WARMER MIXTAPES #798 | by Leon T. Pearl
1. Michael Jackson | P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)
I don't know the first time I heard this tune, probably when I was a very young kid and found Thriller in my dad's (abandoned) box of tapes, but ever since it has been a complete obsession of mine. The rapture I feel when the chorus drops is nothing short of Genius. Not to mention that fantastic little Synth riff and the absurd lyrics. Most of the songs on this are Pop hits, and this is certainly no different. Why would you want to be the king of anything other than Pop?
2. OutKast | Prototype
In general I fall in Love with albums more than songs, and André 3000's The Love Below getting released was a defining moment in my teenage years. His narratives in this album are serious, but hilarious. And this song is the most Romantic of them all. The Songwriting itself is gorgeous and that bassline is my favourite thing to play whenever I get back on the Bass. What an artist he is and a huge Inspiration. It was hard to pick just one of his songs.
3. Ryuichi Sakamoto | Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
As a Piano player I grew up learning a lot of Classical Music, and it was the Romantic period that has never left me - Chopin, Debussy, Satie et al. But then when the Modern composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame) released his Playing The Piano album a few years ago, my jaw dropped. A lot of the songs are Classic pieces of Music he composed for various reasons, but stripped back to the Piano (or sometimes two pianos). Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence is definitely the most famous of all these pieces of Music, and quite right as the Melody makes my heart melt. If there is a piece of Music on this list I wish I had written the most, this is it.
4. Frank Ocean | Novacane
It is very hard to pick a single song by Frank Ocean to sum up the impact his Music has had on me. I had no confidence in my own Vocal before he released Channel Orange last year. After a month or two of being wrapped up in the honest performance he delivers throughout that Modern Classic, I saw more clearly than ever that Emotion is what makes an Artist, not Technical Ability. This alone gave me Confidence. He tells Modern stories of Sexuality and Love and is clearly writing from a very Personal and Honest place. The World could see this and reacted appropriately, nobody earned Critical acclaim more deservedly. While this song is on his earlier mixtape and not on Channel Orange, it gave us an early insight into what was coming from Frank. The likening of his relationships with women to the numbness you feel on Novacane is lyrically poignant as well. Frank Ocean is an artist that will be moving us for a while I am sure of that.
5. Justin Timberlake | Last Night
I had to put something from JT's debut on this list for the fact that it must be my most listened to album ever. The Production on it is utterly incredible, and the groove on this song is one of the most addictive. How on Earth did they create such a consistently infectious piece of work!? Lyrically we might bring JT into question, but it is precisely that Animal Sexuality that gets everyone up and moving - and nobody can resist reaching up to that high Falsetto when singing along, right? Maybe it's just me, but I doubt it. A real performer and such a distinct and masterful vocalist. Many of my more muso friends seem offended when I admit with an embarrassed look that Justified must be my Desert Island Disc. I dont think I'd be doing what I'm doing right now had I not spent most of my teenage years moonwalking in front of my mirror while listening to this on repeat.
6. Drake | The Real Her (feat. André 3000 and Lil' Wayne)
Drake is a recent obsession of mine, but again redefined the way I think about what it is to be a Vocalist. He tells simple stories of Love and Jealousy and laughs at his own inability to do the Rational thing. I can relate to that. He may come across as an arrogant prat a lot of the time, but I am hanging on every word he says, so we should let him off. His half-Singing, half-Rapping style is as unique as he proclaims it to be, and listening to his second album Take Care (which this song is on) helped me find the therapy in my own Songwriting. I picked this song because it has the most gorgeous pitch bent Piano that runs through it - now I can't get over the joys of pitch bending a Piano! And his vocal is particularly gentle in this. This Production is so special, so props to Noah '40' Shebib for being an Instrumental part in creating that incredible Drake Sound. I am obsessed.
7. Glassjaw | Pink Roses
I nearly didn't put this in here for the sake of a great and unknown Disco number, but Glassjaw and frontman Daryl Palumbo were far too intrinsic to my upbringing to not be mentioned here. I was obsessed with Post-Hardcore - or whatever you want to call it - for a huge period in my teenage years, and Daryl's heart renching Vocal delivery establishes him as the True Artist of the Genre for me personally. This track is from the album Worship And Tribute, and offered up the kind of Escapism that was precisely needed by an Emotional teenager at that point... There is a deep Sadness in the Anger.
8. Tom Vek | Nothing But Green Lights
I always loved playing the Bass and a lot of my first recordings were actually just a Bass and Drums, so hearing Tom Vek in my teens just blew my mind. A lot of the Music on this list so far has been American, but I feel strongly (I wouldn't dare say Patriotic) about being British and have a huge Love for people who sum-up and represent a Youth Culture that I can relate to. Tom Vek for me was the archetypal Indie kid from the 00's - The Disco beats, the undeniable swag, the fact that he was Speaking more than Singing and he did it without an ounce of self-doubt. This was all encased in an incredible Musicality and home-grown raw Production. Didn't he record it all in his basment on a bunch of old Analogue gear? Legit. This song is just one example of his unique Sound and I wouldn't be doing what I am now had it not been for his first album We Have Sound capturing my teenage heart. Always wanted to meet this lad.
9. Villagers | Pieces
I studied Philosophy at University and I must admit I felt pretty Existential at points. Lots of unanswerable questions and lots of raw emotions. There were quite a few albums that came out during that time that I found deep Solace in, but Connor O'Brien of Villagers wrote songs that cut straight to the core of how I was feeling. Not only does he have a great and deep understanding of Melody, but is an incredible Story-teller and has the most articulate and delicate voice. Without wanting to sound too OTT or pretentious (it's going to happen though, isn't it) - I do not believe I have been able to listen to this song the whole way through without welling up. It breaks my heart. Connor O'Brien, few songwriters have the talent you have.
10. Jamiroquai | Blow Your Mind
From the most Emotional song on the list to a bit of Acid-Jazz fun. Again I had to put something from Jamiroquai's first album Emergency On Planet Earth in here - for all the Dancing I have done to it over the years. I swear I can sing every single horn and string part the whole album through - although don't hold me to that... Whilst I Love Jay Kay's unique sense of style (we can admit he lost it a fair while ago now) it is definitely the Horn and String arrangements in this album that blow my mind. They weave beautifully and whoever is playing the Bass whole album through is just siiiick. I Love a well written song - a Narrative that gets you thinking and teaches you something, but at the end of the day it is grooves like this that have you off your nut at 5am in a state of utter Euphoria... At least I think it was the song.
+11. Bailey & Bridges | Come And Get It
Let me have this extra one! First heard this completely underrated tune while in New York with Nico Jaar. He made a refix of it which is great, but I always go back to the Original. It is just riddled with hooks from start to finish, these guys clearly had a sense of Soul and Passion in Music so special in that time. The Production is cheap, but the heart is priceless. While I can wish this song to have had more Fame and Popularity than it clearly received, it is a great little number to show any fan of this era, they probably won't have heard it, but they will definitely Love it.