05 October 2010

Mixtape Madness #2: The Dinner Party Mix

According to the novel High Fidelity the making of a good mix tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. Furthermore, a good mix is never finished. You never know when you will come across a song that changes the dynamic of the mix you just completed. There is a litany of intricacies to crafting the ideal mix no matter what the mix’s intended purpose should be. This feature is merely a guide on the cosmic highway of mix making, and while experienced, the writer does not claim to be an expert.

The Dinner Party Mix
There are few things more enjoyable in life than good company, a delicious meal, and the right selection of music to accompany it. While almost any Steely Dan album or the soundtrack from An Education usually fit the bill just fine, sometimes it's nice to liven things up with a little variety. In this particular mix, we try to mix together some of the classics with a few more modern tunes to deliver a classy and eclectic mix to accompany your dinner party.
1- “Scenic World" by Beirut
"Scenic World" opens with such a deep, rich sound it immediately strikes the listener as unique while still conveying a certain feeling of comfort and relaxation. This is one of the more modern songs on the mix, but it still manages to hold its own with some of the standards we'll hear later on.
2- “Red Rabbits" by the Shins
After the Shins exploded with the release of the Garden State soundtrack, I really enjoyed listening to them. For whatever reason, I did not come across this song until a couple of years later. The depth and vibrancy of "Red Rabbits" picks up right where "Scenic World" left off, and should fit in well as you and your guests finish off your appetizers.
3- “Sweet Nothins" by Brenda Lee
Just as your clearing the appetizers and making way for the main course, this fun little song pops up. I rediscovered this song after seeing An Education, and it fits well with the rest of the mix. It's a bit more upbeat than the first two songs, and it will certainly lighten the mood and pep  up the conversation at the dinner table.
4- “The Only Living Boy In New York" by Simon & Garfunkel
Although we just brought the tempo up on the last song, we tone it back down a notch with this mellow tune from Simon & Garfunkel. This will help lower the noise level as you serve the main course while providing a little background music as you and your guests put the conversation on hold to sample the meal.
5- “Coming Home" by Mel Tormé
Listen to this song and try and tell me there is a hipper, more swinging tune than this one. This song brings the tempo up without really raising the volume, and will most likely be a hit amongst your friends who are jumping into the 1960's craze caused by Mad Men.
6- “Volare" by Dean Martin
It would not be a dinner party without Dean Martin, and this is Dean Martin at his best. Your guests will be tapping their toes to this crooner's smooth melodies as they chomp down on the meal you prepared. This is especially good if you cooked an Italian meal.
7- “Backyard" by Guster
After a couple of classics, we're going to bring it back to a more modern feel with this song from Guster. Again, we bring the tempo up a bit, this time with a slight increase in volume. This song will flow nicely with the progression of the meal, the conversation, and the party as a whole.
8- “For Once In My Life" by Harry Connick, Jr.
"For Once In My Life" is such a happy, fun, and lovely little tune. It has that classic big band and crooner sound, yet is still technically modern as it was released in 2004. Fun Fact: Harry is halfway to his EGOT with three Grammy awards and one Emmy.
9- “I've Got You Under My Skin" by Frank Sinatra & Bono
Here's another song that bridges the gap between today's music and the classics. Bono's voice compliments the Chairman's surprisingly well, and this song is probably one of the best from Sinatra's many duets.
10- “Fall To Pieces" by Patsy Cline
Out of everything on this mix, this is one of maybe two songs that doesn't quite fit with the rest. I felt the need to include it because Patsy Cline has a fantastic voice, and this particular song provides a good example. It's also closer to a ballad, having a little less twang than a lot of her other songs, making it a good fit for your dinner party and adding to the eclectic nature of your music selection.
11- “Both Hands" by Ani DiFranco
This mix truly has a little bit of everything on it. "Both Hands" is a simple, yet amazingly beautiful, song that should come up right as dinner is ending. As you retire to the living room or bring out dessert, your guests will be sure to ask you about this acoustic performance so they can download it as soon as they get home.
12- “Everlong" by the Foo Fighters (Skin & Bones acoustic version)
"Everlong" is one of the greatest songs ever written. If you don't agree, it doesn't matter. Bob Dylan does. Dylan asked Dave Grohl to show him how to play "Everlong" so that Dylan could play it on tour. All of that aside, it truly is a beautiful song, and this acoustic version will fit right in with the rest of the tunes on your Dinner Party mix.
13- “C'est Si Bon" by Eartha Kitt
What better to accompany dessert than the sultry purr of Eartha Kitt (in French no less)? Well, I couldn't think of anything either, and hence this fun little classic makes its way onto the mix. Fun Fact: Eartha Kitt provided the voice for the villain Yzma in one of the best Disney movies, The Emperor's New Groove.
14- “Beyond the Sea" by Bobby Darin
Whether they know it or not, everyone loves this song. It serves as the perfect bridge between the last and next songs, creating the ideal atmosphere for coffee and conversation after dinner.
15- “The Bare Necessities" by Harry Connick, Jr.
Many of the Disney movies of the 1960's and 70's had a jazzy feel to them and were crying out for a big band cover. Leave it to Mr. Connick to give us just that. This is how "The Bare Necessities" was meant to be performed.
16- “Feeling Good" by Nina Simone
How will your guests feel after a marvelous meal and delicious dessert? They'll be feeling good. So when Nina Simone belts out these awesome lyrics, you're guests will know exactly how she feels.
17- “Wouldn't It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys
Like "Fall To Pieces," this doesn't exactly sound like the rest of the music on this mix, but like "Beyond the Sea," everyone likes this song whether they realize it or not. Everyone can empathize with this song on some level, and it's sure to leave smiles on your guests' faces.
18- “Sunday Kind of Love" by Etta James
With so many amazing singers represented, it would be remiss to forget Etta James. As much as I love "At Last," I feel like "Sunday Kind Of Love" fits the bill much better here while still displaying Etta's impressive pipes.
19- “Volare" by Ximena Sariñana
This song is optional, but let me explain while I include it. First of all, "Volare" is a fantastic song when sung well, as it is here. Secondly, almost everyone who has listened to it with me instantly imitates Ximena's voice, leading to a comedic note to end the mix on.
Once this mix ends, if the party continues, pop in some Benny Goodman or Glen Miller. You could also opt for one of the albums mentioned at the beginning of the article. Either way, enjoy your meal and enjoy the Dinner Party mix!

Check out our other Mixtape Madness mixes here!

1 comment:

  1. this is the whitest mix i've ever seen


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