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Davis, California

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Variations on a Theme

Sure, it may be the oft-picked on butt of many jokes, but I have to say that I’ve always found Canada strangely endearing. Loonies & toonies, universal health care, sexy foreign accentsreally, how could I not have a crush on our northerly neighbor?

So when I heard that Canada was making a mixtape for President Barack Obama entitled49 Songs from North of the 49th Parallel, I could hardly contain myself in the cutesy preciousness. I cooed, I giggled, I died in an explosion of bunnies and rainbows and lollipops and Hello Kitty.

The mixtape compiling worked as such: Organized by popular station CBC Radio, Canadians had a week to submit song choices and nominations of songs of Canadian content for a short list of 100 songs, then the public could vote once in each category for theirfavouritesongs, the top 49 of which would go into the final playlist. The list was divided into four categories: English pop folk, jazz, classical and Francophone.

Unfortunately, things turned a bit rockier when I actually got a look at the final compilation. It wasn’t terrible, but let’s just say that if I were Obama, receiving this gift would result in a faltering smile, a pity hug and an embarrassingly obvious high-five goodnight. That being said, I give to Canada my own expert tips on mastering the art of the mixtape.

First of all, mixtapes are the perfect opportunity to show how sensitive and thoughtful you are. Obama needs to be wined, dined and wooed into getting to know Canada better, not overwhelmed in a sea of, well, Canadian-ness. There was a severe lacking in the number of recognizable Canadian artists. My suggestion: Start off with some of the more famous artists, Canadians so well known here they may as well be American. Neil Young, Michael Bublé, Rush, Arcade Fire and even Barenaked Ladies all made the final countdown, but other U.S.-embraced artists like Nelly Furtado didn’t even make the nominating process.

Secondly, there was a severe lacking in the type of categories available in the playlist. Mixtapes are a chance to show off your creativity (you know, vicariously through the talent of other people) as well as your vast musical knowledge; four seems incredibly inadequate when you think about all the possible mixtape categories available.

In lieu of the conventional genre classifications that appeared, Canada could have shown Obama what a great sense of humor they have with some sort of wittily themed playlist. In this day and age, irony rules: Why not make aThanks, Canada!” collection full of highly appreciated and beloved treasures like Nickelback or Celine Dion, the greatest singer in the world? And I’m sure that Barack-O would have grasped the brilliant hilarity of making a nostalgic throwback compilation to chronicle Canada’s awkward adolescence. This is where artists like Simple Plan, Sum 41 and Avril Lavigne come in.

After proving that they can make him laugh (because that’s an important quality in any relationship), Canada would have to regain some cool pointsObama is the president of the United States, after all. Canada could have tried to impress olObama by presenting a mixtape devoted to obscureindie acts. Canada could have also tried dazzling Mr. President with their remarkably diverse musical tastewhere was Montreal noisemakers AIDS Wolf (who performed in Davis last year), Fucked Up, Caribou or even Canadian hip-hop like Swollen Members or Moka Only?

Still, the mixtape was a sweet gesture, Canadabut maybe we can just be friends?


RACHEL FILIPINAS wishes Canada would make a mixtape for her. Canada and other people, please send your thoughts to rmfilipinas@ucdavis.edu. 



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