David Byrne is headed to Boston this summer, performing live at The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion on July 31 in support of his new album, American Utopia. So while we know, loosely, what the Talking Head will be playing, we now know what he’s listening to, thanks to a new playlist Byrne posted to his website.
Titled David Byrne Presents: Pop Music, the 30-song Mixcloud playlist kicks off with “I Fall Apart” by Post Malone and concludes with MGMT’s “Electric Feel.” In the middle are selections from Grimes, Chance The Rapper, Lucius, Sia, Britney Spears, Pixies, Carly Rae Jepsen, Halsey, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, MØ, CHVRCHES, and more. Hell, even Drake’s “Hotline Bling” shows up.
“In my world, certain people look down their noses at pop music,” Byrne writes. “I believe they consider it inauthentic, pandering, manufactured and lacking any intention other than being a ‘hit’. Much of that is true, but of course there are many exceptions—great songs that speak to their times and also become hits.”
Byrne then goes into the collaborative and creative process — and just why he enjoys these tracks in particular.
“But are pop songs any good?” he asks. “Most of the songs on this playlist are total earworms for me. They’re not all current — I’ve been accumulating them for some time, but I sense they do have something in common. Though the sounds and styles vary, I’d say that one has to admire the skill and craft involved in the creation of these hooks, the incremental dribbling out of little surprises and the production that holds your attention. I subscribe to most of those aims and values as well, but I’m saddled with trying to keep my eccentricities while still having catchy choruses and an accessible sound. I listen and learn from these songs and their production, while still perversely holding onto the idea that I can also do it my own way. I love collaborating, but I’m too much of a control freak to ever completely let go of the reigns. But I can still sit back, enjoy and sing along.”