Basically: these are the songs I've fallen hard in love with for the first time this year, regardless of how old they actually are. I'm trying (or was) to be pickier both about what I'll listen to and what qualifies as “love,” but the one constant is that Glee covers always dominate, and I imagine will continue to do so until it goes off the air. I keep a working document on the computer at all times and publish it once a quarter.
FEEL FREE TO TALK AT ME ABOUT THE SONGS YOU RECOGNIZE/LOVE. That is my favorite activity.
Now that I know Spotify imposes listening limits on its free users, though, I've given up the dream of finding any site that actually has everything and will let me create a working playlist, and am just individually linking to YouTube again. The specific videos chosen are usually not relevant unless I say so.
1. The Shins – New Slang
Gold teeth and a curse for this town
Were all in my mouth
Only I don't know how they got out
Yeah, I still don't know what happened here. It eclipsed the Scrubs soundtrack and captured me forever. The introductory music was just a cut above, and the whole laid-back vibe with tambourine beat is so addictive. I'm finally a person with The Shins in her music library, 7-9 years after everyone else.
2. Where Is My Mind (“Rockabye Baby” lullaby version of the Pixies song)
If I'm not careful, I am going to get totally addicted to this “music for babies” stuff, because this percussion ensemble arrangement is nothing short of amazing. You have to listen to it. PLAY IT NOW. Don't make me link you to the creepy human marionette ballet to appreciate it!
3. James Morrison - Undiscovered
You think that I want to run and hide
That I keep it all locked up inside
But I just want you to find me
Or, one might say, "lately discovered." Nostalgia rush back to Eric/Lux, Life Unexpected – this played during their wedding-crashing montage. Never loved it like I do now.
4. Gareth Dunlop - Tangled Up
Thought a lot about you today
Why I did, I can’t exactly say
But you kept creeping in like a silent wind
Through the cracks in the walls of my heart
And this one played after Lux's I Choose You speech. It is absolutely a sense-memory that makes me love it so.
5. Glee Cast – This Is The New Year
Say everything you've always wanted
Be not afraid of who you really are
Like there is ever going to be a month without a Glee song (though I was starting to get worried there). Wonderful, uplifting, giant group number where almost everyone in the club gets a line.
6. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Naya Rivera/Dianna Agron) - Love Song
Convinced me to please you
Made me think that I need this too
All my ladies get it up.
(or, “I always thought this song was kind of dull, despite its fantastic lyrics, but how can I resist such a happy, youthful, upbeat trio? Answer, I can't. Glee: magically fixing music since 2009.”)
[LIST EXTRA: Honorable mention here for the Glee Cast version of “Torn,” which I loved but cannot in good conscience allow to compete with the original, even as a gorgeous Lea Michele duet with herself.]
7. Glee Cast (ft. Alex Newell/Heather Morris/Jenna Ushkowitz) – Diva
I know you read the paper, the one that they call a queen
Every radio 'round the world knows me 'cause that's where I be
OH MY GOD, I DON'T EVEN CARE WHO THESE VOICES BELONG TO, I AM RIDICULOUSLY OBSESSED WITH THIS NONSENSE. Not only does it blow the original out of the water in terms of dance music, but when it comes to powerhouse vocals, by comparison it's like Beyonce didn't even try at all.
8. Glee Cast (Chord Overstreet/Darren Criss) – Heroes
We can be heroes, just for one day
Solely because this vocal pairing makes both my ears and my heart happy, despite how terribly slow it is to start.
Couldn't resist, mate.
9. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire
Watch her as she's lighting up the night
Nobody knows that she's a lonely girl
And it's a lonely world
It is 100% about the lyrics here.
10. Marina and the Diamonds – How To Be A Heartbreaker
Rule #3: wear your heart on your cheek
But never on your sleeve
Unless you want to taste defeat
Definitely the best song I've heard so far this year! With one play, I was completely obsessed. She sounds awesome and this is ideal RS dance music. Plus, she's terrifically cute and coy in the video.
11. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Chris Colfer) – Just Can't Get Enough
Just like a rainbow, you know you set me free
The Depeche Mode one (even though I always think Black Eyed Peas when I see it), which means it's full of kicky 80s techno sound and SO MUCH FUN to dance to.
12. Smash Cast (Megan Hilty) - Dancing on My Own
I just came to say goodbye
Oops. I usually like to save my Smash music for a summer soundtrack, but this one wriggled in early when I made the mistake of playing it again on YouTube. Always so good on the broken-girl tracks, Ivy. [edit: oh, man! Apparently the original is some sort of techno dance track; I assure you this is slow, emotional, and piano-based.]
13. Glee Cast (Jenna Ushkowitz) – Hung Up
Time goes by so slowly for those who wait
Glee always does so well with Madonna tracks. It's unfair. Bonus, best solo she has ever had. Love the trilling intro best of all.
14. Glee Cast (ft. Melissa Benoist/Jacob Artist/Kevin McHale) – Anything Could Happen
Cover your eyes
So you don't know the secret
I've been trying to hide
Somebody ought to have informed me it was originally Ellie Goulding, which I bet I would have loved, but meh too late now! Now I will accept only smooth Glee studio vocals. I've been waiting so long for Melissa to get something decent thrown her way again, and even though it's not a solo, she gets the lion's share of the vocals and they are lovely. The guys actually don't sound bad, either. This is not a surprise from Kevin, but sure is from the other guy.
March (“WHAT IS MUSIC THAT DOESN'T COME FROM TV, I FORGOT" --> The Universe: "I'll remind you on March 30th.")
15. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Chris Colfer) - Come What May
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you, until the end of time
Because you can't argue the power of 10,000 fangirls. This is actually the only version I've ever heard*, out of laziness, but the music sounds epic. It sank into my brain slowly, but oh, the deep roots it took and how my heart now thrills.
*I assume dollsome is rent with woe and grief upon reading these words
16. Glee Cast (ft. Matthew Morrison) - In Your Eyes
Days pass and this emptiness fills my heart
I probably like the original version; Peter Gabriel's pretty cool and all, but it's not in my library and consarn it, it has been so depressingly long since Morrison sang anything good. If #14 got in here despite my uncertainty, we're going to let him have an epic song with cool haunting vocals as his own.
[edit: lol what do you mean "uncertainty on #14," that song is amazing now, Past Me!]
17. Glee Cast (ft. Cory Monteith/Matthew Morrison) – Bye Bye Bye/I Want It That Way
Just another player in your game for two
Welcome to the first-ever instance of Glee taking two great songs (as opposed to one great and one average at best) and combining them to form one super-awesome song. Everyone's voices are just delicious.
18. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Jane Lynch) – I Still Believe/Super Bass
And he ill, he real, he might gotta deal
He pop bottles and he got the right kind of bill
[RS: are these actually the words? I don't even know. The phrase "pelican fly" is in there somewhere; this dialect clearly does not endorse logic.]
Have I been listening to various Nicki Minaj versions of the latter? Maybe, because I want it to be longer – it's really catchy! But maybe I don't like either her cursing or her clumsily edited clean versions, and this time I don't hate the Glee cast member covering her, so I'm making do with a mashup because it is HILARIOUS. It's also not really a mashup so much as “first song, then second song with minor vocal overlays from the first at the end.” And the first song is a really nice, smooth-sounding appetizer to cleanse the palate every time you finish rolling on the floor laughing at the rap segment and hit "replay."
19. Glee Cast (New Directions boys) - Danger Zone/Old Time Rock and Roll
That kind of music just soothes the soul
It got stuck in my head after I watched the performance twice. I don't know why these songs work together, but they do.
20. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Chord Overstreet) - Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
You take the grey skies out of my way
You make the sun shine brighter than Doris Day
The Dream Duo is back (if only you'd had patience, February Self), now on the best song yet. Listen to this peppy, super-pleasant throwback! I love Glee music that makes me physically unable to stop smiling.
21. Glee Cast (Darren Criss) - Against All Odds
You're the only one who really knew me at all
Luckily I fell in love with it before the episode context enraged me, because this piano solo version is really lovely and emotional.
22. Adele – Skyfall
You may have my number, you can take my name
But you'll never have my heart
Fine, if Glee won't give it to me I guess I'll have to go all original version on this sucker. ;) Because I don't even like James Bond, but this music is so dramatic and perfectly encapsulates that whole spy world.
[LIST EXTRA: have you heard the mashup with the Glee version of I Still Believe? It is kind of epic/what made me go love the Adele original.]
23. k.d. lang – Anywhere But Here
All too often I set my life aside
All too often my dreams went sailing by
Remember that movie I just watched? The music was pretty great overall, but until I track down a physical soundtrack, I'm just gonna love the first one on repeat. Road trip music central, this one.
24. Stevie Nicks – Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)
She knows too much to walk away
She couldn’t do it anyway
Just started falling in love with her 2011 CD yesterday and still working on it, but this is the one that bent my ear most on blind listen. And before you react with horror that I have managed to find YET ANOTHER song inspired by Twilight, muzzy_olorea did some legwork for us already after having a similar reaction of horror. I'm copying what she put in her journal after finding a soothing answer in an interview:
“The first and the third verse in 'Moonlight' were written in the mid-'70s. The second verse -- "She's lonely, lost, and disconnected" -- was written in Brisbane right after I saw the movie. So the song, really, is ancient times up to today.
The chorus -- "It's strange, she runs from the ones she can't keep up with" -- is all about the love affair between Bella and Edward [in 'New Moon']. But "Some call her strange lady from the mountains/Others say she's not really real," that's written in 1976. The same with the third verse: "He loves her, but he loves his life alone as well" -- people would think that was written about Edward, but it was written about Lindsey. So this really is an ancient song that encompasses my strange and everlasting relationship with Lindsey Buckingham, and Bella and Edward, all mixed into one."
tl;dr: Really cool music and lyrics dripping with imagery make it worth your while. The 70s history is just a bonus.
25. Stevie Nicks - New Orleans (or, "oh, we found another one to like - I guess we're gonna finish this today after all")
I wanna dress up
I wanna wear beads
I wanna wear feathers and lace
I wanna brush by the vampires
I like this trend of making muzzy_olorea talk for me: "Such a beautiful song about, well, New Orleans. It makes me want to go there just to see the things she describes in the song."
(RS in: or in my case, it reminds me of that time I actually went to New Orleans and lord, this makes me nostalgic for the French Quarter. I totally went down Bourbon Street. While wearing beads, actually! But not feathers or lace, and I did not brush by any vampires or Anne Rice, to my knowledge.)
26. Stevie Nicks - Annabel Lee
She was a child and I was a child
In this kingdom by the sea
We loved with a love that was more than a love
I and my Annabel Lee
THAT'S RIGHT, the poem has been set to song. Can't say this is exactly the sound I pictured in my head for it, but I dunno, the way she sings the title on the chorus really stuck with me. Also, I just like this poem.
27. Stevie Nicks - Wide Sargasso Sea
She went back into her red dress, back to her white house, to her ocean
And after that no words were spoken about the two of them ever again
Stevie is apparently covering all the great literary ladies in this album, so here's another! Again, not sure if I love the sound - there's a lot more electric guitar than I associate with 19th century stories - but come on. Anything Jane Eyre-related that gets set to music by an artist I like is going to get praised and fallen in love with by force if necessary.
28. Stevie Nicks - Secret Love
In a timeless search for love that might work
We're already paying the price
Apparently this was the first single? It took a few plays to sink in, but I definitely like the intro music and the bell work, and the more I listen, the more it reminds me of her older work - which is a compliment. Also, the official video is wonderful!
29. Stevie Nicks - For What It's Worth
We knew we couldn't last
And that was hard
Bittersweet but fond reflections on a temporary love. (she says, deliberately avoiding any further attempts to look up actual meanings and just interpret the remaining songs as they strike her)
30. Stevie Nicks - In Your Dreams
I’m just at the other end of your night
I’m always in and out of your light
Fast-paced, driving melody, radio friendly.
P.S. I seem to have highlighted the first 7 tracks on the album for my "top 50%" rule. I swear I've actually heard the whole thing multiple times, it just turns out that I like the first 7 best. CONVENIENT!
Next time: I might actually open and listen to my twin pack of new Groban/T-Swift CDs. Wouldn't that be exciting?