Friday, December 9, 2016

100 Songs for 2016: Outtakes Week (Day Five)

[We are three days away from 100 Songs for 2016! Between now and then, we're taking a look at some great songs that just missed the cut.]


(1) Charli XCX - "Explode"

AARON: "This is the Charli XCX song from the Angry Birds soundtrack."
ILANA: "Hmm. Maybe if we had seen the movie we would have a better understanding of what it's about."

(2) Nelly Furtado - "Islands of Me"

I loved Whoa, Nelly! so much, and I'm still mad at the music industry for not figuring out a way to turn Nelly into a sustainable pop star. I don't know why "One Trick Pony" from her second album wasn't a bigger hit. She was never a great fit for "Promiscuous," but there are some great songs on Loose (like this one), even though Bloc Party's version of "Say it Right" was better.

(3) Beach Slang - "Future Mixtape for the Art Kids"

Now that Titus Andronicus seem largely stable, if you're looking for a band that might melt down on stage any given night, I think Beach Slang might be your best bet. As I've said before, I see that as a positive attribute in a band - if you don't care, don't do it.

(4) AJJ - "Now That I'm the the Top of My Game"

When you change your name from "Andrew Jackson Jihad" to "AJJ," the question you're going to get fairly often is, "Did you change it because of the 'Andrew Jackson' part or the 'Jihad' part?" And the answer, it turns out, is both.

(5) The Hold Steady - "The Most Important Thing"

The greatest American rock and roll band of all time, The Hold Steady,* recently re-released deluxe versions of their first three albums, each with unreleased bonus tracks.

The best of the lot, "Girls Like Status," wasn't really unreleased, as it appeared on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie soundtrack in 2007. The second best, "You Gotta Dance (With Who You Came to the Dance With)" is only unreleased in studio form, as it appeared on the Hold Steady live album A Positive Rage. The third best, "Arms & Hearts," is a gem and really should have been the official last song on Boys and Girls in America, which it was on the Australian version of the album, so hardcore fans had already heard it.

Truly hardcore fans had probably heard all of these songs, but the best one I hadn't heard was "The Most Important Thing," in which Craig Finn sings about getting into The Stone Roses four years too late, which as a music nerd and a huge fan of both bands makes me just deliriously happy. Thought about including it in 100 Songs for 2016 on some kind of "It's new to me" justification, but, I mean, this definitely existed in 2006. It's cheating.

So here's the full list of "new" Hold Steady songs. For some reason, "Touchless" still doesn't get an official release, nor does the studio version of "Adderall." Looks like we'll have to wait for the Stay Positive re-release.

* Hyperbole, but seriously, who are your nominees? I'd submit that it's not thaaaaat much of a stretch.

(6) Childish Gambino - "California"

2016 was the year where Donald Glover conquered every artistic medium he didn't already own. I already loved him as a writer (30 Rock) and comic actor (Community), now I love him as a serious actor (Atlanta), and I'm coming around on him as a musician (now that he's given up on joke rap). Still, I can't get over the feeling that this isn't him, but a Sly Stone-like character he's playing. I mean, what accent is this supposed to be?

(7) Paul Simon - "Stranger"

This song was called "The Werewolf" on Simon's album from earlier this year, and it was too busy and ultimately a little bit grating. With help from Chance the Rapper's production team The Social Experiment (helmed by Nico Segal, formerly known as Donnie Trumpet), it gets a modern, weightless rebrand, and it makes me wish Simon would get a little weirder with his new projects.

(8) The Head and the Heart - "Library Magic"

One of those songs that I enjoy when I'm listening to it, then three months pass and I realize I haven't thought about the song or the band once. Just doesn't stick with me, but that's not really too harsh of a criticism.

(9) Seramic - "Waiting"

Very little is known about this mysterious London artist, but we know he has an envelope filter pedal. There not much more to this song beyond the Bootsy Collins bass, but why would there need to be?

(10) Jocelyn Alice - "Feels Right"

Ilana volunteered to help out with some of these comments, so I played her the first minute of this song. She said "It sounds like Frankie, but not as good. What's next?" Tough but fair.

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