There are few things I enjoy more in life than finding the perfect song to complement what’s going on around me.

I’m pretty sure I have my dad to thank for this impulse. He was a college professor, and every year, after he was finished grading spring semester exams and had driven into work to turn in grades, he’d come home, walk triumphantly over to the CD player in the den and play the Jamies’ iconic “Summertime, Summertime.” He was never happier or more carefree than he was when that song was playing. My sister, my mom and I all loved it.

I’ve carried on the practice by pairing meals with records and prepping for important basketball games by playing certain strategic albums — Mrs. YHT and I have even started a tradition of playing my vinyl copy of How The Grinch Stole Christmas and sporadically proclaiming “What a dick!” while decorating our tree — but there’s one accompaniment nut that’s been impossible to crack: What should be the first song my daughter hears after she’s born?

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Nicki Minaj

With each new release, artists take a risk. No two recordings can be the same, so it’s inevitable that as newcomers are (hopefully) hopping on the bandwagon, a certain subset of fans are going to feel alienated by the new tune(s). So what do you do if you’re part of that alien-nation? What do you do when musicians zig when you were hoping they’d zag? When they twist when you wanted them to mashed potato? When they feed you a Mounds when you were hankering for an Almond Joy?

Here are the options as I see them:

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

OK, so I’m sure everyone with an Internet connection knows by now that Madonna is headlining this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Big fat whatevs. All I care about is that Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. are going to be performing as well, backing up the Material Girl on her new and somewhat unbearable song “Give Me All Your Luvin.'” These guest appearances are exciting for two main reasons. First of all, it’s funny to think about how nervous NBC’s Standards and Practices department is going to be with M.I.A. and Minaj on stage and Janet Jackson’s nipple in the back of everyone’s minds. Secondly, I’m hoping upon hope that Minaj pulls an Elvis Costello, stops everything and launches into the song she should be performing. You know which one I’m talking about. Seriously, what sense does it make for her to be galavanting around at the Super Bowl NOT singing “Super Bass“? How on Earth are they passing this opportunity up? In the immortal words of Mugatu, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” Of course, the only thing that could top this unlikely occurrence would be Sophia Grace Brownlee and her mute but completely awesome sidekick repelling down from a helicopter to join in. Now THAT would be super. I just hope their tiaras survive the high winds generated by the chopper’s rotors. Enjoy their kickass performance above, Minaj’s below, and join me as I cross my fingers and hope for a Super Bowl miracle.

Nicki Minaj — “Super Bass


(Note: This is Part 3 of Spotify week. Click here for Part 1: Convenience and here for Part 2: Pricing.)

To wrap up Spotify week, I’d like to look at what this new (to U.S. Americans) service provides in the way of social connectivity. Let me first say that I haven’t had the chance to use yet, and I do not mess with Ping for iTunes. From the get go, Ping seemed unlikely to catch on, and I really wasn’t in the mood to join another social network (yet I just signed up for Google + — I don’t understand me either). However, I was excited when I found out from my friend Robbie that with Spotify, you can easily browse and listen to friends’ playlists. Choosing which of your playlists you want to make public is simple, so you can hide that embarrassing one you put on when you’re a sad, pathetic mess WHAT I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT MYSELF… or, if you’re extremely proud of one, like a certain someone — Spotify account name YouHearThat — is of their Mario Kart playlist, you can make it available for all to see. This special list of upbeat songs has been battle tested and is guaranteed to boost your Mario Kart performance (trust me on the John Williams stuff — you haven’t lived until you’ve won a race while blasting the main theme to Star Wars). One of my favorite tunes on the list is Karmin’s cover of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass.” While Karmin is usually a duo, this cover features ?uestlove and Owen Biddle of the Roots, and I’m not sure if it’s the driving synth percussion on the chorus or hearing BOOMBADOOMBOOMBOOMBADOOMBOOM repeatedly, but this tune never fails to send me on a red-shell-slingin’, banana-peel-droppin’ rampage. Check out the video above and download the song from iTunes here.

Nicki Minaj

Pink Friday

Collaboration Week: Day 4. The Collaborators: Nicki Minaj and Everyone. HER Album: Pink Friday. (Editor’s Note: NSFW lyrics run rampant in these links.)

Give it up for the Queen of the Collabo! Guest appearances are the glue that holds the world of hip hop together. Artists appearing on one another’s tracks is a form of currency, both figuratively and literally, which makes Nicki Minaj one of the richest gals around. Kanye West, Drake, Trey Songz, Urshr, LudacrisBritney Spears … she’s collaborated with nearly every big name the top 40 has to offer, often stealing the show with her distinctive, raunchy and schizophrenic delivery. The fascinating thing about Nicki is that her debut album was received well, but not really well, as if people fell in love with her only in small doses. I think Pink Friday captures her personality perfectly … cutesy one minute, fierce the next, and always captivating. Check out her album, and in honor of Collaboration Week, check out my favorite Nicki guest verse, on “Bottom’s Up” by Trey Songz.