For me, 2013 was a great year for music. We had some major releases by big artists, I managed to do a chart every month of the year (I’ve only done it in 2010 as well), and I got really into music from the year 1968 for a while. This isn’t a “best of” or “most important” releases list. It’s a list of my favorite songs from the last year. Sure, it has “Get Lucky” like nearly every other list, but it also has Annie’s “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” which I haven’t seen anywhere else. Instead of embedding the SoundCloud links (since SoundCloud embeds take a long time to load and sometimes disappear), I made a YouTube playlist of my favorite songs. Enjoy! And post comments and let me know what I missed…
- Daft Punk – Random Access Memories. If for no other reason, this album belongs in #1 because of all the hype and the fever-pitch excitement that turned this album into an “experience.” When snippets of “Get Lucky” were released via commercials during Saturday Night Live last spring (check out those early SNL ads!), fans pieces and tried to assemble what they thought the song (which became “Get Lucky”) would sound like — and they were pretty close!. Then there was the awesome The Collaborators project which entailed interviews from musicians involved with the album. And finally, there was the ironic aspect that, to quote Todd Edwards, “It took robots to bring soul back to music.”
- Arcade Fire – Reflektor. If musicians are lucky, they get to a point where they release an album that sort of catapults them to the next level. Recent examples for me are Ladytron’s The Witching Hour, Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colors, and Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds. The album transcends everything done before and gives you a totally new perspective of them as artists. Sure, we all knew Arcade Fire was a great band (when they performed their song “Rebellion (Lies)” at Coachella in 2005 I think we all knew they were amazing), but Reflektor really upped the ante for me. James Murphy’s disco-y production added both fun and darkness to the album. I love it.
- Lady Gaga – Artpop. I wasn’t a huge fan of Lady Gaga’s previous effort, Born This Way. Sure, the message was great and Röyksopp did an amazing remix of “Judas,” but it just didn’t pull me in. Artpop, on the other hand, I love. The title song “ARTPOP” reminds me my first favorite Lady Gaga song “Bad Romance.” She combines the weird with poppy like nobody else recently. I also love to imagine that somehow hanging out with modern artists like Jeff Koons and Marina Abramovic somehow influenced the album. (Check out Lady Gaga gushing about Abramovic’s limitless!)
- The Weeknd – Kiss Land. I love this new style of slowed-down, supper trippy hip-hop/R&B. This is an album that’s so dark and smokey it’s perfect for night time. I wasn’t a huge fan of The Weeknd’s previous mixtapes so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the album.
- Kanye West – Yeezus. I can’t explain what I love about this album so I won’t even try. Kanye West is so weird and interesting — I love it. He’s got amazing production skills (remember, he started out as one of Jay-Z’s producers), and it shines again on Yeezus. Bonus: Check out art critic Jerry Saltz’s take on Kanye’s video for “Bound 2” and Saltz’s concept of “The New Uncanny.”
- Telonius – Inter Face. “Wait, who is this Telonius you have here and why haven’t I heard of it before?” you may be asking yourself. Well, Telonius is German, on the Gomma record label (based in Germany), and songs of his were on a third of my charts for 2013 (“Hit Me” from July, “I Make You Man” from October, “Last Night (Faced Version)” from November, and [spoiler alert] a remix of “I Make You Man” will be in my December chart). The album is dark and sexy and I’ve loved it all year. It wasn’t as splashy or popular as my other picks, but it was a solid album I kept listening to.
- The Knife – Shaking the Habitual. Okay I won’t say much about this album because it’s sort of difficult and abstract — it’s really an album-as-a-work-of-art sort of situation. You have to experience it as an album. Supposedly it has strong leftist themes (about equality, sexism, gender, etc.) and The Knife were influenced by people like Judith Butler (who wrote a book called Gender Trouble that is still one of the most difficult books I’ve ever read). Sure, this album isn’t as accessible or awesome as Silent Shout, but it’s great.
- Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience. Let’s not forget that before the second part came out, the first album was great. Sure, it wasn’t as poppy and accessible as FutureSex/LoveSounds, but I loved the spacey/funky feeling the album had. And any album with a song like “Mirrors” has to be one best.
Other albums I loved from 2013: Dynamics by Holy Ghost!, Tomorrow’s Harvest by Boards of Canada, mbv by My Bloody Valentine, Mantangi by M.I.A., Nocturnes by Little Boots, The Bones of What You Believe by CHVRCHES, Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend, Settle by Disclosure, Psychic by Darkside, and Different Sides of the Sun by Hot Natured. Also: Even though Flume’s self-titled album came out in 2012, I really experienced it in 2013 (and the deluxe edition came out in 2013). If I were to “cheat” and include it this year, it’d definitely be in my top 10.
- “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk. It was a tough choice between “Get Lucky” and “Reflektor” for my favorite song of the year. Ultimately it went to Daft Punk because, as I mentioned above, the album and really the song itself became an event. The hype on music blogs was off the charts. The song introduced a whole new generation (including me) to the awesomeness of Nile Rodgers which culminated in downloading tons of 80s music I never knew I loved. The other day I realized that my phone’s ring tone was still “Get Lucky” despite it coming out in April — that fact I hadn’t changed it and still loved hearing it when my phone rang convinced me that this is my favorite of the year.
- “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire. As mentioned above, this song really propelled Arcade Fire to a whole new level for me. I love James Murphy’s DFA-inspired production. You can totally dance to this song — in a club, no less! The lyrics were minimal, the video was slightly insane, and it’s a close second favorite song of the year for me.
- “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” by Annie. I’ve been a fan of Annie (a Norwegian electronic musician) for a while now. Back in 2004, Pitchfork put her track “Heartbeat” as their #1 song of the year but after that she sort of faded from “mainstream” music coverage. I continued to follow her, though, and through it loved songs she did like “Anthonio” and “Songs Remind Me of You.” She always had this sort of dark and sad perspective on romance that I could identify with (her music even inspired a mix I did called “Did You Ever Really Care?” that I made to deal with a breakup…). But then this summer I was walking to the grocery store and “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” came on and I literally had to stop, go sit down, and listen to the song. Everything about it speaks to me emotionally, intellectually, etc. — she feels/understands the world the same as I do. Also be sure to check out the strange and surreal video. In a world where I wasn’t surrounded by more mainstream music, this would’ve been my #1. Bonus: Check out the FNM remix of the song, too — it extends the song and makes it more dancey.
- “ARTPOP” by Lady Gaga. This is my favorite Lady Gaga song since “Bad Romance.” It’s a little alien and very weird. I like to think it’s a manifesto of sorts for some new type of art movement: “Brushes of darkness won’t help you create your destiny of super / ARTPOP could mean anything… anything! / I tried to sell myself but I am really laughing.”
- “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake. Like “My Love,” there is something epic and beautiful about this song and I feel like he really poured his heart out into it. If the stories are true, the song is about how him and Jessica Biel broke up and during that separation he realized how much he loved her and eventually they got back together and were married (awww a happy ending!). Bonus: There aren’t many songs about getting back together. I once listened to an episode of This American Life about getting-back-together songs, and it starts off mentioning the lack.
Other songs I really loved this year:
- “Afterlife” by Arcade Fire
- “Invisible” by Annie
- “Bridge and Tunnel” by Holy Ghost!
- “Last Night (Faced Version)” by Telonius
- “Let the Groove Get In” by Justin Timberlake
- “Bound 2” by Kanye West
- “Broken Record” by Little Boots
- “Exodus” and “Sexodus” (feat. The Weeknd) by M.I.A.
- “Wanderlust” by The Weeknd
- “Doin’ It Right” (feat. Panda Bear) by Daft Punk
- “Nickels and Dimes” by Jay-Z
- “The Rise” by Pelussje
- “The Town” by The Weeknd
- “Dark Star” by Jaymes Young
- “Instant Crush” (feat. Julian Cassablancas) by Daft Punk
- “Tell U” by Jerome LOL
- “Woman” by Munk
- “You Already Know” by Arcade Fire
- “Hopeless Place” by Austra
- “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus
- “I’m Waiting Here” (feat. Lykke Li) by David Lynch
- “It Must Be the Weather” by Holy Ghost!
- “You Are My Destiny” by The Juan MacLean
- “Mint” by Villa
- “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus)” by Arcade Fire
- “Recover” by CHVRCHES
- “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus
- “Hold On, We’re Going Home” (Feat. Majid Jordan) by Drake
- “Do What U Want” (feat. R. Kelly) by Lady Gaga
- “White Noise” (Feat. AlunaGeorge) by Disclosure
- “A Rose By Any Other Name” (feat. Beth Ditto) by Blondie
- “Blurred Lines” (feat. T.I. and Pharrell Williams) by Robin Thick (the song was too ubiquitous and too catchy to not include…!)
Check out my handy YouTube playlist of my favorite songs from 2013!
My Favorite Remixes:
- “Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts” (FNM remix) by Annie
- “Baumhaus” (Jörg Burger remix Feat. Sidonie) by Michael Mayer
- “Grand Cru” (Pachanga Boys Glam Drive) by Saschienne
- “Satellite” (Lindstrøm remix) by Little Boots
- “You & Me” (Flume remix) by Disclosure
- “Working The Midnight Shift” (Holy Ghost! Remix) by Donna Summer
- “Kiss Kiss” (Canblaster remix) by Cashmere Cat
- “Sexy Socialite” (Boys Noize Remix) by Chromeo
Songs I loved in 2013 from Other Years:
- “Deep Is the Breath” (feat. Jacob Bellens & Emma Acs) by Kasper Bjørke
- “Beat and the Pulse” by Austra
- “Fuzzy Dream” (Junior Claristidge rework) by Black Devil Disco Club
- “One Step Further” by Jenna Drey
- “Can’t Hold Us” (Feat. Ray Dalton) by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
- “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars
- “Disco Clown” by Munk
- “Power” by Pompeya
- “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” by Stevie Wonder
- “Crosseyed and Painless” by The Talking Heads
- “Let’s Live for Today” by The Grass Roots
This year I really loved stuff from:
And there it is: 2013 in music in my world!
I couldn’t find the list of songs from Jay Z’s film Made in America so I decided to watch the credits sequence and list ’em out (trying to remove all of the non-features [e.g. background, score] music). Mostly this is so I can make a playlist for myself…
- Jay-Z – 99 Problems
- Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West – Run This Town
- Jay-Z – Murda Murda
- Passion Pit – “Take a Walk”
- Janelle Monae – Victory
- Janelle Monae – Tightrope
- Run DMC & Aerosmith – Walk This Way
- Pearl Jam – Better Man
- The Hives – Take Back the Toys
- D’Angelo – Devil’s Pie
- D’Angelo – Chicken Grease
- The Dirty Projectors – Offspring Are Blank
- Santigold – L.E.S. Artistes
- Odd Future – Rella
- Miike Snow – Pretender
- Skrillex – Right In
- Skrillex – Bangarang
- Rita Ora – Facemelt
- Rita Ora – Poison
- Rita Ora – How We Do (Party)
- Kontraband 215 – Back 2 Basics
- Jill Scott – He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)
- Jay-Z – Empire State of Mind
- Q Department – Entropy
- Run DMC – It’s Tricky
- Pearl Jam – Corduroy
- Jay-Z – Public Service Announcement
- Jay-Z & Kanye West – Niggas in Paris
- Jay-Z, Kanye West, Frank Ocean – Made in America
If you find this and notice I miss something, let me know! Great music, great documentary!
According to iTunes, these are the seven songs that I’ve most recently added that have a rating of four or more stars:
- Kylie Minogue – “The One” (Freemasons Vocal Club Mix)
- Feadz – “Cool as Feadz”
- Little Boots – “Stuck On Repeat” (Fake Blood remix)
- Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”
- Hercules and Love Affair – “You Belong” (Riton remix)
- Bronski Beat – “Hit That Perfect Beat” (SirBilly HI NRG Vocal Re-Edit)
- Alphabeat – “Touch Me Touching You”
I don’t really hate to admit it, but I feel like I should, but the day I’ve been waiting for all year has finally arrived: Pitchfork has posted their Top 100 Tracks of 2006. For the past two years I’ve followed this list and downloaded/found/purchased each and every track they recommended. The Top 50 Singles of 2005 and Top 50 Singles of 2004 introduced me to now-favorite artists such as M83, Annie, Superpitcher, Three 6 Mafia, LCD Soundsystem, Robyn, LindstrÃ¸m, Arcade Fire, M.I.A., Franz Ferdinand, The Go! Team, Rachel Stevens, !!!, Feist, Rex the Dog, and songs such as “Crazy” (which only made #36 on last year’s lits and is undoubtedly making #1 this year everywhere else).
But what makes this year’s list more exciting (besides the fact it’s doubled in size and isn’t limited to singles) is the fact that I predicted the top two songs!!!
Yes, that’s right. I’ve been saying for the last month that I think Justin Timberlake’s “My Love” and The Knife’s “Silent Shout” are going to be the top two songs of the year, and I was correct. I don’t know whether this means that my taste in music has been so heavily influenced by Pitchfork that I think the same way they do, or whether these really are the top two songs (Stylus Magazine’s Top 50 Singles of 2005 places Gnarls Barkley at #1 and T.I.’s “What You Know” at the top). But either way, I’m damn impressed with myself for predicting these top two.
As I did last year (in parts one, two, and three), I totally intend to do my own version of “The Year 2006” in music. But as a sneak peak, I’ll admit that “My Love” and “Silent Shout” are my top two and that Hot Chip’s “Boy From School” will be number three (it got seventh place with Pitchfork). So stay tuned for that. I’m also going to post a Year 2006 DJ mix (that I’m in the final steps of tweaking right now).
If, like me, you are sometimes overtaken by nostalgia or find yourself wondering how your life was different (not necessarily better or worse) last year at this time (I always become much more introspective and whatnot once the sunny days end and it gets darker earlier and rainy here in Seattle), then I have a neat playlist for you:
I called it: “Last Year This Month.” It will show you all of the songs you added to your iTunes library last year at this time. I’m constantly adding music, so it’s interesting for me to see what music I was just getting into or tracking down just a year ago.
To make it, setup an iTunes Smart Playlist with these parameters:
Date Added --> is in the last --> 12 months
Date Added --> is not in the last --> 11 months
So right now I can see all of the songs I added to iTunes in October, 2005. It’s neat. I was just getting into the Bloc Party and the DFA record label and got new albums by Depeche Mode, Fiona Apple, and Boards of Canada.
(I thought up two more ways to analyze my music-listening habbits (via iTunes [my iPod may tell a totally different story…]. Enjoy!)
Five-Star Songs Discovered in 2005
- “Try Again” by Aaliyah from Romeo Must Die
- “Until the End of the World” by Apoptygma Berzerk from Harmonizer
- “The Woodlands National Anthem” by the Arcade Fire from the Arcade Fire EP
- “Electricity” (Dr. Rockit’s Dirty Kiss) by The Avalanches from the “Electricity” single
- “You Were the Last High” by the Dandy Warhols from Welcome to the Monkey House
- “Happy Together” by Danny Chung from the Happy Together soundtrack
- “Soul Auctioneer” by Death in Vegas from The Contino Sessions
- “Waltz #2 (Xo)” by Elliott Smith from XO
- “The Conductor” (Thin White Duke remix) by The Faint from Danse Macabre Remixes
- “Insomnia” (Monster mix) by Faithless from the “Insomnia” single
- “Get Get” by Fiona Apple from When the Pawn…
- “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (KEXP version) by the Flaming Lips from the “Fight Test” EP
- “Buggin'” by the Flaming Lips from The Soft Bulletin
- “Do You Realize??” by the Flaming Lips from Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
- “All We Have Is Now” by the Flaming Lips from Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
- “Auf Achse” by Franz Ferdinand from Franz Ferdinand
- “Michael” by Franz Ferdinand from Franz Ferdinand
- “Strict Machine” by Goldfrapp from Black Cherry
- “Chartsengrafs” by Grandaddy from The Sophtware Slump
- “Summer Here Kids” by Grandaddy from Under the Western Freeway
- “Shake the Disease” (cover of the Depeche Mode song) by Hooverphonic from For the Masses
- “Little Kids” (Ladytron Fruits of the Forest remix) by Kings of Convenience from Versus
- “Deceptacon” by Le Tigre from Le Tigre
- “Phanta” by Le Tigre from Le Tigre
- “Much Finer” (The Flaxdatass mix) by Le Tigre from Remix
- “Violet Tree” by M83 from M83
- “Personal Jesus” (cover of the Depeche Mode song) by Marilyn Manson from Lest We Forget
- “Mogwai Fear Satan” by Mogwai from Young Team
- “She Wants to Move” (DFA remix) by N*E*R*D* from the “She Wants to Move” single
- “Waiting for the Night” (cover of the Depeche Mode song) by Rabbit in the Moon from For the Masses
- “I Need Your Love” by the Rapture from Echoes
- “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones from Sticky Fingers
- “Polonaise” by Shigeru Umebayash from the 2046 soundtrack
- “2046 Main Theme (with percussion, Train remix) by Shigeru Umebayash from the 2046 soundtrack
- “In a State” (DFA remix) by UNKLE from Inside Out
- “Hash Pipe” by Weezer from Weezer a.k.a. The Green Album
Most-Played Songs in 2005
- “Love is Blue” by Paul Mauriat (34 times — due to a night of drunken depression and having the song on repeat… I discovered this song from an episode of Millennium called “A Room With No View”)
- “DARE” by Gorillaz (27 times)
- “O Green World” by Gorillaz (25 times)
- “Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron (25 times)
- “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” (KEXP version) by the Flaming Lips (24 times)
- “All We Have Is Now” by the Flaming Lips (24 times)
- “Feel Good Inc.” by Gorillaz (23 times)
- “All Alone” by Gorillaz (23 times)
- “Talk” by Coldplay (21 times)
- “Last Living Souls” by Gorillaz (21 times)
- “El Manana” by Gorillaz (21 times)
- “Every Planet We Reach Is Dead” by Gorillaz (21 times)
- “Demon Days” by Gorillaz (21 times)
- “Happy Together” by Danny Chung (20 times)
- “Dirty Harry” by Gorillaz (20 times)
- “Don’t Get Lost In Heaven” by Gorillaz (20 times)
- “Chartsengrafs” by Grandaddy (20 times)
- “Hallelujah” by Rufus Wainwright (20 times — due to a friend who liked listening to this song wayyyy too much)
- “Buggin'” by The Flaming Lips (19 times)
- “Happy Landfill” by Gorillaz (19 times)
… I must say that the most-played list is pretty lame. Obviously I played Demon Days on repeat about 20 times or so, and that fact is reflected in the list. Of note, I think, is “Destroy Everything You Touch,” which came out in November and managed to get so high in my list within less than two months. Demon Days came out in May and had some time to work it’s way up to the top.
The List (cont.)
- “DARE” by Gorillaz from Demon Days
I don’t know what more I can say about this song. Just thinking about it makes me excited. It is, by far, the poppiest song that Gorillaz have done. There is very little hip-hop influence here. Before Demon Days was released, someone at work had the album on their iTunes share. This song hooked me then, and it hasn’t stopped pleasing me since.
- “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” by Kanye West from Late Registration
I love any song that samples, and since I am somewhat familiar with the Shirley Bassey original, I appreciate this song more. As for Kanye’s own touches, it contains his signature (I think?) brass orchestration. The only thing I could lose is the obvious rip-off of OutKast’s “forever-ever, and ever-ever,” which he obviously ganked from “Ms. Jackson.”
- “Hey Mama” by Kanye West from Late Registration
I can’t put my finger on what makes this song great, but I think it has to do with the fact that it just feels thoughtful and heartfelt. It’s nice to see that sometimes from musicians.
- “Destroy Everything You Touch” by Ladytron from The Witching Hour
I consider this to be Ladytron’s “dark” song. It has a bit of darkness to it that really isn’t present in their previous work — sure, “Seventeen” is sorta pedophilic and sexual and “Playgirl” contains a sense of longing, but “Destroy Everything You Touch” brings the group to new levels. Lyrics like, “Anything that may desert you / So it cannot hurt you” and “Everything you touch you don’t feel / Do not know what you steal” really pack some emotional bitterness and depth — it’s nice to see Ladytron evolve from one of the poster children for “electroclash” and move more toward musical maturity. I think “Destroy Everything You Touch” (which, thankfully, is a single — so hopefully more people will be exposed to it) is a great bridge to Ladytron’s new sound.
- “International Dateline” by Ladytron from The Witching Hour
The fact that this song follows “Destroy Everything You Touch” cannot be an accident. The two songs go perfect together, and if I were a DJ I would create a mix that combines the two songs somehow. Like “Destroy,” “International Dateline” showcases Ladytron’s new darkness. It’s a total breakup song — the International Date Line is where the breakup happens — an abstract idea about crossing time and mapping a relationship to the idea of travel. “Let’s end it here…”
- “All The Way…” by Ladytron from The Witching Hour
Initially, this was the song from The Witching Hour that I feel in love with. It reminded me of Slowdive or M83 with it’s dreaminess. Again, Ladytron is moving in a new direction and I love that fact.
- “Tribulations” by LCD Soundsystem from LCD Soundsystem
Forget about “Daft Punk” and the various versions of “Yeah,” this is a great (and engaging — not too long!) LCD Soundsystem song. As much as I love the group (and their DFA remixes), sometimes the songs are a little too abstract and go on a bit too long. Not “Tribulations” — this song (should) keeps your excitement the whole way through.
- “Hung Up” by Madonna from Confessions on a Dancefloor
What can I say about this song that I haven’t said before? Well, I can say that despite the fact that the song came out about two months ago, I still love it. That the remixes are great, too. That the song has not made me love ABBA (which is a good thing, right?). It’s a great, fun song. Enough said.
- “We Run This” by Missy Elliott from The Cookbook
I’m not sure what I like best about this track — the fact that it’s one of the faster tracks from The Cookbook or the old school-sounding background or the brass accompaniment a la “Crazy In Love.” Either way, Missy “runs this shit” on “We Run This,” and I’m all the more thankful.
- “Click Clack” by Missy Elliott from The Cookbook
I swear, the line “Click-Clack, cock back / Semi-automatic track / Drink a lot of Similac, Shorty better fall back” comes from something, but I cannot figure out what (50 Cent maybe??) — either via direct sampling or some sort of play on an original lyric. This song sounds like Missy trying to be all gangsta, which she doesn’t do all too often, and, I must say, she’s pretty damn convincing.
- “God Bless and Goodnight” by Morcheeba from The Antidote
Pretty much every review I’ve read about The Antidote mourns the departure of Skye Davis from the band. While the album is overall disappointing, “God Bless and Goodnight” is a stand-out track. It’s filled with such passion and energy and almost makes an atheist like me want to say my prayers before bed.
- “I Told You So” by New Order from Waiting for the Sirens’ Call
As I am listening to this song again to write a bit about it, I am realizing that there isn’t really anything all that extraordinary about this song — it’s just a great, catchy song. And I love the lyric, “I told you so / It’s a crazy world / For a mixed up guy / And a no good girl” — though, I wish on the second repetition of it, they switched the gender so that it read “mixed up girl / and a no good guy,” but oh well.
- “All The Love In the World” by Nine Inch Nails from With Teeth
This sure isn’t the Nine Inch Nails that I loved back in high school — it’s no “Last” or “Wish” or “March of the Pigs” or “Ruiner” (my favorite NIN song) — it’s mostly a quiet, contemplative piece, more along the lines of “Hurt” or (in my opinion) the entire The Fragile album. But then about 3:45 into the song, it starts picking up and rocks out for the last minute or so. I guess that makes it a good song?
- “Only This Moment” by RÃ¶yksopp from The Understanding
I wasn’t particularly fond of this song until I heard it remixed (particularly the “RÃ¶yksopp Forsiktige Massasje” remix) — then I started to hear the beauty of it. I cannot think of a time prior to “Only This Moment” when a remix of a song sort of retroactively made me appreciate the original more. It’s a cool phenomenon, and since I became obsessed with remixes within the past year (see my forthcoming “Top Remixes of 2005” post) it’s happened a lot more. I’m glad “Only This Moment” gave me the opportunity to realize this new aspect of remixes.
- “What Else Is There?” by RÃ¶yksopp from The Understanding
This is the only song from The Understanding that reminds me of RÃ¶yksopp’s masterpiece, break-through, killer, etc. etc. album Melody A.M. — and even “What Else Is There?” is a little fast for that comparison.
- “Someone Like Me” by RÃ¶yksopp from The Understanding
When I first picked up The Understanding, I was rather disappointed. It’s hard to follow-up and album like Melody A.M. And while, now that it’s been a while, I’ve learned to love The Understanding, it took some time. And it took some realization that this RÃ¶yksopp is different from the old RÃ¶yksopp. “Someone Like Me” was the first song that made me realize this and helped me ease into their latest work. The song has it’s slow, Melody A.M.-like moments, but it also has some faster, more lounge-like moments. It’s a great transition song and also gives us a chance to hear what those RÃ¶yksopp guys sound like (since all of the vocals, as far as I know, on Melody A.M. were other people — most notably Erlend Ã˜ye).
- “Just Like Me” (Will.I.Am Of Black Eyed Peas Mix) by Sarah McLachlan and Run DMC from Bloom
The thing is, there is something about the song “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin that is just amazing. It’s both melancholy and whimsical at the same time. I haven’t met a person who doesn’t love this song. I’m still a little unclear where this remake (retiled as “Just Like Me”) came from — did DMC (Run DMC) cover it, then Sarah and Will.I.Am remixed it? And where is the original? I guess there is mystery, for me, surrounding this version of the song, which probably makes it more enticing. It’s better than most covers since, via hip-hop, it reimagines the song.
- “Baby Boy” by Thea from the Unleashed soundtrack
I have no idea who Thea is and this song didn’t even appear in Unleashed, but it makes a great contribution (as a bonus track to the U.S. edition) to the soundtrack. The song is soothing and serves as a perfect coda to a moody and at-times violent soundtrack. My favorite part is when the strange underwater-sounding singing comes in, about a minute before the song ends. “Baby Boy” brings hope to an otherwise depressing soundtrack.
Songs I Found Out About After I Started This List
- “Beautiful” by Goldfrapp from the “Number 1” single
I have no idea why this is a B-side and isn’t on the Supernature album (out now in the U.K., coming out in the states in March). It’s far better than “Number 1” (of which it is a B-side to). Prior to purchasing the single, I only knew of Goldfrapp via the song “Horse Tears” from Felt Mountain — I didn’t know about Black Cherry and their turn to glam and glitz. This track shocked me, and I fell in love with it. Not quite as catchy as “Strict Machine,” but it’s close!
- “Give Me Every Little Thing” by The Juan Maclean from Less Than Human
I first heard two versions of this song on the November-released DFA Records Holiday Mix 2005 (of which I am one of the few lucky owners of an actual physical copy of — mostly it was available online only via iTunes or whatever). Between the thumping and the synths and the grunting of “give me every little thing,” this song hooks you and doesn’t let go. Even when it isn’t remixed, it’s great.
- “Avalon” by Juliet from Random Order
Leading up to Madonna’s Hung Up album, I went through a bit of an obsession with producer/co-writer Stuart Price a.k.a. Thin White Duke a.k.a. Jacques Lu Cont. I downloaded or hunted down nearly every remix he did (my favorites: “The Conductor” by The Faint and “It’s My Life” by Gwen Stefani), including “Avalon” by some chick named Juliet. I did some more research and found out that Hung Up wasn’t the first album that he co-created, but that earlier in the year he had collaborated with this Juliet person on an album called Random Order. I eventually came across it (after buying the single at Tower Records), and while the album itself isn’t a masterpiece, “Avalon” is great.
- “Don’t Save Us From The Flames” by M83 from Before the Dawn Heals Us
This song takes the best of My Bloody Valentine (“wall of guitar”) and blends it with banshee-like screaming, drums, and electronic beats. While everyone (i.e. critics) seem to think the Superpitcher remix is better than the original (it may be?), the source material is worth coming back to, here. The remixes don’t fix a broken song, they build on an already great song.
- “Starts Off With a Bang” by the Mobius Band from City vs. Country
The was a Salon.com Audiofile download of the week on May 5, 2005 and I just happened to download it at work without really listening to it. Then one day my coworker and I were playing a game where whenever a song played on the iTunes party shuffle, whoever managed to guess the name and artist got a point. (Considering the fact that it was my mp3 collection, the game was a little unfair — but fun nonetheless.) When “Starts off With a Bang” by Mobius Band came on, I had no idea who sang it, but I knew I loved it. That’s how it came into my music collection.
So since this post is mostly just an elaborate list, I feel the need to make some sense of it. Pretend these are awards or something and I have created arbitrary categories as such:
This is also somewhat of a prediction (for Pitchfork and other places), but I really cannot see how Madonna’s “Hung Up” isn’t hands-down the best single of the year. It’s so damn catchy, there was a huge amount of hype preceding it, it was release don iTunes way before physical album release… if the mysterious “best single” award isn’t made for Madonna, then I don’t know what deserves such a title.
Best Single #2
Since Madonna’s “Hung Up” really makes this category unfair, I had to add a #2 so that Gorillaz’s “Feel Good, Inc.” could get some recognition, too. The song is catchy and cross-genre (electronic + hip-hop + rock) and, as I recall, did pretty well on the radio, MTV, etc. It’s not quite the blitz that “Hung Up” is, but it’s probably a better song and more technically advanced.
My Favorite Song
A few years ago back when I was a freshman in college, I found the Chemical Brother’s song “Out of Control.” I created my AOL Instant Messenger name based on the song titled, tracked down rare remixes of the song, and even named my previous web site/blog after it. Needless to say, “Out of Control” was my favorite song. Key word: was. Now Gorillaz’s “DARE” takes that title. So, of course, since it came out in 2005, it’s also my favorite song from 2005. I love the falsetto parts of the song (which seem to be sung by Noodle, according to the “DARE” music video. As an added bonus (and maybe I can elaborate on this if I do indeed do a “Top Remixes of 2005” list), the DFA did an awesome remix of “DARE” that I managed to hunt down with LimeWire. I wish I could say that the lyrics really meant something to me or that it samples some really obscure and hip old record from the 70s, but neither is the case. This is just one of those songs that catches your ear for whatever reason and gets you hooked.
I felt the need to mention these four-star songs that were really good, too:
- “Positive Tension” by the Bloc Party from Silent Alarm
- “Chromakey Dreamcoat” by Boards of Canada from The Campfire Headphase
- “Dirty Harry” by Gorillaz from Demon Days
- “Lose Control” by Missy Elliott from The Cookbook
- “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens from Come On Feel the Illinoise
The Biggest Surprise
Although I have been a fan of Ladytron for a few years (and really like “Playgirl” and “Ladybird”), I was surprised that three of the songs from their latest album, The Witching Hour, made it into my top songs. I will discuss the album in much more detail on the “Top Albums of 2005” post, but the group went in a somewhat new direction with The Witching Hour and the results really paid off. “Destroy Everything You Touch” and “International Dateline” are more poppy-electro-type songs, while “All The Way…” is a slow, ambient number. I just didn’t expect to fall this hard for Ladytron songs, and was quite surprised.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t love The Pussycat Girls‘ song “Don’t Cha,” but I do love it and that is what this “Guiltiest Pleasure” section is for. I will admit, however, that if I hadn’t gone out clubbing as much as I did during the past year, I probably wouldn’t love the song quite as much. But there is something about hearing the lyrics “Don’t cha wish your boyfriend was hot like me?” at a gay club that creates a perfect marriage (or threesome, rather) of lyrical brilliance (or simplicity?), irony, and situation/environment that forces me to laugh and smile and feel a little devious every time I hear this song. Image a bunch of gay boys singing this to each other on the dancefloor or thinking about it whenever we encounter a really hot guy with his girlfriend. It’s totally awesome.
In the same vein of guilty pleasures, if I had to pick a runner-up to “Don’t Cha,” it would definitely be Kelly Clarkson‘s “Since U Been Gone.” Although I like “SUBG” (as my friend Troy has called it on occasion) better than “Don’t Cha,” it lacks the irony and fun so it’s not as “acceptable” of a guilty pleasure.
Last year Pitchfork did a Top 50 Singles of 2004 list that I thought was just awesome. When they released it in late December, I scrambled to make sure I was familiar with as many listed as possible (i.e. downloaded them via the internet in one way or another…). And thanks to that list, I ended up buying great albums by groups/musicians such as Annie, LCD Soundsystem, Franz Ferdinand, and The Go! Team. Checking out Pitchfork list really did broaden my musical interests.
So this year I am going to do my own “Top Singles of 2005” list. And actually, these aren’t singles, but rather songs from albums that came out in 2005 (and I do intended to do a “Top Albums of 2005” and I am considering a “Top Remixes of 2005”) that I rated 5 stars on iTunes. To be honest, there isn’t anything too interesting about this list. Most of the songs are from fairly high-profile albums, so it’s not like I’m revealing any hidden gems. Nonetheless, it’s cool to look back on the new songs that I thought were cool.
At this point, it doesn’t look like there are albums coming out within the next month that I am interested in, so I am pretty confident that this list is final. I may have missed a few songs that I liked, and there may be some four-star songs that really should be five-star songs (and likewise, five-star songs that should be four-star songs).
- “Anniemal” by Annie from Anniemal
While I still like “Heartbeat” and “Chewing Gum” better, “Anniemal” is the third-best song on Annie’s debut American album, which came out this year. I like the weird synth-sounding “da da da da da” or whatever goes on in the chorus.
- “Hell Yes” by Beck from Guereo
Molly re-introduced me to Beck, and pointed me in the direction of the 8-bit “Ghettochip Malfunction” remix of “Hell Yes,” which really endeared me to this song.
- “She’s Hearing Voices” by the Bloc Party from Silent Alarm
This is one of the few “alternative” or “indie” songs that have made it onto my “Gym Songs” playlist. The fast beat certainly helps keep me focused on the treadmill. Otherwise, I love the (I think it is safe to assume?) Matrix reference during the “red pill/blue pill” chorus. Plus the reverb on the guitar totally rocks. What the song is about, I’m not so sure, and why she gets to hear voices I’m not sure of either. I’m jealous, nonetheless.
- “Luno” (Bloc Party vs. Death From Above 1979) by The Bloc Party from Silent Alarm Remixed
I’m still not sure whether this is a cover or what exactly Death From Above 1979’s involvement with the song is, but this version is much faster and harsher sounding than the original, which I probably wouldn’t always like. Funny story: when I first heard this remix, I thought it was a remix by the DFA and that the DFA and Death from Above 1979 were the same thing. No no no. Not the case. The fact that this isn’t one of the DFA remixes makes me like it a little less, but it’s still one of the best songs from 2005.
- “Close Your Eyes” by the Chemical Brothers from Push the Button
The lyrics on this song are so beautiful — both aurally and lyrically. I love the phrase, “In your eyes I can see that you’re cracking up / In your eyes I can see that you’ve had enough.” I loved the song so much that I bought the Magic Numbers’ self-titled album (they did the vocals for “Close Your Eyes.”) Unfortunately, The Magic Numbers wasn’t my thing, but I still like the song.
- “Talk” by Coldplay from X&Y
I’m surprised that this hasn’t been released as a single. It’s far better, I think, than “Speed of Sound,” though it is somewhat similar to their award-winning “Clocks” (my favorite song from A Rush of Blood to the Head). The song is also great for sampling Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love.” If you like the sound of this song, checkout the Kraftwerk original.
- “Human After All” by Daft Punk from Human After All
My favorite part of this song is how, toward the end, it deteriorates into a chaotic repetition of “human after all.”
- “John The Revelator” by Depeche Mode from Playing the Angel
I pretty much like any contemporary song that redoes or reimagines any sort of old or “traditional” song from the past. Although I’m not familiar with the original version of this song, the dark Depeche Mode version is an interesting listen.
- “Nothing’s Impossible” by Depeche Mode from Playing the Angel
This is the most haunting song on Playing the Angel and therefore my favorite. Plus, I tend to hold to the theory that “nothing’s impossible,” especially when it comes to dark, brooding relationships that Depeche Mode loves so much.
- “Get Him Back” by Fiona Apple from Extraordinary Machine
This song was my immediate favorite from the “bootlegged” version of Extraordinary Machine that leaked last summer. While I don’t like the more produced-sounding version on the official release, the song is still great. I love the lyrics, “I’m going to get him back / and he won’t have a back to scratch.”
- “Tymps (The Sick in the Head Song)” by Fiona Apple from Extraordinary Machine
By far, this song was the biggest surprise from Extraordinary Machine. It was released on the bootleg under the title “Oh Well,” and that’s pretty much how I felt about it back then. The official version is a bit faster and adds more quirky instruments and a very dramatic movement in the middle. Lyrically, “The red isn’t red we painted it just rust” (complete with Fiona’s dramatic pauses) stands out the most for me. It’s like when you want to paint something all bright and red and exciting, but it comes out dull and aged. For me, that lyric represents the idea of having the best intentions for something (i.e. a relationship) and then having things turn out totally different and a bit disappointing. Or that despite making an effort to start things fresh and new, they return to the same, old rusty ways.
- “Feel Good, Inc.” by Gorillaz from Demon Days
Not only was this a killer single, but it’s also a killer song. How could this song not make you feel good? Like most of the songs on Demon Days (and I’ll give you a hint: if this isn’t my #1 album of 2005, be very, very surprised), the song goes from one genre to another. In a way, “Feel Good Inc.” is three songs in one: a poppy alternative skeleton, a shoegazing “windmill windmill on the ground…,” and a slamming rap by De La Soul.
- “O Green World” by Gorillaz from Demon Days
This song reminds me of the summer, reading Mysterious Skin and waiting in line at SIFF movies. More than the lyrics, I like the sounds in “O Green World,” including that grating scream in the background.
- “All Alone” by Gorillaz from Demon Days
For the “May I” mix CD I made some friends in May, I wrote the following about this song: “I think one of the reasons I love this song is its randomness â€” itâ€™s almost like three or four songs all in one. My favorite part is the change that takes place about 2:00 into the song and then at 2:29 when the speed picks up a little bit. For some reason this sound haunts me and touches me. It also reminds me of the book Mysterious Skin which I read at the time I got the CD.” Pardon the second reference to Mysterious Skin in relation to a song from Demon Days. For me, the two are inextricably linked in my head.
… do not fear, Part Two of my “Top Songs of 2005” will be coming soon. In addition to the conclusion of the big list of songs, I also have more extended thoughts on what I think is the best single, the guiltiest pleasure song, etc. Stay tuned!