1. Sarah Brightman - Arrival
May they ring in their little hearts the jubilant bells of Auld Lang Syne
Hey, that’s a good opening title! I had enjoyed her “Whiter Shade of Pale” album from the library, so when I was trying to spend Pepsi Points and her name came up as an option, I took a chance on this one. It took me more than a day to fall in love with it, hence its inclusion in 2009, but there are a lot of pretty woodwinds and a joyous, celebratory chorus. It sounds like it could be an old Christmas carol.
2. John M. Keane – Investigation Suite
It took longer than I’d planned to get around to listening to the other original instrumental on the CSI soundtrack, but now I’m quite in love with it – a seamless collection of all kinds of little incidental themes recognizable from background mood music or montages in various scenes. The beginning is very dark and moody; the last minute considerably more swift and engaging.
3. Sia – The Girl You Lost to Cocaine
I don’t need drama, so I’m walking away
Another Pepsi song, I bought it because I like the artist and the title sounded intriguing, but unfortunately, instead of a sad story I got a very upbeat jazzy/bluesy tempo, the title being mentioned only at the last second. Everything in me said “delete immediately,” but somehow it stayed on the playlist until I was kind of addicted to the melody. LIKE COCAINE.
4. Hayley Taylor – No More Wishing
I'm willing to be the one that you put on a pedestal
How I Met Your Mother bringing the musical love this time; this has necessarily become the unofficial Barney/Robin theme in my head, although a few plays of the official video should rinse that right out. Because on its own, it’s a very pretty, laid-back acoustic song full of sweet-voiced, wistful pining. Almost too slow – it took a few days of repeat listening to force it through my brain sufficiently enough for addiction – but worth it.
5. Ingrid Michaelson - Porcelain Fists
Inside your porcelain fists, your palms begin to crack
I was trolling for episode reviews of The Office when I ran across an LJ profile page that had a picture of Pam at her art show, with these lyrics tucked in the corner. Highly intrigued, I ran to go find the song, and was rewarded with what I’d hoped to find - a beautiful and haunting female vocalist + piano accompaniment, and lyrics full of artistic poetry.
6. Dido – Quiet Times
Suppose I have to take you with me
Broken mind, I’d rather leave you here
After Grey’s Anatomy dazzlingly proved that this song is all about Izzie/Denny, and since I generally love Dido anyway, I fell in love with the pleasant little melody and the soft-voiced, bittersweet story about needing to move on from love.
7. The American Dollar – Thompson
Captivated by the background music in an episode of CSI: Miami, I went hunting online until I found out that it belonged to a proper song. Played mostly during scenes of Calleigh in the hospital, it’s a delicate, pretty, soft electronica vibe.
8. (“How I Met Your Mother”) - Barney Stinson: That Guy’s Awesome
This isn’t Barney Stinson singing this song (that would be really lame)
I’m pretty sure I definitely should not count 55-second music clips from TV shows as actual songs. But considering how many times a day I sang this in the week after the episode aired, THAT IS NOT STOPPING ME. If it’s on the MP3 player, it counts! Don’t even try to tell me the melody’s not addictive like whoa.
9. Tori Amos – Girl Disappearing
A girl disappearing to some secret prison
But she’s right in front of me
Looking up the lyrics for #5, I ran across this title on a rec list, and had to go find it immediately. Was drawn in by the orchestral opening and kept by the sad, haunting story, in a voice to match, of the title character. Somewhat more surreal imagery than I’d expected, but no less entrancing for it.
10. (Brad E & Ashley G) - Ryan Started the Fire
Creed Bratton, Michael Scott, Darryl’s cool, Toby’s not
The video is absolutely necessary for the full hilarious effect the first time you hear it, but once away from the computer, I found myself unable to live without the music readily available at my fingertips, too. Ridiculous number of awesome references FTW! This actually gets stuck in my head more than #8. It never ceases to amaze me what power The Office has to inspire fan songs…
11. Taylor Swift – Fifteen
It’s your freshman year and you’re gonna be here
For the next four years in this town
Lyrics like that basically ensure that I will love your song, as I adore nostalgic pieces about high school. Especially if they proceed to tell stories about best friends named Abigail and/or looking back on impermanent first loves. Thus Taylor’s Midas-touch ability to make every song she sings golden strikes again.
12. Taylor Swift - Fearless
And I don’t know why, but with you I’d dance
In a storm in my best dress, fearless
Using the Midas theory, I finally decided to go ahead and listen to her whole album. Unfortunately, as most of the songs I already love are at the beginning, I couldn’t seem to make it past the opening track before I got completely hung up on it. Cute story, pleasant beat of a melody.
13. Alanis Morissette – Not As We
Reborn and shivering, spat out on new terrain
Caught my ear during a particularly heavy flashback on Cold Case; it took me a very long time to realize it was about starting over from a relationship rather than a grand commentary on humanity/life in general. Which, to be fair, is the effect the music has – larger than life – but with that detail in hand it’s some of the prettiest stuff I’ve ever heard from her.
14. Keri Noble – Japan
You can never tell when the sun sets low
Lights are always bright in Tokyo
After Grey’s Anatomy brought “Emily” into the public consciousness, I wound up on her MySpace with renewed determination to acquire her less mainstream music. The new title caught my eye, reminding me of a friend who studied abroad there, and the lyrics about finding it home only reinforced that picture. Very spare and simple, vocals + piano.
15. Jesse Langseth – Bette Davis Eyes
All the boys think she's a spy; she’s got Bette Davis eyes
My favorite contestant sang this on American Idol “because [she] liked the story,” and that was my cue to hunt it down for infatuation purposes. I wanted a full-length version, but the original proved too gravelly and Gwyneth Paltrow’s too weak, so I went back to make do with a 1:45 live performance. Whereupon I may or may have not played it on loop for two hours, falling in love with music and lyrics and singer’s voice all at once.
16. Karmina – The Kiss
I know we don’t belong, everyone says it’s wrong
We come from different ways, so I tried to erase everything that I felt
Took a chance on a rec from muzzy-olorea, because it was apparently used in the unseen-footage D/L video, and whoa! I don’t know if I fell for the singers, the music, the lyrics, or the (official music) video first, because it all kinda whapped me over the head with Awesome at once. Seriously, some really pretty/addictive music in the most mainstream pop sound I can think of.
17. Jordan Pruitt – Miss Popularity
She's a walking casting call, a fashion runway doll, her 4.0 comes naturally
Imeem recommended her for me, and this title caught my eye – it’s usually a successful theme for songs, and though it took a few listens, this was no exception. No idea who she is, but she sounds like Hilary Duff (which is a good thing ‘round these parts).
18. Flo Rida ft. Kesha – Right Round
From the top of the pole, I watch her go down
She got me throwin’ my money around
*headdesk* I specifically resisted hearing this for weeks, knowing that after last summer I probably stood no chance against it. Then a certain crime show of mine played nearly 2 minutes of it, and I rolled over in surrender. Damn his stupid nonsense songs and their stupid catchy melodies! Tell me why I’m listening to songs about strippers, TELL ME.
19. Taylor Swift – You’re Not Sorry (CSI remix)
You used to shine so bright but I watched all of it fade
Still haven’t heard the original; probably never will because I’m too enchanted by this version. Darkly beautiful, utterly haunting; I love the rippling/echoing effect of the opening notes. And I like that it’s different – if you didn’t know who she was, you would never guess she was a country artist from this. [EDIT: Heard the original yesterday, and like it equally well. Less eerie, more heartfelt, different but similarly pretty instrumentation.]
20. Hem – Half Acre
I am holding half an acre, torn from the map of Michigan
And folded in this scrap of paper is a land I grew up in
Heard this on a commercial for something, and was completely floored. A voice I initially mistook for Sarah McLachlan (but purer), enchanting music that’s somewhere between folksy and music-box, and lyrics that are so poignant and beautiful and full of bittersweet images of home = breathtaking work. Lovely and winsome clarinet work, too.
21. James Blunt – Dear Katie
Did he tell you that he loves you, he’s just not in love with you anymore?
I was trying to look up a song called “Dear Kate” to see if I’d like it, but this was all I could find. Now, my hatred for James Blunt is well documented, but it is also negated by my love of songs with a girl’s name in the title. Especially if they are melancholy and feature vocals + piano.
On a semi-related note, I've got at least 25 books on this year's reading list so far, which I may or may not have mentioned is annotated now. That gets updated on a continual basis, even though now that I think about it's really not much different from my music posts these days, and DON'T LET ME OVERTHINK THINGS. Just, know that you can take a peek at if you're so inclined.