Matt Drudge, the founder-editor-baron of mammoth conservative aggregator The Drudge Report — best known as media’s most generous benefactor of traffic-by-link — emerged from the shadows to share an iTunes playlist this week in a rare tweet.
It happened to be a remarkably coincidental posting from the famed yet mysterious editor, as it came the week Mediaite’s office held quite a heated debate speculating what music Drudge actually listens to. The blogger is a reclusive and incredibly influential snow leopard that exists only mythically in the minds of website editors like us — a simple link from his website sends the traffic numbers of online publications into orbit. Suggestions for Drudge’s music taste were varied, though this reporter argued that Hall & Oates’s “Out of Touch” was surely the anthem of his Miami penthouse.
Safe to say, we were somewhat taken aback by the playlist he shared. At first glance, it featured a few standouts, including a number from Miguel’s latest album, released just days ago, as well as a track from the much-beloved and recently deceased emo-rapper Lil Peep. Given the insane popularity of his website and enigma surrounding the man himself, I figured Drudge’s playlist was worth soaking in and, having nothing better to do with my Thursday night, fixed myself a Vodka Collins — what I like to think is his chosen poison — and pressed play. “Play them loud!” he instructed of the songs in his tweet, so I did.
The playlist kicks off with perhaps its most surprising selection, “Let Go,” a confessional indie-soul tune from a very young and very popping London singer by the name of Connie Constance. The slow-building track is certainly a banger, swaggering along on Questlove-esque drums towards a last-minute crescendo. One could better picture the song blasting on the dingy speakers in a teenager’s flat in Hackney than a SONOS in Drudge’s airy Miami loft, but this playlist is about discarding preconceived notions.
The second song of the playlist keeps things in London, with an obscure indie rock band called Shame that I’ll admit required a Google. The chosen track, “One Rizla,” is an angsty punk-ballad apparently brimming with contempt for a woman who believes our downtrodden singer has eyes for her — though he angrily assures her that he does not. The songwriting leaves a little to be desired (“Not too good at school but I ain’t bad, but I’d rather be fucked than sad,” Shame’s singer howls) but the energy of these South London yoots is well received. The track’s title — perhaps a reference to the RIZZLA cigarette rolling papers ubiquitous in the U.K. — also raises an important question: does Drudge smoke rollies?
Shame’s rollicking guitars crunch seamlessly into “Awful Things” by Lil Peep, the recently and tragically deceased SoundCloud-emo-rapper who passed away from a suspected overdose — the promising artist was an enthusiastic fan of Xanax, amongst other drugs — at the tender age of 21 last month. Drudge’s Peep track of choice is one of the more 808s-cum-pop-punk cuts off his last album.
If you assumed Drudge discovered Peep’s music after the rapper’s death made national headlines last month, you would be mistaken. When reached for comment, Drudge told Mediaite he actually attended a Lil Peep show. “Tragic Generation Z!” he added.
As the playlist continues, and I fix myself another Vodka Collins, I start to notice a theme; whether soulful confessionals or pop-punk anthems, these songs are about unrequited love, or at the very least, longing for affection. E^ST’s “Life Goes On” is an electronic pop song with a fun dancehall beat about trying to get over a lover, while Tom Chaplin, the cokehead lead singer of Keane-turned-solo artist and yoga enthusiast, delivers his Christmas song “Say Goodbye.” It’s what you would expect from the neutered pop-rocker, and one of the weaker selections of the playlist.
But do not fear, as things pick up immediately with “Harem,” off Miguel’s thrilling, just-released album War & Leisure. That’s followed by Other Lives’ “Easy Way Out,” a haunting and fast-paced track from the Oklahoma group whose orchestration almost rises to that of a Bond theme song. It’s what I imagine is the most Drudgian song of the lot, and the only one from his playlist that I’ll admit earned a “save” to my iTunes library.
By the end of the playlist, Drudge harkens back to old classics. Following “Easy Way Out” is a remix of Tame Impala, a band who in this writer’s opinion would provide the most yawn-worthy set at an elevator music festival. But a remix of their smash hit “Let It Happen” from disco-house mavens Soulwax makes for a permissible playlist throwback. What’s more — you only have to sit through 9+ minutes of thumping bass and trademark Impala-cooing for Seal to bring things to a sensual conclusion.
The final number is a song from Seal’s 1998 album Human Being, which Wikipedia tells me received both terrible and rave reviews. I’m on my third Vodka Collins now, so I decide this is an apt analogy for Drudge’s polarizing reputation. But the song itself, titled “Love Still Remains,” is an optimistic one, with Seal promising me that he will survive, even if his estranged lover “[turns] out the light.”
It’s a surprisingly hopeful final note, perhaps a coded message from Drudge that amongst the endless links, the blaring headlines and gaudy splashes narrating our plummet towards the end of times, love still remains.
Listen to Drudge’s playlist on iTunes here.
Editor’s Note: We reached out to Mr. Drudge to confirm his cocktail of choice was indeed a Vodka Collins — only to learn he is a teetotaler.
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