Ultimate Mixtape: 80 – 61

The next twenty tunes in The Ultimate Mixtape pay tribute to the enduring power of some back-in-the-day favorites. We’re all a little bit guilty of best-thing-ever fever, but the fact that so many songs from the earliest years of consideration made it this deep into the mix is testament to the fact that, in some cases, that initial enthusiasm was not misplaced. And center stage for this tribute to the formative period of our collective are the Oxford Angels themselves. Do-no-wrong Radiohead remain in heavy rotation with releases from before, during, and after this fifteen-year window.

80. “Thursday” – Asobi Seksu
Asobi Seksu’s seminal Citrus album is a precious all-time favorite of mine, and still gets constant play, but nothing comes close to the experience of seeing these guys live (please get back together). The first time was in a strange little side-room in the Bill Graham Civic Center. The sound was deafening; I turned around at the end of the set and the two other people I was with had long been swept out the door and chased away elsewhere by the sonic tidal wave. To this day I blame at least 10% of my hearing loss on that single performance. This is the album’s highlight: a crushing soundwall of spacey dreampop pierced by the angelic voice of Yuki Chikudate. And as moving and loud as it may be, the stripped-down acoustic version on Rewolf may be just as good. – MMDG

79. “Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin
A complete 180 from what Richard D. James is primarily known for. Instead of wizardly, envelope-pushing electronica, we get an incredibly brief, yet haunting piano piece by a man who had eschewed almost all forms of conventional instruments through his decades-long career. I often enjoy seeing the other side of the coin, and what better way than to provide a scorching hot take from MI: “Oh, Avril 14th, you mean the eighth grader’s piano recital?” – hltchk

78. “Poor Leno” – Röyksopp
This somber but uplifting track is one of Royksopp’s finest moments. The track oscillates between synthy floating patterns and bouncing grooves with simple melodic vocals. – Vico Vault

77. “Psychic City (Voodoo City)” – YACHT
The best class I ever taught had a group of creative, intelligent, super-funny girls that everyday made me laugh, drove me crazy, or inspired me with their optimism and individuality. When I hear “Voodoo City,” I imagine those kids would be the city officials, baking cakes with talking dishes, singing songs, and basically making the world a much more fun place to be. – tyrannofloresrex

76. “Stars and Sons” – Broken Social Scene
In 2002, I went to Ireland with my family and had just bought this album and spent a good amount of the trip listening to this song on repeat. Brendan Canning quietly pleading for advice while the guitar slowly rises until it explodes into handclapping is one of the aughts’ best musical moments. – MeanOldPig

75. “Huddle Formation” – The Go! Team
The Go! Team always specialized in theme-song styled hip hop noise rock cheer sessions, a combination their founding member and songwriter swears was intentional, but “Huddle Formation” is the band firing on all cylinders, each piece of the Go! Team puzzle fits in perfectly. Every time I hear this song I have to let it finish, even if I stop my car, or if I got off the bus, not many songs demand that type of devotion. – IP

74. “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” – Wilco
A song fueled by booze and delusion, one of the ultimate break up and regret songs. Tweedy hits home with anyone struggling with their own past choices. A key part of the indie music movements of the early 2000’s. The song had become a staple at many different points in my life in case you were wondering what kind of person I am. – MeanOldPig

73. “Obstacle 1” – Interpol
Fucking commercials. Interpol was over-hyped before they dropped Turn on the Bright Lights which turned me off before I even heard them… until the Verizon or At&t commercial (I don’t remember which). My ears perked up. This sounds amazing! What is this? Great song from one of the greatest albums of the decade. – djlazybear

72. “Two Can Win” – J Dilla
Pretty much listened to Donuts and only Donuts for all of 2013 upon being introduced to it. I constantly find new things I hadn’t heard before upon multiple visits, and while it is extremely fun to listen to, it is also incredibly sad to think that the man who created it had so much left to give, but passed away two days after its release. – hltchk

71. “D.A.N.C.E.” – Justice
This song was everywhere in 2007. The club kids were rocking out, the indie scenesters were hitting the dance floor, and the French electronica duo that is Justice toured the most massive throne of speakers to festivals and arenas around the world in order to bring them all together.

70. “Objects of My Affection” – Peter Bjorn & John
Peter Bjorn & John’s first real song on their breakout album Writer’s Block also represents a lyrical high point for the trio. “I am more me.” Leave it to Swedish people to succinctly describe how passion can make a person feel more alive. Even though “Young Folks” is a catchier and more popular song, it doesn’t have the heart that “Objects of My Affection” so proudly displays. – IP

69. “Intro” – The xx
This album came out right around the time two buddies of mine and I drove from our college campus in eastern Washington through the Canadian wilderness to visit Vancouver. We spent all day and night driving through the trees and snow, listening only to this. There may be better songs on the xx’s debut album, but there is no other song that better encapsulates this band’s sound. – hltchk

68. “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” – The Darkness
A strange and wonderful cultural phenomenon that somehow made glam rock possible in 2003. It helped that the music video featured spaceships and giant crabs throwing boulders. This song now joins the pantheon of ultimate drunk songs. If it plays in a bar or at karaoke, I guarantee people will sing along. – MeanOldPig

67. “I Might Be Wrong” – Radiohead
I think folks were still processing the majesty of Kid A when this album came out, which is why Amnesiac is their most underrated record. This is the best song on that album, and one of my top 5 favorite Radiohead songs. There’s a reason the official live album was titled I Might Be Wrong; this arena and festival burner was tremendous during that ’01 tour, and a mainstay ever since. Let’s go down the waterfall, y’all. – MMDG

66. “Pink Bullets” – The Shins
’03’s Chutes Too Narrow is arguably The Shins’ finest album, and testament to any great album is the number of different “favorites” it generates. In the course of assembling the Mixtape, it became clear that four different people had four different picks for what they considered the best tracks on the record. “Pink Bullets” is IP’s.

65. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” – Kylie Minogue
Maybe the best pop dance hit of the century. A permanent ear-worm that gets people moving the moment the beat starts. The moment Minogue comes in with the “la-la-las” she’s got you. A song so beloved that an Idle Time term sprang from it: Minogue-ing. An undisputed song that belongs on any mix. This playlist is no exception. – MeanOldPig

64. “Chicago” – Sufjan Stevens
My high school anthem and it got me through much of my tendencies for escapism. Sufjan cries out how he’s made a lot of mistakes while the chorus tells him that it’s natural and he will grow from it. It’s a song for people looking for some strength in a dark hour but not preachy at all. A classic. – MeanOldPig

63. “Do the Astral Plane” – Flying Lotus
When I graduated from college I had a choice: go to my graduation or go to see Flying Lotus. Without hesitation I chose the latter, much to the dismay of my family but I still don’t regret that choice. This song is one of the main reason I knew I had to see him. It’s one of the best danceable songs of the generation. Somehow it manages to both be relaxed but the most energetic thing in the room. With some of the most jazzy sounds available, FlyLo proves he’s one of the best. – MeanOldPig

62. “All the Old Showstoppers” – The New Pornographers
I may have spun this song on repeat more than any other song on this list. Something about the blend of Newman’s and Case’s voices, the orchestral stings, and the backwards guitars and organ stabs burbling under the surface bullseye my pleasure center every time. – holybeeofepehsus

61. “Wordless Chorus” – My Morning Jacket
The first friend I made on my year abroad was a fellow SFSU student who happened to be from my hometown. We became fast friends and spent a good portion of our program being loud and drunk. One thing we’d like to do while drinking is imitate Jim James’s whoo-hooing from this song. I remember one night, after the clubs had all closed, making a trek from Prince of Wales Street to our college campus, at least a few miles, and just hooing as loud as we could, then bursting into our own chorus of laughter as the sun came up. – tyrannoflores

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