Ultimate Mixtape: 40 – 21

Nine Idlers contributed to the draft that created the list of 150 favorites, and five of the nine number one picks slot themselves in this installment! Most notably, that Trust song gave birth to the term “shooming,” in which one Idler uses the automatic top-50 entry and a plethora of drunken exuberance to push a song that would have otherwise been relegated to spot #134 all the way up to #39. This jam also features the band that effectively “won” the list. Gorillaz have three tunes in The Ultimate Mixtape, and the first two debut in here in part six.

40. “Innoculate the Innocuous” – The Unicorns
“Bananas help me unwind/Watermelon makes it awesome.” Your guess is as good as mine, and I’ve been listening to this for thirteen years. I’ve said it before, but here it is in Internet ink; my favorite song of all time.  – hltchk

39. “Shoom” – Trust
Dark and spooky chords combined with a singer who sounds like a vampire that just finished a pack of cigarettes. The powerful synths on this track make one of the most emotive and brooding breakdowns that completely dominates the moment. – Vico Vault

38. “In the New Year” – The Walkmen
I’ve experienced a handful of life-altering restarts already, some more dramatic than others, but I’m happy to say that at no point has my optimism or determination been permanently waylaid. Even before I knew how much I needed it, this song had been my anthem, buoying my spirits through all the tough times and all the hope-filled changes. The ringing guitars and spiraling keys remind me of spinning my dads records when I was a little kid. Hamilton Leithauser’s voice and rambling soulfulness embodies a modern-day Gary Brooker, rising above everything else, pumping the blood through my veins like no other song can. “I never hear the bad news.” Not just my favorite song of the last fifteen years; one of my favorite songs of all time. – MMDG

37. “Happy Kid” – Nada Surf
If you asked me to describe this song in one word, it would be “anthem.” – hltchk

36. “Work It” – Missy Elliott
I can rap this entire song and am not ashamed to say so, but it definitely made it higher than I thought. – LDG

35. “Clint Eastwood” – Gorillaz
This is one of few songs that got through to me as a child. It somehow pierced through the strange music most kids like and caught me, to the point of me saving up what little money I had to give to my brother to buy the album for me. I memorized every word of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien’s two excellent verses. I rapped along until my mouth hurt. It was bliss. – IP

34. “Through the Wire” – Kanye West
I miss the “old” Kanye. If you were to concisely sum up what was great about Kanye on just those first few records, this is the song. Kanye’s lyrics are cocky, but charming, his candidness can spark a joke, but his humor covers severity: he survived a car crash, broke his jaw, got it wired shut, then went and recorded a track. Kanye loses his filter later on, with problematic results, but this first time that he speaks from the heart is a glimpse of a man who survived death, but found enthusiasm for life, and was determined to bring his art to the world. It’s hard not to get excited. – tyrannofloresrex

33. “Crazy” – Gnarls Barkley
Cee Lo has an abundance of soul in his voice. The Goodie Mob’s resident goblin teams up with Danger Mouse to build something incredible to serve their audience all that soul on. The rhythm section of “Crazy” is one of the finest to ever top the charts. Car stereos were lucky to have this groove dominating their time for a few months in 2006. America needed a little soul injection, following an era of harsh hip hop, gangsta rap dominated, and the end of the glitzy 90’s pop era. New pop needed to have soul, and Cee Lo was the man for the time. – IP

32. “DARE” – Gorillaz
You know, never in my entire life did I think I would get in a fight with a friend over Neneh Cherry. This one is for you, Pow. “Feel Good Inc.” has a great bass line, but it’s overplayed. DARE is the party jam on Demon Days. – tyrannofloresrex

31. “Paper Planes” – M.I.A.
M.I.A. came outta nowhere and lit a fire with music I’m still trying to label. Hip Hop Electric World Dance music? I don’t know if I will ever be able to categorize it but it made it damn hard to single out a song from her catalog. 2007 was all about hanging outside grilling, drinking, smoking, and singing this song with groups of people. It holds a special place in my mind. – MeanOldPig

30. “Maps” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O sounds hurt as she whispers the first verse. She sounds lost throughout the second. The chorus brings out her full voice, the bridge kicks in, and she sounds found. – IP

29. “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
I have several distinct memories regarding CHYSY’s debut album and this song in particular. First was sitting in a disgusting apartment in the Castro waiting for a friend to cut my hair while her roommate played this song on repeat – I kid you not – at least six times. I joked, “Are you trying to make me stop liking this song?” Yes: the inceptive eyeroll that created my disdain for hipsters; no – he didn’t make me stop liking the song. Second was going to my first show with Vico Vault. He told me to find him because he would be wearing a hat. What? How the hell is that supposed to help? Then I saw him. Now THAT was a hat. And, finally, the first and (so far) only time I wore a dress. Halloween, 2005, crashing the holybee’s pad in Yuba City and discovering that, despite claiming to hate this album, guess what was pounding from the speakers? – MMDG

28. “Crazy in Love” – Beyoncé ft Jay Z
Beyonce’s first solo single and in my mind still one of her best. This proved she sounded better without a group and she is still proving it to this day. “Uh-oh, uh-oh” still manages to get stuck in my head while the horns section backing it up is even better. Top tier pop. – MeanOldPig

27. “Oxford Comma” – Vampire Weekend
Vampy Weeks was a band that couldn’t have come around at a better time in my life. Their self-titled debut was the aural manifestation for what I hoped college would be; something completely new and completely different, but also warm, inviting, and a whole hell of a lot of fun. – hltchk

26. “Odessa” – Caribou
Really great variety of percussion, subtle funky bassline and emotive melodic vocals. – Vico Vault

25. “Star Witness” – Neko Case
Always a great singer, Neko dons her producer cap on this one, and the results are both lyrically and musically stunning.  Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is a great leap forward.  – djlazybear

24. “Strange Overtones” – Brian Eno & David Byrne
The three original Idle Time members were an interesting trio.  MMDG, holybee, and I had our unique obsessions, but there was enough common interest to band together and create our annual Idle Time lists.  However, with each passing year, MI seemed (to me) more and more out of step with the group (especially with the arrival of RF and DH).  I’ve always seen this as MI’s theme song.  Here we are 15 years on and few new (younger) members have joined the club.  I was very excited to pick this as my #1 song, and as the list unfolded, it became clear to me that I’m the one who is slightly out of fashion.  – djlazybear

23. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes
The menacing seven-note riff has become as iconic as “Satisfaction,” and the lyrics are desperate gutter-blues poetry that would make Tom Waits proud. The Song of the Decade from the Band of the Decade, and you’ll never convince me otherwise. A thousand college marching bands can’t be wrong. – holybeeofephesus

22. “Wake Up” – Arcade Fire
The ultimate crowd chanting song. Picking part of Arcade Fire’s seminal album Funeral is nearly impossible (it’s why we have two songs on the list), so I chose this one for the sheer electricity it has been in my life. I still get chills every time the song begins and well up inside during certain lyrics (if the children don’t grow up/our bodies get bigger/but our hearts get torn up). I dare you to see this live and not get sucked up into the moment. – MeanOldPig

21. “Midnight City” – M83
If you are of a certain age, you spent your pre-driving teenage Friday nights watching Miami Vice.  This joint would’ve been a perfect track for a night drive with Crocket and Tubbs. – djlazybear

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