Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Mix Tape Review: A Little Something for Becky by Craig

When a guy makes a mix tape for a female friend, it is usually under the premise of introducing said female to new and exciting music that the guy thinks she may like. In 99.9% of musical compilation cases, this declared reasoning is fibbery of the highest order. Instead, the main focus of producing a compilation for a female acquaintance can be summed up thusly: “I wish to wrangle my way into your underwear and believe exposing you to my surprisingly good musical taste will be my best way to achieve this ambition.”

Craig Parker’s mix for Becky Prentice – a girl who sees Mister Parker as a humorous friend and has no sexual attraction for him whatsoever – is a prime example of the standard “I know you don’t see me in that way yet but maybe this will change your mind” musical compilation. It ticks many of the usual boxes, and as a result suffers from the criticism of being woefully formulaic, a complaint that haunts many mixes of this genre. In some cases Craig throws out some interesting attempts at variation from the norm, but ultimately these end up missing the mark.

Take the first track on the CD, Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls. In his seminal work on romantically-inspired musical compilations, Mix Tapes for Mouthbreathing Neanderthals, Dwight Digweed devotes an entire chapter to this masterpiece of college-rock longing. It is so popular among would-be Lotharios that Digweed estimates that this song appears on almost 75% of all mix tapes, CDs and MP3 playlists. By putting it as the first track on the mix, Craig Parker would claim that he is showing a sensitive side that other men don’t have, when in actual fact he is subjecting his friend to the awkwardness of hearing his own desires sung forth from another man’s mouth.

It gets worse with track two. The inclusion of a foreign language song on a compilation can have the effect of making the producer seem worldly, music-savvy and intriguing. Unfortunately, Craig has chosen Je t’ non plus by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin. This song is three minutes of two people having sex, in French. Literally. As such, it’s quite possibly the least sexy song ever, and guaranteed to have Becky hitting the fast forward button if she ever forces herself to listen to the compilation more than once.

Craig then shows his lack of forethought and planning in compiling this mix. He follows the sleazy porn music of Je t’aime with a song by rock band Mudhoney, presumably to show off his manly appreciation for loud music. This is a laudable (if risky) tactic, but in the context of Craig’s mix, it sounds hopelessly out of place. Never mind a post-coital cigarette; this is more like a post-coital Molotov cocktail.

I could go on outlining the individual shortcomings in the rest of the tracks and criticizing the poor flow between songs (I mean! Come on! Leonard Cohen followed by the Scissor Scissors? That’s not ‘eclectic’! That’s just shite!), but I won’t. This compilation does have some strong points, most obviously the inclusion of a song by Gang of Four, a canny recognition of the fact that Becky likes Franz Ferdinand, a band who sound rather like GoF. The CD cover, made by Craig using Photoshop, is quite nice, though it remains to be seen whether Becky understands the pictorial reference made to the sleeve of Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Ladyland.

All in all, this is a very poor example of the mixtape genre, with some trite inclusions, a lack of thought given to the order of the songs, and nothing by Faith no More on it. God, I love Faith no More.

A Little Something For Becky by Craig Parker was released on an ultra-limited edition of one copy. It was given to Becky Prentice immediately before an awkward silence permeated the room as the hitherto-oblivious young lady realized that she would now have to spend less time with her smitten friend. Becky is now dating a trainee lawyer, and Craig is weeping himself to sleep while listening to Cat Power’s Covers Album and regretting the fact that he didn’t include a song by a female singer on the compilation, to show that he was in touch with his feminine side.


katrocket said...

That is an awesome review, IR. But seriously, mixed "tapes"? Do people still own "ghetto blasters"?

I especially enjoyed your comments on Serge Gainsbourg (I'm a fan). Funny stuff, but so true.

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Good point, Kat...I really did spend a long time mulling over what the kids are calling these things these days, and "mix USB sticks" just doesn't have the same ring to it, you know? And I do still have a ghetto blaster (as well as all the old mix tapes I made for myself...)

I do love Gainsbourg myself, but playing Je t'aime for a potential beau sounds like embarrassment on a Ricky Gervais scale.

Falwless said...

I think we're always going to call it a Mix Tape - I think that term has transcended the physical connotation of a tape.

This was awesome! Too funny.

Mo said...

Dude, I almost choked on a little piece of banana, I was guffawing so enthusiastically while reading this. Whew. I never knew your blog was so dangerous.

ÄsK AliCë said...

This is such a sad story - I wanted a happy ending after the "Je t'aime" inclusion...

Anonymous said...

He should've just given her money. Oh well, live and learn.

ginger b said...

Awesome idea for a review!

I wish I still had my tape deck.

BeckEye said...

Dammit, I thought this was going to be about me.