I was asked by a blogger overseas to list 10 songs that I love with an explanation for each. I’m not sure if he ever posted it but I thought the list would be a great addition to this blog. I had a lot of trouble narrowing it down to just 10 tracks though. There is just so much music out there that I love and that has inspired me. So, I decided to pick from some of the most played songs on my iPhone. Here are 10 songs that I love and the reasons why.
The Postal Service – The District Sleeps Alone Tonight
When I first heard of “The Postal Service”, I didn’t want to like them. I had been hearing so much hype about this project it became nauseating. The only thing I knew about them was that the singer was from “Deathcab for Cutie” and at the time, I wasn’t a big fan. So, before I even heard TPS, I already hated them. The day I finally heard them, I was in an old cabin surrounded by snow in Lake Tahoe with a group of close friends sitting around the fire listening to music and talking. The previous CD had ended (this was when people used to listen to full albums back to back) and one friend began to load up The Postal Service’s album. I immediately protested but was vastly outnumbered and the CD went in. As soon as the desolate low humming synth kicked in, I was hooked. The conversation around me became suddenly muted and I was transfixed on this song. When I hear a great song, it will usually put an image in my head. Sometimes it’s a still picture or painting, sometimes it’s a video. Immediately, my brain began to play an image of a car driving down a deserted road at night, the white lines of the road being illuminated by the headlights only to quickly disappear under the car into the blackness of the night. From the sequenced bleeps and pads to the fast violin scales, I was hooked. I had never heard anything like this in my life and I wanted more. Luckily, the rest of the album did not disappoint and as soon as I returned home, I bought the album and it didn’t leave my CD player for a year.
The Faint - Glass Danse
After the Postal Service had introduced me to electronic instruments and soundscapes beyond just what I considered “Cheesy 80’s” music and “Rave garbage”, I was introduced to The Faint. This song stood out to me because of its energy. The first staccato notes of the distorted bass sets a broken rhythm that gives off a nervous energy as the two octave synth line builds from under a low pass filter and after abruptly ending into open air, the full band kicks in with a bouncing beat that you can’t help but nod your head to. I remember hearing this for the first time and being blown away. It was the first time I had ever heard punk music played with electronic instruments and it was so fresh and exciting. If I had to narrow down one band that really inspired me to make electronic music, it would be the Faint hands down (Sorry Daft Punk).
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby
If I had one word to describe this song, it would have to be “haunting”. I remember being a kid and my dad playing this song for me for the first time on his brand new sound system. I could hear every nuance of the string arrangement in detail so I closed my eyes and let the sound wash over me. Once Paul’s voice broke over the strings, an image of Eleanor Rigby appeared in my head and I began to follow her in the story that Paul was telling. The image of her sad wrinkled face still haunts me to this day. I can’t begin to explain how much I love this song and how powerful it is. Not only is it sonically beautiful, it tells a chilling story that is so poetic and heartbreaking that once it’s over, you feel like you had lost someone close to you.
Freezepop – Boys on Film
This catchy little synth pop jam is a sort of ironic answer to Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film”. The lyrics are campy and a bit cheesy but fit well over the bubbling, poppy synth arrangement. The quick 909 sounding drum beat sets the perfect pace for this track and it makes me want to get up and shake my rump. As the song builds, you can’t help but fall in love with Freezepop’s stripped down, all fun take on 80’s new wave/synth pop. Once the energetic outro kicks in with the titular line being repeated, you should be in full booty bouncing mode. I know I am.
Kanye West – The Good Life
This song has been my summer anthem every year since the album was released. The feel good sort of cocky lyrics are perfect over what has to be one of the best samples of MJ out there. Whenever this song comes on I can’t help but nod my head and my mood instantly shifts into pure happiness.
Lo-Fi-Fnk – Wake Up
The first time I heard this song was in the car of a girl who was very special at the time. I agreed to take a ride with her on a hot summer day to get tattooed somewhere in the Inland Empire. We were taking turns playing songs on our iPods and she put this one on. I immediately fell in love with the simple yet obscenely catchy synth lines and lyrics. From then on this song and album were all we listened to together and now every time I hear it, I am immediately transported to that time. The whole album is so much fun that once I listen to one song, I have to listen to the rest of the album in its entirety.
M83 – Don’t Save Us from the Flames (Superpitcher Remix)
I love the energy and heart of the original, but this remix turns the song into a haunting 10 minute exploration. The original stems are stripped down to twist a once energetic heartwarming chorus into a chilling anthem. I love when remixes can flip a song around and turn it into something completely new. The fact that Superpitcher uses a lot of the original stems makes it even greater. It’s easy to take a vocal stem and write a new song under it, but to take what’s already there and turn it into something entirely new is simply amazing. My favorite memory attributed to this song was riding in a car with friends up a huge snowy mountain on the way to a secluded cabin and midway through this song, we broke through the trees to see miles and miles of a beautiful snowy landscape from thousands of feet above. The way the sun shot through the trees and glistened off the white snow set a perfect picture for this song.
Junior Boys – Count Souvenirs
This song has to be one of, if not THE sexiest songs I’ve ever heard. The 3/4 rhythm accompanied by arpeggiated synths and a tastefully distorted bass are just pure SEX. The singer’s reserved vocals add to the whole ambiance of the track and I am envious of the way his voice sounds, I would give anything to be able to sing like that. Even though the lyrics are about a failed relationship and longing for someone, all I can think of when I hear this song is a beautiful girl dancing on a hot summer night, beads of sweat forming on her forehead, slowly accumulating and dripping down her face while her clothing fights to hang on to her writhing body. Did I mention that this track is the epitome of sexiness?
Def Leppard – Photograph
Being born in the 80’s with two hair metal parents, it’s only natural that I have a love for 80’s metal and rock. Of all the music that came from that era, this song has to be my favorite. From the opening guitar riff to the chugging bass and drums that kick in, this song is pure rock and roll bliss. The pre chorus jumps in with cowbell and some screaming “ohhhs” that lead into one of the best choruses ever written. The singer’s voice soars over a backing of what sounds like heavy metal angels chanting “photograph” while the guitars pluck out a beautiful chord progression to create a wall of sound that can envelope your body if you close your eyes and let it. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
Hey Mercedes – A List Actress
Hey Mercedes is my all time favorite band and has been for the last 10 years. Ever since I drove down to the CD store and picked up their album “Everynight Fire Works”, I have been a dedicated loyal fan. I’ve bought t-shirts, every single piece of recorded material, downloaded live show footage, you name it. As much as I love their entire catalog, this song is still my favorite and may very well be my most favorite song of all time. There are so many reasons why I love this song it would be hard to list them all here so I’ll give a short list. First off, from the squealing guitar intro to the last chord, the guitar work in this song is so simple yet beautiful, knowing when to refrain and when to unleash. The song itself is very energetic but still gives you moments to breath between sparkling guitars and driving drums. I’ve always admired the singer’s lyrics, the way they paint a picture but still leave a lot of room for interpretation, they are more poetic than straight forward. To me, it sounds like the singer is comparing his relationship to a Hollywood movie where his lover plays the lead role, the “A-list actress”. I think many guys can relate to this story, trying to win over and maintain the interest of someone who to you, is a star up on a pedestal. It’s a constant struggle to keep your composure and maintain focus while delivering your “lines”.