a/k/a THE BATTLE OF TWO 2014 ALBUMS
[CD Rec 1: Lea Michele, Louder. As outlined here]
Picking my remaining top 50% from the album after Cannonball, I would go with...
16. On My Way
My heart's too drunk to drive
Really fast-paced, lots of studio magic sounds, and a great driving song.
17. Burn With You
We are lost when we're together, but I'll follow you forever
This is literally some of the worst imagery ever (“I don't want to go Heaven if you're going to Hell...I WILL BURN WITH YOU,” which sounds like some sort of Satanist cult), but I'll be damned (pun intended, since it's apparently no big deal) if the music isn't really catchy.
18. Cue the Rain
The city was on fire for us, we would have died for us
I just love the accented notes and the general strength of the chorus. It may or may not make me imagine the Glee kids in the hypothetical Broadway future.
Come out of the shadow, step into the light
This could be the moment
It could change your life
Happy empowerment pop song, woo!
20. If You Say So
And I can't get the last words that you said
Can't get those words out of my head
Honestly, I just sort of feel bad not including the song about Cory. Though the weakest of these selections musically, it was super important to her, so I made it important to me. I also really like the inflection/melody on the above lines.
[CD Rec 2: Jeremy Messersmith, “Heart Murmurs": Not as many songs stand out as singles, honestly, but as a whole, it all fits together (except for the last track, which has totally superfluous F-bombs so I just fired it immediately). A quasi-concept album, each song about a different variety of love/relationships. Many of them sad. Sent to me by Chris, and quite indebted to him.
21. It's Only Dancing
It's something that all good friends do
It's not like I'm in love with you
This has a relatively fast, sweeping beat that is really the main reason I kept listening to the CD. I didn't listen to the lyrics very closely, and if you do that you might find the guy to be a bit of a creeper by the last verse. But if you don't, you might visualize Jim and Pam dancing circa season 2 (and/or in an AU) in your head. If you are me. Especially if you need to believe the guy in this story put himself on the line and was rejected anyway.
When there's nothing left to do
I will pull you close and wrap my arms around you
It's a bit repetitive, but it's also by far the most optimistic song on the CD. Very supportive.
We could take the Buick
Lately we've been walking
Stomping on the bridges just outside of town
It's largely about a guy predicting he'll destroy his relationship, but I latched onto that first lyric and was like NIGHT ROAD TRIPS, YEAH! It's also deceptively lullaby-like for being such a negative idea.
One more night in Omaha
Bus stop just before the dawn
Chris says this reminds him of Mumford and Sons. It really does. And normally that would not be a ringing endorsement, but this one has really cool lyrics about being a lonely traveler and just the overall catchiest tune out of any of these songs. Annoyed I can't find a proper album version online, but the radio edit's pretty close.
I should have known, you're still Heidi
You'll never change
Heidi with the broken heart
MAN I LOVE SONGS NAMED AFTER GIRLS. There's not a lot of story, but the sound of the chorus is fabulous; by far the best part of the CD.
26. Glee Cast (DON'T GET EXCITED) (Dianna Agron/Kevin McHale) – Still Standing
You'll wind up like the wreck you hide
Behind that mask you use
Falling in love with an old classic, hell yeah! Her voice is so pretty. I believe it actually enhances his, like a wine pairing that enhances the flavor of dinner. How did I not love this on first contact??
27. Alpha Rev – Sing Loud
Put down the knife you're wielding
Let high stone walls fall away
Let high stone walls fall away
Sounds exactly like the awesome kind of Christian music, though there is irritatingly no solid evidence of it being such.
28. Ingrid Michaelson – Girls Chase Boys
All the broken hearts in the world still beat
Catchiest chorus ever! (which is good, since that's mostly what the song consists of) Just avoid the official music video; it's creepy. Probably a million fanvids could do it better.
29. Glee Cast (NOW YOU CAN GET EXCITED) (Darren Criss) – All of Me
How many times do I have to tell you
Even when you're crying, you're beautiful too
I guess this song is everywhere nowadays? And I would totally have passed on it as “ugh boring” in the original version, because that's the kind of voice John Legend has, but you give it to Darren and it turns into “wow, this is an amazing love song with perfect lyrics everywhere you turn.” Gives me chills. Doesn't hurt that it's a piano feature, of course.
30. Glee Cast (Lea Michele) – Glitter in the Air
It's only half past the point of oblivion
The thing is, I've always wanted to love this song, because it's soothing and the lyrics are amazeballs, but I could never quite make it past “this is actually kinda boring.” But then BAM! All it takes is a voice made for non-Broadway ballads.
31. Glee Cast (Darren Chris/Chris Colfer) – American Boy
Take me on a trip, I want to go someday
IT SHOULD BE AWFUL, BUT IT'S SO AWESOME. The neat key changes for Original Kanye's part and the newly added harmonies made my jaw drop by the second play. Boys! HOW SO GREAT. And on that note...
[List Extra: 14b. Glee Cast (Darren Criss/Chris Colfer) -- Story of my Life. I wish so much that I had not been about four weeks early to the party on falling in love with the original, because OBVIOUSLY BETTER, RIGHT? Right. So much gloriously low-register Kurt. Such breathtake. Very magic. Also, the ice cream smoothness of Blaine's voice instantly defeats every One Direction dude.]
[List extra: 15b. Glee Cast -- Pompeii. I still love the original, but Glee is doing that magic thing where a group song makes everything better and then keeps doubling down on it with every listen. Even though it sounds almost childish in the opening vocals, between Rachel's crystalline introduction, Kurt's strong entrance and Sam and Artie's distinctive voices, it's gettin' real hard to remember what I loved about those fine British accents. Pretty sure this is the best non-Beatles song Glee did all year, if not the actual best, all full of the sound of hope and happiness. NEW YORK FRIENDS FOREVER. But if you close your eyes, does it almost feel like nothing's changed at all?]
32. Paramore - Ain't It Fun
You're not the big fish in the pond no more
You are what they're feeding on
I'll take “songs that should have been used on Glee this year*” for $200, Alex! I also wish this song had a more descriptive title. Like, IDK, “(Livin' In) The Real World.”
[*update: or...next year, I guess]
33. Oh Honey - Be OK
I'm wide awake, so what's the point of dreaming when your life is great?
Celebrate the feeling
What are “songs that Glee should cover immediately when next season starts”? Unless those references to thanking the Lord render that impossible, which they probably will. At least I can take solace in the fact that this almost sounds like a happy Glee cover already.
[update: GLEE HAS ALREADY COVERED THIS? Nooooo! WHY WOULD YOU WASTE THIS ON A DUET WHEN IT COULD BE A GREAT GROUP OPENING/CLOSING NUMBER?? Even if it's a duet I will probably like, I already wrote my post and it's too late to listen to Glee's version, but you should maybe expect a #33b in the future.]
34. Sarah McLachlan – Monsters
They promise you the stars
But they're really just along for the ride
Not feeling most of her new CD, but I did instantly latch onto both music and lyrics in this one. Classic Sarah in the best way, and great imagery of subtle everyday monsters.
35. Sarah McLachlan – Love Beside Me
I grew accustomed to the shame
The sharp sting of your poison
Trying so hard to erase all the good in me
Only other one that jumped out. Not really sure why, but I love its verses for the lyrics and its chorus for the music.
36. Katy Perry ft. Juicy J – Dark Horse
So you wanna play with magic
Boy, you should know what you're falling for
Ugh, it keeps coming on the radio and being the only semi-bearable thing across 5 stations and FINE, WHATEVER, I WILL PUT UP WITH THE DAMN RAPPING BECAUSE ITS CREEPY COOLNESS IS SO CREEPY AND COOL. I've been resisting it since the Grammys and it's just not staying down. Although, I'm just gonna throw it out there, the rapping takes a lot away from the mystique and renders it useless for the Halloween mix CDs for which it would otherwise be perfect. Maybe Katy should go feel shame.
37. M.I.A. – Bad Girls
Live fast, die young
Bad girls do it well
Well, since I'm on the dark side anyway... It's rap, which I hate -- but the chorus is so catchy and I thought it was Lana del Rey until I heard the rap start. And said rap is backed up by trilling Arabic music, so that's permissible. Even the official music video is fascinating (also, she's like, really pretty). And don't worry, I can totally handwave any provocative lyrics because none of the phrases registered with me until they were pointed out by reviewers.
38. Madilyn Bailey – Radioactive
This is it, the apocalypse
AND NOW IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION: Sweet and quiet, infinity times better than the blaring nonsense of Imagine Dragons, but I'm glad the original exists because a commenter made the most astute observation ever: “It's almost like a reprise. You're singing among the rubble of radioactive... singing in its rubble and ash.” It's stripped down to just her + an acoustic guitar. It's amazing.
P.S. Oh holy god how I now need this to be used in a post-apocalyptic movie. Or someone can do a fanvid for Revolution, either/or.
And since I'm now obsessing over Madilyn Bailey, I'm going to close this post with a bunch of List Extras as she covers everything both ugly and beautiful in the world with equal aplomb, usually with just her guitar:
The A Team (with Jake Coco): this song is actually the way I found her. Way to take the one song that actually sounds beautiful when sung by a guy not named Josh or Darren, and still improve it with your pretty girl voice! Works amazingly well as a duet, too. I have been singing this all day.
***Thrift Shop***: she doesn't rap, she puts it to a beat and sings it in a super-catchy, bluesy style (stick it out to 18 seconds). It's genuinely the most impressive thing I've seen in a long time. She thoroughly cleans it up, too. My favorite: Walk into the club like "Yo, what up, I got a big rock."
Starships: it's still not the perfect cover I've been seeking...but it is a really great cover for a light, summery beach sound. Especially cute when she puts her own name into it.
Wake Me Up: Listen, Glee, I know you tried, but you failed at this one. This is how you have a lady cover it in a reflective way. (bonus: pretty piano!)
Nope, one more: Chris linked me to Literal Videos: Total Eclipse of the Heart, and I'm pretty sure it is the best video that has ever existed on YouTube ever. I 99.5% promise that you will love it. ("Spin around...ninjas!" Or perhaps my favorite line is actually "And I've joined the Glee Club of the Damned.")