Apparently in addition to great movies, 2012 will be the year where I love every song there is, just massive piles of music all up in here. Most of it Glee. There are actually even more Glee tracks I've dumped into my library than are on this list, as I tried to cull a few that were more “easy listening as part of a set” than ones I wanted to play on loop alone. ...it bothers me that I did not include #47 in the cull pile.
Oh, which reminds me, remember how last year there were only 75 songs for the whole year? So far my list this year has 58. Yes, this is a record, and only partly because I bent rules about CD limits. Have fun with that.
I will once again be linking to YouTube, because although box.net recently got wise and optioned a "disable downloading" feature which I have wanted it to do for years...now I am too conditioned to laziness. Also I am paranoid about all the wacky new anti-piracy laws flying around legislation and feel I'm better safe than sorry, since I want this post available to entertain random strangers. Hush, I need to believe those random strangers exist and run across my blog.
And keep in mind that I write this post throughout the year as I add songs to it, so occasionally the commentary becomes out of date but I'm too attached to delete it, necessitating edits.
1. Lana del Rey – Video Games
They say that the world was built for two
Only worth living if somebody is loving you
Were it not for the obvious anachronism in the title, you would swear you were listening to a record straight out of the 1960s. The style and sound mixing on this is incredible, to say nothing of the video.
FUN FACT: I found this while cleaning out my bookmarks, saved in early autumn, and have literally no memory of watching it or hearing about her before then. Which, incidentally, was a solid 8 days before her SNL performance and everybody started talking about her. I am still grumpy about the fact that my quiet little discovery blew up into a internet-wide media storm.
2. Pilatus: Mountain of the Dragons (symphonic band, composed by Steven Reineke)
(I lost the information for who actually recorded this; the only info I have is "Purple CD," so I uploaded my copy to play here.)
About 5 years ago, I made a request for people to recommend new band music for me. One person sent me a giant folder full of recordings, but right about then I got bored with band music and never listened to them (10 minute songs, what are those!). I finally got around to trying this one, with its alluring title, and from the moment the lonely and somewhat Oriental-sounding saxophone solo starts out and begins passing the melody around, it draws you in, eventually building to an epic flourish.
3. Glee Cast – We Found Love
We found love in a hopeless place
Just repetitive and synthesized enough to be addictive. And I was so hoping Glee wouldn't earn any spots until February... [edit: I made this statement on Jan. 15. In retrospect, this is hilarious.]
4. Hey Monday – Candles
4b. Glee Cast (Warblers) cover
Blow the candles out
Looks like a solo tonight
But I think I'll be all right
The Glee duet is lovely (and I've grown addicted to singing along with the harmony), but this is a girl's solo at heart, even with its raw and unpolished sound. Musically and lyrically appealing, this is the sort of stuff that ruled my world before Glee showed up.
5. Secondhand Serenade – Your Call
I was born to tell you I love you
Since I found it by way of "If I Die Young," I assumed I would be tormented from now until the the end of days unless it was performed by Kurt and/or Blaine, but I think I've listened enough times now to enjoy its sad melody on its own. Talk about the most emo CD ever, though. I couldn't even believe the list of titles when I checked it out for this track. (which seems, obnoxiously, to be slightly different from all the YouTube versions I have found -- YouTube is better)
6. Wicked Cast – For Good
6b. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Chris Colfer) cover
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have rewritten mine by being my friend
Oh hey, remember this song I meant to fall in love with but then immediately forgot to look up and finish listening to? This is such a gorgeous, bittersweet and heart-bruising number. Glee cover is mostly on there out of loyalty because I like Colfer's contributions, but I am firmly Team Original Ladies this time.
[edit: aw, I was so happy with this one when I added it, and now I'm just sad it's separated from all its buddies at the bottom.]
NOTICE OF INTENT TO SONG DUMP: The following 10 tracks are the result of a completely rule-disregarding CD binge. They're sort of out of time and space. I feel weird bringing back songs I've deliberately bypassed once as not good enough, but apparently I've done it before...it's just usually only one or two at a time.
7. Glee Cast (Warblers) - Silly Love Songs
You'd think that people would have had enough of silly love songs
But I look around me and I see it isn't so
Aww, this might be the classiest thing the Warblers have ever done. I'm so sorry I dismissed it out of hand for no particular reason, because it's just upbeat cheeriness, as the title suggests. I dare you not to smile, Past Me.
8. Glee Cast (Warblers) - Hey Soul Sister
The way you can cut a rug
Watching you is the only drug I need
True story: this went from being my mortal enemy to being a light, peppy and carefree mood-enhancer on the power of one damn lead voice. Ukelele and all.
9. Glee Cast – You Can't Stop The Beat
You can't stop the motion of the ocean or the rain from above
You can try to stop the paradise we're dreaming of
But you cannot stop the rhythm of two hearts in love to stay
The two styles sound jarring at first – a slow, pretty solo launching abruptly into a fast-paced group number – but eventually they blend together to showcase the best of both worlds. My feelings may be influenced by the fact that I used the CD as my alarm for about three weeks straight and got used to having this rouse me from sleep, but on the other hand, it was very effective in making me want to face the day. Good vibes!
10. Glee Cast (Darren Criss) - It's Not Unusual
Love will never do what you want it to
And in case the first song didn't do the trick, track #2 did. I have always strongly disliked the awful jazz nature of this song, but with him it just sounds fun. I may have been influenced by excessive repeats of the performance, but I like to believe it's the power of vocal performance and rose-colored hearing aids alone.
11. Glee Cast (Darren Criss) - Last Friday Night
That was such an epic fail
^ Pretty much sums it up. This song is terrible. It is ridiculously, ridiculously terrible. But much like the above, when Blaine sings it, there's just so much innocent enthusiasm that I don't even care at all.
12. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Lea Michele) - Tonight
The world is wild and bright
Going mad, shooting sparks into space
I no longer remember any feelings I had about the original version of this now that my two favorite voices ever are singing it. I know this one took me a while to embrace, and only the fact that it was on the CD pushed me along, but there are some noticeably pretty lyrics and harmonies in this. Rich and warm.
13. Glee Cast (Naya Rivera/Idina Menzel/Chris Colfer) - Constant Craving
Maybe a great magnet pulls all souls towards truth
Or maybe it is life itself
Leads wisdom to its youth
The music started it, grabbing my ear from the opening note, and the vocal cameos by the latter two names above sealed the deal.
14. Glee Cast - ABC
Reading, writing, arithmetic
Are the branches on the learning tree
It just makes me so HAPPY, and it's a great use of vocal diversity, using all kinds of rarely-featured voices.
15. Glee Cast - Control
When I was 17, I did what people told me
I did what my father said, and let my mother mold me
Still dislike the spoken-word intro, but I think you've seen the theme of “Darren Criss sings stuff, I am helpless” in action by now, and since it was sandwiched between two other great Jackson covers anyway...
16. Glee Cast - Man in the Mirror
A willow deeply scarred
Somebody's broken heart
And a washed out dream
I distinctly recall being bored to tears every time this has been covered on American Idol, but I like how all the guys trade off on solo verses. Manages to give it more depth. Or maybe it just gives me happy flashbacks to the inspiring end of their best competition ever; it's hard to separate the music from its context sometimes.
BACK TO NEW STUFF. Ooh, I like how we stick to a Jackson theme; that is excellent coincidence.
17. Glee Cast (ft. Darren Criss) - Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'
By the time this hit the streets
They said she had a breakdown
His voice. The end. (Dancing to this forever)
18. Glee Cast (Grant Gustin/Naya Rivera)/2cellos* – Smooth Criminal
He came into your apartment
He left the bloodstains on the carpet
The real stars of this song are the Duelin' Cellos, but the whole fast-paced melody is ridiculously catchy. I end up singing “Annie, are you okay?” for hours. One of my favorite songs of the year, not just of Glee but of everything.
*no, that is their actual group name
19. Glee Cast – Bad
You're throwin' stones to hide your hands
Another almost-as-fun dance number.
20. Gotye ft. Kimbra – Somebody That I Used To Know
You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
We can credit/blame this one on foreverwriting9. I am an instant sucker for xylophone. Add a bunch of other fun instrumental sound effects, and then the gorgeous female voice comes in at the end and blows me away. New favorite breakup song, right here.
[*Edit: Hot damn, that's happening. Not the way I want it to, though, apparently. Do not let me put the Glee cover on here, ever.]
[Double edit: Hahahaha, so apparently this is the most popular song ever. World! Stop introducing me to all the hip stuff, it's weird being current. On that note, please listen to the CD version here and not the odd Top 40 radio remix. Also, I'm not sure I have conveyed enough over the past couple of weeks just how ridiculously much I love this song, right up there with Video Games. It is impossible to get sick of them, and believe me, I've been trying my best.]
21. Jennifer Lopez ft. Pitbull – Ven a Bailar
Oh, look at that. Glee's horrible Spanish episode backfires and drives me off to find acceptable substitutes, which in turn drives me into loving the full version of something that had previously caught my ear only as a sexy Pasha 'So You Think You Can Dance' tango. It's best when her voice floats lyrically over everything and Pitbull keeps his yapper shut, but...I'm addicted now. As long as I don't try to translate the lyrics. That is a mistake.
22. Amy Adams – Happy Working Song
You can do a lot when you have such a happy working tune to hum
As much as I love “Enchanted,” I've never actually paid that much attention to the soundtrack. Now it is List-worthy. This aptly-titled song got me through at least a week of survey edits.
23. Amy Adams – That's How You Know
He'll find his own way to tell you
With the little things he'll do
I honestly don't see how this lost its Oscar nomination. There's just too much joy to not win awards. (although the CD version's beginning does sound sort of empty without Robert injecting grumpy skepticism)
24. Carrie Underwood - Ever Ever After
Start a new fashion, wear your heart on your sleeve
Sometimes you reach what's real just by making believe
I THOUGHT there was something especially attractive about the closing credits on this movie...aw, anthems to believing in fairy tale love, such a nice change from blog posts hating on rom-coms for being unrealistic.
ALERT: We are entering another 6-7 song Wayback Zone of old Glee numbers.
25. Glee Cast (Matthew Morrison/Kristin Chenoweth) - One Less Bell To Answer/A House Is Not a Home
I only know that since he left, my life's so empty
Though I try to forget it, just can't be done
Each time the doorbell rings I still run
Apparently this song was already mashed up prior to Glee, so I can't blame them for the irrelevant second song. But at least it's just a tacked-on verse at the end and the main song is nice and angsty. Featuring favorite voices of mine. “Broadway sound” would not normally be a compliment, but today and for this specific song it is, as she turns in a powerhouse vocal performance and he does good work opposite that.
26. Glee Cast (Chris Colfer) - I Wanna Hold Your Hand
And please say to me
You'll let me hold your hand
The gorgeously slow and emotion-laden version. (note: am spelling the title per the official CD, which seems to clash with the original)
27. Glee Cast (Mark Salling/Kevin McHale) - One Love (People Get Ready)
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own
At this point I have no idea what I'm doing, I just heard this chill reggae sound with oddly religious lyrics and...enjoyed it a lot. On another note: I suddenly feel like there should be more Bob Marley in my repertoire.
28. Glee Cast - Marry You
Who cares if we're trashed
Got a pocketful of cash we can blow
Just to be clear, this song is incredibly awful. It is about running off to get married while drunk, fully cognizant of what a terrible idea this is. But Dianna Agron has such a pretty, angelic voice that her parts soften the idiocy of the whole thing.
29. Glee Cast - She's Not There
Well no one told me about her
The way she lied
One of many Beatles songs I did not know beforehand, it is so snappy and upbeat. I wish it wasn't such a short version, though. What are you trying to do, drive me to the original?
30. Glee Cast (Mark Salling/Lea Michele) - Need You Now
And I wonder if I ever cross your mind
For me it happens all the time
The theme of terrible lyrics continues! Seeing as this one is all about the drunken 1:15 AM booty call. But even though I've heard the original on the radio and consistently rejected it for distastefulness and/or boredom, the voices together here are gorgeous.
[LIST EXTRA: 2009, #81c: Defying Gravity, Lea Michele/Chris Colfer version
Some things I cannot change, but 'til I try I'll never know
Just because I need to officially add this version, seeing as I couldn't stand it then but now I like his part and their harmonies so much that it beats out the Lea solo I formerly worshiped.]
BACK TO CURRENT THINGS. Sometimes mixed with older things.
31. Glee Cast - Stereo Hearts
My heart's a stereo
It beats for you so listen close
Hear my thoughts in every note
OK, so the rapping part is pretty horrifying the first five or so times you hear it. But I kept coming back for the non-Chord singers, until I was thoroughly addicted to everything. Stupid “white guys rapping” weakness.
32. Glee Cast - Cherish/Cherish
Cherish is the word I use to remind me of your love
I've never heard of either original in this apparent mashup, and it's not especially exciting lyrically or musically except for the background chimes, but while Amber Riley does not bring a lot to the table I love 75% of the voices in this to death. It's enough to tip the scales.
33. Glee Cast – Love Shack
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about 20
So hurry up and bring your jukebox money
Because I felt like it was important to clarify that, despite how much more I love and have always loved the original for its cheesiness and excellent ability to dance the Electric Slide to, I have grown excessively fond of particular characters' vocal inflections here. This probably will not be the experience you have on first listen.
34. Adele – Someone Like You
I heard that you settled down
That you found a girl and you're married now
OK, so when I deemed it boring and unworthy of awards, I had never...actually heard it in full. (crap, no one will ever take my musical hate seriously now) It more or less tells a story, all bittersweet and reflective. And most importantly she sings quietly and restrains herself, which is all I have ever asked from her. The way her voice rolls out on the title phrase is lovely, as is the piano that opens it.
35. Glee Cast (Gwyneth Paltrow) – Turning Tables
Close enough to start a war
Work with me, I'm doing something here. This one rooted me in place the first time I actually listened to it, as opposed to skipping it in context. I also liked it considerably better than Adele's version – cleaner, smoother, not as throaty – so here it is. The piano work is still lovely.
36. Glee Cast (Gwyneth Paltrow/unimportant background vocalists) - Landslide
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
I fought this so hard on principle, but then Stevie Nicks herself showed up on the Glee season 2 DVDs and praised it to kingdom come, and I immediately shut up and listened to my namesake/idol/queen.
37. Glee Cast (Darren Criss) – Cough Syrup
A dark world aches for a splash of sun
The lyrics as a whole are insufferably stupid and nonsensical, much like the title suggests. Fortunately, we are not here for the lyrics. Or the music, really. He sings stuff, we show up. His talent lies in making Generic Music From A Band sound good.
38. Glee Cast (Warblers) – Glad You Came
The sun goes down, the stars come out
And all that counts is here and now
Catchy tune. Very catchy. That's all there is to it. (There's not much to distinguish it from the original, actually, but I'm stubborn and sticking with Grant Gustin's lead because I feel like on the radio alone, I would not have cared)
39. Glee Cast (ft. Lea Michele) – Here's To Us
And everything could change like that
And all these years go by so fast
But nothing lasts forever
A pretty voice and lump-in-your-throat lyrics, Glee has thoughtfully cleaned up that nasty piece of work Haelstrom released in order to let the song's potential burst forth unsullied by vulgarity.
40. James Morrison ft. Nelly Furtado – Broken Strings
What are we doing?
We are turning into dust
Playing house in the ruins of us
I honestly don't know if I love it, or if I was just blinded by coincidence when I saw it at the library two days after Tumblr informed me it was clearly Owen & Cristina's theme song for season 8. Pretty sure it's the latter. It has only the weakest grip on my ear, and yet my finger keeps finding its way to the repeat button.
41. Glee Cast (Chris Colfer) - As If We Never Said Goodbye
I don't want to be alone
That's all in the past
This may or may not bring me to tears every other time I hear it.
42. Glee Cast (Chris Colfer) - Rose's Turn [although really, so short w/ so many changes it's just Kurt's Turn]
And if it wasn't for me
Then where would you be
Miss Rachel Berry?
And I may or may not be on a mission to round up all the songs of his I have scorned over the years. Some of them still qualify for my wrath, but curiously, although I laughed this out of sight on original airing, I have since grown excessively fond of his lower register and bitter shouting.
43. Glee Cast - I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance
He don't suspect a thing
I wish he'd get a clue
Work around the bizarre gender-bending in the first line that comes with a guy singing a lesbian's song, and you will find a highly entertaining dance number. I especially love the girls' backup chorus.
44. Glee Cast (girls) - Express Yourself
And when you're gone he might regret it
Think about the love he once had
I didn't even know this existed until I checked out the Madonna episode's EP. I don't think I even know the original song. But I'm pretty sure that Madonna does not sound as good as 5 unique and generally better voices trading off confident lines and verses as they do here.
45. Glee Cast (Cory Monteith/Lea Michele) - Borderline/Open Your Heart
When you hold me in your arms, you'll love me 'til I just can't see
So you choose to look the other way
Well, I've got something to say
Same deal here, which turned into a delightful reminder that as much as these two fail at romantic chemistry, they are constantly doing surprising things with duets. Awesome harmonies.
46. Glee Cast (Warblers) – Animal
Here we go again
I kinda wanna be more than friends
FINE. I finally agreed to disable my grudge against the song after I heard Chris Colfer get an established duet with our regular lead...probably because Darren Criss praised it in an interview somewhere and I am highly suggestible like that. (p.s. ugh, aside from what I picked out, this is like the fifteenth song on my list with lyrics that are the dumbest!)
47. Glee Cast (Warblers) – Teenage Dream
Now every February, you'll be my valentine
I NO LONGER UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING. (or, “I have evidently shut off my brain and decided to just enjoy the smooth sound like a foreign language”)
48. Glee Cast - Bad Romance
J'ai ton amour et je veux ton revenge
Seriously. I don't even know what's wrong with me now. I love every second of this? But especially the part that's always been my favorite, the nonsensical opening, and the French bits. I think I just like that this is a 2-for-1 on Stuff That Is Newly Relevant To My Glee Music Interests, between Colfer and a number where all the girls get near-equal parts.
49. Christina Perri – A Thousand Years
I have died every day waiting for you
As of March 24: I've listened to the radio twice so far this year, and both times I heard these pretty lyrics by a recognizable voice, certain it was one in my collection but no idea who. I am not at all surprised (but am very pleased) by who it turned out to be. It doesn't blow me away, but it's one of those ballads that will settle in and blossom later, I'm sure of it. Also, there are Amy/Rory videos set to this, right?
[edit: oh, gross, did not realize the official video was all mixed up in Twilight garbage. I tell you, I live in a musical bubble most of the time. Let me just fix that, and thank goodness I already came up with a better context for my brain.]
And then the Wicked soundtrack showed up in my life. Where I want it noted for the record that there are no bad songs, and I spent five days straight listening to nothing but this CD, agonizing over which tracks I loved best so I could give them a proper feature spotlight. I managed to cut it down almost to the top half. Please do not be offended if I skipped one of your faves.
50. No One Mourns the Wicked
No one mourns the wicked
No one cries, "They won't return."
No one lays a lily on their grave
This is one of those numbers that makes me think that being part of the chorus/ensemble is the best role to have in this piece. (insufficient opening commentary is insufficient) Heavy stuff.
51. The Wizard and I
Once you're with the Wizard
No one thinks you're strange
No father is not proud of you
No sister acts ashamed
I don't know why this one appeals to me, but it was one of the first from act 1 I cleared for inclusion on the list. Takes a bit to get going, but once Elphaba's part kicks in, the melody grabbed my ear...and its sheer amount of optimism is an appealing rarity.
52. Dancing Through Life
I know why
It's because I'm in this chair
And you felt sorry for me
Went back and forth on this one, because who needs the dudes in this show!, but ultimately it got stuck in my head enough times to reel me in. There are a whole lot of separate parts in this one, and not all of them are equal quality, but the title phrase is the catchiest part of the melody, and any lines sung or spoken by the girls are what I'm really here for.
It's not about aptitude, it's the way you're viewed
The bubble-gum pop sound immediately appealed to me -- first song to make the cut after I played the CD. It's also a showcase of Kristin Chenoweth's cutesy half-spoken parts at their finest (see also, "Last Name").
54. I'm Not That Girl
Don't dream too far
Don't lose sight of who you are
54b. I'm Not That Girl (Reprise) [*is sneaky like that*]
Don't wish, don't start
Wishing only wounds the heart
I wish I had had this while I was in school, when I still had feelings about real people, as I would have whipped it out every time I felt the slightest bit of loneliness to induce an endless self-pitying tear binge. It is the "On My Own" of Wicked, basically. I love that it even comes in two versions, for maximum pain. Second favorite in this batch.
55. One Short Day
I want to be in this hoi polloi
So I'll be back for good someday
To make my life and make my way
But for today we'll wander and enjoy
I keep trying to push this one off the list, and it keeps irrepressibly coming back, stronger each time, to insist that I respect its boundless enthusiasm. A notch above Dancing Through Life, I think.
56. Thank Goodness
Because happy is what happens
When all your dreams come true
Heartbreak, subtle version! So much going on in this track, from the chilling chorus opening (second favorite part) to the instrumental accents when various guests chime in rumours about the witch, but it all comes back to Glinda's little asides.
57. As Long As You're Mine
Somehow I've fallen under your spell
And somehow I'm feeling it's up that I fell
That is some epic opening music. The choruses teeter on the verge of succumbing to Bland Romantic Ballad syndrome, but the piano chords and the way the start of each verse builds up always gives it fresh life every time I challenge it. Plus it was the second one that really grabbed my attention the first time around.
58. No Good Deed
One question haunts and hurts
Too much, too much to mention
Was I really seeking good
Or just seeking attention?
I'm going to call this my third favorite on the CD, and the best of this batch, if only for the fact that I have to fight tears every other time I listen to it. Not to mention even more epic music from start to finish.
NO, BUT THIS POST ISN'T LONG ENOUGH, SO:
I spent the first two months of the year rounding up purchase-worthy CDs, and thus before we go there clearly needs to be a quick Future Purchases Primer since I didn't find anything good whatsoever in 2011. In no particular order:
-13 Going On 30 soundtrack (featuring a selection of excellent classics 80s songs)
-Kasey Casem Presents: America's Top Ten [Twenty] Hits - 1980s (In case you didn't get enough above. I came for Love Shack, and found a whole bunch of great things. Despite title, it's a compilation of the original songs)
-Wicked: A New Musical, Original Broadway Cast
-Glee: The Music, Volume 1 (nostalgia!)
-Glee: The Music presents The Warblers (flawless perfection save for the last number or two)
-Glee: The Music, Volume 7 (lone track failures: Hot For Teacher and the funeral dirge version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun)
[noted: all of the Glee soundtracks are viable, other than the Rocky Horror EP whose existence I don't acknowledge, but Volume 7 and The Warblers hold the very top spots in my heart -- maybe because they're the ones I checked out first, maybe because they're the first ones where I hadn't already bought half the songs and so I got to fall in love with them as they were presented to me.]
UP NEXT: I'm going to spend the entirety of April brainwashed by radio and trying frantically to determine what I love versus what I simply acclimate to in order to preserve my sanity. Look forward to spoilers along the way, since you don't get the official release until July 1.
My list is like television upfronts: you hear about half the stuff early, but I still like to build hype and have a ~Dramatic Reveal~ at the agreed-upon end date.