Mixtape Memories – Volume 8

After more than two years of searching, I finally found a box of mixtapes in my parents’ garage. These are mixtapes my dad made me as a kid, and they were my gateway into music. So I’ve been listening to them in the cassette deck of my Honda, and each week I’ll go through and share my opinions on the songs and my memories from the time I received them as gifts. I’ll try not to get too emotional.

Kip Undeniable
Presented Christmas 1998

1. Savage Garden – “To the Moon and Back”
2. U2 – “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”
3. Jars of Clay – “Overjoyed”
4. Backstreet Boys – “As Long as You Love Me”
5. 98o feat. Stevie Wonder – “True to Your Heart”
6. Michael Jackson – “Human Nature”
7. The Wallflowers – “Three Marlenas”
8. Gin Blossoms – “Found Out About You”
9. Sister Hazel – “All for You”
10. Cranberries – “Linger”
11. Hootie & the Blowfish – “I Go Blind”
12. Barenaked Ladies – “Shoebox”
13. Fastball – “Fire Escape”
14. Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – “Zoot Suit Riot”

1. Matchbox 20 – “Real World”
2. Iggy Pop – “Lust for Life”
3. INXS – “What You Need”
4. Robert Palmer – “Bad Case of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor)”
5. The Pointer Sisters – “I’m So Excited”
6. Stray Cats – “Rock This Town”
7. Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust”
8. The Who – “Baba O’Riley”
9. Talking Heads – “Burning Down the House”
10. Michael Jackson – “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
11. Prince – “1999”
12. Madonna – “Into the Groove”
13. U2 – “Desire”

Let’s talk about boy bands for a minute. There was no better time for them than the ’90s. I was always partial to the Backstreet Boys, the Pepsi to ‘N Sync’s Coke. But even 98o has a few tracks that hold up. Despite the label’s best efforts to sexualize them, it’s hard to provoke any sensation other than laughter when one of your guys looks like a tax accountant (far left). They were way too corny to fit the mold, but not daring enough to break out of it. Still, “True to Your Heart,” from Disney’s Mulan, holds up, especially because of Stevie Wonder’s peerless harmonica playing. I’m not sure if Savage Garden fits the boy band label, since it’s really two genre-hopping Australian dudes. “To the Moon and Back” remains my favorite song of theirs, much more palatable than their treacly No. 1 “Truly Madly Deeply.” This side couldn’t be more ’90s if it tried, thanks to forgotten acts like Sister Hazel and Jars of Clay. But the best track on this side is the only one recorded before I was born. “Human Nature” is the most underrated single from Thriller, perhaps MJ’s most touching ballad. That more than makes up for “Zoot Suit Riot” – the biggest success of America’s ill-advised rejuvenation of swing – from Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, easily the worst-named band of all time.

Haters to the left, I still like Matchbox 20 (who in 1998, still went by the digits instead of the word). “Real World” is a pretty ridiculous song, but it still reminds me of visiting Austin, back when my aunt and uncle were still together. The rest of this side is a good mix of mostly ’80s tracks, some of which were gateways into some of my favorite bands. It’s an embarrassment of riches, so I just have to go with my gut and pick that Who song that no one knows the title of. I’m sure my first exposure to it was the trailer for A Bug’s Life, but I’ll be damned if that song doesn’t cause me to raise my fist triumphantly after every chord Pete Townshend hits in the chorus.

Best Track on Side One: Michael Jackson – “Human Nature”
Best Track on Side Two: The Who – “Baba O’Riley”

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