' ' Cinema Romantico: My 2023 Mixtape

Thursday, December 28, 2023

My 2023 Mixtape

Once again, we shun sharing what music we most listened to in 2023 via Spotify Wrapped, not least because we do not even have Spotify, to instead concoct a mixtape of our favorite 2023 music. A mixtape not being sent by mail, sadly, sorry, because who has Maxell cassette tapes just lying around anymore, but a mixtape transcribed to our blog, which is to say to ancient interweb papyrus. Prost! (Except where embedded, click on the title of the song to listen.)

My 2023 Mixtape

Mess It Up, The Rolling Stones. A song about a stalker, I think, based on the lyrics, not that they matter. The lyrics of “Mess It Up” are merely a vehicle for Mick’s elocution, with a falsetto crescendo, driven forward by one of Keith’s effortlessly triumphal licks while Charlie’s unmistakable snare injects some exultant swing. It’s not a step forward nor a last stand, just one more perfect Stones song in a catalogue of hundreds. My favorite song of the year.

How Will I Know, Bully. Repping my favorite album of the year Lucky for You, ten bangers, start to finish. And though unquestionably it wasn’t, I still like thinking of this song as Whitney Houston’s exuberantly innocent “How Will I Know” translated into roaring existential anguish. 

Disco Demolition, The Baseball Project. You’ve gotta hand it to The Traveling Wilburys of bands that exclusively write songs about the Great American Pastime, they manage to take both vainglorious baseball team owners and Disco Sucks nitwits down a peg in a tight three-and-a-half minutes.  

Hold On To Now, Kylie Minogue. Kinda like how Steve Van Zandt argued that Bruce Springsteen should eschew “Dancing in the Dark” as the big lead single from “Born in the U.S.A.” for “No Surrender” instead, I would have told Kylie to make this song the big lead single from her 2023 record “Tension” instead of her global hit “Padam Padam” to show what little I know. Still. No one can do this kind of shimmering sonic freedom like Kylie. Each “oh” and “yeah” is like a little hit of oxygen. 

This Is What They Meant, Biig Piig. The London-based Irish singer-songwriter with the stage name to screw with your head sings about love being selfish with a recurring synth so dazzlingly glittery that it implies, just as she sings, getting carried away in spite of yourself. 

love is embarrassing, Olivia Rodrigo. I, too, love Olivia Rodrigo which makes me 1.) Basic, 2.) Gen-X Basic, and 3.) A 46-year-old desperately trying to cling to the vapors of his youth even if this song is 4.) Un-de-ni-a-ble. 

Stay Right Here, Allison Russell. The New Yorker’s Sheldon Pearce got it just right when he said Russell “split(s) the difference between pop and hymn.” 

Winnemucca, Eilen Jewell. Jewell has been making quality rock n roll disguised as Americana for years, and of all her great songs, this might be my favorite, my other favorite song of 2023, in fact, and thus, embedded. The walking bass and dueling electric and steel guitars evoke the wide-open space of the song’s lyrics, turning on a delightful metaphor of a love as a neon sign needing to be amplified. 

I Remember Carolina, Margo Cilker. Although Margo Price also released a great record this year (see below), it was only my second favorite record by a Margo this year. In fact, Margo Cilker’s “Valley of Heart’s Delight” was my other favorite record of 2023. It had a lot of tunes I could have slotted in here, but I went with this ode to life on the road because it has the best coda of any song in 2023. Trust me.

Black Earth, WI, Ratboys. Never heard a song so impeccably epitomize the sensation of aimlessly driving around Midwestern backroads while under a threat of severe weather. 

County Road, Margo Price. The best Bruce Springsteen song of the year. 

Never Gonna Fade Away, Lucinda Williams. In 2020, we almost lost Lucinda when she suffered a stroke, an alternate reality too distressing to contemplate. And that’s why the equally defiant and rousing closing track to her new album, closes our mixtape too. This song’s only flaw is that it doesn’t rock out at the end long enough. I understand that a fade-out would be contradictory to the song’s title, but it also wouldn’t. Because if the song had rocked out for another two, three, four minutes and then faded out, we could have been left to imagine that Lucinda had just kept rocking out forever.


HIDDEN TRACK: Sweet Sounds of Heaven, The Rolling Stones and Lady Gaga. If including two songs from the same artist and album might be anathema to the spirit of the mixtape, well, that’s why it’s hidden. Shhhhhhhh. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you for this gift. Happy new year.