This year so far has been defined by ladies and country. Sometimes, country ladies.
1. Sara Evans – As If
Baby, let me believe that you’re perfect
At least for a little while
Sometimes fanvids make you love unexpected songs by association. I have somehow never heard of her, but this is just the sort of fun, catchy music that made my one summer with the country station at work bearable.
2. Brooke Waggoner – Wonder Dummied
Ask for the things you lack in heart
And you can begin a clean new start
Pretty Little Liars has the best soundtrack on TV. After despairing most of the month that I would ever be blown away by music again, this came at me with whisper-sweet vocals and a pretty piano melody. The abruptly fast-paced part in the middle appalled me at first, but now it’s my favorite section. What do I keep telling myself about giving Christian music a chance? ALWAYS DO IT.
3. Joshua Radin ft. Patty Griffin – You Got Growin’ Up To Do
I've been down this road before
I walk out the door, leave you on the floor
A stripped-down duet unlike what I normally go for, but Life Unexpected forced me to love it as another ship theme.
4. Leddra Chapman – Jocelin
So you flash a smile, how’s that working out?
You control everything and everyone around
Was it worth all the things you lost?
I wasn’t amazed by the second song of hers dollsome told me I should love, but since I wasn’t about to leave empty-handed, I went on an impromptu YouTube tour and was most intrigued by the girl’s name. Upon checking the lyrics, I went right over the OMG LOVE GIVE IT NOW edge. I am developing a weird boomerang pattern between country and female singer-songwriters here.
5. Brooke Waggoner – Fresh Pair of Eyes
I want to be seen with a fresh pair of eyes
A single white tree in a black hood of disguise**
Pretty Little Liars + Grey’s Anatomy endorsement of previously established artist = inarguable song win. Very few words amidst the gospel-choir-esque humming vocals, and unlike the last song of hers, it keeps that melancholy mood the whole way through. (**doesn't it seem like it should be "wood"? but the majority of the internet insists otherwise. It's bugging me.)
6. Ellie Goulding – Little Dreams
There are so many ways to lose your attention
You can break everything, but so what, I can take anything
Clearly, we could not rest until dollsome had scored a direct recommendation hit. Such a fun, energetic piece. And yes, there’s only one by her so far, because I haven’t heard the rest – I love this one so much that I get too overwhelmed by the potential to sit down and listen to them.
7. The Avett Brothers – Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise
When nothing is owed, deserved or expected
And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected
If you’re loved by someone you’re never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it
I never know what to call this genre, though I am always tempted to label it “Americana” for the Midwestern imagery it evokes. I feel like a sellout hipster for reccing something so outside my wheelhouse, but here we are. I actually like the ambling, repetitive chorus. And the music video is impressive in its simplicity.
8. Glee Cast (Chord Overstreet/Dianna Agron) – Lucky
They don’t know how long it takes
Waiting for a love like this
Hey look, it’s another instance of Glee awesome-washing something I’ve never appreciated (for lack of singer chemistry). I cannot resist the charms of Dianna’s pretty, pretty voice, and as a bonus, it's finally made me look forward to the original version coming on the radio so I can sing along.
9. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Amber Riley) – Take Me Or Leave Me
Ever since puberty, everybody stares at me
Boys, girls, I can't help it, baby
Despite the fact that I still chastise myself for previous inclusions of Glee covers on songs I'd already loved for years, I just…love this so very much that it started off as my favorite of the Glee bunch here, and I think there is just enough change to make it as unique as the last time Lea Michele dueted on a song from a beloved musical (Les Mis. I said beloved musical).
10. Glee Cast – Sing
You’ve got to make a choice if the music drowns you out
And raise your voice every single time they try and shut your mouth
Here is where Glee's cover skills completely blew me away. The My Chemical Romance version has some exceptionally terrible voices and is little more than a big ball of whining. But with the temperance of quality and/or female voices in the mix, it turns into an inspiring high school choir power ballad. Or anthem, as was the episode theme where this number was supposed to be the high point.
11. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Lea Michele) – Don’t You Want Me
I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar
That much is true
Pretty voices! Together! On an easy-listening 80s song! It worked for Total Eclipse of the Heart and it’s working here, albeit on a slightly less powerful level than that masterpiece. [2012 edit: shut your mouth! this is amazing and better]
12. Shannon LaBrie – Calls Me Home
Back in the day, when I was younger
I was so lost and proud
I gained the world but it will never compare to what I’ve learned
In the quiet moments when the earth holds still
muzzy_olorea gets all the credit in the world for handing this to me out of nowhere, because it is IDEAL RS MUSIC. It pairs up well with Alva Leigh’s song, actually (Calling Me), like a before-n-after.
13. Sierra Hull – Easy Come, Easy Go
Yesterday morning I drove by your place
Reached for my cheek, no tears on my face
'Cause I'm not that girl anymore
A unique voice - I always love people who stick to a basic range I can actually sing along with - with lyrics that caught me from the first second and never let me go. (edit: holy cow, this song is brand new! I never jump on brand new music. Thank you, free 24-hour country music TV station.)
14. Pink – Raise Your Glass
So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways
All my underdogs
Both of my radio stations play it approximately 15 times a day, so while my immediate reaction was that it was nice but not particularly arresting, especially as the spoken parts grated on my nerves, it wore me down. By anyone else, these lyrics would be so pointless as to earn mere disdain, but Pink has established artist cred in this library so she gets a pass on dance tracks. Although: am I the only one who sees the irony of her releasing this after Sober?
[Edit: 14b. The Warblers – Raise Your Glass
So if you’re too school for cool, and you’re treated like a fool
You can choose to let it go
*sigh* Fine, they get credit too. Stupid Darren Criss and the stupid awesome episode performance. Sorry about the five obnoxious seconds of Kurt you have to endure at the start of this video, Future Me. And the fact that the image is flipped; will seek replacement later]
15. Glee Cast (Lea Michele) – Get It Right
What can you do when your good isn't good enough
And all that you touch tumbles down?
Like there is a way to fail at a song written just for Rachel, pretty female soloist and sad/lonely girl epitome. (well, technically there are several ways, but not when you’re actually trying)
16. Glee Cast – Loser Like Me
Push me up against a locker
And hey, all I do is shake it off
I’ll get you back when I’m your boss
Despite prominent AutoTune interference and a SUPER annoying chant segment with bad grammar that convinces me I in fact do not want to be a loser like them, the beat is crazy-catchy and I fell in love with the inspiring competition performance before I found out about the chant. Besides, most of it has a nice, solid bubblegum pop flavor I’ve been craving.
17. Yael Naim - Far Far
Far far, there's this little girl
She was praying for something to happen to her
Every day she writes words and more words
Just to speak out the thoughts that keep floating inside
If I watched entire episodes of Pretty Little Liars, I suspect there would be 30 more songs on here, because every time I turn around lyrics fly out at me. Like the first two bars of this, which demanded my attention, and then the second two defined my life, and by this point nothing else about the song matters: it owns my heart.
18. Lia Ices – Little Marriage
Something smaller keeps us in tow
Moody music to go along with Brooke Waggoner, except with lyrics in such a high register that they’re all but indistinguishable, lending an extra mysterious and kind of mystical quality. I kept thinking of fairies the first time I heard it, and I can’t shake the feeling of Celtic music even though there’s really nothing Celtic about it at all. It does have a music box interlude, though.
19. Grey's Anatomy Cast - How To Save A Life
As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you've followed
(What the hell, how did this move from "not on my radar" to "list extra" to "on the list" in the space of two hours on the last day of the quarter?)
The opening lines are a horrific assault on the ears, there's no getting around that, but after that it calms down and actually turns into something fairly pretty, using all kinds of cast member voices (mainly female). It's maybe not so much the quality of the song itself as the symbolism I like -- the original is kind of this show's anthem, and having them truly make it their own is priceless.