Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zirconia Ztolen!

Here, finally, are the results to the abstract music suggestion game that I encouraged everyone to play two weeks ago. I actually expected to have this up far earlier, but I was downright stumped by some of your suggestions. Today, I finally paired the last one with an actual song. Prepare yourself for the oddest, most mismatched album ever.

In no particular order:

Alice suggested “nostalgic sighs.” To this, I respond with Andrew Bird’s “Oh No.” Though lyrics about chest-embedded calcium mines may not draw up feelings of nostalgia, I feel the instrumentation on this song does, especially for a simpler era in which string sections and whistling were more common in pop music. “Oh No” tends to make me feel happy and sad at the same time, and I consider nostalgia to be the recollection of a memory that makes you feel these ways simultaneously.

I offer Electric Light Orchestra’s “Twilight” as a match for Tom’s suggestion of “A song to play in the future, as you stand on the corner of a large space cube, having defeated all the Nucleon Tessalators with only the power of your Thor-suit.” I’m probably influenced a bit influenced by the fact that I associate “Twilight” with its use in the promo cartoon for Daicon 4, a neat little audio-visual treat that I’ve blogged about before. In fact, that version of the song might be an even better match, since it has the galactatastic spoken intro. Of course, any version of “Twilight” is wonderfully spacey and triumphant.

Godaigamer suggested this: “I want a song that brings back the relief that my 8-year self felt while playing Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when he found an oxygen-bestowing bubble with less than a second to spare. In other words, something with a ‘times were tough, but everything's going to be groovy’ feel.” Difficult, right? This one actually gave me quite a bit of trouble, and I felt I would be remiss if I ignored the music associations I have with Sonic the Hedgehog. After skipping over The Hollies’ “Air That I Breathe” — because a bad match and yet still OBVIOUS — I instead chose to match the idea of calm-extreme panic-calm again. The best I could come up with is Andy Votel’s “Return of the Spooky Driver.” Odd, I guess, but at least blippy enough to not be completely inappropriate for a Sonic-based suggestion.

The anonymous suggestion of “the plight of captivity,” was easy: The Mountain Goats’ “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle,” a surprisingly good song and one of the few works to not only narrate a story from the point of view of Toad but also to aptly use him as a metaphor.

Dina saddled me with “Theme song for a sitcom about a small dog and its best friend, a can of baked beans,” along with the following visual aid:

I respond with the Sam Lanin version of “Yes! We Have No Bananas.” I know, I know — it’s about bananas and not baked beans, but the instrumental opening could certainly work for this awful sitcom. Of course, the show will be black and white. How could it not be?

From Rey Flowers: “A man rocking a fro, clad in only a headband and cargo shorts, sayin’ to his buddy, ‘The colors man... Do you see the colors?... Cuz I sure do.’” I went with my first association, Olivia Tremor Control’s “A Sunshine Fix” — a good, trippy song in the spirit of 60s psychedelic pop.

I think I may have interpreted Darren’s suggestion — “Finding a moment of purity and beauty amidst seedy decadence, but only a moment. Then it is gone” — a little loosely. I could be way off, but when I read the words “beauty amidst seedy decadence,” my thoughts went towards noir. From there, it was only a short movement to the main title theme of Blue Velvet, which plays over the film’s opening credits and which seems to deliberately recall the melodrama of old detective movies. Too often, characters in these films experience something deep and profound, despite their surroundings, but this connection only lasts briefly. That’s my thought process for this one, anyway.

I’m not sure what Ben’s suggestion of “dinosaur tummy time” was supposed to mean, but he gets this:

It’s from a video game. I’m not ashamed to admit that. And it happens to be the first and only thing I could associate with the suggestion. DINOSAURS ARE EATING YOU!

From BigStompyRobots: “A song to play ironically over the top of an action sequence where someone plows a muscle car into a horde of hipster zombies.” To that, I offer something knowingly retro-sounding, inappropriately upbeat for carnage and finally something those very hipster zombies would likely delight in hearing. It’s “Moto Shagg” by April March, who’s perhaps best known as the woman who sings the closing credits song in Death Proof, which perhaps influenced my choice.

Don’t ask why, Bri’s suggestion of “Those aren’t pandas” in relation to Pedobear made me think of in-your-face, inappropriate sexuality and I wound up with “Purple Wail,” better known to the world as that horn-heavy stock song that plays whenever something comically sexual happens ever.

B’s suggestion — “Sukiyaki. The dish. If the song doesn't have anything to do with the dish, what song should?” in reference to my post on the actual song “Sukiyaki” — confounded me until I stumbled onto an old Elvis Presley song that I hadn’t heard since I was a kid: “Ito Eats,” which he recorded for Blue Hawaii. It skews more toward tiki culture than anything authentically Japanese, but I think the song works, at least according to that mid-twentieth-century worldview that collapses everything between the Caucasus Mountains and the California shore into the category “over there.” While listening, please note how the instrumentation, the beat and Elvis’s voice makes the song sound oddly similar to a song from Vampire Weekend’s first album — from before they became boring.

Because why not? After B posted a comment directly after Bri, I realized that they were not, in fact, the same person. They were different people, posting from opposite sides of the country. Don’t know why I assumed they were the same person, but I commented about it. In honor of this realization, I give a schmaltzy, mediocre song that happens to have a very appropriate title: “I’m Not Lisa (My Name Is Julie),” by Jessi Colter.

Lameness of the song notwithstanding, that’s a pretty awesome title for anything — and a very neat way to shorthand someone as being easy to forget.

Finally, there’s Julia’s suggestion of “I was walking in mud and lost my boot. Now my sock is all dirty.” For this, I give The Woods’ “Rain On.” From the opening strums sounding like heavy footsteps to the general sense of melancholy the song gives me, I think “Rain On” actually matches the suggestion pretty well. Either that or the combination of the song title and the band name made me think of mud. Take your pick!

To close out this playlist, I want to offer one bonus song, which I came across recently and which I realized would be the best song ever to load onto someone’s phone and a prank default ringtone: “Monster (in My Pants),” a solo effort by the B-52s’ Fred Schneider. (“For business meetings, weekly worship services and first dates, let “Monster” be your choice to mortify friends and enemies alike!”) The song is worth a listen for the opening lines alone, though if you could somehow make the phone play the entire track — like, lock all buttons until the song ends — that would be especially good. Can anyone get on this?

You get the whole video element for this one, just because it’s kind of amazing.

And to all you commenters, thanks for playing.

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