Day 6A: Sudden Death
We have made it to the final twenty-four…and we still have five minutes and fifteen seconds to pare. It would be too easy for there to be a single song left in the competition that ran, you know, 5:17, and thus I turn to our old enemy, the random picker at textmechanic. The final twenty-four have been fed in. There is a one in twelve chance (as there is only one track remaining in the competition longer than 5:15) that there will only be one round (and that is only if the other competitor were to beat Robert Turman, a dicey proposition at best), so we’ll play the odds and say there will be two rounds or more. Same head-to-head style as before, but the combatants will be as much a surprise to me as they are to you. After each matchup after #2, we’ll see if we need to go father. And so the text mechanic hands us the first battle:
Better than Ezra, “A Lifetime” (3:27)
Robert Turman, “’al-Qaida” (6:39)
Well whaddya know, the 1-in-12 chance actually hit…but if I were seeding the final twenty-four, I guarantee you “’al-Qaida” would be in the top half and “A Lifetime” would be in the bottom half. “A Lifetime” is about as good as pop songs get—it’s certainly one of the two or three best in the past decade—but the chances that it could overcome something as perfectly-crafted as “’al-Qaida” are, simply, zero. Better than Ezra head for the sidelines in what may be the most disappointing title bout since Hagler-Hearns.
3:27 is gone, and it looks as if we may only need two rounds at this point. We have 81:43 left to play with, and the text mechanic hands us…
Indian Jewelry, “Warm Boxcutter” (1:43)
Horse, “Red Haired Girl” (3:54)
There is something to be said for coincidence that borders on the providential. “Warm Boxcutter” is one of the greatest pieces of rock and roll in history, and had this matchup occurred at any other time in the competition, it would have won easily…but we have 1:43 to cut, and the song runs 1:43. Indian Jewelry are the victims of circumstance, and Horse survives the final cut thanks, basically, to “rocks fall, everyone dies”.
And thus, we find ourselves with a final playlist of twenty-two tracks. They’re twenty-two great tracks, though a number of them are not what I would have initially chosen. All are certainly battle-hardened enough by this time, and there are many, many pieces that fell by the wayside I would have kept around if I could, but here we are, and now, for the part that, if you were ever a constructor of mixtapes back in the day, may be the most important of all: tracking.