pop Goes The World”
Hard to believe this was the same outfit that did “The Safety Dance.” But you know what? This song comes pretty close to being almost as inane. Still, if you want to get your Molly Ringwald/’80s Dance ya-yas out, this is a good song to do it to.
R.E.M., “Pop Song 89”
Hey! They don’t even mention the word “pop” in this song. Gosh, aren’t they sly for a bunch of sellout major-label fuckers. Oops! Sorry, I love R.E.M. (the IRS years).
Suicidal Tendencies, “Pop Songs”
What better way to end a mix like this than to treat you to a song that boasts a hatred of pop songs â€” and does so with a pop song vibe. Sure they are trying to be subversive, but c’mon, I think there’ s a lot of N*Sync on Mike Muir’s iPod.
And there we be! Hope you had fun and I’ll meet you here next week.