Ultimate Mixtape: 100 – 81

A significant slice of the decade’s chart-toppers and pop music mainstays populates mix number three. R. Kelly opens for Kanye who opens for Katy Perry opening for Britney Spears. And before the end of this 20-song installment, L.A.’s Chromatics, behind the mesmerizing vocals of Ruth Radelet, provide their encore performance on The Ultimate Mixtape.

100. “Rolling in the Deep” – Adele
Neko Case broke Idle Time’s glass ceiling some time back, and Adele proceeds to pulverize the remaining shards with this monster of a song. – holybeeofephesus

99. “Frequency” – Rex the Dog
A slamming techno track for the peak of the party. This track offers only brief moments of breathing room between bouts of squealing synths and driving rhythms. – Vico Vault

98. “Hanging Gardens” – Classixx
An opening track that starts contemplative and hopeful, and blooms into a triumphant bouncing ride under a sugary sliding portamento synth line. – Vico Vault

97. “Lazarus” – David Bowie
I still can’t fully process this song. It’s too raw and real. I choke up every damn time I hear him say the opening lines “Look up here, I’m in heaven/I’ve got scars that can’t be seen/I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen/Everybody knows me now.” It’s the last will and testament of one of the best if not THE BEST. Music video is also terrifyingly beautiful. – MeanOldPig

96. “Ignition (Remix)” – R. Kelly
I have a troubling fascination with R. Kelly and his music. Not troubling like R. Kelly’s criminal history, but troubling in the sense that I’m a grown-up, aware of R. Kelly’s criminal history, who still insists he’s a musical genius. Now, I’m pretty good about not forcing this opinion on people; I can get why you may not like Mr. Kelly, but you have to be some kind of an asshole not to like the Ignition (Remix). – tyrannofloresrex

95. “Honey Bunny” – Girls
Dirty-haired former cult member Christopher Owens charms those indie-rock girls right out of their thrift-store pants with this driving update of the classic surf-rock sound. – holybeeofephesus

94. “Get On, Me” – The Brother Kite
Shimmery, hopeful shoegaze for the next generation. These Rhode Islanders made our favorites list in ’06 with Waiting for the Time To Be Right and this song, in particular, has remained in heavy rotation since, appearing in any number of playlists and mixtapes. Fun fact: a member of a fellow collective, inspired by our year-end collaborations, used “Get On, Me” to open a mix-CD challenge in ’07. Her entry was voted the best, and she won seven pizzas. Say what you will about any other song on this list; doubtful that any of them produced pizza. – MMDG

93. “To Go Home” – M. Ward
Daniel Johnston’s material is a buried treasure waiting for folks like Ward to polish the rough gems, and this is the greatest cover of his songs yet (“Life in Vain” with the Swell Season and “True Love Will Find You in the End” by Wilco are great as well). Add backing vocals from Neko Case and you have a bona fide hit. – djlazybear

92. “Young Blood” – The Naked and Famous
Hit the spot when everything I was listening to was clangy, electric and high pitched. Also gets bonus points for being on a solid album. Loses points for no mustard on the beat. – lebronald

91. “Devil in a New Dress” – Kanye West
Rex! We got two Kanye songs in the top 100! Love him or hate him, few have done more to shape the landscape of popular music than Mr. West. While admittedly a deep cut off his magnum opus, “Devil In A New Dress” still has all the hallmarks of a great Kanye West song; shockingly conscious lyrics that are both brash and hilarious, sterling production, and a guest verse that is arguably the best thing that person has ever done. Rick Ross for the win. – hltchk

90. “Teenage Dream” – Katy Perry
As a teenager, any feelings about love are so much more intense. There’s a lot of value in everyone’s first kiss, everyone remembers their first awkward slow-dance to Savage Garden, KC and Jo Jo, or what have you,  and everything just seems so urgent and meaningful. It could induce anxiety, but it also could release endorphins in your brain that make you feel invincible. Katy Perry gets that, and there’s barely anything more sweet and tender than being with someone that makes you feel young and in love. – tyrannoflores

89. “Hurt” – Johnny Cash
A cover so good that the original writer (Trent Reznor) gave it to Cash. Said Cash did it better than he did and with good reason. It’s hard not to swell up inside. – MeanOldPig

88. “Fireworks” – Animal Collective
All the best parts of Animal Collective are represented here. Avey’s chilling voice, the catchy melody, the build up that you never want to stop. It’s also the best Animal Collective song to see live. – MeanOldPig

87. “Toxic” – Britney Spears
Dope song. Dope video. Pop production was at a tumultuous place in 2003. The boy band era was over, but the sound of the late 90’s hadn’t quite died yet. Britney Spears would kill the sound she helped define with an intoxicating multimedia experience that would stand as the last great song by the last great teen-girl pop star. – IP

86. “Ch-Check It Out” – Beastie Boys
As of 2004, the Beastie Boys hadn’t released any new music in 6 years. Outta nowhere, they came back with an infectious hit. In typical Beastie fashion the song has so many references including Ms. Piggy, Nick at Night, and all those Trekkies and TV addicts. It has since become a staple of the band. – MeanOldPig

85. “Coffee” – Sylvan Esso
I listened to the song because it was named after my favorite beverage; played it again because it just makes you want to sway & bop around. I also don’t think anything made me more happy than seeing Amelia Meath jump around and do the wave in platform heels to this song. – LDG

84. “Cherry” – Chromatics
In between the outstanding Kill for Love and the is-it-ever-actually-coming-out Dear Tommy, Johnny Jewel’s Chromatics released what might be their sexiest, silkiest dance track yet. Ruth Radelet’s beautiful hushed voice slides over a minimalist melody while the fingersnaps and floor toms keep you dancing with your eyes closed. This one actually got me out on the floor at PopScene; no small feat. – MMDG

83. “Grace Cathedral Hill” – The Decemberists
Back in 2007 I declared Will Sheff of Okkervil River the true great Singer/Songwriter of his generation, not Colin Meloy. We all know how that played out. Meloy is peerless, and this is one of his greatest songs. I’m not from San Francisco, but this song makes me wish that I was. – djlazybear

82. “Island in the Sun” – Weezer
Weezer had an impeccable run for exactly 2 and 1/2 albums. I’d put Side One of the “Green Album” up against any other set of songs in the pop-punk milieu and it would come out a winner. The inexorable decline begins on Side Two… – holybeeofephesus

81. “Helicopter” – Deerhunter
Part of the intrigue in joining Idle Time, I realized, is figuring out who unabashedly loves whom. After looking at our final rankings, I realized that WH and I might be the only Deerhunter fanboys. Thanks, WH, for gifting me this blurb to promote the better “Helicopter,” and not that of the Bloc Party variety. [ducks] – hltchk

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