I’m sitting in the boiler room of the Amherst Survival Center. In front of me are four bins full of underwear that are going to be distributed to patrons of the Survival Center for the first annual Foundation Project. The bins are pictured below.
My job is to assist and monitor those seeking new underwear. According to statistics taken, there are 10-15 people who receive underwear every day (for themselves or for a family). This translates to about a handful every two hours, which is how long I’m here for – from 1 – 3pm.
This post is a review and reflection on the Mix 93.1 set that played from 1:33pm to 2:17pm on Tuesday, October 4th. I listened to this set on the following Panasonic radio.
1:33 “Dog Days are Over” by Florence and the Machine
I do not get to listen to all of this song as I am still adjusting the tuner and also adjusting myself to the weird mock-stereo sound coming out of the Panasonic. Sometimes the song is muted and Florence sounds like she’s singing from two rooms over in the food pantry part of the Survival Center, and sometimes there’s a lot of noise and everything is just too abrasive. Neither sound is good, and the radio shifts erratically back from one sound to the other without any input on my part. Eventually the radio settles into the ‘too noisy’ groove and I get to enjoy the last minute or so of this song. It sounds nice, I want to get to know it better. It sounds like a song I could play at a wedding.
1:38 “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey
I feel like “Don’t Stop Believing” is the type of song that sneaks up on you at a point in your life and has the power to just lay you out. I can point to the Chicago White Sox World Series run in 2005, when this song was the ‘anthem’ for Sox fans, as a time when I could take a lot of Belief. Also when I first saw the Glee cover in Fall 2009.
Right now I’m in a small room and feeling pretty normal, emotionless even. Journey’s doing very little for me.
1:41 “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 ft Christina Aguilera
This song comes from a place of expert craftsmanship. You can tell first off by the whistles, which have just hit the crest of the whistle wave a safe few years after Peter, Bjorn and John and alongside Britney’s “I Wanna Go” and Foster the People’s “Pumped up Kicks.” The guitar is a nice ‘throwback’ look alongside the upbeat pop sound of our day. I feel like the guitar twangs helped this song get on a radio station like Mix 93.1.
The bad part about this song is the lyrics obviously. Continuing the car metaphor over a chorus and into another verse is just dangerous. No it’s more just mean, like a fuck you to people trying to listen to lyrics on a radio song. Also the woman during the bridge adds nothing to the song.
1:44 Ad break.
Ads include Minuteman Football, pioneervalleydeals.com, Sleepy’s Mattress sale. I help someone with underwear during this time, which is a convenient times for that to happen.
1:51 “With or Without You” by U2
I’ve never been very convinced that the singer can really live With-or Without the person being sung about. Without listening closely to the lyrics, the guy sounds pretty emotional. He would definitely choose With if given the choice, is my impression.
But then again there’s a really calm section in the middle of this song [edit: minute 3:50 or so] which makes me think that: okay, this guy still would prefer very much to be With the subject of the song but maybe he’s starting to realize that that’s just not a possibility. In which case what’s he going to do except shout and get worked up in order to convince himself that living Without is doable. If he sings that he can live “With or Without You” enough times maybe it will turn true. That’s how I see this song going.
1:55 “Tik Tok” by Ke$ha
Truly a masterful follow-up to the U2 song, exactly what a mix station would be doing. The nature of the mix is that you’re mixing up pop genres, but you can still maintain a mood. That’s exactly what happens here, living independently is natural and creative connection between “With or Without You” and “Tik Tok.”
Need it be said that this song has aged like a fine bourbon. As long as we need a stabilizing force of glitter and party babes in our pop lives, Ke$ha will continue to provide. This is a song for Occupy Wall Street.
The people I work with at the Survival Center know that I’m helpless about dancing to Ke$ha so they will not get weirded out if they walk into the boiler room.
1:58 “Say” by John Mayer
This does not really flow from Ke$ha well. The bouncy strings there at the beginning help.
I don’t like this song too much, it sounds weak in comparison to U2, which, why not compare the two songs. It needs to borrow some more distant/ cosmic feeling in voice and lyrical content. It is grounded in the set time and place of the song with the “say what you need to say” chorus, but its tone makes it seem like it wants to fly up to the heavens. I am not convinced by these sweeping strings. Strings strings strings.
2:01 Mix 93.1 does a station identification and makes a play for listeners by advertising Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and new Coldplay in the next hour. Yeah!
2:02 “You and I” by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga’s 2nd full-length, which confused me at first, makes a ton of sense in the mix context. Country songs like “You and I” sit unabashedly next to synth-pop megahits like “Judas” in the sort of environment where Coldplay and Katy Perry make sense together.
This song sounds great on crappy little radios. It really fills the entire boiler room, reverberating off of the mustard and mayonaise packets next to me.
These condiments each come from towns on the outskirts of Chicago, which is also where I’m from. One is from Rosemont, IL and the other is from Northfield, IL. Even little things like the addresses of distribution centers makes me homesick sometimes. When Lady Gaga talks about Nebraska all I can think of is endless white storehouses for companies like Kraft Foods west on I-90. I don’t think that that’s the image Lady Gaga was trying to evoke but everyone hears music differently!
2:06 “So What” by Pink
This song shocks me a little, like it has ‘shock value.’ Moreso even than groups that intend to have shock value, like Odd Future for example. When Pink says that she wants to start a fight I’m always a little taken aback. It is a weird emotion to be hearing on Mix 93.1, which seemed like a nice radio station (see John Mayer, ex.)!
This song goes well with the girl power underwear in the girl’s underwear bin.
The bridge always makes me think that maybe Pink is going to move permanently into a more mellow, sad state. At the end, when everything drops out for just a second, I wonder, ‘Is she going to return to the spunky chorus?’ She always does.
2:10 “Sex on Fire” by Kings of Leon
I imagine all of the banana boxes singing along to this song at a Kings of Leon concert (b/c they look like faces). They form sort of a wall at the back of the arena and make the Kings sound massive. What would it mean to be at a Kings of Leon concert? How would my life be different so as to make it likely that I look up Kings of Leon concert dates, travel to New York to see them at MSG, etc. I want to go to a Kings of Leon concert. With these banana boxes singing along, it would be ‘epic.’ I doubt I could find someone who wouldn’t want that experience.
2:13 “The Promise” by When in Rome
You cannot beat this beat. The radio is shaking the refrigerator it sits on, like the fridge is channeling the energy of the bass line.
The lyrics are a little corny: “I’m sorry I’m trying to think of the right words to say” is a wishy-washy thing to admit in a pop song. At first, I’m like, this bass line deserves better than this singer and his weird deep-voice backup.
But then I think, why not? Not knowing how to express emotion, picking through the right words; these are huge sentiments of the age we live in. I think Lacan talked about this. How do we communicate? The best way we can: with the strongest pop tropes, in an eclectic, but hopefully expressive, mix.