Some friends and I recently played a little game where we each chose a photo at random and created playlists of five to ten songs around a theme called Songs That Sound Like This Photo. Now that it’s over, I thought I’d share my creation.
The complete list and a Flash-based music player after the jump.
My photo happened to be one by a famous photographer that went by the name Weegee.
A playlist built around this photo could easily hinge around bubblegum pop, but I wanted to take it beyond that the way the couple in the photo takes PDA a little too far. It was while searching my music library that I came across “Rapture” by Pedro the Lion — which is a bit graphic and pushes some boundaries (especially if you’re familiar with the band) — and realized I had found one of the key stones of my playlist.
The complete list follows with some notes. Listen to the playlist with the Flash-based player at the end of this post.
1. The Chalets — Theme From The Chalets
This song could admittedly fall into the bubblegum category, but it’s really the first “sound” you hear when looking at the photo. Kind of whimsical and even a little funny. You really have to start here. (The version used in the Flash player at the end of this post sounds like a live recording. Not as great as the album version, but not bad.)
2. Pedro The Lion — Rapture
The opening line, while maybe a little shocking, carries just a tad of dark humor into the second track. Thematically this song is perhaps premature, but musically it seemed to fit best in this spot. There’s something about this couple choosing to make out during a 3-D movie in the middle of the audience that sounds to me like they’ve turned off their brains and are letting sensation guide them. This line from the song captures them pretty well: “We’ve gone too far/ We’ve done too much/ We have to quit it/ Just one more kiss/ Just one more touch/ Please 10 more minutes.”
3. The Twilight Singers — I’m Ready
When I received my photo, I knew I needed a song by either The Twilight Singers or Greg Dulli’s previous band, The Afghan Whigs. Something about Dulli’s music seems to match the vibe I was getting from the photo. Maybe it’s the sultry, gritty sound of New Orleans coming through. The track comes from The Twilight Singers album “Powder Burns” and it features a swelling intro called “Toward The Waves” that I included on my mixtape for a less abrupt transition from the last song.
4. Brazilian Girls — Losing Myself
This song marks a musical transition in the mix. It’s more of a party song than any of the previous tracks and returns to the fun side of the photo.
5. N.A.S.A. — Whachadoin (feat. M.I.A, Spank Rock, Santigold and Nick Zinner)
I’d honestly never heard this song before putting together the playlist. It was something I downloaded free from Amazon’s mp3 store as part of a sampler. I listened to it while searching my library for songs and something about it caught my attention. There was sort of an adolescent quality to the chorus (that as far as I can tell says) “Whachadoin? All the girls call my house and they say they see you out. Why you lie?” After the Pedro The Lion song, it was pretty easy to imagine the guy in this photo out cheating on his girlfriend. I think the intro is the weakest part of the song and don’t really care for it, so I actually cut out the first 20 seconds in the version I made for my friends.
6. Sara Lov — Let’s Get Physical
In 1981, Olivia Newton John recorded this song with the foreknowledge that 28 years later when I worked on this playlist I’d have a song that could not be a more perfect fit. Except that I chose a recent version by Sara Lov instead. When I first heard this song in 1981, the most important thing about it in my opinion was that I could easily change the words to, “Let me hear your booty talk.” Listening to it again now, the lyrics are actually very suggestive, if not totally forthright.
7. Moby — I Like It
I definitely wasn’t thinking about Moby when I first started putting this playlist together, but for some reason I stopped at his name in my music library. This song would have come much earlier in the list if I had been making this mix in middle school. Back then I had perfected a 3:1 fast to slow song ratio for making party mix tapes. Anyway, this song seems to match the more subtle sounds of the photo.
8. Interpol — Public Pervert (Carlos D Remix)
I’ll be honest. The reason I chose this song was solely because the title so easily fit the photo. Don’t get me wrong, I like the way it fits into the mix. Following Moby, it sort of pulls the mood back to the griminess of making out in a movie theater. (Unfortunately the version in the player below isn’t the full song. You can hear the whole thing here.)
9. Rilo Kiley — Portions For Foxes
Knowing better but doing it anyway.
10. Ida Maria — I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked
My playlist would have been complete without this song, but it’s just a lot of fun and I thought it was a great way to end the set of songs.