I think there's only one new person since the last installment, but that's still worth a refresher: The Music List is an annotated record of all the songs I fall in love with each year, because it bugged me to track all movies and books and TV but not the fourth tentpole of media in my life. Unlike the sticky-posted reading/movie lists, I hoard it on my computer and publish an installment every 3 months. Previous installments are under the tag “music of...” Ellipses included.
Here we go!
(just kidding we have a ways before we start)
I have discovered approximately a thousand songs this past month alone, and some of them I love more than others, but over the course of this year so far I have so thoroughly confused myself with questions of “should I number this? Or should it be a List Extra because it only works as part of a set/in some specific context?” that FORGET IT, I am just going to number EVERYTHING. My previous record # of songs in one quarter was 50, and thanks to my wild disregard for my own admittedly nebulous rules, I have handily smashed through that.
Side Note: No Twilight soundtrack entries this time around. I watched/enjoyed the first Breaking Dawn movie but I wasn't ready to move on from the Eclipse soundtrack, and then life got super busy and I shrugged and put the Twilight fervor back in the fridge to cool off for a while. I'll get back to it someday. Like the last 2 seasons of Glee, it's nice to know I have a small pocket of remaining new material to draw from one day.
It is still the most musically diverse installment ever, though.
OK. NOW I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO LET YOU SEE THE SONGS.
CD Rec: Sara Bareilles, “What's Inside: Songs from Waitress”
[long-winded rambling about why cut for space, but you should read it for general context]
I went into this knowing vaguely of but not having seen the movie, unaware what any of the songs sounded like/were about/were titled, I knew only that these were songs from an upcoming musical she had adapted, which made me decide that for once in my life, I was going to love an entire Sara B. CD. And by god, I did it.
In the middle of an intense work week, I put it on as background music and let it play through 3 or 4 times, not paying any attention to lyrics or track numbers, until some lines and hooks naturally started to sink into my brain. It really is a perfect blend of “songs that sound like they're from a musical” and “classic adult contemporary singer-songwriter sound,” since they tend to be telling stories or serving as exposition, yet she is singing them all as solos or the occasional duet, so they work both as a set and independently. Kind of magical.
And now, in more detail!
1. What's Inside
A pleasant little 75-second opening number -- works best in the context of the rest rather than by itself, but enough to hook you into hearing more.
2. Opening Up
This SO makes me think of Glee kids. I literally imagine people twirling through a restaurant (say, the Spotlight Diner) and singing as they set up.
3. Door Number Three
Light and pleasant ode to wanting a different, better future. Door #2, I've already walked through...
4. When He Sees Me
A tango-y ode to the perils of dating. Really cute! I also love the line “I'm just fine inside my shell-shaped mind.” Tempted to make it my blog title.
5. Soft Place to Land
Least favorite – too slow and tends to put me to sleep. But if you're in the mood for a daydream, it's the perfect echoing background track.
6. Never Ever Getting Rid of Me
This is the one that most sounds like part of a musical – bouncy, kind of Vaudevillian and singsong, with a full chorus group of backup vocals.
7. I Didn't Plan It
Easy second-fave. I love all of these lyrics about defending yourself/calling out a hypocrite so much. In particular, I am constantly singing, “Look around here -- ain't no saints here, baby / we're all just looking for a little less crazy,” which would totally be my blog title if I were not as perfect as I am. ;)
8. Bad Idea (Jason Mraz duet)
Still my favorite. (though I would very much like a cover in which Nathan Fillion duets, since that's who I picture) I adore the fast pace, the sassy lyrics that perfectly capture the tone of the adulterous-yet-not-trashy attraction, and especially the minor key* harmonies. It's another one that makes me want to listen to Glee songs.
*I forget my music terms. Maybe they're just using accidental notes in the regular key – for instance, the part that goes “it was a pretty good bad idea, wasn't it though?”
9. You Matter to Me (Jason Mraz duet #2)
The loveliest romantic duet. I love how the words fall like a rainfall on the chorus, and it's even prettiery when Sara comes in
10. She Used to Be Mine
Haunting and heartbreaking. It's supposed to be an ode to a past version of yourself, which I love, but if you want to focus on the pronoun, there's only one place you can't imagine it being about any girl you want, and there's nothing I love like sad songs about girls.
11. Everything Changes
Even more beautiful. It's just so affirming and brave. It reminds me of that song...Brave. :p But actually I get chills on the chorus.
12. Lulu's Pie Song
Very sweet little lullaby coda to close it out. Let's make a new one, Mama, what do you say?
CD Rec: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire soundtrack
I still don't love quite all of them, so I'm only going to rec the standouts on the list, but there aren't any I definitely hate, either. I also still haven't figured out how to describe it as a whole, so pretty much just – if you enjoyed the first one, you will also enjoy this one.
13. Of Monsters and Men – Silhouettes
A thousand silhouettes
Dancing on my chest
No matter where I sleep
You are haunting me
I don't listen to this group much and don't plan to change that fact, but I do love how her gentle voice blends with his deeper and richer one. They're still using trumpets, I see, that's good. These is also one of the few songs in my sampler selection that has storytelling lyrics of substance.
14. Sia ft. My Newly Sworn (As of The Oscars) Enemy The Weeknd – Elastic Heart
You did not break me
I'm still fighting for peace
What a good, good Sia/Katniss song. You can even still hear this one on the radio regularly, which, let me assure you, has been a very great joy and
comfort to me as I dodge The Weeknd by themselves.
15. Imagine Dragons – Who We Are
Doesn't matter if we've gone too far.
Doesn't matter if it's all okay.
Doesn't matter if it's not our day.
“YOU AGAIN??” Imagine Dragons is the 2010s Maroon 5, who in turn were the Aughts version of the Goo Goo Dolls. Nothing special to look at and seemingly indistinguishable from any other band, but somehow able to turn out radio hit after radio hit that also appeals to me. How are they doing this??
p.s. That's right I just came at two of your other faves unprovoked. Fight me.
16. Lorde – Everybody Wants to Rule the World
Welcome to your life
There's no turning back
Through the magic of reduced speed, sound effects and tone of voice, she puts such a sinister, macabre spin on it that it's barely recognizable as the
classic 80s song and every line sounds like it means something more threatening. SO GREAT. The original version is the blandest piece of ordinary white bread by comparison.
17. Ellie Goulding – Mirrors
I was the girl who was on fire
Only a bird could get much higher
Really, I still love it mostly for that first line, and a little for the high-pitched vocals in the background. If not for context and the fact that I
wasn't predisposed to be fond of Ellie Goulding, I don't know if I'd like it as much as I do. Actually, I do know: I wouldn't. I usually can't even
remember how it goes when not listening to it.
18. Patti Smith – Capitol Letter
Rebellion is an arrow, wired to the sun
I am pretty sure it's about Katniss, but I keep thinking of it (fondly) as “that aging hippie anthem.” Specifically, I'm picturing Lisa Simpson's
grandmother. I like how deliberately measured and slightly rough her voice is on the spoken lyrics.
19. Santigold – Shooting Arrows at the Sky
The only artist among the standouts that I don't recognize proves to be a girl band featuring a lot of excellent synthesizer, a lot like Chvrches, along
with a very catchy, quick melody. With lyrics I apparently 75% misunderstood, but I stand by opinion that the chorus totally says “I never wait to see you mess with your magic / we'll find you when you fall back, shooting arrows at the sky.” At least 8 of those words are verifiably accurate.
20. One Direction - Drag Me Down
All my life you stood by me
When no one else was ever behind me
When I originally heard this, I dismissed it as some Jason Derulo club track nonsense. Then, on New Year's Eve when 1D was performing every 15 minutes, I learned it was by them and promptly got 400% more interested (I DON'T KNOW WHY. That should not be a draw). When I finally turned on the radio again, my immediate response was, “Oh man, listen to this great 4-part club track.” I don't know how this band can be so consistently terrible as people and so charismatic in song, but it is what it is.
21. Elle King – America's Sweetheart
They said I'll never be the poster type, but
They don't make posters of my kind of life
The joke is that she's literally the opposite of that title. And she sure sounds like a person I would hate. Luckily I had never heard of her before I heard this on the radio, so now I can feign ignorance of supporting a trashy person and conclude this is just a song about a character. A song with a real catchy, twangy, melody. It's like a cross between rock & roll and country, but the banjo-laden redneck kind of country rather than the traditional Taylor Swift brand of crossover. (update: that said, I might have just become amenable to it out of desperation to not despise everything on the radio. It's barely March and I am already getting bored of it)
22. Twenty-One Pilots – Stressed Out
I was told when I got older all my fears would shrink
But now I'm insecure, and I care what people think
...why does the chorus sound like Jamaican reggae when it's two Midwestern white guys? The chorus is the whole reason I started listening to it in full, and now I'm torn between "that's weird" and "...but White Guys Rapping is literally on my LJ interests list." It was supposed to be an in-joke for my love of the Glee covers that fit that description (Mr. Schue's "Bust A Move" 5ever), but NOW WHAT IF IT SERIOUS.
(update: it has been weeks and I have heard it a hundred times and my adoration for every tiny part only continues to grow)
23. Selena Gomez - Same Old Love (find the clean version or so help me...)
You left in peace, left me in pieces
One magical night, in the same week that I fell for all the above songs individually, the radio played them all in a row and rounded out the set with this one. I have never really been that keen on anything she's done, even though I want to like her, but right now I'm in an iHeart Radio kind of place and open to exactly this type of catchy snapping and synthesized beats. The chorus got me in one try, and I put up with the rest until I was fond of the whole package.
24. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Soundtrack (Rachel Bloom/Rachel Grate) – JAP Battle
A Jewish American Princess (rap battle)
Daughters of privilege
Spittin' mad flow
Find that term offensive?
Too bad, yo!
This is the best thing I have ever heard in my entire life. I have been known to listen to it 15 times in a row. The video only makes it better.
P.S. I hope someone on Tumblr changes/has changed their blog title or about me section to “Liberal, duh. Progressive as hell.”
And here's where the list REALLY explodes thanks to Spotify's personalized “Discover Weekly” feature. STRAP IN, because I almost cannot keep pace with the flow of new music from all over the place into my life.
25. Kevin McHale/Justin Thorne – Summer Nights
Think back to the time
It was the summer of '09
I just like the fact that as I was listening to the playlist blind, I went, “This sounds exactly like Kevin McHale!” and then it WAS and now it's like I have found a shiny new Glee cover. I have no way of confirming that Justin Thorne doesn't play a character in season 6. Besides, you know what the summer of '09 was? NEWBORN GLEE MANIA, that's what.
26. Diego Boneta – The Warrior
The barriers in your mind blacked out all the light
Now you're afraid to love
You lost your way when the seas got rough
It's a really basic Guy Sound, but in a way that's better than everything on the radio; why aren't they playing this guy. (update: he has fallen very far down the list of “awesome new songs this month,” but at the time, it was very exciting to find anything so I gotta let him shine. Also, according to the YouTube link I just looked up, he is cute and that has renewed my interest)
27. Beth Crowley – Warrior
I kept on pushing through
Standing resolute which you
In equal measure loved and hated
We're going to block out knowledge that it was inspired by some dumbass YA trilogy, and just say, wow, this is exactly the sound I love! I didn't know it was a fan song initially – I just thought it really appealed to me. Though the more I listen to it, the more I go, “Yeah, this sounds like it was recorded at home by an under-23 with only the instrumentation personally available to them.” Still cool, though.
28. The Sam Willows – Take Heart
But she didn't know, she wasn't told
This life is just too old
People walking come and go
They don't know you, they're so cold
LOVE IT! Reminds me of Echosmith, but prettier lyrics, plus the trumpets of “Little Talks.” I also adore how sweet this song is. It's the kind of music I like to imaging 12-year-olds listening to.
29. Virginia to Vegas ft. Alyssa Reid – We Are Stars
We are the kings and queens of hearts that break
I love it almost solely for this lyric. It's so pretty the way it's sung, plus the background music. The rest is nice too, though.
30. School of Seven Bells – Open Your Eyes
Keeping your head turned around in the past
Float in the present with the role that you cast
For her as the villain and you, who came in last
It's time to wake up
SUPER REC! Introduced to me by my boyfriend, this is the incredibly pretty, fairytale-esque and gentle version of “You Belong With Me,” in which the singer patiently waited for the relationship to end first, but also has some excellent “you need to hear this” advice about getting over getting dumped (with Bonus Sad when you know that the album was written in tribute to her friend/bandmate/ex-boyfriend who passed away from lymphoma, and you can read parts of the song in two ways, especially the “open your eyes, love, you've got me crying”).
31. Mary Desmond - Out of the Woods (T-Swift cover)
Remember when you hit the brakes too soon
Twenty stitches in the hospital room
As I said a few weeks ago in more detail, Spotify threw this at my ears before I knew what was happening, and WOW. I am so impressed with this that I not only bought it, I actually wrote an Amazon review. Better than the original; so much less extraneous noise. I feel like this is how it was meant to sound.
32. Dami Im - Smile
Redefine what it is that really makes you happy
Let your world be a world that you build with a smile
I keep trying to kick this off the list, but every time I play it "one last time," I have to admit it's a really bouncy and catchy song encouraging you to enjoy life.
33. Say Hey To Single Life – Geronimo (Bombs Away) (Sheppard cover)
A rare diamond, coming out of nowhere to prove that dude bands CAN create instantly catchy/awesome music, but unlike “Shut Up and Dance” this one is not on my local radio stations. It really, really should be. It's short, and it's so fun and easy to dance to, with pleasant female vocals on the “bombs away” part. I have no idea what the other lyrics are, other than “not objectionable,” and I don't even care.
Update: I also had no idea I was listening to a cover until two hours ago, but TOO BAD SHEPPARD, YOU'RE NOT GETTING IT BACK. Although it's very similar to the original, so I won't be mad if you choose to hear that one instead.
34. Some Nice Anonymous Lady Hired By (Digitally Created By?) DJ Earworm – Drone
A stalker song for the modern age*! GLORIOUS. Seriously, listen to/look up these lyrics in full and you will not be disappointed. Now that I've properly set the stage, here is just a small sample:
Freedom feels like flying
That's why I feel so free
FREE TO BE WATCHING YOU
WHEN YOU'RE NOT WATCHING ME.
(want some more? “you can turn off your phone / and think you're alone / but you're noooot aloooone”)
*maybe this is actually a subltle cautionary tale about the government/military? It's not as funny that way, though
35. The Veronicas – If You Love Someone
We can get lost in fears that we make
For days that feel black as night
But there in the dark you find that the stars
Are shining their brightest light
What a darling, fun and happy ode to proclaiming whatever love you feel.
36. Chase Goehring – A Capella
I see a lot of people, I hear a lot of things
They're talking about diamond rings, money things
I guess that happens when you hit the top
Become unsatisfied with everything that you already got
This is not a capella, and better for it, featuring acoustic guitar and excellent production values. This is 5 minutes long with about 500 lyrics, and it flies by like nothing. He just has such a catchy voice. It literally took me less than a minute on the first play to get addicted to it.
37. Lukas Graham – 7 Years
Soon I'll be 60 years old
My daddy got 61
Remember life and then your life becomes a better one
You know, I really wanted to disqualify it for the "smoking herb and drinking liquor at 11" line, but everything else is just too beautiful a message about reflecting on life. And it doesn't even suddenly burst into rap at any point, as I've come to expect from songs that start out with pleasantness and piano on this station. (AIRPLANES. WILD ONES.
38. Charlie Puth/Wiz Kahlifa – See You Again
How can we not talk about family when family's all that we got?
I told a story about how this came to be here. You should read it, if you did not already. Basically, after months of evading it on the radio, I accidentally learned it was a written as a tribute to Paul Walker and after one play of the gorgeous music video, I barely even noticed the rapping. Plus The Wiz manages to sing at some point as well, so the rap is both relatively slow and minimal in nature, and it is not lyrically offensive any way, thus making it one of those rare songs in the genre where I'm like, “Yeah. I would vote for this to win an award."
39. "The Rabbits" soundtrack ft. Kate Miller-Heidke -- Where?
Where is the smell of rain
Dripping from gum trees?
Literally no one was more surprised than me that I saw an opera track at the top of my recs and not only didn't skip it, I instantly fell in love with it. Don't get me wrong: it definitely sounds like an opera track -- soprano to the heavens -- but a Loreena McKennitt type of soprano, not earsplitting. There's just something really pleasant and soothing about it. Before I knew what it was about, I thought of an Elizabethan courtyard. Which is pretty far off the mark, but at least maybe gives you an idea of its sound. Apparently the opera is based off an Australian children's book? That uses rabbits as a metaphor for colonization and its destructive manner?
Like, based off this song alone and minor backstory, I wanna buy a ticket to this opera right now.
40. Los 5 - Manana
No matter what comes, I'll never let go
Where we'll end up girl, I don't know
Let's forget about mañana
Just forget about mañana
Not a lyrical masterpiece, clearly. Just one of those laid-back, casual summer songs that I wish my radio station would play instead of whoever 5 Seconds of Summer is. Persistently catchy.
41. Leona Lewis – Thunder
You were rising like a star
Reigning like a king
While I was waiting in the wings
And I won't wait any longer
I have minimal attachment to this, but it has a good message and more importantly, I feel very strongly that it is the older sister of the one below, and I like them both so much as a set that they're staying together, lest I forget them. Leona has enough good credit banked with me to give her a little boost.
42. Jennifer Lopez – Feel The Light
Do you remember when we fell under?
Did you expect me to reason with thunder?
I still remember when time was frozen
What seemed forever was just a moment
Sometimes I just like Disney songs, yo. (this one's from “Home,” apparently) The closing-credits kind, slower and with some gravity to them.
43. Ryn Weaver – OctaHate
Shot through the cracks of the earthquake
My body's moving into retrograde
I love this music so much. Don't ask me what the full lyrics are or what the title means. I don't care! The music is too cool, all bubbly-like.
44. Kate Morgan – Extra Ordinary
And I don't even care if it hurts
I can't find lyrics online and can't understand more than one line in a row, but I am pretty sure this appealed to me because in the opening verse, the melody is a slowed down copy of the melody in “(I Wanna) Channing All Over Your Tatum.” (match it up! See a pretty lady sippin' on a drink / I gaze into her eyes and our glasses go clink...)
44. Gabrielle Taryn/Josh David Evans - Running
I tried to let go, but you hold on so tight
You must be tired of running, running, running
Through my mind
Not much to it, but a pleasantly lilting and dreamy interlude. Good harmonies.
45. Alexei Blue – Royalty
There's no loyals when you're frontin' like royalty
I just like this because it's slinky, reminds me of a lighter Lorde for multiple reasons, and makes me feel like it should definitely be featured on either The Royals or Reign. [edit: HEY WAIT Alexei Blue is on my Madilyn Bailey playlist somewhere. I assume her to be quality by association.]
46. Maddi Jane – Only Gets Better
When you're fresh out of cash and the money's low
Dreams running out and your heart gets broke
It can only get better
In the beginning, this basically sounds exactly like Jessi J's “Price Tag” minus the rapping interlude. Sign me up!
47. Alex G - Too Far
I wonder how my life would be
If I had grown up by the sea
And lived a little
I wish this had more dynamic identifiers. I'm always surprised when I click “play” and it is not some generic dude song, but a really pretty, soft, heartfelt and piano laden female soloist, with some (cello?) featuring prominently as well. She actually sort of reminds me of Michelle Tumes. But not in the Christian Music realm. Anyway, it's a dreamy song musing on the what-ifs of driving away and getting lost/finding yourself.
48. Skylar Stecker – Crazy Beautiful
All my ladies, all my girls
Dominating around the world
You're the diamonds, you're the pearls
As you can see: an ode to awesome ladies, by someone I don't know but presume is an awesome lady herself. It's a real feminist anthem, in the best possible sense of the word.
49. Karina Es – Dancing In The Stars
Wave your cares goodbye
'Cause we own the night
Synthesizer beats and eminently danceable – a club track, according to the music video featuring nothing but clubs – but somehow feels not trashy? It strongly reminds me of Lady Gaga's “Edge of Glory." In my head I'm choosing to replace the music video with the one for “Shut Up and Dance.”
50. Cady Groves – Crying Game
It's a crying shame
To have to put my brothers in their grave
Life ain't perfect but it's such a shame
They left behind the stories that they never made
Yep, that is definitely a purebred country song. It took a couple of tries to fully adjust to the music and her slight vocal twang. But there is so much going on in the lyrics, which move from cliché “childhood poverty w/ drunk and/or jailed parents” stories to much heavier stuff that really makes this an excellent song. This is a really cute animated video I drummed up, too, one of the few links I recommend clicking for the video.
51. Jada Facer – Ronan (Taylor Swift cover)
I love you to the moon and back
I am actively angry that I didn't know (and so couldn't recognize) that this was a song that I could have loved on its own merit had I not fallen in love with this version. Instead, as I listened to its dreamy styling and slowly let the words filter in, I kept envisioning a mix of Saoirse Ronan from “Brooklyn” mixed with the parenting dynamic of “Room,” overlaid onto a tragic cancer backdrop. When I found out the truth I tried to get Taylor to reclaim her rightful place, but my brain remains very NOTHING DOING, deeming her voice insufficiently soft and lullaby-like in comparison to this Jada person, and regardless, firmly attached to thinking of this song as being written by the mother, sister or aunt of the child in question, which Taylor obviously is not.
(update: This Jada person is 15 – 11 when she recorded this, which accounts for the childlike voice -- and also apparently an actress on Melissa and Joey. MAN it is a trip letting Spotify be my main musical advisor. On the bright side, it really makes sure it's about the music and doesn't let me have any biased personal feelings before I form an opinion about songs)
52. Finding Neverland Soundtrack (ft. Zendaya) - Neverland
We can sail away tonight
On a sea of pure moonlight
We can navigate the stars
To bring us back home
What a beautiful, dreamy representation of the title location.
53. Fall Out Boy - Centuries
Some legends are told
Some turn to dust or to gold
But you will remember me
Wow. There is a band that has not been relevant in about a decade, and then only for two songs. Honestly, I assumed it was Imagine Dragons again based on the loud noise and inexplicable appeal to my ears, but I'm glad to be proven wrong. Initially I thought I loved it because it sampled "Tom's Diner," and I thought it was referencing a bunch of other songs (I heard "teenage dreams" and "the kids are all wrong"), but now I can't remember that because the official music video is such a cool concept. And I almost never associate songs with their official music videos. It is as epic as it wants to be.
54. Shayna Rose - Colorful World
Come with me and we'll live like we own the sky
Take off like we're butterflies,
Making noise like dynamite
My favorite thing about Discover Weekly is that without fail, the first track on the list always delights my eardrums and hooks me into hearing more. This one goes in the "Take Heart" category of sounding cheerful, using full-group backing vocals, and otherwise sounding like something you want your 12-year-old to listen to. Plinky and happy.
55. Olivia Lane -- You Part 2
You're a broke down truck
I'm a new range rover
It took exactly six seconds of music for me to slam my hand on the desk and declare YES, THIS SONG SHALL BE MY NEW LOVE. What a delightfully ear-pleasing blend of what is either clearly a country song spiced up with pop-record-studio production values, or a song meant for a pop star that this country singer commandeered. Like, there is plenty of fiddle and banjo, but also audible studio magic. I am currently in SUPER OBSESSED mode with this one and cannot gush about it enough. Her attitude is just THE BEST.
p.s. HOLD UP at 0:22 in that video, that's Baylor from Survivor's Blood vs. Water 2/Reed & Josh's season! I APPROVE OF THIS NETWORKING.
56. Angie Miller - Universe Electric
Wake up and shake off the dust
The world is waiting
I am not yet to the point of explaining why I like this, except that the title intrigues me, I like what it says about everything being connected, and the group chorus lends gravitas.
57. Ivory Layne -- Superman
But you fell short 'cause you needed lungs to breathe
And you can't fly/look with eyes like laser beams
And I was blind for wanting you to rescue me
But you were caught in the clouds
Probably the best thing related to superheroes ever made. (by which I mean the title character is used metaphorically/as a comparison, in beautiful and sometimes heartbreaking ways when discussing a failed relationship)
YOUR TURN. Talk at me about songs on this list you also love! Rec me new songs! Ignore this post! Whatever pleases you.