Best Mixes of 2010

I began writing this post midway through 2010 because, frankly, this is my favorite "best of" category to write. As a DJ, I'm always listening to other people's sets to improve my own skills, but there's a Je ne sais quoi about mixes that makes me long for them more than albums, singles, or remixes alone. Bare with me while I wax philosophical for a bit (if you're ADHD just skip to the mixes, or check out 2009's Best of Mixes post).

In my opinion, the paradigm between good tracks, mixes, and albums is similar to the difference between good TV episodes, TV series, and movies. Let me make the distinction...

Good tracks are like good episodes because they are self-contained. There's very little meandering in terms of genre or overarching "story to tell" and experiencing it makes you anxious for "what's next." On the other hand, good mixes are like good series because they emphasize storytelling. There's distinct climax and resolution states in the sense that selections are sometimes made just to move the audience along, but ultimately there's a deliberate peak. You can't just stack the beginning with bangers and expect the audience to ride out the mediocrity at the middle or end (This tends to happen in pop albums I notice). Think of a mix intro like a pilot episode - you need to capture enough attention to make people interested in seeing more, but you can't put all your eggs in the first basket. You also can't delay interesting bits too long, otherwise people get bored. Likewise, at the end of a series, you should feel satisfied - as if the story was told to completion - it shouldn't be a cliffhanger. Most of all, a good series need continuity, just like a mix needs solid transitions. You can't have your characters pulling Sybils between episodes! Just like you can't trainwreck pitch, tempo, or frequency without losing listeners. If you're gonna be risky, that shit better be smooth like butter or you'll never make my list! On the flip-side, a well executed tempo shift, is a game-changer in my book.

Now you could say the principles I've described above apply to movies as well as TV series, and you're right, they do! Good album haves similar qualities as good mixes. However albums usually lack the diversity of mixes and unless you're collaborating with everyone under the sun or have different producers for every track, you're not going to get the type of dynamics that come with blending 90s hip-hop into hard funk or Katy Perry with MSTRKRFT. Mixes transcend the idea of one writer/one producer/one band/one genre just like TV series have writing staffs/different directors/returning guest appearances/mini plot arcs.

There's SO MUCH talent in the music industry that it doesn't make sense to limit yourself to albums when a good DJ will cherry-pick the best songs and arrange them creatively back-to-back for you!  The hard part is finding a DJ with similar music tastes as your own. Here are the 5 mixes that stood out for me this year, ordered by month:

5. CJ Milli - Workout Mix! (January 2010) [23:53]

CJ Milli consistently puts out amazing mixes. Download any of her sets and you'll be pleasantly surprised - it's probably because she listens to more music than humanly possible. While I love the funky electro mix she and her sister put together (Sibling Rivalry), this Workout Mix released earlier in the year has to be my favorite. It's got so many 80's & 90's classics redone and mashed to 2010 perfection. The energy in this gets my blood pumping every time!

4. Stereo:Type - Gatemashed Vol. 1 (February 2010) [73:54]

For my harder genre fixes, the tag-team duo of Ctrl-Z and Screwface (aka Stereo:Type) are unmatched in the deck manipulation department. Their bio says it best: "Whatever style you're into; Electro, Dubstep, House, Drum & Bass, Breaks, Hip Hop, Rock... Stereo:Type have something for everyone." For breakneck speed mixing, you should check out their XFM minimix which blends an insane 40+ tracks in 10 minutes, but I like this mix better because there's still a ton of blends and edits going on, but I don't feel like I'm on Indy 500 trying to hit 200.

3. The White Panda - Rematch (July 2010) [51:48]

Last year The Hood Internet represented the mashup side of mixing, but this year The White Panda outmashed The Hood. Their second mashup album "Rematch" shows the Pandas only get better with age. Favorite mashup from this set? "I'll Get Your Whistle". I admit this mash is where I found out about the amazing Gigamesh (his original remix of "I'll Get You" will make an appearance on another Best of 2010 list of mine).  If you want the sickest hip-hop mixed with your HypeM top 20, these guys are the place to look. Good party mix.

2. Starsmith - Annie Mac Minimix (October 2010) [4:59]
It took me a long time to figure out which Annie Mac Minimix I was going to pick for this list. It's quite brilliant what some producers can do in a space of 5 minutes. In the end, I opted for the only returning artist from 2009's Best of Mixes list: Fin Dow-Smith aka Starsmith. What can I say? The man sampled 30 tracks in 5 minutes! WTF! Tempo changes, genre shifts, recognizable samples - this is everything a good mix should be! And I genuinely like the music and not just the technique! That's epic. For more funky awesomeness check out Breakbot's Annie Mac Minimix.

1. JAWSOMO - I Was Born in the 80s (November 2010) [20:40]

Proving that you don't need to be climbing the HypeM charts to make my list, is JAWSOMO - an unexpected newcomer to my mix library. JAWSOMO found me on SoundCloud after I posted my Mixed In Key Minimix Contest Entry saying I should check out his "I Was Born in the 80s" mix if I liked Nu Disco. Normally, I don't honor the requests coming in asking me to listen to random SoundCloud tracks because I usually find them to be pretty amateur. But since he listened to my set, I figured I owed him the decency to sample his, and MY GOD I'M GLAD I DID! Mixing in key just makes everything sounds better, but I recognize good track selection/transitions when I hear it and JAWSOMO did both. I'm tempted to say it's even better than my own MIK Nu Disco mix, but shh, that's between me and the blog!

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Meet the Author

Hi, I am Julie.
Sometimes Jules Juke.
This is where I ramble, reflect, and refocus.