19th Jun2013

A Tribute to Mystic Music’s Cool Rock

by Will

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I have a confession to make: I like “crappy” music. You’re not new here, so none of this should come as a surprise. Anyway, growing up, one thing I wanted more than anything was a compilation from Mystic Music called Cool Rock. Now, let’s talk a little about what was on those discs. You see, they never had the rights to HUGE hits or artists, so no Madonna or Michael Jackson or anything like that. No, Cool Rock was mainly the home of One-Hit Wonders from the late 80s/early 90s. I used to stay up late, just hoping to see the commercial for the set. See, this was prior to the days of infomercials, so this was only seen in 30 second doses during episodes of Studs (why hasn’t that show been rebooted? I love shitty dating shows) or M*A*S*H*.

Over the years, I’ve realized my exposure to Cool Rock had an adverse effect on my musical knowledge. You see, while it taught me a lot of songs, I actually only learned the choruses. So, at times I find myself in a shopping mall, and a somewhat familiar song comes on that I can’t place. The chord progression’s familiar to me, as I KNOW I’ve heard this thing before, but I can’t remember what it is. Then, I hear “Don’t forget me when I’m gonnnne!” Hey, I remember that song! But that’s what the verses sound like? What a piece of shit!

Anyway, I used to try to con my mom into ordering the set for me, but she always tried to say something like “Well, that’ll be your Christmas present.” Fuck that noise! I’m not wasting prime gift real estate on a 2-CD set of a bunch of has beens! If that was the cost of owning the compilation, in the immortal words of Meatloaf, “I won’t do that”.

When I got to college, I was introduced to the world of high-speed internet. Now that the statute of limitations has probably passed, I can also admit that I had a lusty affair with a file-sharing wonder known as Napster. One late night, as my roommate tried to conceal that fact that he was masturbating under his desk, a light bulb went off as I pretended to be asleep: I could create my OWN Cool Rock. I now had the technology! So, I set out to find the entire tracklist (which took about 2 hours), and then moved on to Cool Rock‘s shy younger sister, Red Hot. Then, there was no stopping me. I decided to compile the greatest 80s collection EVER MADE! After all, Time Life had a collection that came close, but it was about $120, my mom was using that Christmas stall tactic again. Eventually, my “Absolute Will Ultimate 80s Collection” grew to around 12 discs.

Ive been thinking about my 80s collection lately for one important reason: due to how they’re made, CD-Rs only have a lifespan of about 10 yrs. And it has been about 10 years since I burned the last disc. Am I about to lose my music to the ravages of time? I already transferred as much as I could to iTunes, but some discs can’t be read anymore. I fear my project, much like Cool Rock itself, will soon be forgotten. So, join me one last time, to honor Glass Tiger, Club Nouveau, and all the other featured artists who can’t even get arrested today. We should never forget our past, including the shameful parts. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.