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The Music of 2008 (Trimester 1)

See?  I'm breaking it up into sections this year!  Except because I am an idiot, I somehow felt that I could get away with doing it 3 times per year, rather than the way I was planning to do it monthly or quarterly, which means - that's right - the post is still too darn large to post in one increment.  Bloody hell.  So, you know the drill.  I post this one in the public eye, and you have to click the link at the bottom to get to part 2, because I'm going to backdate it rather than having 3 of my posts pop up on your flist in one night.  

Oh, and also, last year I bolded my very favorite songs...this year I just bolded them all, because I could pick out maybe 10 that had shorter reigns of awesomeness than others, but could not narrow the field beyond that.  Apologies for the random crazy font, size, and/or color changes that I am positive will show up but which I dare not attempt to fix without destroying the formatting beyond all recognition and giving myself another 2-hour headache.  

And, uh, I swear I didn’t mean to hit exactly 50!  That’s just a cool coincidence.  And I still think it is insane how fast music pours into my life, when I swear I almost never go actively looking for it.   Now without further adieu, here is the music that's been delighting my soul for the past 4 months.

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JANUARY

1. Pink – Who Knew

If someone said three years from now you’d be long gone

I’d stand up and punch them out, ‘cause they’re all wrong

I know this is about a past relationship, but my broken best-friendships have a whole lot in common with the emotional aspect of relationships,  so certain lines stabbed through me like a hatpin when I first heard this on the radio.  It still kind of gets to me.  Pink’s songs are hit-or-miss with me, but when she hits, she hits HARD. 

 

2. Sweetbox – Chyna Girl

There’s no second chance when the devil’s made you dance

As part of The Great Scarlet Letter Drama of 2007, I was forlornly poking around the course website of the class I had so desperately wanted to take but been unable to, and found a list of a bunch of songs that either referenced or alluded to the novel.   I tried this one first, getting linked to a YouTube video of a live performance.  Despite my inherent impatience for videos, I met Instant Song Love and played it for days.  The CD version is even better, with its haunting Oriental opening. 

 

3. Elliot Yamin – Wait for You

So why does your pride make you run and hide?
I heard him perform this on American Idol in 2007, and loved it, but promptly forgot the title and melody by the next day.  Over winter break, I heard this on the radio and my jaw dropped as I frantically started scribbling lyrics on a bit of scrap paper, wondering who this gorgeous song could possibly be by.  Finally, back at school, I looked the lyrics up, was shocked by the answer, and then found the music video on YouTube.  Spent the weekend being as entranced by his Josh Groban curls and emotive expressions as the beauty of the song.  It’s easy and laid back, but sad and emotional all the same.  And his voice is much richer than I remember it being on his season of AI. 

 

4. Katharine McPhee – Love Story

It’s a typical love story

The boy you never wanted just steals your heart

While working on the music post of 2007, I went to look up the lyrics for “Over It,” and this song was playing in the background of the site I clicked.  I love the sound of her rapid-fire voice over the chorus more than anything lyrically, but the theme of falling in love with a friend fits my favorite depiction of romance, so that’s good.  Also?  It’s Katharine McPhee, who fits my definition of the perfect American Idol (early 20s, female, long hair, pop style music).

 

5. Miley Cyrus – See You Again

Felt like I couldn’t breathe, you asked what’s wrong with me

My best friend Lesley said “Oh she’s just being Miley”

I had been fairly disappointed in all the radio singles cropping up so far in the year, except this one.  The melody was distinct, the techno-pop music fast, driving and catchy.  After a few listens, I finally pinned down enough of the lyrics to look it up…and was promptly horrified to discover that I’d been bobbing along to object-of-tween-obsession Hannah Montana.   I’ve since come to terms with it, because the song really is that fun.

 

6. Mono – Life in Mono

The stranger sang a theme, from someone else’s dream

The leaves began to fall, and no one spoke at all

I found this on my computer with no idea where it had come from, until I remembered it had been off one of [info]metatarsus's virtual CD mixes that I’d had to reformat from .m4a to .mp3 and thus hadn’t heard with the rest of the songs.  Like those songs, however, it’s a beautiful, dreamy and ethereal set of vocals.  Centered on the idea of the ingénue, it’s like a painting brought into song.  

 

FEBRUARY

7. The Killers – When You Were Young

And sometimes you close your eyes and see the place where you used to live

Thanks to my video-hunting in the early days of my Doctor Who obsession, this song entered my consciousness and imprinted itself on my brain as Ten/Rose.  However, the melody is instantly addictive, and there are a whole myriad of images contained within the lyrics – it also makes me think of summers, and rural life, and the escapism of coming-of-age novels.  It’s more beautiful and meaningful than any song by an electric-guitar-heavy band has a right to be.

 

8. Snow Patrol ft. Martha Wainwright – Set the Fire to the Third Bar

Their words mostly noises, ghosts with just voices
Your words in my memory are like music to me

Another Ten/Rose song, in my head, mostly because it fits with the theme of the second-season finale…the duet between the male and female voices in this song lends a profoundly overwhelming sense of sadness.  It’s about separation and uncertain futures; they’re singing the same lines but you can hear the vast distance between them.  This song can make cry over nothing.  It’s that good.  Also, don’t watch the video.  The video is made of fail.

 

9. 8 Femmes soundtrack (Ludivine Sagnier)– Papa T’es Plus Dan L’coup

If you haven’t seen this movie (2002 remake), you should, what with its mind-blowing blend of musical and noir-type murder mystery.   Or at least observe this clip on YouTube, because it’s full of bouncy jazz music and adorable teenage sassing.

 

10.  8 Femmes soundtrack (Virginie Ledoyen) - Mon Amour, Mon Ami

Barely 2 minutes in length, it’s like a music box song.  The melody is simple, the lyrics equally so, starry-eyed and idealistic.  Her voice is simply stunning, rich and beautiful beneath her unchanging soft and hushed tones.  And it’s the sound of French that really makes it beautiful; in English I doubt it would have the same effect.   [Video clip]

 

11. Ferras – Hollywood’s Not America

Born Helena Jane, with a restless soul
She moved west to California, became a centerfold
But once you change your name, well the pieces fall
Now she hardly recognizes herself at all

I swore I wouldn’t watch American Idol this year, and I then I fell for the Top 24 Revelation episode.  They played this at the very end, and I fell hard after only two lines.  You name a lonely girl in a song, I’m all over it, but in combination with the sad piano and the message in the title/chorus?  Utter love.

 

12. Gregory and the Hawk – Boats and Birds

But you can skyrocket away from me
And never come back if you find another galaxy
Far from here, with more room to fly
Just leave me your stardust to remember you by

Yet another Doctor Who fanvid song.   scsquidsnaps linked me to it, and I fell head over heels for the stripped-down sound of a lone female vocalist and acoustic guitar.  It also has a slight tendency to make me cry.

 13. Queen – Killer Queen

“Let them eat cake,” she said, just like Marie Antoinette

My favorite guy sang this on American Idol, and I tripped over myself to look it up, because the lyrics were so bizarre.  It’s crazy in the same manner as “White Rabbit.” 

 

14. Kansas – Carry On My Wayward Son

Once I rose above the noise and confusion
Just to get a glimpse beyond this illusion
I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high

The same week on Idol, my favorite rocker-chick girl sang this, and made me fall in love with the chorus.  It took some adjustment to get used to hearing a guys band sing it after her, but the melody quickly took over and convinced me I loved it.

 

MARCH

15. Raining Jane – Wyoming Sky

Tell your stories, lies and glories

Under the ashes, history passes us by…

Like Wyoming sky

I missed the group the first time they came to campus, and kicked myself afterwards, but in anticipation of their second visit, I hit up the website to re-familiarize myself with some of their songs.  I ended up getting stuck on this.  I just love singer’s voice and the simplicity of the piano and guitar. 

 

16. Hildegard – Nunc Aperuit Nobis

Oh yes, it’s a medieval piece.  I had to be able to identify a list of songs by ear for my music appreciation class.  I didn’t expect to like any of them, but this one stood out to me, with its high-pitched and haunting vocals. 

 

17. Celine Dion – Drove All Night

Maybe I should have called you first, but I was dying to get to you

Heard on American Idol, the power note in the chorus swept me head over heels and I ran to look it up immediately.  After about 1500 listens, it began to occur to me that this song was vaguely dirty in nature and not something I should be especially proud of championing.  But by then I was lost. 

 

18. David Archuleta - Another Day in Paradise

She calls out to the man on the street

He can see she’s been crying

She’s got blisters on the soles of her feet

Can’t walk but she’s trying

Another one from (the same week) on Idol, I was in love with the lyrics from the very beginning, but found myself horribly disappointed in the reedy quality of the original singer’s voice, so I fetched myself the good version and haven’t regretted it since.  Beautiful story-song about a lonely girl. 

 

19. Emm Gryner – Boy Races

My stadium held boy races in the rain
You ran the length and blew them all away

So then metatarsus created another lovely mix I couldn't resist.  As I listened for the first time, I squealed with excitement as I recognized this song – I used to hear it on the radio, but I never knew the title or artist, and I eventually forgot all about it.  The vocals on the chorus reminded me a little of Paula Cole's “I Don’t Want to Wait”

 

20. Carly Smithson – Blackbird

Blackbird singing in the dead of night

Take these broken wings and learn to fly

All your life

You were only waiting for this moment to arrive

I’d never heard the Beatles’ original, but she captivated me from the very first line.  This is clearly a woman’s song, and the way she commands it, starting out soft and building to a beautiful and well-supported finish note, takes my breath away.

 

21. Evan Rachel Wood – Blackbird

Since it took me a while to get the studio version of Carly’s rendition, I went looking elsewhere for a full-length version by a female singer, and found the one from the “Across the Universe” soundtrack.  I fell in love as soon as I heard not only her soft, clear voice, but the gentle harmonica and the other faintly bluegrass stylings.  I can’t even choose my favorite of the two versions.

 

22. Bush – Letting the Cables Sleep

You in the sea, on the decline, breaking the waves

Watching the lights go down… letting the cables sleep

Also from the aforementioned mix CD, I can’t explain exactly why this hooked me since at first listen it’s just another band, but the chords and background sound effects reminded me of Snow Patrol, or possibly Lifehouse.

 

23. Goldfrapp – Utopia

I’m wired to the world
That’s how I know everything
I’m super brain
That’s how they made me

Last one off the mix CD.  I love the eerie, high-pitched vocals and the mysterious techno sound of this band, which brings to mind futuristic worlds.  It may have specifically reminded me of the “Long Game” episode of Doctor Who.  (or, if that means nothing to you, the pre-cog in Minority Report)

 

24. Stars – This Charming Man

A punctured bicycle on a hillside desolate

Will nature make a man of me yet?

I feel an irresistible pull towards this band, despite never having listened to a full-length album, so whenever I see individual tracks I grab them.  I’ve been disappointed by far too many things with swearing and vulgarity, but this one was a hit.  There’s nothing particularly standout, but it has a catchy melody and hushed vocals and it stayed near the top of the playlist for weeks.

 

25. Avril Lavigne – The Scientist

I was just guessing at numbers and figures

Pulling your puzzles apart

Questions of science, science and progress

Don’t speak as loud as my heart

Apparently this is a Coldplay cover, but…do not like Coldplay.  Do, however, very much love Avril, and so when I found this new-to-me live performance up for grabs, I snatched it and was not disappointed.  The piano is beautiful, and so is her softened, dialed-down voice. 

Trimester 1 continues here (rest of March, plus April).  Maybe I can convince myself to post at the beginning of August next time.  (Obsessive Self protests: but but but!  It makes so much sense to put all my summer songs together!)

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