21 September 2016: JJC Mixtape Archive 8 – Strictly Commercial

Strictly Commercial: Featuring 35 Top Dance Hits
October 2012

When I moved back to the States from Indonesia, I was excited to find some smaller rooms in which to play funkier music. The town I moved to wasn’t awesome, but it had a few venues, and I glommed onto the gay night at one of them and resumed purveying the kinds of tunes I usually write about here on the record show—dusty disco, funk, and soul. I was glad to get away from the kind of stuff that’s on the last two tapes.

A few weeks into my new residency, which the bartender let me name “Agenda,” one of the regulars came up to the booth and said, “Don’t you ever play anything new? Anything that’s on the radio?”

She wanted to hear Major Lazer’s “Bubble Butt” and “Headband” from B.o.B., so I begrudgingly started going through the Billboard and Beatport charts and pulling out everything that was tolerable. I also found a few standouts that are actually pretty good, especially because a lot of deep house and nu-disco in the Beatport chart was sampling stuff that’s really good. I suppose it was worth it. Parts of the crowd were pleased, and the dancing got pretty dirty for a well-lit bar on a weeknight. Nevertheless, those hours I spent dropping a needle on every tune in those charts are hours I won’t get back. And if there are any hours I can get back, here’s hoping they’re not the ones during which I listened to even 10 seconds of Jason Aldean, Carrie Underwood, or Kenny Chesney.

Like many products for the mass market, some of this music is disposable. It has big, layered sawtooth synth leads and hard-hitting bass sounds, but that’s about all there is to recommend it. All of these tracks (except the ODB a cappella in the intro mashup) I pulled from the Beatport Top 100 and the Billboard Hot 100, hence the mixtape title and soulless ephemerality of some of the selections. That said, this mixtape comprises the best stuff I winnowed from the charts, and the transitions are exceptional when compared to the preceding live mixes I did in Indonesia, since blending these records in Ableton is a lot like snapping LEGOs together. I couldn’t help but give it a snarky name and a generic, UPC-inspired cover. Of course, it’s a mere four years later and already I’m feeling a little nostalgic for some of these insipid tunes. Well, whatever. Bubble gum tastes good too.