Some say you are what you drive. I say you are what you listen to when you drive. I used to drive a Toyota Tercel—a little two-door piece of crap first car. It had this terrible stereo that seemed to enjoy eating my cassettes. One day I took a chance with a Public Enemy tape that a friend had given me. I didn't have a clue as to who they were or what type of music they played. I shoved it into that joke of a stereo and I couldn't believe it: I was listening to rap music! I started to drive a little faster and a little more recklessly. No longer was I some slow-driving dorky loser white boy in a crap car; I was now a fast-driving dorky loser white boy who sounded bad-ass in a crap car. Welcome to the Terrordome or Brothers Gonna Work It Out would come on and I would put that bad-boy Kmart special four-watt on full blast with extra bass boost. It changed my life. I no longer drove the streets ashamed at the sound of not having an exhaust system. I just cranked up Public Enemy and let them do the representin'! (I wasn't sure what representin' was, but I made sure to leave it to them.)
Now I'm married and drive a four-door 1993 green Saturn. My comparably reliable stereo is currently home to the debut album from the British duo Hardknox. It's full of breakbeats and heavy samples and it's got a touch of metal and rap thrown in. It may not be as revolutionary as Public Enemy, but it's changed my antilock brake, air-bag equipped family mobile into a dance club on wheels. I roll down all four of my windows and sing along at the top of my lungs.
You can roll down all your windows and sing along to John's Morning Show on KCMU 90.3 FM, Monday through Friday from 6am to 10am.
Countdown: Worst albums of the millennium
Bread, Baby I'm-A Want You (Elektra)—Putting aside that the pinnacle of Bread's career also represents the apex of the loathsome "adult contemporary" (or soft rock) genre, this 1972 album's title track is the worst love song ever. It wraps completely forgettable tongue-twisting verses around a chorus that uses a vocal tic as a hook: "Baby I'm-a want you, Baby I'm-a need you," David Gates quavers, sounding as if the mellifluous music is lulling him to sleep. In its day, this horrific tune inspired a legion of James Taylors. Now, it's the evil ancestor to the marble-mouthed South Park school guidance counselor and his annoyingly memorable catchphrase, "Mm-kay?" Oh yeah, and if you wanna buy a copy of Baby I'm-A Want You, it's still in print—but it's a lot cheaper at every single thrift store in the United States.—Richard A. Martin