With the Labor Day weekend coming up, marking the unofficial end of the summer season, we here at the Mixtape would like to go through the musical highs and lows of this past summer in our mega mixtape, "What We Did on Our Summer Mixtape-Tion."
High: Bjork and Dirty Projectors get together to sing about Free Willy
Our favorite thing to probably come from this summer, that warmed the dark corners of our little hipster heart, was the joining of Dirty Projectors and Bjork to do a digital-only EP called Mount Wittenberg Orca. Proceeds for the album went to the National Geographic Society to help create international marine protected areas which we think is all fine and dandy and truly a great cause, but as people who sat through the Michael-Jackson-moonwalking-in-his-grave-inducing We Are the World cover for Haiti, we were happy that a good cause AND good music were not mutually exclusive.
"All We Are" from the Mount Wittenberg Orca EP.
High: Kelis stops being bossy, puts down the milkshake and gets in touch with her inner Donna Summer
Kelis had acheived successful bids to dominate the dancefloor with singles with various DJs like Richard X, but Kelis fully dove into the electro-dance pool with her amazing album Flesh Tones that proved that aiming
for the dancefloor doesn't equal being devoid of meaning. In fact, Flesh Tones is probably Kelis' most personal album and is thankfully free of the clutter that made up her last few albums, namely her many boasts about running things and her love of kinky sex. Leave that for Nicki Minaj to deal with.
High: Drake's debut album isn't awful
Hype is a lot like leggings. On the rare right person, it looks right. On most, it's usually a disaster. Drake, for the most part, lived up to all the blogosphere hype when he finally got around to dropping his debut album this summer. Not as good or nearly as fun as his mixtape So Far Gone, Drake's Thank Me Later is still a great album even he leapt from fun to Kanye West style 808s and Heartbreak without really having the super fun debut album a lot of people expected. You've come a long way Wheelchair Jimmy!
Low: Lady Gaga's Alejandro video
Eight minutes is a REALLY long time to not make a lick of sense.
Nazi-esque imagery, Three Stooges haircuts, Tim Burton-esque direction, cross-dressing, a host of Madonna homages/rip-offs all make, at this point, sort of a standard Lady Gaga video. The tune, Alejandro, isn't all that bad and is, just as the internet exhaustedly called out from the moment it appeared on The Fame Monster, the best Ace of Base single they put out this single without ever participating in it. Starting with Telephone, Lady GaGa has spent the summer trying to out-weird herself while simultaneously transforming herself into Madonna circa Who's That Girl, a film that we still have an irrational love for in spite of pretty much everything. Something we can't say the same about is ....
Low: Christina Aguilera's current existence
We'll give her credit for being honest. When Aguilera said she was not herself tonight, she was not lying at all. If the hot ass mess that was her video that mixed tired bondage imagery circa Madonna's Human Nature with Lady GaGa's Bad Romance and George Michael's Freedom video wasn't bad enough, that album came and landed with a resounding thud as all of her talk about making a futuristic album turned to be nothing more than good PR spin. Sounding more like her collaborators like M.I.A., Peaches, and Sia than herself, Aguilera's vocals are buried under a mountain of production, which I guess is the only way to tame down her usually omnipresent melisma. With a new film with Cher about being in a small town girl moving to the big city to work in burlesque, we feel like this is Aguilera's Glitter era. Thankfully there isn't a TRL for this to happen:
High: Sleigh Bells are ringing (And so are our ears)
We love Sleigh Bells and their brand of fuzzy, noisy indie scenester music that is just tailor-made for the kind of douchebags we hate but secretly are. Their album Treats is the kind of thing that leaves no middle ground and we love them for that. Your ear drums have been warned.
Low: Whitney Houston's "comeback" tour
You should be thankful we didn't take the easy joke route and list Whitney and high together. But her tour was a mess with Whitney barely being able to huff out her tunes without collapsing a lung. The best thing that came out of Whitney's tour was Maya Rudolph's parody of the debacle.maya rudolph aka Whitney Houston
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High: Janelle Monae's existence in pop music
Avant garde in all the ways Lady GaGa only sort of superficially is, we here at the Mixtape fell in love with Monae's first proper album The ArchAndroid. 75 minute concept album doesn't sound like the best summer album, but Monae leaps genres with the greatest of ease. Surprisingly left alone by Diddy to her own devices, Monae has become the darling of the hipster set while having enough true potential hits on her album that she could move into the main stream if she truly felt like it. Check her out on tour with Of Montreal this summer.
High: Cazwell's "Ice Cream Truck"
Anything that makes Kelis' ode to milkshakes look classy and restrained in comparison, we have to love.
High/Low: M.I.A.'s album MAYA
On one hand, we still love M.I.A. and routinely say we're coming back with power power in conversation. On the other hand, M.I.A.'s insistence on being sort of an asshole in interviews makes us love her a little less and her album is sort of mess. Though we mentioned our love of Sleigh Bells and their noisy album, we learned with MAYA that there is a thin line between noisy and cluttered. MAYA lands in that territory aside from a few choice tracks that show that M.I.A. still has what it takes and doesn't need to deliver another "Paper Planes" size hit for her to still be a vital part of the music industry.
One of our favorite tracks off the album, "Lovealot"
High: Lady GaGa's Today Show Summer Concert
We may have thrown a lot of shade at GaGalupe in this post, but we really do love the new millenium Cyndi Lauper on a drug bender.
Come for the Bad Romance, stay for Someone to Watch Over Me.
High: Robyn shows us what it's all about with Body Talk
Swedish songstress has been a fave of ours since the 1990s, but it wasn't until her the 2000s that she really became a true artist in our eyes as soon as she launched into a tune called "Konichiwa Bitches."
But seriously, Robyn's ability to make amazing dance tunes with slit your wrist lyrics continue to amaze and delight us and Body Talk, Parts One and Two were equally amazing. The best was seeing Robyn take an acoustic version of a song on one and flip it into a dancefloor filler on part 2.
Hang With Me, Acoustic
Hang With Me, Single Version off of Body Talk, Part II
High: The original Ke$ha puts her album out
Internet darling Uffie was doing the drunk white girl semi-rapping/semi-singing thing long before Ke$ha was smelling like dirty laundry and barfing glitter. I mean, she was doing it when people actually used MySpace, let alone could launch careers off of it.
We'll be honest, Uffie is horrible in a lot of ways. But at least she was original at it.
High: Indie bands that rocked our argyle socks
Unlike some hipster douchebags, we don't exclusively listen to indie bands that haven't even been started yet. Our summer soundtracks were peppered with a lot of electro and top 40 fare, but we also made sure to save some room for indie acts like Magic Kids and their song "Hey Boy."
Sounding equal parts Sesame Street and the Beach Boys, the tune is so deceptively sweet that you wouldn't be blamed for skipping the whole Peeping Tom aspect of the tune. It's not creepy if you put enough cutesy vocals around it.
We also enjoyed the greatly named band Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and their tune "Glue Girls."
And our pick for best video of the summer, Hey Marseilles' video for their single "Rio."
And our favorite tune of the summer was M.I.A.'s XXXO
So we look forward to fall and all the related pop cultural madness and to summer, all we can say here at the Mixtape is that it was fun and: