39. Pony Up! – Do What You're Told
You'll jump through the hoops we hold
A sassy girl band that kind of reminds me of early Paramore. It's also the anchoring song for “Prom Wars: Love is a Battlefield,” and if you can get an idea of what that movie is like you'll understand why this song is exactly like that movie.
P.S. Sorry for the quality but I legit cannot find any other recording of this song on the internet.
40. BT ft. Tori Amos – Blue Skies
Blue skies are in my head
This has been in my music library for a few months now but I keep forgetting about it. It's off the Party of Five soundtrack and I saved it mostly because I was determined to love a Tori Amos number, even if it's more of a techno beat. I mostly do not even know the lyrics beyond the title line, so it's not really one I LOVE, but I added it to a playlist for a few weeks and I'm kind of used to it (and also I have like no music this month).
41. Supernova (???) by Maddie Hasson(???) from Good After Bad/More Than Enough
*full lyrics behind cut
[Be a star that shines like a fire at night]
Take a breath, take a break
Let it roll off of you
Think about what to say
No one can control you
Be the you that you are
Be your own kind of star
Or maybe you're too afraid
Take my hand, take my heart
And I'll trust you with it
It's who I was from the start
But I got lost inside it
Be the me that I am, be my own kind of man
Or maybe I'm too afraid
(Be a star that shines like a fire at night
It's who you are and you can't control that light
You're a supernova, you're a supernova
You're a supernova, supernova, glad to know ya)
Take a bow, take a walk
Bask inside the glory
It's how you smile, and how you talk
When you tell your story
Be the you that you are
Be your own kind of star
Never to be afraid
Be the one, be the [???]
That you know you can be
Shake 'em off, don't let 'em stick
And you can set yourself free
Be your own kind of man
Be the best that you can
Never to be afraid
Got so many question marks in this entry that even the movie title is suspect, but this pretty singer-songwriter-pop type of number plays over the end credits (I'm assuming it's sung by Maddie Hasson, given that it sounds pretty unpolished and it's her song in the movie), and I have loved it since I heard a tantalizing snippet in the trailer fully 3 years ago. I'm so freaking glad I finally have a full length version, even if I had to record it off the DVD with VLC software myself. For the time being, you can play the movie on Tubi and hear the song at 1:34:12.
42. Lauren Duski - Costume Party
I'm so tired of worrying about what they must see
If I leave the mask at home
Been debating for weeks about how much I love this one – it's very much in the Blue Skies realm – but I played it one last time and I can't kick it off, so I guess it's part of my history now. Also it somehow landed among my 10 most-played songs on Spotify for 2020, what??
P.S. Trololol I just realized you could make this lyric couplet -- and frankly much of the song -- an anti-mask anthem if you wanted. Even as a person who thinks they're important, I AM over this whole costume party!
I got nothin', really. Mostly been listening to my old Lifehouse CD “Stanley Climbfall” (from 2005, bought new) when I do cue up music. But –
List Extra: Taylor Swift ft. Gary Lightbody – The Last Time
This is the last time I'm asking you why
You break my heart in the blink of an eye
I also started listening to Red again, and I'm not allowed to add any more tracks from that album (per my rules) unless they're bonus tracks because I already picked a top half, but may I just say that a) I COMPLETELY forgot that this song existed; after 1 listen way back when I refused to add it to my computer and always skipped over it on CD, and b) I have no idea why I hated it with such vitriol. Just because it was a non-Ed-Sheeran dude (who at the time was not yet The Worst) invading my girls-only territory? I love the chimes now, though. Is Red actually her most perfect album??
43. Demi Lovato -- Commander In Chief
How does it feel to still be able to breathe?*
I didn't necessarily plan to love this super-overt protest song, but all the stars aligned to make me click it and the music + her voice are SO pretty I fell in love instantly.
*also: I know what's it's (probably??) referring to, but that lyric gets real dark real quick if you read it another way
44. Me + T – I'm Not Here
I hope you'll feel us the rest of your life
Take all the chances you can, it's all right
SPOTIFY WHAT IS THIS. Why must you throw me such weirdo mystery music. Where is this from?? *digs for like 10 minutes* I guess it's an original song for this random movie by the same title? OK, but I still have questions like, why do half the lines sound reminiscent of bits from famous songs, almost like a DJ Earworm mash-up of one artist doing pretty-vocals covers, but not quite close enough that I can pin down what they are?? (ex: “I'm giving up on you” sounds like it's from Say Something)
45. Serena Ryder - Waterfall
It's too heavy alone
Let it go 'fore your back gets broke
K, let's get happier! Once again, I let ONTD entice me into clicking on a new song – the thumbnail was v. pretty, and belatedly I recognized putting her on The Music List once before for that Olympics song – and I instantly got catchy music and a unique husky voice, as well as a solid message of self-care.
CD REC: Lea Michele, Places (2017)
Took me 3 years but I'm finally here and glad I own it. As much as I wanted something closer to her first album before, I'm ready for what it is now. There aren't any I skip, though Sentimental Memories is sometimes too slow for me. Top half selected with some difficulty below (shout out to the just-missed: I had a hard time choosing between the opening track and Proud, plus I really like the lyric I know what I'm doing here, 20/20 crystal clear in Tornado, which I briefly thought was 2020 the year and accidentally horribly ironic).
Note: deluxe version has only 2 additional tracks but I think Letting Go is worth it.
Note 2: Because of looping this album when I temporarily misplaced my physical CD, Lea Michele ended up as my most-played artist on Spotify this year. And yes I was in her top 0.5% percent of listeners.
46. Getaway Car
Two kids with curious hearts, not afraid to break
Apparently I only ever let this be a List Extra because back in 2017 I could never bear to love the original more than the duet video w/ Darren Criss (and frankly I still insist on loudly singing the harmonies when I play it in the car), but I have to put it on the list now that I'm picking a top half of the album to highlight, because it's still my favorite and it has the absolute best lyrics.
I'm still a dreamer
I'm fighting my way up to the stars
The first to catch my ear without Darren's help. We can thank Spotify's Discover Weekly for slinging this to me in a sneaky “hey this voice sounds familiar OH MY GOD!” way, luring me over to the full album to hear more like it, and the rest was history. Honestly, if Lea wasn't already singing it I'd probably be like “RACHEL SHOULD SING THIS ON GLEE.” This is exactly the kind of big ballad she would do at the end of an episode after having restored her briefly shaken faith in her stardom destiny.
48. Love is Alive
And when my golden crown
Becomes a cup of doubt
I try to remember all I need is all around
Once I was ready to start looping the album, the opening track did its job at pulling me in fairly quickly. Lot of good piano and strings work here. It's slow, so I can see why it didn't grab me when I first got the album, but it's just what I want to hear now.
49. Heavy Love
Put another pill upon my tongue
Honestly, IDK what this song is even about and lyrically it's kind of a disaster, but musically it's very dramatic and was one of the first songs I began to recognize once I started looping the album, so it hits the top.
50. Anything's Possible
I push to the limits, I climb every wall
I keep on believing anything's possible
Now this – once the chorus kicks in, this is by far the most upbeat and closest in style to her original album, and easily my second favorite on the album. It's just such a good message of confidence and self-empowerment.
51. Hey You
I love you more
I said it's so
OH, SO WE'RE HERE TO HURT ME W/ THE SEQUEL TO “IF YOU SAY SO.” (I love it.)
52. Letting Go
Open up your hands to hold the light
Let the sun remind you you're alive
I could have sworn I put this bonus track on the list in 2018 when I used these lyrics for a book review (A Dog Year by Ann Garvin, or so I thought), but apparently I did neither of those things, so it's here now!
CD REC: Dear Evan Hansen, Original Broadway Cast Recording (2017)
So, up to this point, I've vaguely assumed that DEH had the same plot as What If It's Us and/or was an offshoot of The Book Of Mormon, and had no interest in it. What happened was, Discover Weekly threw Waving Through A Window at me, knocking me ass over teakettle with joy, so I checked out the full album and its first song ALSO filled me with joy. That's when I verified it on Wikipedia to make sure I wasn't accidentally about to fall in love with like, Avenue Q style raunchiness at some point, and OH WOW apparently this musical was tailor made for me.
I listened to the rest of the album and have since played it on loop no fewer than 50 times. It's absolutely wonderful, with largely pop/contemporary style music that often would not sound out of place on a radio station. I love every single song so SCREW IT, HERE WE GO. In chronological order except I switched the first two.
[I am going to put it all behind a spoiler cut in case you don't wanna scroll an eternity]
53. DEH Cast (Ben Platt) – Waving Through A Window
On the outside always looking in
Will I ever be more than I've always been?
Let me put it this way, if I had been born 10-15 years later I would have latched onto this as hard as “On My Own” for THE RAINBOW STEVIE THEME SONG. Before I trusted this musical, I looked up about six different covers and frankly it almost always sounds good, but ultimately I could not turn down the earnest Pitch Perfect Guy original.
P.S. It's anachronistic but MAN is my brain screaming for Blaine to cover this circa 5x16 of Glee, specifically the 'but every sun doesn't rise / and no one tells you where you went wrong' and the 'I've learned to slam on the brakes before I lead with the worst of me' bits. It more accurately fits Kurt in seasons 1-3 (tbh, it more ACCURATELY probably fits some season 6 newbie I don't know about), but Blaine got everything good if it could be forced to fit, so let me have my dream.
54. DEH Cast (Rachel Bay Jones/Jennifer Laura Thompson) – Anybody Have a Map?
I don't know if you can tell
But this is me just pretending to know
I cannot overSTATE how quick & catchy this is, especially when the mothers' voices start to overlap at the end. If your heart hasn't opened after hearing this and/or the above, this is not the musical for you.
55. DEH Cast (Ben Platt) -- For Forever
All we see is light for forever
'Cause the sun shines bright for forever
Like we'll be alright for forever this way
Two friends on a perfect day
This one is slower and took a bit to grow on me, but now I find myself humming the chorus all the time.
56. DEH Cast (Ben Platt/Will Roland/Mike Faist) -- Sincerely, Me
I love my parents but each day's another fight
If I stop smoking drugs
Then everything might be all right
("Smoking...drugs" / "Just fix it!")
This is definitely the most slapsticky-musical-style number of the bunch, and absolutely not what I would submit as representative of its overall style, but I have to admit it it is pretty amusing and catchy after a few listens. I love the WHAT IS THIS TERRIBLE WRITING, HAVE YOU EVER SEEN AN EMAIL FROM A NORMAL HUMAN PERSON IN YOUR LIFE back-and-forth.
57. DEH Cast (Michael Park/Jennifer Laura Thompson/Laura Dreyfuss) – Requiem
Why should I play this game of pretend
Remembering through a secondhand sorrow?
Fourth one I fell in love with; I love the harmonies and minor keys in this anti-requiem.
58. DEH Cast (Ben Platt & Laura Dreyfuss) -- If I Could Tell Her
But he kept it all inside his head
What he saw, he left unsaid
The thing about this is that it's not the most amazing number on its own, but it specifically captivates me because if you take out the spoken bits and change some of its more teenager-specific lyrics (except I really love the lyrics about scribbling stars on the cuffs of her jeans and putting indigo streaks in her hair), I swear it could be a Josh Groban song. One of his quieter and less showy ones, like A Higher Window or If I Walk Away, but that bridge and chorus are just PURE Josh.
59. DEH Cast -- Disappear
If you never get around to doing some remarkable thing
That doesn't mean that you're not worth remembering
I think this squeaks into my top half based largely on the “no one deserves to disappear” message...and also the “make me more than an abandoned memory” line. That gives me chills!
60. DEH Cast – You Will Be Found
There's a place where we don't have to feel unknown
And every time that you call out, you're a little less alone
This is the 6-minute number and it gets pretty cheesy, but in a way where if you let your guard down for a minute it WILL get in and put a hole in your heart and make you cry.
61. DEH Cast (Michael Park & Ben Platt) -- To Break In A Glove
Whether you're prepping for some test
Or you're miles from some goal
Or you're just trying to do what's best
For a kid who's lost control...
This is my least favorite on the album – slow and too much dude talk; I skipped it 16 times in a row – but it finally squeaked into my favor with the above verse.
62. DEH Cast (Laura Dreyfuss & Ben Platt) -- Only Us
I don't need you to sell me on reasons to want you
I don't need you to search for the proof that I should
I'm not sure why this sweet and romantic ballad took so long to win my heart, but when it did this was a 5x-in-a-row kind of song. These are the kind of lyrics I can throw at my fiance. ...or husband.
63. DEH Cast (Kristolyn Lloyd, Will Roland, Ben Platt, Rachel Bay Jones) – Good For You
Does it cross your mind to be slightly sorry?
Do you even care that you might be wrong?
Third one I fell in love with; my reaction was literally “is this Paramore??” if you need an idea of what this electric-guitar-and-drumset-featuring kiss-off sounds like.
64. DEH Cast (Ben Platt) -- Words Fail
No, I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts
Pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am
This one took a bit to grow on me too, and it needs better appreciation of the source material to really get its impact, but man, when it gets to this part...more chills!
65. DEH Cast (Rachel Bay Jones) -- So Big/So Small
That night, I tucked you into bed
I will never forget how you sat up and said:
Is there another truck coming to our driveway?
A truck that will take Mommy away?
This was an early favorite and then it dropped sharply out of the running, but I think that's mostly because it's TOO SAD and I can't deal with the gutting imagery of a little kid not fully understanding the concept of divorce + a mom promising him she will never go anywhere. God damn it, I teared up just writing that sentence and now I'm full on crying.
66. DEH Cast -- Finale
All I see is sky for forever...
It gets a number too because I really love the final lyric of the show. It's so perfect.
67. Computer Games (a.k.a. The Criss Brothers, Chuck & Darren) – We Like It
Can you give me a good reason I should live inside reality?
I got my favorite life right here
I just heard there was a timer on mortality
I want a life that won't disappear
THIS IS THE HAPPIEST AND BOPPIEST FEEL-GOOD SONG. What in the hell was I doing that I missed this in 2017. Was I truly so bummed out by the professionally-recorded version of Lost Boys Life not being an acoustic duet w/ Lea that I just gave up on the whole EP, sound unheard??
68. Computer Games – Every Single Night
And every single night I have a dream where I can find
You underneath the lights, smiling at me
And this one is somehow...even better?? I mean, I actually didn't like it as much at first because it has a more retro feel (80s synth pop maybe? I'm not good at music eras/genres), but then I watched the music video and it's ACTUALLY THE MOST WONDERFUL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE. I can't stop watching it. It's just Darren Criss putting on his best Blaine-but-with-curls energy (honestly he looks ready to appear on Sesame Street) + everyone he knows dressed in ridiculous costumes and having as much fun dancing and being weird as they can.
69. Computer Games – Lost Boys Life (Voice Memo)
69b. Computer Games – Lost Boys Life
“Voice memo,” a phrase which here apparently means BEAUTIFUL ACOUSTIC/PIANO VERSION. It's not a duet with Lea, but it honestly doesn't need to be; this is still exactly what I wanted in 2017 and didn't know I could have when I refused to put the regular version of the song on the list as anything but an extra. BONUS: the fact that this exists has made me perfectly amenable to the regular version, it turns out.
70. A Very Potter Musical Cast – Back to Hogwarts
Back to witches and wizards and magical beasts
To goblins and ghosts and to magical feasts
It's all that I love and it's all that I need
At Hogwarts, Hogwarts
I think I'm going back
In the middle of my Darren Criss spiral I rewatched AVPM and am once again stunned I never put any of its songs on The Music List back in 2012 (to be fair, I was VERY turned off by the vulgar line change in Ginny's Song and that probably discouraged me from looking further; also I was overloaded by Glee).
And I'm still not including most of them! That treat is for Even More Future Me to unlock! But the fact remains that I am currently very obsessed with every part of this 9-minute opener except maybe the Dumbledore part towards the end, now that I have a sound-booth recording instead of random volume fluctuations on stage, and have played it at least 13 times this month.
71. Darren Criss – Foolish Thing
As if I needed a distraction
As if I wanted an attack
But a prince in distress needs a damsel to test
What he always feels
Nothing fancy, but some jazzy piano comes out swinging and makes for a pretty fun song about falling in love, filled with delightful royal court metaphors.
72. I Dreamed A Dream (cover)
She slept a summer by my side
Filled my days with endless wonder
She took my childhood in her stride
But she was gone when autumn came
Here's the thing, I am super sick of people covering this boring song, BUT he's made this one light-voiced and sped up just enough that I almost forgot it was from Les Mis and fully envisioned it as some random guy singing about his summer fling in Paris.
73. Going Nowhere
I'm going nowhere
Just getting older
Watching the whole world pass me by
This one is the most lyrically interesting to me, a slower number mourning a relationship the singer's not quite over, and that makes it my favorite.
74. The Day That The Dance Is Over
They can turn all the lights out
Leave us standing in the dark
But I'm not going anywhere, love
I honestly can't decide if I like this one or not. If "Homework" was a full length CD instead of EP I guarantee this would not make top half, but I also keep listening to it instead of kicking it off my playlist, so I diagnose it Pretty All Right. It's sleepy, definitely an album closer no matter how many other songs there are, and I don't love the gospel choir backing it gains, but I like its message (also I am a puddle of melted chocolate at “love” as a term of endearment from guys who can pull it off, and he is one who can).
CD (EP) Rec: Em Beihold – Infrared (2017)
Not as fond of "I'm Fine," but basically, I'm feeling the same kind of rapture I felt when I fell for Clairo 11 months ago. Also, apparently 2 of her songs were ALSO featured in that random-ass “I'm Not Here” movie from #66, so that's wild that it wasn't even Spotify who connected us.
75. Not Who We Were
I've made some mistakes, no I'm not gonna lie
I've seen the world fall apart right in front of my eyes
I'm a victim of myself in disguise
#1 YouTube rec following Serena Ryder, and very accurate to my exact tastes in “pretty music and young singer-songwriter”; thanks YouTube!
I paid attention to everything you said
And when you saw black and white, I saw infrared
V. catchy song about a bad relationship where she's more into him than vice versa. Love the tinkling piano that opens it.
77. Child of the Moon
I’m the child of the moon and I’m stuck in space
Watching everything from a different place
Guitar feature, faster pace. Gives me forest vibes.
Happiness is overrated
Why is it so calculated?
More cool music! (that's...all I got)
79. Thrown To The Wolves
They don’t bite
They just sit there and stare
I have no idea what is going on in this song, but the chorus is catchy. [update: apparently she wrote it about being the new girl in school]
80. Steve Aoki ft. Darren Criss – Crash Into Me (cover)
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock, and sweet you roll
Lost for you, I'm so lost for you
Me normally: oh. This old song.
Darren singing it: BEST SONG EVER!! This is exactly the music his voice is made for. So warm, so smooth. I'll even take the vocorder bits and EDM beats in this version for that.
81. Royalties Soundtrack (ft. Chord Overstreet/Kevin McHale) – I Am So Much Better Than You At Everything
You put on pants one leg at a time
But I'm already wearing pants
(And they're perfectly tailored)
It's very important you watch the linked video and understand that I would normally never listen to or recommend a heavy metal song. UNLESS it's sung by by these guys in over the top wigs & makeup, singing absolutely ridiculous lyrics, with Mia Swier providing backup on guitar.
And that's it! I am pretty stuffed from the October/November glut still and haven't gotten around to investigating the rest of Royalties yet.