Here at Popdust HQ on the East Coast, we'd normally be planning our weekend playlisting around getting ready for drinking, partying and general good times. This weekend, however, we're a little more focused on window-boarding, supply-hoarding and general personal safety. So while we still have some happy fun-times songs on this weekend's ten-song playlist, forgive us if we include a couple of songs keyed around our Hurricane Irene-related anxieties. At the very least, we promise that Dexy's Midnight Runners will not be mentioned again after this sentence. (Seriously, people, try harder.)
AALIYAH, "ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY?"
This Thursday, we passed the tenth anniversary of Aaliyah's plane-crash death at the age of 22, a premature departure that was every big a hit to pop music as Amy Winehouse's similarly untimely death earlier this year. Choosing a favorite Aaliyah song is much harder than it should be for someone who was barely even drinking age when their career was cut short—"One in a Million," "Rock the Boat," "If Your Girl Only Knew," "We Need a Resolution" and "Try Again" would all be the obvious high point for 95% of other female R&B singers of the last 20 years—but for a definitive single, we probably have to go with "Are You That Somebody?," a genre-hybrid tango that remains every bit as transfixing, inscrutable and addictive as it was 13 years ago. Don't lie—you never stopped singing along with the baby noises, either.
MARINA AND THE DIAMONDS, "RADIOACTIVE"
Marina and the Diamonds' impressive bid for a mainstream crossover after lighting up the underground a year or two back with the excellent "I Am Not a Robot," "Radioactive" sounds every bit the part of a modern Top 40 hit, with its skipping, Stargate-produced beat, syncopated synth hook and instantly memorable chorus hook. (Marina also happens to look very pretty in her letterman jacket, if you're into that sort of thing.) She also might have a concept album in the hopper somewhere, and we know how much the kids love their concept albums. Best of luck, Marina.
LIL WAYNE, "NIGHTMARES OF THE BOTTOM"
You know we had to pick a representative song of Tha Carter IV, but it's tough, since all our favorite songs off the album were the previously-released singles that are old hat by this point. So we're compromising here with "Nightmares of the Bottom," available previously only as an MTV Unplugged performance. One of the album's most endearing and intimate numbers—hence the Unplugged fit—"Nightmares" rides an odd piano-based hook that isn't quite catchy, but gets under your skin nonetheless, while Weezy raps about the various things his middle "F" stands for. (Cheat sheet: "Fuck Yourself," but not "Flawed" or "Fear".)
ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, "SIRIUS" / "EYE IN THE SKY"
Speaking of Wayne, he made the perplexing decision to sample The Alan Parson Project's "The Cask of Amantillado" for his not-very-good "It's Good" track, a slow, heavy-handed cut off APP's Edgar Allan Poe-themed concept album Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Next time, Weezy, go the obvious route—either of the "Sirius" / "Eye in the Sky" two-fer that leads off the Project's Eye in the Sky album. The latter is an 80s soft-rock classic, a lovely, chugging and significantly creepy love song with some stellar chorus harmonies, while the former will be instantly familiar to anyone who's ever watched a professional basketball game as one of the most badass, instantly epic instrumentals in rock history. Trust us, Jay-Z would take the dis a lot more seriously with one of these songs underneath it.
THE ARCADE FIRE, "NEIGHBORHOOD #3 (POWER OUT)"
New Yorkers don't exactly handle power outages well, so after Hurricane Irene inevitably strips us of our modern creature comforts sometime today or tomorrow, don't be surprised if we quickly turn into a nomadic people, trawling the rain-soaked streets and yelling "WE FOUND THE LIGHT!!" Side question: Does anyone remember what people actually do for enjoyment when the power's out? You can still drink beer, at least, right? Beer still doesn't run on electricity, if we remember correctly.
For lots more weekend jams, Irene-related or no, click NEXT.
LEMONADE, "THE PLACE WHERE YOU BELONG"
It takes balls to cover any song by forgotten '90s R&B quarter Shai in the year 2011, but covering their fourth-biggest hit—one from the Beverly Hills Cop III soundtrack, my goodness—is a move reserved for only the truest of ballers. Credit due, then, to retro dance-poppers Lemonade for their cover of "The Place Where You Belong," which not only takes on the '94 hit, but does so in a throwback style that makes the song sound more like an early-'90s hit than even the original. "My only hope is that [Shai] hear this cover and they feel good when they do," says singer Callan Clendennin. They'd have to be some pretty hard-hearted motherfuckers not to, Callan.
MARVIN GAYE AND TAMI TERRELL - "YOU'RE ALL I NEED TO GET BY"
With "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" having been forever ruined for us by Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon in 1999's Stepmom, it's "You're All I Need to Get By" that endures for us as the greatest of the Marvin & Tami collaborations written by Valerie Simpson and the recently passed Nick Ashford. "Like sweet morning dew / I took one look at you / And it was plain to see / You were my destiny." Hard to get better than that as far as love song opening lines go. Bonus points for inspiring the equally transcendent Meth & Mary duet nearly 30 years later.
JARS OF CLAY, "FLOOD"
All right, so the flood that Contemporary Christian Musicians Jars of Clay were singing about in their only-ever crossover hit was almost certainly more of a biblical one than a meteorologically fluky one. Still, for the number of times we're going to be staring out the window this weekend and humming "Rain, rain on my face / Hasn't stopped raining for days," the Jars demand inclusion on this playlist. Let's just hope things cut off before we get into "become one with the mud" territory.
GIRLS, "HONEY BUNNY"
One of the only songs on indie rock/poppers Girls' upcoming Father, Son, Holy Ghost album to not sound like it was written for the first slow dance at some imaginary 1958 prom, "Honey Bunny" actually gallops along at a rather merry rate. It's still got that early-rock feel to it—it comes off as halfway between Buddy Holly and the Beach Boys, which is a pretty good middle ground to be occupying—but it's not so goddamn draggy, for which we are grateful. And like its predecessors, "Honey Bunny" gets in and gets out, taking up a scant 2:36 of your weekend listening time.
AVRIL LAVIGNE, "I'M WITH YOU"
Sort of the lost megahit in Avril Lavigne's catalogue—the Ontarian divorcée is far-better-remembered for spunky, middle-finger-raised hits like "Sk8ter Boi" and "Girlfriend," while "Complicated" will always be Avril devotees' first love—"I'm With You" was actually a damn good AC power ballad, and deserves a better legacy than it has been granted thusfar. Thanks are owed, then, to Rihanna, who sampled the "yeah, yeah"s from the "With You" bridge for the chorus to her latest single (and sure-to-be singalong favorite) "Cheers (Drink to That)," already a bigger hit than just about anything Avril's done since "Girlfriend." And Rihanna even lets her new galpal in the "Cheers" video! Damn, before you know it, she'll be part of Ri's pop wolfpack and everything.
What do you think? Feeling our playlist? Got your own set of jams for the impending end of times? Let us know about it in the comments section.