tortuga, play and go

Right off the bat, two things: 1) it is Spring Break and 2) one of my brothers and three of my best friends in the world have birthdays this week. (Okay, one was last week, but same thing, right?)

The first part has nothing to do with anything except to serve as an explanation why this post will be shorter than the others. As for the second part, as a designerd, my trademark thing to do for a friend’s birthday is make them a card:

Nicki Minaj

This was a birthday card I made for someone I used to work with who was obsessed with Nicki.

Sometimes I don’t have time, such as this week when everything I’m doing is either trying to get stuff done before deadline or relaxing and soaking up as much sun as I can.

The solution? Make a playlist. Burn it onto a CD. Wrap it up nicely. Hand it over. Happy Birthday.

Burning CDs brings me a joy like few things in this world can. With all the music I acquire on the regular, I am constantly making new CDs for myself or others. In fact, I went six months without a CD player in my car (stupid, old Corolla) and was beyond ecstatic when a couple dudes I know installed one for me (what up, Birdman and MC Man!).

A mixed CD is one of the cheapest personalized gifts you can give, but you’ve got to be smart about it.

Five questions to ask yourself when planning a mixed CD for a friend:

  1. What is the purpose or occasion? Like me, it may be a friend’s birthday. Or maybe it’s an anniversary or a graduation or a random Tuesday. The point is, mixed CDs are kind of like blank greeting cards. If you’re going to give it to someone, you need to make sure whatever’s inside makes sense and serves a purpose.
  2. Who is likely to hear this disc once you’ve handed it over? Many times have I caught myself before putting a song like “Dance” by Big Sean on a CD for a friend who has kids. It has a nice beat, I know a choreographed dance to it, it’s catchy and it’s pretty much my song of the moment. But when I click play and the song starts out “Ass. Ass. Ass. Ass. Ass. Ass…etc.” I know either I need to get the edited version or leave it off the mix. Of course, this means nothing if your friend doesn’t mind his or her kids listening to obscene and graphic language. Throw all the F bombs you want that way then. Just kidding.
  3. Should there be a theme? To me, this is the most joyous part of making a playlist. Bax and I send CDs to each other across the country that have secret themes we have to figure out. I’ve received CDs with track lists about things like colors and clothing. Once I sent her a disc filled with songs naming different body parts. I have two waiting to go in the mail right now that I think are pretty clever. But I can’t say what they are in case she reads this.
  4. Do you have enough songs to fill up the space on the CD? If you can’t find enough songs to make burning a CD worth it, you might need to pick a different topic or come up with another way to show your friend you care. Every so often I have to go through the playlists in my iTunes and delete the ones I started but never really finished.
  5. Will your friend appreciate this gift? I have friends who I know listen to CDs I made for them once and then take it out and misplace it. Well, you can’t please everyone. Also make sure they have a place to play it! For instance, I don’t burn Belong CDs because her car doesn’t play burned ones. Some people I know don’t even have CD players in their house (stupid technology).

Here’s the Body Parts CD I made for Bax back in November:

  • “Bubbly” – Colbie Caillat
  • “My Body” – Young the Giant
  • “Let Me Clear My Throat” – DJ Kool
  • “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” – Busta Rhymes
  • “Hair” – Lady Gaga
  • “Put Your Hands Up” – Fat Man Scoop
  • “Hands All Over” – Maroon 5
  • “Arms” – Christina Perri
  • “Starry Eyed” – Ellie Goulding
  • “Soul Meets Body” – Death Cab For Cutie
  • “Ms. New Booty” – Bubba Sparxxx
  • “If I Never See Your Face Again” – Maroon 5 ft. Rihanna
  • “Baby Got Back (Cover)” – Jonathan Coulton
  • “Dirt Off Your Shoulders” – Jay-Z
  • “Lips of An Angel” – Hinder
  • “C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips” – OK GO
  • “Break Yo Neck” – Busta Rhymes
  • “I’ve Just Seen a Face” – The Beatles
  • “Lucky Arms” – John Michael Montgomery
  • “Hips Don’t Lie” – Shakira
  • “Head Over Feet” – Alanis Morrisette

While you’re here, why don’t you check out this awesome podcast I made a guest appearance on this week? It’s called Everything Abridged and is hosted by two of the coolest kids I know, Ren Laforme and Casey Peterson! I talk about my previous post regarding cover songs:



tortuga, covered

My favorite thing to do, second only to downloading new music, is to download cover songs. There’s a lot of debate and out there about how a cover song is defined. says it’s “a recording that was first recorded or made popular by somebody else.” I don’t think the song has to initially have been popular to reach cover status, but I do agree with the first part of the definition. Cover songs are created from originals previously recorded.

I think the artists who create good cover songs take an original tune and twist it to make it their own. Maybe it was sung acoustically, changed genres or the lyrics were sung in a different tone which changed the emotion of the song. The musician takes a song and makes it their own, while keeping an essence of the original.

If a musician is going to cover a song, whether it’s on YouTube or at a show or concert or whatever, the tell-tale sign that it’s a genuine cover is whether the artist is showcasing his or her own talents. If the song is obviously being done in a silly manner, like a parody, it doesn’t count. It also doesn’t count if just a clip of a song is used. Cover songs do not include mash ups or remixes and the lyrics have to be pretty close to the original version. As a side note, there are also many songs out there that have girl and boy versions (such as “Marvin’s Room,” the original by Drake and the reply by JoJo). I do not count these kinds of songs as covers.

There are several bands, groups and individuals known for their cover songs. The married couple that make up Karmin was made famous with their covers of “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj, “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown and “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO. Mike Tompkins has several YouTube videos of his a cappella versions of Top 40s hits such as “Paradise” by Coldplay and “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry. Cover band Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine is known for its Disturbed cover, “Down With the Sickness,” which debuted in the 2004 movie, Dawn of the Dead.

I started noticing cover songs with the Punk Goes Crunk and Punk Goes Pop albums. Soon after, I discovered a band called Boyce Avenue. These sources became the basis for my iTunes Covers playlist.

I know there are several great songs out there that have been covered or that are covers and someone’s going to freak out because I didn’t mention them. However, as is, the playlist consists of 321 songs and would take 19 hours, 17 minutes and 51 seconds to listen to all the way through. The majority of these songs come from the 2000s and are Top 40s hits. I’ve complied a list of my favorite covers or at least ones I felt it is my duty to pass on. (The original artist of each song is in parentheses). And feel free to suggest your own covers you’ve come across.

The top 20 cover songs in my library:

  1. “Creep” – Afghan Whigs (TLC)
  2. “Whatever You Like” – Anya Marina (T.I.)*
  3. “Love In This Club” – Boyce Avenue (Usher)
  4. “Black and Yellow” – Cris Cab (Wiz Khalifa)*
  5. “Baby” – Drew Ryniewicz (Justin Bieber)*
  6. “Only Girl (In the World)” – Ellie Goulding (Rihanna)
  7. “Take Me Home Tonight” – Every Avenue (Eddie Money)*
  8. “Ride With Me” – I Call Shotgun (Nelly)
  9. “Gangsta’s Paradise” – In Fear and Faith (Coolio)
  10. “Pursuit of Happiness” – Lissie (Kid Cudi)
  11. “I Need Love” – Luka Bloom (LL Cool J)
  12. “Hold It Against Me” – Miquel (Britney Spears)
  13. “Fireflies” – Mike Tompkins (Owl City)
  14. “Lovefool” – The Morning Benders (The Cardigans)
  15. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” – Muse (Frankie Valli)*
  16. “My Body is a Cage” – Peter Gabriel (Arcade Fire)
  17. “Baby, I Got Your Money” – Say Anything (Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
  18. “Mrs. Jackson” – TV OFF (Outkast)
  19. “D.D. (Dirty Diana)” – The Weeknd (Michael Jackson)*
  20. “The Scientist” – Willie Nelson (Coldplay)

*Recommended or introduced to me by a friend, given credit on Facebook.