Flip back to Quarter 3, or proceed.
71. Alva Leigh – Calling Me
Sometimes I feel that I am changed
By those women on the hill in the rain
Once in a blue moon, one of your favorite ship scenes will happen to have a great background song to go with it (courtesy of Grey's Anatomy, today). Being focused on the scene, it wasn’t until five or six plays later that I recognized this fact, but suddenly it was, “Whoa, where did this vocalist + piano melody come from??” Lyrically, it reminds me of something one would write in college based on a midnight adventure with friends, although its actual inspiration is from a book. Yeah, I did legwork to find that out. Be pleased.
72. Glee Cast – One of Us
If God had a face, what would it look like and would you want to see
If seeing meant that you would have to believe
In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints, and all the prophets?
I adore the original, but one play of this and I love it so much that I can no longer pick my favorite. Corey’s overly breathy voice is hard to take at first, but the other verse leaders (Jenna Ushkowitz! Chris Colfer!) make up for it, and the girls’ harmonies & backing vocals are absolutely fantabulous.
73. Alicia Keys – Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down
And the gypsy cab takes me down from Harlem to the Brooklyn Bridge
Someone sleeps tonight with a hunger for more than an empty fridge
COMING TO THIS SONG’S RESCUE, a woman with a piano. A woman I have rejected time and again for her tiresome R&B genre, and yet now laud as a hero for fully developing the potential shimmering beneath the surface and straining to break out of this poor song. Between the lack of rapping and the more heartfelt verse lyrics, this is the clear winner. Endless thanks to muzzy_olorea for bringing it to my attention.
[List Extra: Glee Cast, “Empire State of Mind,” EDITED EPISODE VERSION ONLY – which I cannot find anywhere online. In the full version, the headache-inducing rap verses go on way too long before my ears get relief, but I adore its 2-minute form with the fun opening, the amusing way the rap verses are portioned out among the guys (slightly out of order), and the girls and their sweet-voiced chorus.]
74. Fol Chen – In Ruins
We can slip through the holes in the stories they told
Take a walk through the ash and the acid rain
Get past the first 7-10 growling seconds, and then dance wildly to the musical hook. Catchiest thing ever! More electronic than I usually take to, but CSI: NY can be very persuasive.
75. Robortom ft. Au Revoir Simone – Paganini Rocks
Changing borders, changing patterns
I can change ‘til you don’t matter
Held hostage by TPTB as a mystery song from the same episode, I stalked the internet for a month until someone finally dug it out. I am absolutely in love with the techno-y beat and hushed rush of crystalline-voiced lyrics. Even if the title makes no sense to anyone without a thorough grounding in classical music.
BREAK: Up next, a slew of instrumental selections from the “Doctor Who: Series 4: The Specials” soundtrack, featured in the random order I fell for them (we’ll be back to songs with lyrics, very briefly, at #84):
76. Murray Gold -- Vale (both versions)
The opening track and one near the end share a title, and are slightly different but equally pretty. The first one is just a minute, consisting of quiet, eerie choir vocals, but it’s the second I really love – that I flailed about at the end of Ten’s reign – which includes a beautifully high, pure soloist backed by mournful French Horn, which turns into an even more beautiful horn/flute duet backed by strings.
77. Vale Decem
I always wonder why I like this, given the heavy choir domination, until I stop paying attention to the playlist. Then I find myself whimpering as this one sneaks up to the 2:20 mark and triggers the heartbreaking memory of Ten’s last seconds.
78. A Victorian Christmas
Only 90 seconds long, and the last 30 of those devoted to silly chase music, but the first minute is full of just the brightest-sounding Christmas carols you’ve never heard.
It sounds like it would be something somber and pretty, so it’s always jarring when it instead comes out as a bright, exclamatory overture. But I quite like how all the instruments sound so happy; I imagine it must be the most fun band song in the world to play.
80. Letter to Earth
Another bit of the sad “Wild West” theme, with sad guitar twinges over a foreboding orchestral background.
81. The Fate of Little Adelaide
Absolute beauty in the orchestral strings, and about halfway through this gorgeous flute solo spills onto the scene, like – like starlight pouring down, and then an even prettier bell set and low brass take over. Every section gets in on this.
82. Altering Lives
Mournful viola. (Can two words possibly convey its beauty?)
83. By Water Borne
Not normally a fan of the creepy-music effects, but this horror theme achieves the creepiness without screechy-scratching (Midnight) to stab the eardrums. Admittedly, this just barely squeaked onto the list, and only as part of a matched set.
84. Linkin Park – Iridescent
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation?
You build up hope, but failure’s all you've known.
Remember how I was mortified by the inclusion of Blink-182 on my list? Yeah, now I’m even more so -- except once again, breaking convention. Not blaring in the slightest, but a perfectly calm, piano-laden melody with practically Groban-esque lyrics that are simultaneously heartbreaking and encouraging. afteriwake gets credit here. That said, if I ever find another artist covering this song, I’m editing this post and pretending I’ve never heard of the band.
85. Lady Gaga ft. Colby Donis – Just Dance (LOUD link, but I just could not take you to the awful music video)
Where are my keys, I lost my phone
Ugh. Just acknowledge it and move on.
First off, round 2 with the overpowering soundtrack, where through SUPREME effort (and to the detriment of almost all other music this month) I have listened at least a dozen times until I pared it down to the tracks that stand out best on their own. Songs with lyrics restart at #93.
86. Murray Gold -- A Ruined Gaol
Lovely woodwind solo (I want to say English Horn, but maybe it’s low oboe) to start it out, setting the scene for what sounds like a covert spy mission. Fun fact: the pronunciation and meaning of the last word are both “jail.” And here I’d been trying to picture some sort of Scottish dance.
87. The End Draws Near
Opens with a sad flute solo that reminds me of something bittersweet from Lord of the Rings, and keeps that mood throughout.
88. A Longing to Leave
78 seconds of an achingly haunting music box tune you do not want to miss.
89. A Lot of Life Behind Us
Back to the twangy guitar and images of a desolate expanse. Lots of tension in the end.
90. Dealing with the Menace [/Speeding to Earth]
Look, they’re 2:53 combined and there is almost literally no break in music in between; these count one song. And they contain some quite inspiring action music. Parts of it sound straight out of a military suite overture.
91. The Clouds Pass
The hero’s last stand. The melody feels like a callback to other themes, but at this point my brain is so saturated in Gold’s composing that I can barely tell treble clef from base. Bass. See?
92. Four Knocks
And lastly, the requisite soft, sad farewell strings/piano.
93. Miranda Cosgrove – Daydream
It would have been really stupid if I would have went out with you
To give you everything you wanted, it would have been way too soon
I carted a 90-second unfinished version of this by Avril Lavigne around for years, but this girl has finally made the song reality. And other than one lyric change (‘went out’ instead of ‘went home’ and YES, the bad grammar in that line hurts me), she sounds exactly like the original, too. This is the best day ever.
94. Glee Cast – Start Me Up/Livin On A Prayer
Tommy used to work on the docks
Union’s been on strike, he’s down on his luck
This song so badly just wants to be 100% Bon Jovi. The Start Me Up bits feel more like they just hacked off pieces of the real song and shoved them in. Still, a dozen listens and that goes away. Lea Michele & Amber Riley actually trade the lead off surprisingly well, despite their extremely different vocal strengths.
95. Glee Cast – Forget You
I pity the fool that falls in love with you
At first I just felt compelled to include anything with a mildly catchy beat from the sadly-lacking season 2, but turns out it grows on you. A lot. Almost as fast as a Chenoweth cover of “Last Name” -- Gwyneth Paltrow puts some fun attitude into it. I haven’t heard the original, but I imagine this version is a million times better just by virtue of being clean and sung by a woman. It’s much cuter and bouncier.
96. Glee Cast – Umbrella/Singing in the Rain
I’m laughing at clouds, so dark up above
It’s mostly the pieces of the second song that make this mashup brilliant. And I’ve never liked that song, but guess who’s in there with his voice, making magic (that’s right, Matthew Morrison). Even the Rihanna song is much less off-putting in the capable vocal cords of “anyone who is not Rihanna,” a role filled today by Gwyneth Paltrow. This mashup is just so full of JOY. I…think it is one of my favorite songs all year? If you listen to nothing else, I am going to have to recommend this one as a keeper.
97. Miranda Cosgrove – Shakespeare
Do you like Shakespeare, Jeff Buckley, watching movies on Sunday?
Sometimes a girl just wants a nice, cute, completely innocent teenage voice. Producing approximately the same joy that Hilary Duff did when she appeared on my music radar, I don’t quite have the time to fall for an entire album, but I couldn’t resist collecting one more song. It’s all a little generic, relying more on upbeat music than arresting lyrics, but the unique title demanded my attention.
98. Florence and the Machine – Dog Days Are Over
Leave all your love and your loving behind
You can’t carry it with you if you want to survive
I have a mental block that prevents me from loving this artist. All the right ingredients are there and her voice is perfectly nice, but we just don’t click. Something about her is just a touch too off-kilter? This song is really only here because it’s catchy and has happy, bouncy Glee associations but Mercedes’ part on the Glee version irritates me, and…well, I feel bad ignoring it altogether. Maybe it will blossom late.
99. Bonnie Piesse – All I Have
I’m longing for something that might never be
I’m not this useless, this isn’t me
Aw, my little Eric/Lux theme song; I get the sense that this will forever have super-powerful associations with both December 2010 and my shiny new obsession love therein. But, uh, since that won’t help you, let’s call this a pretty and fairly simple singer-songwriter piece.
100. Glee Cast – The Most Wonderful Day of the Year
We’re on the island of misfit toys
Here we don’t want to stay
It’s very important that you listen to the episode version. Not the album version. Album version is deeply inferior and replaces Dianna Agron’s cutesy voice and melodic trills, which is 50% of the reason this is so great, with Chris Colfer. That said, after a haunting opening, it’s an upbeat and quite precious bit of singsong novelty. I do not care if it’s barely 2 minutes. 2 is the new 4.
101. Glee Cast (Lea Michele) -- Merry Christmas, Darling
Oh, the lights on my tree, I wish you could see
I wish it every day
Falls into that twilighty zone between “not really a favorite” and “but certainly above average,” and I’m all about benefit of the doubt lately. My desire to love a Lea Michele solo has overridden what I would normally call a plodding melody and unremarkable lyrics to appreciate her pretty voice. It was this or ‘O Holy Night,’ and it would be hypocritical of me to include that when even Josh Groban can’t get me past how much I do not love that song.
102. Glee Cast – Welcome, Christmas
Christmastime will always be
Just as long as we have glee
STUNNING. I mean, it just blows all other Christmas songs away. Listen to the beginning and try not to get chills! I have never loved a song sung by a choir this much.
103. Glee Cast – God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Fear not, said the angel, let nothing you affright
This is my one of my favorite carols anyway, but the ladies of Glee do an absolutely beautiful job with it and bring a variety of unique harmonies, along with a diverse palette of voices.
104. Full Blown Rose – Somebody Help Me
I'm being haunted by a vision
It's like the morning never comes
Tru Calling theme song, and one of those rare times I love a song from the rock genre enough to overlook all the electric guitars. I’m crediting the fact that the lead singer is a woman.
BREAK: CDs “Speak Now” and “Illuminations” take over the rest.
You know what, screw it; it’s my list and it’s the end of the year and I don’t care how Future Me feels (protesting though she is that too many songs from one source increases likelihood no one will pay attention to any of them), my new CDs are going rogue. Forget the 50% limit. I’ve been listening to them and nothing else nonstop this week, and the fact that I can relegate any tracks to second tier (a/k/a off this list) is a straight-up miracle. Can I just put double stars by the songs I love best to make you pay attention?
[Edit: Only sporadic links to follow; do you know how hard it is to find decent-quality, non-pitch-shifted Taylor Swift songs on YouTube? Ugh. You are ruining everyone's experience, uploaders. If you can't do it properly, don't confuse new people with inferior samples]
105. Taylor Swift – Sparks Fly
My mind forgets to remind me you’re a bad idea
I like to think of this as the companion song to “Fearless.” I can’t really pick out any lyrics I love, but that is one catchy beat. (Spoiler alert, this excuse will become a theme.)
106. Taylor Swift – Back to December
The last time you saw me is still burned in the back of your mind
You gave me roses and I left them there to die
Con: It pushes Taylor Lautner’s unattractive face into my brain. Pro: it has a catchy rise and fall on the chorus, and I can spin its bittersweet nostalgia for my own purposes to remind me of my last month at college.
107. Taylor Swift – Speak Now
It seems that I was uninvited by your lovely bride-to-be
This is really kind of a terrible song about breaking up a wedding. And yet! She almost convinces you she has a good reason. Also, it’s weirdly catchy. The catchiness is pretty much the only reason it got on the list even though it couldn’t beat any of the borderline songs in a head-to-head on lyrics. I don’t even know why it’s catchy, because it couldn’t beat most of them on music either, but it refuses to budge from my top 7. …clearly this song’s terrible fantasy frustrates me more than suspected.
108. Taylor Swift – Mean**
Someday I’ll be big enough so you can’t hit me
And all you’re ever gonna be is mean
CLASSY SHAMING. Best. I must learn this art of expertly shooting down people who criticize me and coming out with my head held high. (Possibly this song is also a cautionary tale to Future Me, who might turn out washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things. I prefer to think of myself as the Taylor in this situation, though.)
109. Taylor Swift – Story of Us
I used to think one day we’d tell the story of us
How we met and the sparks flew instantly
And people would say “They’re the lucky ones.”
I don’t like the spoken parts, and I keep thinking I can knock it down a level, but I love all the lyrics about a relationship not ending happily ever after. Since most don’t, even though nobody assumes that when they first fall in love. Plus, driving melody.
110. Taylor Swift – Enchanted
Please don’t be in love with someone else
Please don’t have somebody waiting on you
Not initially on my radar due to its slow pace, it now has two independent reasons I love it: one, the above lyrics, and two, my decision to ignore who the song is actually about and pretend it’s Jake Gyllenhaal, thus creating a Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes: Non-Crazy Version story for myself.
111. Taylor Swift -- Better Than Revenge**
Sophistication isn’t what you wear or who you know
Or pushing people down to get you where you want to go
I don’t like the spoken parts here either, but even though this has a more juvenile edge than the rest of the CD, I find the many highly specific insults hilarious, and the driving pace makes this rather one of my more beloved tracks. Possibly because it takes me to an early Avril Lavigne place.
112. Taylor Swift – Haunted
He will try to take away my pain
And he just might make me smile
But the whole time I’m wishing he was you instead
I am just very much in love with the epic music & melody, especially on the chorus. It's becoming a distinct thorn in my side that there is nowhere for you to hear this. *kicks Overprotective Copyright Holders* Maybe when the CD is less brand-new? Come back to this post in 2012!
113. Taylor Swift – Long Live**
It was the end of a decade, but the start of an age
And this would be the counterpart to “Change.” A metaphorical love letter to her crew that also reads as a song about Homecoming/Prom, but inspiring and focused on underdogs, I am totally tearing up at the nostalgia and sentiment. MIRACULOUSLY, I have found you one perfect link, with complete lyrics in the description and everything.
Apparently YouTube is down on non-live performances from Groban, too. Fine. Officially released videos it is; I hope we all have some strong Adblock on.
114. Josh Groban – The Wandering Kind (Prelude)**
An extremely evocative instrumental. HONESTLY. IT IS SO MUCH PRETTIER THAN ANY OTHER INSTRUMENTALS ON THIS PAGE, PLEASE HEAR IT OUT. Depending on what instruments are taking center stage at a given time, it makes me think of both older Americana and various places in Europe.
115. Josh Groban – Bells of New York City**
It’s always this time of year that my thoughts undo me
With the ghosts of many lifetimes all abound
Try walking from that title. Don’t think so! Fortunately, it lives up to the promise. Haunting, beautiful, gives me chills, makes me wonder if New York City is perhaps a place of strange beauty rather than soulless emptiness; etc.
116. Josh Groban – Higher Window
I drew my line across the sand
And set my flag in no man’s land
I can almost count the instruments in this, it’s so stripped down, and lyrically it feels just kind of like a Hallmark love story, but…in practice, it’s soothing.
117. Josh Groban – If I Walk Away
Sailing into the misty air
Fading, bound for I don’t know where
When I’m there I’ll see
I am trying to figure out why this keeps catching me, and I think it just somehow bizarrely reminds me of Doctor Who, even though the companions tend to be the ones who walk away (or stay where they’re dropped). Maybe it will fit something else better; anyway, brilliant lyrics abound!
118. Josh Groban - Love Only Knows
Love only knows just how long we can run before we lose each other
And we need each other
[2018 edit: commentary later; I just rediscovered a hole in my list and I KNOW this song is supposed to be there.]
119. Josh Groban -- Você Existe Em Mim
The only foreign language track I didn’t, er, strongly dislike on this CD, so I am trying to believe its hype, because in all honesty it’s what comes closest to the epic and grandiose work of albums past. It does not speak to me like the Italian songs usually do, but I’m guessing it’s a late bloomer so I shouldn’t skip it. [edit: correct, Past Me, good work]
120. Josh Groban -- The War at Home**
Fallen brother, he’s a fallen husband
He’s about to be woken in his hospital bed
He doesn’t want to rest, he just wants to run
And he’s tired of being told he’s the lucky one
Again, the title and then the lyrics demand respect, and you just feel instantly inclined to give it, which leads to swift falling in love. STORYTELLING! Well, more like vignettes. Each verse is someone new, and together they make a deeply touching collage of emotion. Too bad there isn't a non-live version of this out there! I mean, the live version's beautiful, it's just lacking a lot of extra stuff from the album version. Don't fall in love with it. This means you, Self WHY ARE YOU HITTING REPLAY.
Whew! Nobody finished this, I'm sure. It's cool. The Music List is for me.