Song Sung Crew
I find many things curious about HBO’s labyrinthine website for The Wire, but perhaps no strange feature or unasked-for exclusive has struck me as so odd and so adorable as the playlists compiled by some of the actors playing the kids this season. You can choose from Dukie, (Jermaine Crawford), Namond (Julito McCullum), or Randy (Maestro Harrell), and the handy-dandy world of cross-marketing makes buying each track from iTunes a snap.
Of course, you might want to wait before snapping up all of those tracks. Perhaps the best part of looking at these playlists is realizing that these kids are just kids, and while they have preternatural acting skills, they have the odd, corny taste of teenagers. So you have all three rocking Lil’ Wayne, Death Cab for Cutie, Kanye, T.I., Justin Timberlake and even a little N.W.A. and Coldplay from Harrell, whose choices are broadest in genre. But you’ve also got head-scratchers (Andrew Boccelli, John Mayer) and a few fist-biters (Moby, Elton John). Of course they’re just kids and I’m a crank and this is fun and why don’t I know how to have fun? I dunno, but perhaps there’s something illuminating about these funny lists too. In the same way Namond wants to skip out on hustling to watch his friends trying to catch pigeons, the teens that play these kids aren’t afraid of liking corny songs, or weird songs, or songs that just make them happy.
Better still, as a kind of supplement to these playlists, HBO provides notes on the music that accompanies each episode, so you can go check out Elephant Man, the Chi-Lites, Mobb Deep and the lovely Dead Meadow now that you know. I’m going to keep my ears open for future playlists and more hidden gems in the soundtrack.