As a shortcut, here is a YouTube link to all the Keira Knightley songs in this section.
1. Keira Knightley – A Step You Can't Take Back
So you find yourself at the subway
With your world in a bag by your side
This is probably the prettiest song about contemplating suicide that has ever existed. Its pure sweetness convinces you to wait a moment and think again.
2. Keira Knightley – Tell Me If You Wanna Go Home
Tell me if I'm back on my own
Giving back a heart that's on loan
I just love everything about this -- a highly pragmatic song about anticipating a breakup, with a voice full of sweetness and no bitterness or regrets. You listen to this and you're like, "Yeah. This girl will be all right."
3. Keira Knightley – Like A Fool
You have broken every promise that we made
And I have loved you anyway
Meanwhile, this is the prettiest breakup song ever, even with the actual F word. It reminds me of the lilting tune of Lisa Hannigan's “Lille.” More importantly, it is now my personal theme song for my relationship with Glee.
4. Keira Knightley – Coming Up Roses
When you were asleep
And I was out walking
The voices started to speak
And they wouldn't stop talking
Her most upbeat song in the bunch. I actually love the addition of child backing vocals, weirdly enough.
5. Adam Levine – Lost Stars
God, tell us the reason youth is wasted on the young
It's hunting season and the lambs are on the run
5b. Keira Knightley version
5c. Into the Night Remix
What's wonderful about playing the first two versions back to back is that even though the lyrics are the same, her stripped-down acoustic ballad is so different it's like a whole different song – most excellent as a reprise. Or you can play the third remix all on its own and have the faster and more upbeat Hollywood Studio Mastered version, which is also pretty great.
6. Cee Lo – Women of the World (Go On Strike!)
If there was no more mothers and no more lovers
Nothing would be left, it scares me to deathI said the Cee Lo tracks clash with the singer-songwriter tracks on the album; I never said I couldn't enjoy one on its own (good luck hearing it for yourself, though; I have scoured the internet but can't turn it up anywhere). The music in this song was so instantly addictive (falsetto seems to get to me!) that I would play it ten times anyway, but then lyrically it turns out it's not so much a song about being a player like I assumed, but kind of an apology about dudes being lame and clueless. I can get down wi' that.
7. Glee Cast (Lea Michele/Chord Overstreet) – A Thousand Miles
If I could fall into the sky, do you think time would pass us by?
MY BABIES IN SONG AT LAST. (I chose the lyrics above 'cause they're my favorite, but I think I the truly applicable lyrics to my feelings on Glee are I still need you / And I still miss you.)
8. Rihanna/Kanye West - FourFive* Seconds (*the grammar enthusiast in me is angry at this title)
I'm bout four, five seconds from wildin'
And we got three more days 'til Friday
I'm tryin' to make it back home by Monday morning
I know you think I am joking, Past Me, but they're literally singing and not accompanied by anything electronic. RIHANNA UNPLUGGED. KANYE WITH ARGUABLE MUSICAL TALENT. What??? I even actually quite like the original music video. You've got Kanye's totally deadpan expression on "sun was shining, I'm positive," Paul looking like he has no idea how he got here but it just gonna groove along in his own little world anyway, and Rihanna's awesome "eh, whatever" shrug after "I might do a little time." She quite makes me believe she's had fourfive stints in jail for petty drug charges. And maybe street walking, judging from her inability to wear any clothing under that barely-closed jacket.
9. Juanes - Juntos
The title apparently means “together,” but I otherwise do not know a single Spanish lyric or what any of them mean in English, and I aim to keep it that way. It's just great, feel-good dance music. Seriously, I dare you to listen to it and not move some part of your body.
10. John Legend ft. Common – Glory
That's why Rosa sat on the bus
That's why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, "Stay down," and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up
This is the opposite of dance music. But it is a really poignant blend of Quality Rap and Smooth R&B backed by piano and other gorgeous instrumentation. That is a powerful gospel choir and orchestra you got there. Also, I'm impressed by the ability to rhyme "up" with itself that many times in a row.
11. Kimberly Henderson – Tiny Hearts
While all my friends are being young and dumb and playing around
They're out all night, living a life that I just had to let go
I watch you sleep right next to me
It's you and me on our own
I vehemently swore that this viral YouTube nonsense about a lullaby would not make an impact on me, and then I listened to it once and cried. It's exactly the type of music I love, backed up largely by just piano plus maybe some strings, and also pretty much encapsulates the experience of being a young single mom but refusing to be ashamed of it.
12. Walk the Moon - Shut Up and Dance
A backless dress and some beat up sneaks
My discotheque Juliet teenage dream
This title is the opposite of my beliefs in life, so I don't know why I love this, but it just sounds so classic. Like an 80s/Bryan Adams song. I keep being confused that it's new, because every time I hear it I'm like, “No, man, I totally know this one from somewhere...been around for years, definitely...” At the very least, I'm picturing a 1980s high school dance in the gym.
13. Madilyn Bailey – Can't Hold Us
I'm on my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T
A hustler, chasing dreams since I was 14
I don't know what the original sounds like and I never want to (for instance, just two seconds ago I found out it's a Macklemore track). Her ability to sing what is obviously a club track and yet make it sound musical, accompanied by nothing but a guitar, is nothing short of magical. As is her ability to spit rhymes at top speed with perfect articulation.
14. Madilyn Bailey – Wake Me Up
All this time I was finding myself, and I didn't know I was lost
This is what I wanted the Glee cover to sound like, basically. Whereas Glee is so slow it sounds like a dirge, her version is slow in a thoughtful and pretty way.
BONUS: I've been introduced to a whole lot of albums in the past few days, and while none have popped with Instant Song Love and I'm not sure if they will make it to the music list, I feel remiss not mentioning them as things that might be worth looking into.
Natalie Prass, Spacebomb: Country with a heavy dose of concert band to back her up (listen to the trumpets!). It hasn't grabbed my ear as much as hoped, but I like the first track for the lyric "our love is a long goodbye," which is wildly applicable to my feelings on Glee, and the ast track ("It Is You") stands out because it is a straight up Disney song. I'm not even kidding. I asked Chris if it was actually from a Disney movie, and when he said no, I declared that someone should write one just to feature this song.
Courtney Barnett, "Somtimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit": A growly Australian artist that reminds me of a slightly grungier KT Tunstall. Artists like Beth Hart and Bree Sharp come to mind. Heavy on lyrics.
Brianna Lane, Let You In: I saw this at Half Price Books and although this almost never happens to me, it struck me as something I might enjoy. The back described it as something recorded kind of on the fly with minimal instrumentation, and yeah -- that is exactly the sort of acoustic coffeehouse sound I enjoy, plus a tinge of bluegrass. A young woman, a guitar, a book full of lyrics and gentle melodies in a limited alto range. Perfection.
Brianna Lane, Radiator: An earlier album (2005), this one is showing signs of especially strong promise, just not quite in time to make this post. Similar to the above, but with a more polished studio sound. Also a little more contemporary and slightly less bluegrass flavor. Aside from the song called "Cowboy Hat."
Coming soon: one of the many other draft posts I have started but keep failing to get done.