The only conclusion I can draw this time around is that I’ve apparently gotten incredibly strict about entry requirements for the list. That, or I’ve just stopped listening to music altogether. I need to watch better TV.
85% of the playlist available for streaming and such here in the backdated post. Give it a second to load if you're on a slow connection and it looks like a blank post at first.
1. Kate Voegele - Manhattan from the Sky
If fear was money you’d be a millionaire
Her sophomore album took a lot longer to get into, but after five full repeats, one finally started to stand out from the crowd. Possibly aided by my determination to love such a unique title – which turns into a neat extended metaphor! - and cemented when I realized the odd album name, “A Fine Mess,” comes from this chorus.
2. Kate Voegele - Who You Are Without Me
Put me up on a pedestal, I’ve got nowhere to go but down
This one too, more for the decisive, addictive opening hook, but it has the image-laden lyrics to back it up. Seriously, every time I listen I’m struck by clever phrases like “I’m not the answer, you got me wrong” and “I don’t speak in guarantees, or at least not the kind that you need.”
3. Kate Voegele - Inside Out
I am awake, it’s getting late
I’m in no state to be alone now
And this one, just because that lyric kept cutting through my passive listening late at night.
4. The Civil Wars - Poison and Wine
I don’t love you, but I always will
The fatal flaw was declaring it too depressing to love, because before I’d even finished writing that post, I was playing the music video on loop. And not just because of the guy’s more than passing resemblance to Johnny Depp. It’s the angsty-prettiest duet I have heard in ages.
5. Bruce Springsteen – Radio Nowhere
Is there anybody alive out there?
Randomly tripped over on YouTube, this is the most SHEER FUN I have had listening to a song since at least November. I didn’t think I liked his music, or even this style, but apparently surprises are everywhere. Someone described it as good driving/road trip music, which helped a lot. Someone else described it as an anthem to the empty quality of most music on the radio these days, and putting a nostalgic spin on it sold me the rest of the way.
6. Anelia (Aneliq?) & Miro – Zavinagi
Remember the mystery language YouTube song? Bulgarian. Somehow, shockingly pretty. It’s all epic and grandiose, and I have no real idea what it means, but it’s an incredibly powerful duet. I want to say the woman’s voice reminds me a tad of Celine Dion’s ballads, but that would drive you away.
7. Natalie Imbruglia – Honeycomb Child
You don't like your face, but that's who you are
And remember the Ten/Rose fanmix I last mentioned in May? Cool, I decided to sample another track from it. Actually, Random Shuffle decided to sample it enough times that I finally registered the cool tinkling bells with a neat title and artist I liked, and suddenly I was listening to it for hours. Trance-like and haunting.
8. Zee Avi – The Story
Broken dreams, broken dreams, hoping someday you'll see me
Nicked from a Community fanmix, and given what’s listed as the album title (Zee Avi, May 2009), those two things explain a lot about why I always picture a college campus in spring. Not as much storytelling as the title implies, but still a lovely female vocalist + sparing acoustic guitar.
9. Hayley Westenra – Summer Rain
Days of burning sun
Watch the colors run
Picked up another CD of hers at the library on a whim; couldn’t find much to catch my ear, but this really appealed to me - I like the brightly plucked notes at the beginning of this, and its pretty lyrics.
10. Hayley Westenra – Summer Fly
In another younger day I could dream the time away
In the universe inside my room
And the world was really mine from June til September
Even though it starts with a mournful whistle, as befits a tune on CD called “Celtic Treasure,” it somehow turns into this upbeat thing with fiddles that, I swear, sounds more like something you might play around the campfire on a dude ranch. Is that even possible? Is there such a thing as New Zealand country-western? Because that’s what this sounds like. In the best and bounciest possible way, of course.
11. Rasputina – Thimble Island
I’ve not heard of girls returning, it’s a murky mystery place
This one’s been bouncing around in the background for a while, but now that I’ve seen it on two different fanmixes for Lost, which I’m right in the thick of, it’s probably time for it to take the spotlight. It has so many unique things happening I don’t know what to do with it.
12. Miley Cyrus – Party in the U.S.A.
I hopped off the plane at LAX with my dream and my cardigan
Welcome to the land of fame excess, am I gonna fit in?
“The Office” put the tune in my head; the combo storytelling aspect and Miley’s voice (or maybe the video) did the rest of the work. This song could cure homesickness, it could, if you think about the same music playing on the radio no matter where you are. As a bonus, it is VERY catchy. And not half as stupid as you’d expect a teenager's song containing the word ‘party’ to be!
13. "Glee" cast – Last Christmas
Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day you gave it away
I’m pretty sure I should have stuck this on the list in December, since that is overwhelmingly where the memory of it lies, but February is when I finally got around to falling in love with it enough to download it. Rather than not mention it at all, I’m sneaking it in here. Mostly because from the title, I assumed this would be some sort of revamped carol, but instead it turned into a merry little Disney-Channel-esque pop song.
14. Superchic[k] – Stand In The Rain
She wants to be found
The only way out is through everything she’s running from
Wants to give up and lie down
I’m sorry, how did I NOT previously have this tune amidst my extensive collection of songs about sad/lonely girls? Before I ever played it, I took one look at the lyrics and went YES DO WANT. Somehow it is simultaneously about me and my anxieties all over the place, and a reassuring anthem about overcoming them. Or, “perfect.”
15. Natasha Bedingfield – Wild Horses
Is this my life, I’m wondering
It happened so fast, how do I turn this thing around?
I have no idea where I found this, but it’s such a pretty ballad about life/desire for a more adventurous one. And the title isn’t a metaphor! RARE. See, see, I knew this lady had lyrical potential behind her generic radio hits.
16. Geoff Smith and the Tonewheels - Rose
Remember how it all began
All you had to do was hold my hand
And we’ve been running all this time, it seems
Oi, Doctor Who fandom, you fail for not telling me about this sooner. And by sooner I mean "ever," until I went looking for fanmixes to flesh out my sadly empty music list. For those of you outside the fandom, you can still appreciate my giddiness at finding another song named after a girl. Because the beauty of this sweet little piece is that it’s specific enough to delight the fans, but generic enough to work as any old story.
17. Kat DeLuna – Love Confusion
Why am I so lost in you?
I have no idea who this is. Possibly I will find out tomorrow, look back at this and go “UGH, GROSS.” But apparently my new method of finding music is to type random phrases into Google and see if they appear in any song lyrics. Turns out this was exactly the kind of catchy music I’d enjoy hearing on a Top 40 radio station. And you know how I can’t go very long without finding one of those.
18. Leona Naess – Calling
I’m calling, can you hear me
The angels will steer me to your door
dollsome , coming through with another recommendation o’ class! This reminds me of so many favorite artists, none of whom I can exactly put my finger on, but the repetitive chorus is just wave after wave of pretty lilts and soothing calm.
19. Laura Jansen – Use Somebody
Painted faces fill the places I can’t reach
Kings of Leon, please. You know everything is better when sung by a woman on piano. (muzzy_olorea gets credit for finding this one and luring me in with the promise that it sounded completely different from the original. So true!)
20. Kat DeLuna - Whine Up
(Spanish version - much snappier)
Or, “oh, that’s who she is.” Yeah, this title sounds vaguely familiar, I might have heard it mentioned in 2007. And this is, wow, I am not even going to fight it, it’s just so fast and intense and instantly addictive that I’m gonna go ahead and let this club track eat my brain. It has a lot in common with "Hips Don't Lie" that way.
[List Extra – Crystal Bowersox. I don't have favorites yet, but everything she’s sung on American Idol has been so amazing that I am planning to make myself a mix CD later this spring featuring all her performances. It is the weirdest phenomenon, loving a musician for the sound of their voice – live! - even though they are only singing covers of songs you already know. Here are Hand In My Pocket and Gimme One Reason to start you off.]
P.S. I decided I had enough shame on here without adding “Run This Town” to the mix. Ergo, it will remain on reserve as something I occasionally like to listen to, but only via incidental listening. Right down there with the Black Eyed Peas.