DOWNLOAD THE FULL MIX HERE

Living where I do (the San Francisco Bay Area), the Napa Valley is quite close to my abode.  If you’ve ever been to a winery (or participated in a wine tasting), sometimes they do vertical tastings of wines from various years to highlight how different one vintage is from another.  Since it’s a new year, and I wanted to stay away from a “Best of 2008” mix, I thought I would do a vertical tasting/listening of songs that were released in years ending in the number nine.

As I surveyed the musical landscape from 1959 to the present, I was struck by the way in which a musical style essentially peaks around this time of a decade and then lingers a bit into the new decade only to be eclipsed by another style.  And even though the songs in this mix aren’t necessarily the most popular or most representative of what was going on in popular music, they were popular enough that they reflect the zeitgeist of that particular year.


“I Need Your Love Tonight,” Elvis Presley
(download)

Vintage 1959.

Before Elvis became a mythological figure (or an object of comedic ridicule), his songs of loving and longing were wonderfully solid and, as they used to say on American Bandstand, “Had a great beat and you can dance to it.”  I have to admit, however, that because I’m not a big fan of The King, I hadn’t heard this tune before.  But after repeated listens, I do love the lyric: “I got the Hi-Fi high, and lights down low.”  Clearly, Elvis was not shy when it came to “business time.”


“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” The 5th Dimension
(download)

Vintage 1969.

In The 40 Year-Old Virgin, this song was used to end the movie and it was clear that, yes, it’s very easy to make fun of a song like this.  However, I was reading Born Standing Up by Steve Martin over the holidays, and he wrote that “The Age of Aquarius” was something that he and those around him took very seriously. 1969 was certainly a tumultuous year, with amazing things like the moon landing and the Woodstock music festival.  But there was also the inauguration of Richard Nixon, large-scale protests against the Vietnam war, horrific murders committed by the Manson family, and, of course, the incorporation of Wal-Mart.  Martin was living in Laurel Canyon at the time, so maybe, for brief moment, love could steer the stars.


“Dim All the Lights,” Donna Summer
(download)

Vintage 1979.

Disco, disco … good, good!  This was the year when disco music started its downhill slide into a period of large-scale public ridicule and derision.  But there were a number of disco songs that came out in 1979 that you still hear at parties and wedding receptions to this day.  “Dim All the Lights” may not be in high rotation as a disco classic, but there’s no doubting the long shadow Donna Summer was able to cast from the mid ‘70s to the decade’s end.


“Bust A Move,” Young MC
(download)

Vintage 1989.

When you consider the street cred of Public Enemy in the history of rap, I don’t blame you for being insulted that “Bust A Move” is representative of 1989.  But hear me out on this one, okay? In 1989, I was doing a lot of mobile DJ work where I played my fair share of middle and high school dances. And I gotta say, even though Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, and Public Enemy were hits with “the kids,” Young MC’s “Bust A Move” was the song that really packed the dance floor.


“Candy,” Mandy Moore
(download)

Vintage 1999.

While Mandy’s career eventually veered into the acting realm, her debut as a singer in 1999 was seen as another entry in the parade of “Barbie Doll” singers of the Britney/Christina/Jessica variety.  “Candy” certainly screams late ‘90s pop, but also demonstrates a certain soulless excess that’s surprisingly delicious.  Another reason this song is included is because our editor-in-chief, Jeff Giles, has a total boner for Mandy Moore. (I hardly think I’m alone in this. –Ed.)


“Heart and Soul,” Gary Go
(download)

Vintage 2009.

Now that Coldplay is getting ready to call it a career, if Gary Go plays his cards right, he might be able to grab some of their fan base when the curtain comes down on Chris Martin, et al.  “Heart and Soul” comes from Gary Go’s forthcoming release (due in February), and it’s tough to say if this tune signals a style that’s going to be popular for the next few years, or one, like many of the songs featured in this mix, its decline.

About the Author

Ted Asregadoo

Writer & Editor

Ted Asregadoo has a last name that's proven to be difficult to pronounce for almost everyone on the Popdose staff, some telemarketers, and even his close friends. He lives in Walnut Creek, CA. Oh, and FYI, Asregadoo is pronounced As-ree-gah-du.

View All Articles