FLASHBACK: The 1996 Summer Mixtape


Listen up, children. Time for a little pop culture history lesson...

Believe it or not, there was a time before YouTube, iPods, and Spotify playlists. And I lived to see it.

19 years ago I was working my first summer job at Playland Park in New York, Independence Day was blowing up movie theaters, and yours truly was properly geeking out over a meet-and-greet involving Melrose Place's Kristin Davis and Marcia Cross at the Jacob Javits Auto Show in Manhattan (another story for another time).

And this was the soundtrack that got me through it all.


*This musical trip down memory lane is brought to you by a summer trip back home to New Rochelle, New York



BUSINESS & PLEASURE: The 2013 Summer Playlist, Vol. 1

Consider this one of my contributions to society...

This collection of tunage I've curated for your summer listening pleasure arrives just in time for those Memorial Day Weekend plans.

Summer is known to be a dumping ground for throwaway pop hits and sweat-inducing party starters -- and this playlist is no different. Jump on the Fun Train, kiddies, because I'm about to take you to on a ride (with the top down, of course).

After checking out the tracks below, head on over to Spotify where you can play the whole shebang at your leisure.

1. "A Little Party Never Killed Nobody" by Fergie feat. Q-Tip & GoonRock -- Despite the double negative-filled title that'll drive any grammar Nazi crazy, this Fergie anthem, taken from the soundtrack to Baz Lurhmann's current box-office hit, is sure to inspire some Gatsby-esque soirees this season.

2. "Alive" by Empire of the Sun -- Welcome back, boys.

3. "Get Lucky (Radio Edit)" by Daft Punk feat. Pharrell

4. "Good For You" by Icona Pop -- People need to retire "I Love It" and start blaring this hard-hitting piece of electro-pop from the sassy duo that's giving Tegan & Sara (#17, below) a run for their androgynous haircut money:


5. "Hey You Beautiful" by Olly Murs -- Unfortunately, like "Troublemaker," this will draw even more comparisons to past Maroon 5 jingles, particularly "Moves Like Jagger," but with a pair of killer dimples and that unique voice, Olly is still irresistible. Listen HERE.

6. "212 vs. Bust a Move" by The Outfit

7. "Live It Up" by Jennifer Lopez feat. Pitbull

8. "Let The Groove In' by Justin Timberlake

9. "This Is What It Feels Like" by Armin Van Buuren feat. Trevor Guthrie -- Hey, isn't that the guy from 2000 one-hit wonder SoulDecision? Why, yes. Yes it is:


10. "Naked Love" by Adam Lambert

11. "The Other Side" by Jason Derulo

12. "Over The Love" by Florence and the Machine

13. "The Whisper" by New Kids On The Block

14. "Sober" by Loreen

15. "Imagine It Was Us" by Jessie Ware

16. "True Love" by Pink feat. Lily Rose Cooper

17. "Goodbye Goodbye" by Tegan & Sara:


18. "Stars (Hold On)" by Youngblood Hawke

19. "One Minute More" by Capital Cities

20. "Tonight I'm Getting Over You (Remix)" by Carly Rae Jepsen feat. Nicki Minaj

21. "Rebel Beat" by Goo Goo Dolls

22. "Diane Young" by Vampire Weekend

23. "Oblivion" by M83 feat. Susanne Sundfor --

@TheFirstEcho


Meryl + Julia + Ewan + Benedict = Chills


August: Osage County. Never saw the play. Heard amazing things about it. And the trailer for the big-screen adaptation starring one of the best ensembles of 2013? I'm more than sold. I'm all up in this drama like a...a...I can't think of a metaphor right now because this trailer is giving me life:



@TheFirstEcho


10 Reasons Why People Love Buzzfeed Lists

If I had a dime every time someone posted a link to a Buzzfeed list on my Facebook or Twitter feed every week...I would have a lot of dimes.

A website editor once told me "lists are so in right now," and it looks like he's right. No one can resist a good countdown or pop cultural ranking. Which begs to ask: Why can't we get enough of them?

1. People don't have the patience (or time) to read an actual, full-fledged article. Attention spans are shorter than ever. God forbid they have to read something longer than a paragraph.

2. Animated gifs are just so damn irresistible:


3. Judging and criticizing things in order of preference is fun!

4. Also fun? Reminiscing about old TV shows and favorite characters that are still relevant today (crafted for an ever-growing audience that are suckers for nostalgia):


5. Pictures! (Again, who wants to hurt their head and actually, y'know, read?)

6. People have shitty jobs, and this is one of the best ways to kill time and procrastinate the day away.

7. The more specific the list, the better the headline (and the better the traffic). I mean, who wouldn't click on a link promising "27 Ways You And Your Friend Are Romy And Michelle"?

8. People have a burning desire to be the first to break news or share something cool they think most of their friends will appreciate.

9. Every once in a while, there's a lesson to be learned. Case in point: The Origins of 8 Curiously Named Body Parts.

10. Less of that darn reading!

@TheFirstEcho


Doing San Francisco

I had the fantastic pleasure of attending a press trip hosted by Kimpton Hotels of San Francisco...and the entire downtown sector of a city I haven't visited since 2009.

It was four days of cocktails, chocolate tasting tours, four-diamond restaurants, riding trolleys, brushing shoulders with Russell Brand at City Lights Bookstore, getting hit on by drag queens, watching the SF Giants slay the LA Dodgers at AT&T Park, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, befriending German tourists on buses at 1am, and getting facials after 45-minute deep-tissue massages.

Yes, it was as terrible as it sounds.

If you're not following me on Instagram, then you probably haven't seen some of these shots I took while experiencing every nook and cranny of this spectacular city...

Many thanks go out to Leah Goldstein, Nancy Uber, and the rest of of the hospitable Kimpton team that turned this into the best San Francisco trip ever. 

*My travel feature will appear in Instinct Magazine later this fall.


Emeli Sande Honors The 10th Anniversary of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" With This

Yes, Beyonce struck radio gold with the ubiquitous "Crazy in Love" back in 2003, and now, a whole decade later, one of my current faves from the UK has re-imagined the song for Baz Lurhmann's reimagining of The Great Gatsby.

With some help from the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, Emeli Sande transports us back to the Roaring 20s with a pop classic from the not-so-roaring 2000s.

It has to be heard to be believed.



@TheFirstEcho


Theme Song of the Month: May 2013

Back in 2009, the Aussie duo that is Empire Of The Sun brought some much-needed retro-fantasy groove-rock to my summer with singles like "Walking On A Dream" and the anthemic "We Are The People."

Four years later, they're back with a second album, Ice On The Dune, and delivering an equally dreamy tune that is promising to make this summer one hell of a trip.

Ladies and gents, boys and girls, bloggers and geeks...feel "Alive."


@TheFirstEcho