A few short decades ago, the cheapest way to show someone you cared about them was to make them a mixtape.
It took thought. It took time. It took unreliable analog technology. It was an art.
You’ve probably inferred this by now: I was a big mixtape fan. I made them frequently. And it wasn’t just the process of selecting the right music for the right person; I loved making the cover art, coming up with a clever title, throwing in little unlisted easter eggs for the lucky recipient to discover.
I became such an aficionado that, back in 2010, a friend asked me to judge a mixtape competition. No joke. I even made a rubric.
I’m not about to turn this into a rant against the algorithms that curate music in today’s digital landscape. In fact, several songs featured here have come to my attention thanks to the artificial intelligence of various streaming services.
But humans still make good curators, and the compilation albums known as Late Night Tales are proof.
The series was born in 2001, when compilation CDs took up whole rows in music stores. But whereas other compilation series died out in the great 21st-century format shift, Late Night Tales has continued. It’s a simple concept: artists are invited to contribute a playlist suitable for late night listening. The open-ended format has meant that each entry into the series is as different as the personalities of the people compiling them.
Pretty much every one of these albums is worth a listen, especially if you’re a fan of the music featured on this blog: of the 46 compilations currently available, about a third were curated by artists who have appeared on Beautiful Song of the Week.
So when I perused the track listing for Bonobo’s 2013 compilation and saw two songs that I had already featured (this one and this one) I knew it was going to be a good listen. And it was…especially this wonderfully cute cover song by Peter and Kerry.
What makes this a beautiful song:
1. Creativity. Peter and Kerry take one of the funkiest, most underrated tunes of the 2000s, and turn it into an indie-folk spectacular.
2. Easter eggs. As the song wraps up, they throw in a little vocal nod to Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right.”
3. Friendship. Peter and Kerry, as a duo, kind of happened by accident. Originally solo artists on the same label, they decided to kill some spare time one weekend by making a few tracks together. A few albums and tours later, they ended up on Bonobo’s mixtape.
Recommended listening activity:
Browsing eBay for tape decks.