Oh my God, Danny Gans is dead!
I'm going to have to pour a little on the floor in his honor this weekend. Maybe he really was sick when he called in.
1) "I Love NYC," Andrew W.K. I bought this CD thinking it was an ironic stab of binge-and-purge party rock. But my sensors detected no trace of irony, and no music should be this stupid on purpose. However, it also has the infectious catchiness that all great terrible songs have, so it will be in my head indefinitely.
2) "Your Generation," Generation X. The second-best thing Billy Idol ever did after "Dancing With Myself." It'd be the best if it was about 30 seconds shorter—it's just a little flabby for first-wave punk, and nobody wants to see a sweaty guy who's about 20 pounds too heavy for the cut-off Damned shirt he's wearing.
3) "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," The Beatles. See, here's how you can write a song about not taking your clothes off and having a good time. It's not telling you not to do something, but instead saying that the longing is so great, any chance for contact will be greatly appreciated. Such a fine line between clever and stupid.
4) "Bitter Sweet," Roxy Music. Starts out in melancholy Marlene Dietrich "Ja, Ich bin so miserable" fashion, before making a left turn at Düsseldorf and marching for a bit.
5) "Sidewalk Surfin' Girl," The Queers. The Ramones in many ways were simply playing the Beach Boys at warp speed, but this is much closer to a mash-up of 70s punk and Brian Wilson.
6) "Life's a Bitch," Nas. Life's a bitch, then you die. Unless you get to make rap records singing about that topic and the records go platinum. But with a beat this uber-groovy, he could be singing about Betty Crocker recipes and I would still dig it.
7) "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," The Ramones. They had moments like this where they managed to sound like an AM radio hit without losing their essence. A neat trick for a band that previously sang about sniffing glue and beating annoying kids with baseball bats.
8) "Moonshiner," Uncle Tupelo. One of the things that great bands do is make their songs feel lived in. They did for this what Zeppelin did for "Gallows Pole": take a traditional folk song and make it feel not only like theirs, but feel like it comes from experience, even if it doesn't. Zowie Slot Mystery Bonus: Live footage is from The Blue Note in Columbia, MO, where my lovely wife saw them.
9) "Mamma Mia," ABBA. This will erase Andrew W.K. from my head. I've never been quite able to hate them, although I've tried, so I surrender to their sparkly, bearded, tastefully-assembled splendor.
10) "Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever," The Mr. T Experience. I recently finished reading Larry Doyle's I Love You Beth Cooper, which was essentially Superbad without the pictures of cocks or the cops. It was also clearly written by an older guy trying to capture the zeitgeist of high school, without trying to reveal that the writer knows what zeitgeist is. To Mr. Doyle's credit, his book is as funny as it is completely unoriginal, which is fine in my book). And speaking as someone who has attempted and failed miserably to write a high school novel, those books are really fucking hard to pull off without seeming like a fake or a hack. Which is why I have always been impressed by The Mr. T Experience. Over and over again, singer Frank Portman manages to capture perfectly the hormone-fueled angst of teenagers long after his teens had passed. That's also why I have yet to crack open Portman's high school novel King Dork. I'm worried he won't be able to top in 300 pages what he's usually accomplished in three minutes or less.
11) "Black Hole Sun," Soundgarden. For all their Louder Than Love loudness—they were touted as a grunge reincarnation of the mighty Zeppelin at one point—they hit two of their highest marks when they slowed it and toned it down for this song and "Fell on Black Days."It just goes to show that success takes many strange forms, like starting out your life in baseball's minor leagues and winding up as the Vegas Entertainer of the Year by doing impressions.
R.I.P., Danny Gans. I never saw your act, but you still managed to entertain me.