Category Archives: Music

A Bright Red Sloop in the Harbor | A DJ NP3 Original Playlist

A Bright Red Sloop in the HarborI grew up when 80s pop hits about the Cold War pulled us onto the dance floor at my small-town Texas’ Christian center’s weekend teen nights. “Enola Gay.” “99 Luftballons.” “Forever Young.” That’s when I fell in love with musical juxtapositions, the ways a song could make me circle my hands and hips in joy while I mouthed along to lyrics about bombs, alarms, and dying young. Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?

Heavy on British synth-pop–geographically and stylistically–the songs on this playlist juxtapose. Even without overt political agendas, anxiety pulsates through these hi-hats and four-on-the-floor rhythms. Take the Aeroplane remix of Friendly Fires’ “Paris.” Au Revoir Simone takes over the lyrics in this version, which starts off sounding like one of those Scandinavian numbers that flutter within the chill-out lounges hidden behind sound-proofed doors in the corners of preeminent dance clubs.

It’s a love song, isn’t it? Or is the singer developing a slow rage as she realizes the pledge to move to Paris is an empty promise? Minutes into the song, the singer’s voice distorts as the music reverberates. Whole bass notes mix with oscillating sixteenth notes, great for dancing but not a happy little pop song.

That’s true of almost all of the songs on this list. Calvin Harris practically begs for faith–unproven yet believable truths–but the beats are completed-jigsaw-puzzle perfect, not a piece out of place. Metronomy worries about being trapped in the past even as Joseph Mount layers a Minimoog on top of a Roland Juno-60 on top of a Moog Source and carries the song and band forward.

Not that the playlist is all worry and anxiety. Not at all. The Betablock3r remix of Ellie Goulding’s “Anything Can Happen” is anthemic, a mix that can get all of the singular bodies undulating on a dance floor as one. And Hadouken! might feel trapped on Earth, but it’s not for long. Our feet can rise. We each can float, especially if we’re lucky enough to find a bright red sloop in the harbor.

I need a little | is that too much to ask for | they’ll be out for us | I’m on it | we didn’t read it in a big book | everyone thinks we’re trouble | I can’t do well when I think you’re going to leave | can you be believing now | now I’ve seen it through | now I know the truth | I know it’s starting | with every chord that plays | I close my eyes

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“Prayer in C” (Robin Schulz Radio Edit Remix) by Lily Wood and the Prick (2014: 3′ 9″)

A lot of songs portray what it is like to fall in love with the perfect person; the Robin Schulz remix of Lily Wood and the Prick’s “Prayer in C” embodies what it feels like after you realize perfection does not exist and you have kicked its lying ass to the curb. Lily Wood and the Prick consist of Nili Hadida and Benjamin Cotto, a French-Israeli duo who released “Prayer in C” as a folk song in 2010, Cotto’s slow guitar backs Nadida’s painful vocals about being left behind by a man who just left, no note and no reasons given. German DJ Robin Schulz transformed the song this year with this remix. The song begins with bongo drums and a rhythm guitar playing at mid-tempo. Clapping hands pop up on the alternate beats of several measures. Things appear happy–or at the very least content–but anyone who pays attention to the vocals hears what is really going on. The woman is in pain, the man is gone, and she will never forgive him. This is a pissed off song you can scream you head off to. Like much house/techno music, the beats repeat throughout the song even while the chords become more complex. The bongo drums and basic guitar rhythms eventually give way to a growing, reverberating synthesizer. In this radio edit, these house/techno elements do not dominate as much as in Schulz’s longer remixes, but they appear clearly and set a tone that will always make me think of 2014 whenever this songs pumps into my headphones.