Right around ten years ago, i shared a list of what I felt were my 100 favorite all time songs. I got a lot of great feedback from that, and it inspired me to do other big countdowns as each. Finally, last year I thought it might be time for a refresh, both as a way to see what changed with my likes and dislikes, as well as giving more recent songs I've obsessed over a way to be added. Today, May 4, I present the first installment of my TOP 100 SONGS OF MY LIFE, with sections of twenty five being added each week. Enjoy give feedback, and thanks for reading and sharing!
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100 BAT FOR LASHES
DANIEL: TWO SUNS
Mesmerizing from the first moment, Natasha Khan as Bat for Lashes, excels at pain driven art house indie rock. “Daniel,” typically a name associated with assholes, is used here as a way to search for harmony and love. The song and the way the songs namesake is sung has this ominous undertone to it, and while it’s very freeing to move and sway to, it’s thick with emotion mixed with a dreamlike beauty that Bat for Lashes has become known for.
LITTLE DIPPER: YOU'D PREFER AN ASTRONAUT
So heavy you almost leave your body. I love Hum for many reasons, one being that seeing their reunion show put me on a path to meeting my eventual soulmate, while all the others have to do with the strength put forth by the band, consisting of Matt Talbott, Tim Lash and Jeff Dimpsey. “Little Dipper” opens this album in thick resistance and reverb, and from there, you never touch the ground again
98 A TRIBE CALLED QUEST
CAN I KICK IT?: PEOPLES INSTINCTIVE TRAVELS....
For my money there’s no better pure Hip Hop band than that of A Tribe Called Quest. With masters like Q- Tip, legend Phife Dawg, Muhammad and Jarobi White they created easy going music you could rhyme and relax to. It’s easy going music, and mixed with forward thinking lyrics help this song, and the band in general grow to their most open honest and artistic. So my question is, Can I kick it? Yes I can.
97 GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
EAST HASTINGS: FA#Q!
At an easy going seventeen minutes and some change, the track escapes first through anger filled yells and bagpipes flailing in the wind. More sounds obscure the atmosphere, much in the way darkness hides the path of least resistance. It’s here that the guitar becomes center stage, like the aftermath of a giant fight in which both combatants attempt to keep going. As a slow motion struggle ensues, the clouds black and fierce, cascade over the valley of lost promises and shattered ideals. The fighting pit, as it’s known, isn’t a pit at all, but the world we now know.
96 DAVID BOWIE
FAME: YOUNG AMERICANS
Whether you were young when your first heard it, or older, there’s no denying the mass appeal, not to mention the oozing sexuality of the instrumentation on this classic track from the God Alien himself , aka the Thin White Duke David Bowie. The bass line is contagious in the way that your hips instantly start moving , while the vocals showcase Bowies versatility as a singer. All in all, it’s really hard not to love the song and the mood it creates.
95 EARTH, WIND & FIRE
Another big sentimental mood song for me, this classic from the funk legends was a huge moment at my wedding a few years ago. Yes it’s a song named after a certain month, but it’s made and written In a way that diminishes the need for specific song knowledge while still Making it easy to enjoy. It’s a classic track that lands at #95.
94 PORTUGAL. THE MAN
LIVE IN THE MOMENT: WOODSTOCK
For everyone who loved the band's first single off this record “Feel it Still,” I wish there were more who dug this song in a similar manner. “Live in the Moment '' is a modern alt rock song with that classic alt rock hook, except the modernized production elevates it a little bit. It’s an important song of the last few years to me, as it symbolizes how quickly great things can come and go. The band still hasn’t released the next album since then, but given the success of this album, I can’t wait to see where they go next.
93 DEADBOY & THE ELEPHANTMAN
HOW LIGHT THE NIGHT WAS: WE ARE NIGHT SKY
For what it’s worth Dax Riggs is the great misunderstood never was a star but should’ve been a legend of SouthEast Louisiana. His work with Agents of Oblivion, Acid Bath and Deadboy and the elephant men are all markedly different projects, but with “How long the Night Sky” Riggs focused all the murkiness of the swampy south in a heartbroken ballad about the mystery’s that occur on the darkness. One of my all time favorites, and a hometown hero, not to mention an incredibly underrated musician.
92 DENZEL CURRY
SHAKE 88 w/ SAM SNEAK: ZUU
Maybe not the biggest track of the year, but it’s very likely the banger if the year for me. It’s become my almost home from work song over the past year and it’s even better if you have plans you’re headed to. Curry is a monster as an M.C. and the beats are some of the dopest I’ve heard in the last few years. It’s honest, raunchy as fuck, and care free, like all good hip hop should be. There’s a time and a place for everything, and if it’s a party it has to be Denzel Curry. It’s a guaranteed booty shaker as it was meant, and it still hasn’t gotten lame for me.
PERFECT PLACES: MELODRAMA
With “Perfect Places” Lorde has a track that’s searching for the goodness in the world while accepting the sobering idea that no one and nothing is granted, well even less things are ultimately worth worrying about. As Lorde said, our heroes fade,” which to me symbolizes the death of hoping for the best, and the death of naivety. In truth, lyrically this song is probably the most adult on the record, and brilliantly, emotionally showcases how wise beyond her years Lorde actually is.
90 THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
BIRDHOUSE IN YOUR SOUL: FLOOD
For some reason, this band never got the huge blowup of popularity they deserved, but at least we have this classic gem. The track in question is a feel good jolly sounding rendition, and even though I've heard this song a thousand times, I never tried to figure out what it’s actually about. Just seems to be nonproductive, seeing as the song is perfect without context or having to be told what it’s about. “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” just is great, no exposition necessary.
89 JOSE GONZALES
Rarely does a cover song come close to be even half as good as the original. Jose Gonzales accomplished this exact thing when re-envisioned the Knife's dance pop electro masterpiece “Heartbeats..” Done acoustically here, the drama permeating the song is more apparent and palpable, and in a way it makes it more human, while also making it more like Jose's. It never fails to make me happy and full of love to hear this, and I frankly can’t imagine it being any better.
INDESTRUCTIBLE: BODY TALK
To be strong and a force of nature is nice, but even a fembot needs encouragement from time to time. Robyn’s European dance classic has this perfect synth beat raising and falling in the mix as Robyn’s fierce but gorgeous vulnerability cascades over the beats jamming out of the speakers. Being lost and in love as this song blasts over the PA of a dingy Nola bar is a fond memory I still hold dear, but you never know when you’re vulnerability if going to be too much for some to handle, so you best be sure to always appear tougher than you are.
87 DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN
MILK LIZARD: IRE WORKS
At number eight-six, we have an early contender for Heaviest song on this list. Dillinger as a bad is a type of chaos few can match, with songs like “Milk Lizard, and countless others offering the type of fierce musicianship and bull like energy they became known for. Greg’s lyrics are presented here in a myriad of chord progressions and time signatures, with the singing in the chorus gloriously fitting in with the build of of anger and force thrusting through the brutality of “Milk Lizard.”
86 JAY - Z
99 PROBLEMS: BLACK ALBUM
The beat is absolutely insane and pummeling in a way that many songs can’t stand up to. Carter’s lyrics are also hilariously rebellious, but the also convey the very real truth of black men, guilty or not being mistreated by various law enforcement types. Also, the “Wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight” is one of the best lines in any song ever. He may not be making music this good anymore, but “99 Problems” stands as his crowning achievement.
85 FIONA APPLE
ANYTHING WE WANT: IDLER WHEEL….
Such a simple, sexy, sweet song. Fiona is a mystery in the world of music, coming and going as she pleases. It’s refreshing to see, but also frustrating because is means we have to wait years for high quality songs from one Ms. Apple. “Anything We want” has that romantic tension all couples are familiar with. The piano work in turn compliments the narrative of the song, all while Apple’s voice whirls through the running time.
FIRE COMING OUT OF THE MONKEY'S HEAD: DEMON DAYS
Certain songs aren’t even really songs, but rather lavish tales that perfectly tell a short, but detailed and polished story. Add in the narrative from the cantankerous Dennis hopper, and you have an incredible song that almost no one mentions. The plot, revolving around the “mountain called monkey,” “Happy folk,” and shadowy figures. Told in the way of a parable about the excess and debt that comes with that excess have always fascinated my mind, but it’s not just the story about the onslaught of the Monkey that fills my mind with wonder. The chill, Jamaican vibe that infuses the song together is wondrous, and in that complete package, it’s able to excel.
83 THE SHINS
SLEEPING LESSONS: WINCING THE NIGHT AWAY
Anyone that knows my musical likes and dislikes knows that I’m a sucker for big dramatic openings. “Sleeping Lessons' ' does this expertly. The song itself is vibrant musically and lyrically despondent at the same time. James Mercer's voice has always been one to lure in listeners, except here I feel called to the darkness behind his voice, going where we don’t know.
82 FLORENCE + THE MACHINE
SHAKE IT OUT: CEREMONIALS
Whether you are new to Florence or not, one thing is immediately clear when you finally get exposed to her. Her ability to send a message and use her powerful voice to soar is hard to match in modern alternative music.This song,”Shake It Off,” has stadium anthem written all over it, and you can tell that’s what they were after. It gives power to powerless people,and makes the trials of life easier to circumvent. The listener can relate to the lyrics “It’s hard to dance with the evil on your back,” because we’ve all been there. Now, while I don’t really think the devil exists, the negativity we all endure is real, and the song presents us with a mantra to triumph over difficult things.
BLOOD AND THUNDER: LEVIATHAN
Among the benchmarks in this bands career, “Leviathan” is certainly high up there, but his song is a huge piece to the puzzle. The entirety of the record is brilliantly heavy, but “Blood and Thunder” is the pinnacle of the record. The way Troy Sanders bellows the title, not to mention the soaring quality of the overall track really make it fit into the fury of the Moby Dick inspired world, and while you would never want to be in the world for real, you feel completely at peace with the violence of a massive whale and the ocean as you rock out to this classic track.
80 COURTNEY BARNETT
PEDESTRIAN AT BEST: SOMETIMES I SIT AND THINK….
Sometimes you just know, and when I heard this song the first few times I knew this was my number one song of the year. Barnett swept the indie music scene with a brilliant record full of spunk and attitude and on the album's best track she wraps all the sarcasm and bravado into one nicely tied bow. The lyrics are utterly brilliant and flow with the urgency of a busy person vomiting as she urgently tries to get her message out. The rhyme scheme is magnanimous and bitter, unrelenting even. She reaches into the heart of anger and resentment with no line of sight. When Barnett growls about “Pedestals and disappointing You,” you feel the bruises of a damaged relationships, but even if Barnett is in the wrong here, you don’t really care because the song is so fucking catchy.
WEIRD FISHES/ ARPEGGI: IN RAINBOWS
The drum sets the groove, sexy tone right away, but this song isn't sexy at all. Perhaps the feel and vibe of the song are, but the lyrics are pretty fucking sad and thought provoking. Thom Yorke is one of those singers who can make you feel anything he wants when he wants. The background vocals as the music picks up get to me everytime. These dudes know how to perfectly mix a song. " Everybody leaves if they get the chance," is a punch to the stomach that struggles with the realization that life isn't always going to be good, but somehow you have to keep going, keep trying to figure out the puzzle
SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE: AUDIOSLAVE
Supergroups can be very hit or miss generally, but when members of Rage joined with a member of a certain garden club, all bets were off. The debut album is amazing, but even those other tracks pale in comparison to how good “Show Me How to Live'' is. Rock as it was during the heyday of Soundgarden and Rage were changing more each year, yet “Show me How to Live” was able to make a legacy out of an inspiring song about the difficulties of creation.
77 YEAH YEAH YEAHS
MAPS: FEVER TO TELL
Like many people, this was my first exposure to this band I now love immensely. The video, which takes place at a type of dance, is still one of the prettiest and most entrancing I’ve ever seen, but a video is only as good as the song it’s helping to portray, and this one is a killer. The softness and beauty in Karen’s voice is more noticeable here than in any other YYY’s track, and all of the elements are used to magnificent measure, and it’s not a shock that the band used this as their calling card. I’d say it worked, and since the massive success the band has been able to give us even more awesome music.
76 MISSY ELLOITT
WORK IT: UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Now it’s time for an extremely different type of song about how to celebrate your partner and their respective bodies. Elliott during this time was just starting to become a reliable female hip hop star, which to be frank we could still use more of. The song is filthier than many of her male contemporaries, but it’s less about being slutty or anything else. What the song ultimately is exclaiming is the enduring power of the female mind in the form of sexually fueled hip hop. The beat is fantastic, and obviously her lyrics are enough to make sure everyone takes note. It’s a wonderful party song that is full of female empowerment and for that reason it makes the list.
75 KING CRIMSON
To pigeonhole King Crimson to any one genre is to fundamentally not understand their goal as music makers. For the last god knows how many decades, an assortment of creators have been welcomed into the KC family, but other than “Court of the Crimson King” they’ve never made a song as memorable as “Starless.” The track is long, topping out at over twelve minutes full of effects and more drums and orchestration than current bands are using. The track is brilliantly used in the opening of the Nick Cage masterpiece “Mandy,” but where that is more horror based, “Starless” as a song sits nestled in a world full of hazy color, brimming with intensity.
74 DANNY BROWN
AIN'T IT FUNNY: ATROCITY EXHIBITION
As far as fast paced rap songs go, none are as good to me as when “Ain’t it Funny,” hits my ears.Written by the divine rhyme of one Danny Brown, the beats are swirling and energetic, with Brown's high pitched rampant rap style blurring the song with more rhymes than Phyllis Diller. There’s more I could say about this song, but it’s better just to experience one of the best rappers around on what’s maybe his best song to date.
73 ST. VINCENT
LOS AGELESS: MASSEDUCTION
When I first heard “Los Ageless,” I was immediately hooked. It’s about fighting back, but its chorus also touches on that insane type of fixation where a person truly believes they couldn’t be happy if they weren’t with one particular person. It sorta comes off as stalkery, but those moments aren’t force fed through the entire track. It’s almost Dystopian in themes, such as depicting guitar playing ladies forced into cages, but it’s such an aggressive song that it’s easy to not dwell on the lyrics being presented. It’s easily the best exposition on the record, and everything from the vocals, the echoes, the blast beats at the forefront,and the minimal beats you hear faintly, all drive the song to excellence.
72 THE AVALANCHES
FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST: SINCE I LEFT YOU
For a band that took two decades to make their second record, it’s hard to remember that this isn’t their only album anymore. Australia's own The Avalanches created a perfect album, but this song in particular, “Frontier Psychiatrist,” was the explosion that the band needed to get recognized. It’s thumping, and easy to dance to, even while it’s amazing and strange. That’s where the band's exemplary sampling techniques come in. The song weaves and bobs in various ways that makes it hard to form one concise feeling, but in that way it somehow makes the song even more imaginative and memorable.
71 PANIC AT THE DISCO!
HIGH HOPES: PRAY FOR THE WICKED
For the record, I am not typically a fan of the Brendon Urie led Panic! at the Disco, but a great song is a great song. It’s super positive(which is something we can all use from time to time), but it’s also honest about the struggles of finding your own path. It’s hard not to resist that. The opening horns and the general upbeat energy joining up while Urie belts out great encouraging messages make for a truly unforgettable track. You just can’t not smile and want to dance when you hear it. For those reasons it lands at number 71.
70 CHILDISH GAMBINO
While not Gambino’s best known song by a long shot, “Bonfire” is no slouch, and up until this album was released Gambino hadn’t gotten the acknowledgment he rightfully desired. The beat taking up the back end of the song is gangster as you can get, and the lyrics are second to none. The world play is ruthless, and Gambino, or Glover, is able to throw major shade in multiple directions while still touching on the nerdy symbology that was so helpful to him during his early releases
69 ETTA JAMES*
AT LAST: AT LAST!
What is it about this song that brings people together? Maybe it’s James’ sultry, inviting voice, or maybe it’s the classically trained orchestra in the background. In the end, it’s neither in particular. It’s both. The voice and instrumentation both help to catapult each other to a perfect elevation. This song, like many on this never ending list, has major sentimental value. Apart from being played on our wedding day, It’s the ultimate love song, and it truly encapsulates the spirit of finding someone, and knowing that they are yours, and you are theirs, “At Last”
JUST A PHASE: MORNING VIEW
Like a swinging breeze that lightly flows across your skin, “Just a Phase,” recorded for the “Morning View” sessions, lands at number 3. The track starts with some gorgeous layering by the rhythm section of Ben Kennedy and DJ Kilmore, and it genuinely is a gorgeous passage of music. That isn’t what ultimately sells the song though Boyd’s idiosyncratic lyrics work here because of the unnerving nature of a person slowly bubbling over with frustrations. By the time the song has its big splash, so to speak, you’ve already been on quite the ride.
67 THE KNIFE
MARBLE HOUSE: SILENT SHOUT
Much like the lyrics in the song, it’s a journey of epic proportions, and the author of the song is yearning for a new start, or perhaps it’s all happening in a parallel universe. With this band, things are rarely cut and dry, but this song has such a stronger story to it that I can’t help but be attracted to it. “Marble House'' is where the band really shines, and I would gladly go on listening to this amazing track over and over again, but the album has so many tricks up its sleeve it would be silly to dedicate your life to just one track.
66 LADY GAGA
BAD ROMANCE: THE FAME MONSTER
At first glance she was another “weird” pop star with limited ability, simply working the next cliche that older bands in the obscure music world had already abandoned, but with songs like “Bad Romance” it’s hard to ignore her skill. She has tons of hits under her belt, but this little ditty right now is her crowning achievement. The music is high energy and not too shiny and perfect, and her voice wreaks havoc on the sound system. It’s high art done in a mass appeal can, something that everyone can wrap their arms around and dance the evening away. It’s one of the best club type songs I’ve ever heard, and for that reason it reaches number 24 on the ever evolving countdown.
65 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN
STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA: PHILADELPHIA SOUNDTRACK
If you’ve never seen the movie this song was created for, I highly recommend it. The movie in itself is incredible and heartbreaking, but the actual “Streets of Philadelphia,” brings out even more emotion as you take the cold emptiness of death face on in this track about a man dying in a world he doesn’t understand anymore. It’s a tragic track full of reminders of loss we all suffer and the strength it takes to get through the hard times. In my opinion the Boss has never been more poignant or heartbreaking, but that’s just me.
64 WU TANG CLAN
TRIUMPH: WU TANG FOREVER
I’m not as big of a fan as I used to be, but this is still one of the most badass songs this group of influential rappers ever created. Used as the calling card for the group's second album, this song see’s all nine of the members spitting brutally fast lyrics throughout the tracks six minutes. Everyone really brings their best here, but not surprisingly, it’s Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah who steal the show. That’s not to say the others are phoning it in, far from it fact, but those two have always been the best rappers in the Clan, and in this track they elevate the song to amazing heights. At over six minutes, this was considered long for a rap track in the 90’s but other than the ensemble’s debut, there's nothing that matches “Triumph.”
63 NINE INCH NAILS
MARCH OF THE PIGS: THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
March of the Pigs,” to this day, remains a rabid favorite among fans and its inclusion during shows has become the standard by which you measure the intensity of the crowd, and the band overall. It’s a shorter, more intense song than many of their others, but in this immediacy the song is able to move like a beast, exacting it’s revenge on those who have spurned it. It’s wildly chaotic with no give, but it’s because of that quality and its placement in the track listing, it provides its best assets to use. You get crazy vocals, gut wrenching beats and drums, and the wild brutality that is nine inch nails in its most raw form.
62 RUN THE JEWELS
OH MY DARLING DON’T CRY: RUN THE JEWELS 2
One of, if not the most awe inspiring Hip Hop group of the last ten years finally enters the countdown. With RTJ, El-P and the insurmountable Killer Mike have opened up a world where the tracks are less about the typical swagger associated with rap music, and more about the ugly underbelly of our society. It’s violent, poetic and unflinching in the realities it spews out. The back and forth between Mikey and Jamie are incredible, and with “Oh My Darling, Don’t Cry” RJT launches a fire into the air that serves as a warning call to all.
61 DAFT PUNK
DA FUNK: HOMEWORK
Hearing the traffic and street songs initially makes me think of the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” video in the way that you imagine a person walking down the street on a normal day. Except it’s not a normal day, because the crowd slowly is forming into a giant dance troupe to bring the song to the masses. Not that I don’t like the very bizarre proper video(I do very much), but the song to me is the beat of a dance oriented people who aren’t content unless dance is happening. Another example of a great instrumental song, “Da Funk” brings you from the street to the dance floor using precise beats and arrangements, adding thumps, hammers and power as they see fit.
60 FAITH NO MORE
ASHES TO ASHES: ALBUM OF THE YEAR
Everything About this song is simply epic. The guitars are lush, on point, and exacting in their methods, while Patton’s voice is at his low pitched, and soaring best. “Smiling with the Mouth of the Ocean” unleashes a force of emotions the band rarely hits, and while the song is a reflective song full of good bye memories and missed chances, it’s Patton’s voice that is the main selling point. Don’t get me wrong, the drums, and especially guitar(That Solo man omg) are the waves pulling Patton into the force of the track. The whole song is simply incredible, and every time I hear it I’m reminded why I love it so much.
59 THE CURE
FASCINATION STREET: DISINTEGRATION
So many of their songs have a storytelling quality without actually telling a story, and this is the song that best exemplifies that. I imagine a smoky street, slight rain coming down. Picture Times Square in the 80’s, at the heart and center of its seediness and shadowy underbelly. On “Fascination Street,” things are always interesting, but never reach good times. The bass parts through the song are very important to the overall cautiousness of the song. You can also sense the desperation in Smith’s vocals, and it really ties the song together. What I like most about the song is its ability to keep going through wall after wall of pure sound, adding and subtracting layers as the machine sees fit.
58 RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
BULLS ON PARADE: EVIL EMPIRE
When this song first hit the airwaves, it was like a bomb blast into the world. Looking back, this was the song that let everyone know they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they still had a lot to get off their chest. Morello and Wilk especially make the song what it is. The grooves throughout are killer, plain and simply. So many themes within this band have been unearthed and learned through the important lyrical content, but somehow even after more than a decade, the song and the sound still seem fresh and relevant. Morello is still in a world of his own when it comes to the style of guitar playing, which ultimately makes the song everything it needs to be.
57 NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL
HOLLAND, 1945: IN THE AEROPLANE OVER THE SEA
Probably not the most surprising on the list, but it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life. What this band from a small town in Louisiana managed to do is the story of an indie Cinderella themed epic. The music is more upbeat, but the pain behind the lyrics is clear. It’s World War 2, people are scared, and the song, and the whole album, is a love song not only to Anne Frank, but to times when the lives of people were less complicated. It’s quick, to the point, and it’s one of the reasons this band is still talked about today. One of the best indie rock bands of all time. If you don’t know them you should. You really should.
WHERE IS MY MIND?: SURFER ROSA
Will anyone ever be able to hear this song without picturing the climactic explosions at the end of the unbelievably superb “Fight Club”? Maybe, but probably not. I guess it all depends on if you’ve seen the movie. Regardless though, this was a main catalyst for the mighty return of the band. These days it’s commonplace for bands to break up just so they can swindle fans for a reunion tour, but in 2004 it was a foreign concept. “Where is My Mind?” though, is still as cool as hell decades later, and while you might not initially know it’s about skateboarding and trying to land a difficult trick, once you know that you never lose sight of it. Everything about this track works. The lonely guitar chord, Black’s voice, and the distant echo of the instrumentation all play important parts in this masterfully created song.
It's a really sad song, but its pain is also its beauty. The whole feel of the song is dreary, but sometimes those are the songs that can bring the most beauty. Pain, and sadness are a part of this world, and understanding that makes the happy moments worth fighting for. To this day the plot, and utter hopelessness of the song, and the pain behind Beth's voice still bring tears to my eyes. Without sadness, and loss, nothing would be special. I'm reminded of listening to this with my grandmother, Audrey. She quite liked this song one time she heard it played in my car, and that always has stayed with me. She left this world, but at least the memory will never escape. That's the ultimate message I get from this song. Memories last forever.
54 FRANK OCEAN
PYRAMIDS: CHANNEL ORANGE
This song is amazing for the record. I just wish his brilliant output wasn’t so all over the place in terms of release. “Pyramids,” frankly is the song that put his name in the upper echelon of singer songwriters who veer more to the slow jam R&B/ hip hop style he’s known for. The song, at a whopping nine minutes, starts as an engaging modern sultry stunner, with beats that illuminate a late night journey into seduction. Ocean’s voice is crisp and out front in the mix, but then at some point the track takes a sudden left turn, and he somehow steps up his game to move effortlessly into the even slower fog. While the first section is more engaging in terms of beats while the vocals are more slow and elegant, the second half sees a brilliant juxtaposition where his vocals are more honed in and immediate(although not by a great length) but the musical elements are much slower and romantic. It’s a great song that’s able to keep the listener engaged for the entirety of it’s runtime, and it seems Ocean breaking ground on full engagement of his audience.
53 PEARL JAM
GIVEN TO FLY: YIELD
Overwhelmingly optimistic once you get through the rough part, it’s quite a beautiful song musically, and along with Vedder’s deep, soaring voice, it really brings you to a place where everything is right in the world. The song exemplified so much of what life is really like(Darkness, murder, power, love and optimism), that as the listener I can’t help but think that life is supposed to be experienced, and not to be ruined by pleasing other people, or how much money you have in the bank. Living is what happens when you’re busy trying to figure out what’s next. Vedder’s voice swirls from lowly meanderings to a full howl as the song crescendo into classic rock territory.
52 KENDRICK LAMAR
Point blank, Kendrick was never better than he was on this track “DNA.” It's got that timeless bassline, you can hear the knees bending off that beat, with Lamar’s famously quick natured lyrical assault on everything from the news networks who are fucking clueless to his reality, to the snakes and fakes filling up his circle. The last thirty seconds especially are spit with such quick fervor that it takes multiple listens to properly, intelligently just how hard Lamar is going off on the bullshit during the duration of “DNA.”
Songs used in films are meant to highlight a scene in a way no other song could for whatever particular mood they’re trying to sell, and it’s not an easy thing. However, this track’s usage in the modern classic “The Royal Tenenbaums” remains one of the best usages of music in film that I’ve ever seen. Her voice is deep and wary, but it’s an affecting song that is able to draw you in. I picture a colder but clear winter day, where the mistakes of the previous days, maybe months, come through and expose themselves, and you’re left with nothing but cold facts, and the memories of what once was. Nico’s voice is a dream that welcomes the pain but also lets it out in small moments of the song, as she slowly becomes faced with her own mortality and the consequences of her actions.
50 FAITH NO MORE
MIDLIFE CRISIS : ANGEL DUST
“Midlife Crisis” takes our heart with a track that exemplifies all of the versatility in one fail swoop. The opening drums are reminiscent of congo’s, and Patton’s early husky whispers soon give way to the normal soaring nature of singing he provides so well. This song wasn’t a huge hit when released, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. It’s a driving nature and the momentum it builds throughout is better than most everything that was on the radio at the time, and although the keyboard, sample section of the track might have turned some casual fans away, it’s that that made me realize not only the intelligence of the song itself but also of the band. Although I haven’t had a “Midlife Crisis” yet, I hope that it goes down as easy as this song fills my ears and my heart. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, stop what you’re doing and find it.
ONLY TIME: A DAY WITHOUT RAIN
This one is probably the most surprising on the list, but if you know me, and my sister, you know how much this track means to us. For some reason, it’s always really spoken to us, and she’s the one person I think of first when I hear this track. Enya gets far too much shit if you ask me, but she’s made transcendent, atmospherically rich music for so long that it’s kinda become her trademark. She has tons of great songs, but “Only Time” is easily her best and most recognizable. It’s a gift to the world when you can close your eyes, smile, and feel a sense of accomplishment, and reflect on all the good you’ve done in your life. For me, this song gives me that.
48 QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE
FAIRWEATHER FRIENDS:…LIKE CLOCKWORK
This might be the newest song on this entire list, and if you've heard this song, you hopefully understand why it’s on this list. When Joshua Homme, Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, and Elton John are all on a song, it tends to be memorable. Simply put, they all gave their best on this song, and it quickly became not only one of their most incendiary, perfect songs, it became my favorite track on the entire record, which is saying a lot since the whole album is memorable. Homme’s vocals scorch, John’s piano playing comes at you like a bar out of hell, and the remaining members help to secure the song in as brilliant a way as possible.
47 DJ SHADOW w/ RUN THE JEWELS
NOBODY SPEAK: THE MOUNTAIN WILL FALL
To hear Shadow say it, there was no other person or group of people better to provide vocals over this track, and well, he was absolutely correct. Hearing El & Mike rap over this song makes it impossible to imagine anyone doing anything even half as good as what they brought to the table. From the jangle of the opening beats to the powerful, confrontational styling from Run the Jewels, “Don’t Speak” is a giant fuck you to all the naysayers and also to the people who would have you think you must abide by their set of rules. Also referencing our next President in such a deliberate and insulting way is a treasure I wish most artists had the balls to present to the world. Easily the best song of the year, “Don’t Speak” is the song that many others in the rap world will be compared to for some time.
46 SIGUR ROS
This song, right here, is my fucking jam. There's not a better song in the world to put everything in perspective. Just listening to it brings back memories. Some are good, others are unavoidable. While seeing them at Bonnaroo, this song was easily the most inspirational of the whole set. There was a point during the song that I became aware of the effect the music was having on me, and how I was thrilled to be not only alive, but experiencing this with my then partner. I also remember realizing that my mouth was completely open from the sheer force of the show, and I instantly felt better when I looked around and other people had the same awestruck reaction as I did.
TWO SLOW DANCERS: BE THE COWBOY
Oh Mitski how your voice and melodies soothe me so. Among all the incredible songs on “Be the Cowboy,” the most unrelentingly beautiful track finds itself at the very end of the record. “Two Slow Dancers” is a sad track full of remembrance, in which the two souls intertwined in a beautiful arrangement share a moment that will live in their minds and hearts forever. Many songs make me think long and hard, but few songs can convey just how real emotions can make art transcendent and meaningful. That’s what Mitski accomplishes in this song, and it’s masterfully done, to say the least. Its capability to bring joy and memories from a dark sad place is remarkable, and it’s an instant classic.
44 MAZZY STAR
FADE INTO YOU: SO TONIGHT THAT I MAY SLEEP
Sadly, this band, which consists of Hope Sandoval, David Roback, and Kendra Smith never got the recognition they deserved, but this song is a classic among 90’s alternative rock, and for good reason. The slow burning nature of the song, which was featured in the pinnacle scene of the teen comedy “Angus,” haunts every inch of the space it finds itself confined to, and the guitar parts paint a picture of a barren western landscape where the days are slow, and things are more pure. Mazzy Star holds an intriguing spot where most people wouldn’t know the name offhand, but they likely heard this lovely song at some point, especially if they came up listening to alternative music.
43 ARCADE FIRE
WAKE UP: FUNERAL
One of most anthemic, triumphant songs I’ve ever heard finds us just after the midway point of the list. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us a better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
42 LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
DANCE YRSELF CLEAN, THIS IS HAPPENING
Like I said earlier, slow building tracks are sort of a thing for Murphy, Whang and Mahoney, along with all the other eclectic members of the band. For nearly two minutes the song gradually tops itself, although never in an over the top fashion. By the time the drums ramp in and the belting vocals start peaking out, the song is transformed to a dance club masterpiece. It’s not only the second best song from the band, it starts off this incredible album with a slow burning bang that proceeds to set the pace for a wonderful evening listening to jams from NYC, the only place that could invent that sound.
41 TAME IMPALA
THE LESS I KNOW THE BETTER, CURRENTS
The argument could be made that without this song this record wouldn’t have been nearly the juggernaut it was, and while that may be slightly true, “Currents” is full to the brim with incredible songs.” However, this song has so much working for it that it’s nearly impossible to ignore. Let’s start with the 70’s stylings on guitar as the depth of the song opens up into a strange disco vibe, but it’s the lyrics that pull you in and embrace you. It’s a sad song that we all can relate to, the moment when your brain syncs in with your heart and you’re aware that the end of whatever you had with a person is over. It’s important to stress that anxiety but also to embrace it in hopes of getting better. Parker’s voice is top notch 100% here, and with this gorgeous balance among his word play and juxtaposition between trying to be free of the pain but also to learn from it, the song is able to transcend all modern music and make a song that you can feel as part of your soul
BE QUIET AND DRIVE, AROUND THE FUR
Best opening of any song they've made. To say it set’s the audience and/or listener to rock out is an understatement.The groove of the song just makes you bounce. This is always a favorite when played live. The video is great too. Performance video's can be tricky. The song has to be right, and the location has to be right. This pulls it off. The choice of the warehouse was spot on. After all these years I'm still not sure if the song is from any one viewpoint, but I tend to think it is. This dude wants this person to get him far away from something. He's clearly done with whatever life he's attempting to leave. The pain in his voice as the song concludes proves that time and time again. One of the best songs they ever produced, BQAD finds our list at number two.
39 BEASTIE BOYS
SO WHAT'CHA WANT, CHECK YOUR HEAD
For me, the Beastie Boys don’t get any heavier or in your face than with this song. It’s so in your face it’s ridiculous, and the guitar sample in the beats shows you exactly what type of jam this is gonna be. The video is also really cool, and goes very well with the song. Visually it's a song I picture in a hazy shade, much like the video is presented. Sadly, I wish Biz Markie would have had a bigger presence here, besides the “You can’t front on that” segment, but we can overlook that. All three BB’s deliver lyrical, but I think for my money Michael Diamond drops the best beats, especially during the second verse of the track. The song kills it, and it’s heavy in many ways that you simply don’t hear in most hip hop songs. There’s a reason these guys from NYC are all kinds of legends, and we'll hopefully never have to let their music go.
ALL APOLOGIES, IN UTERO
Easily one of the bands best known songs, and for good fucking reason, “All Apologies” lands at highest than any other Nirvana song, justifiably. The Unplugged version is great of course, but the album version really shines through as the best part of “In Utero.” The song has always struck me as a glass half full song. He’s broken because of his views towards the world, and he can’t shake them, but “in the sun he feels as one” speaks to me as being somewhat comfortable in the position. Again, the word play is next level brilliant, and really showcases just how special he was as a lyricist. But, then again, he wasn’t the only important part of Nirvana. Grohl and Novoselic both inspire musicians to push the limits, and at the end of the day, the three of them stand as incredibly important.
THE DAY I TRIED TO LIVE: SUPERUNKNOWN
Literally since the day I heard this song, it became one of my favorite all time songs. This is Soundgarden at their ultimate best. I don’t feel like people mention bassist Ben Shepherd enough, but the bass work goes so well with the overall song it deserves to be acknowledged. Also, I'm not in tune with musical instruments, but it's always great when you can hear one full sound instead of hearing only certain elements. That's what makes a great band. Especially here when they meld and create something so tightly woven that even if one part was missing, the whole song wouldn't be nearly as good. All of it works, which is why it's my all time favorite Soundgarden song.
The vocals at the entrance, melancholy and joined, layered in ways that songs weren’t even done in at the time. Mercury belting out the story of a person near the end of his rope, and his desperate plea for his mother to “Carry On” and not get swept up in his abysmal choices. This early section keeps building momentum, both in spirit and musicianship, but by the three minute mark, shit goes crazy. The harmonizing elements come in, and then the classic scene from “Wayne’s World” is in full effect. That movie, while amazing on it’s own, certainly had an impact on the newer generations, most of whom had likely never heard that song. Next up though, let’s talk about how many times you’ve joined in sing alongs during this track. I know I have, and I’m willing to beat most people who have shared this song with others too.
DON’T LOOK BACK IN ANGER: WHAT'S THE STORY MORNING GLORY?
For all the love and adoration “Wonderwall” gets, I’ve never enjoyed that one as much as I have this Noel written and sung track. It's right after “WW '' on the record, but it's more rocking, more anthem driven. Less a love song and more of a real personal look at memories and relationships, romantic and not, in a way that evokes the kind of nostalgia that everyone seems to love. Really ell produced, with this incredible screeching guitar part right before the big ending, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” is the best Oasis song not named “Wonderwall;.” it deserves your obsession.
34 THE NATIONAL
VANDERLYLE CRYBABY GEEKS: HIGH VIOLET
For the record let me just state that High Violet is so far the best album of this band’s career. It’s basically perfect. It’s the magnum opus of this band. This song, the final and climactic anthem of this album, is as powerful as it is confusing. Music doesn’t always have to be explainable though. It’s better to let the audience decide what the song is about, and enjoy the song from their own perspective. That’s what I love about the National. They aren’t quite the Inception of the music world, but so much is unexplainable and it still works. I always think of the Katherine Dunn book “Geek Love” and how those characters are vile, unlikable, and are all just trying to geek out a decent, comfortable life surrounded by all the shit and vomit of the world in which they were created. Now it’s likely no one else has made that connection, but that’s OK, because everyone in the world draws from different events
PARANOID ANDROID: OK COMPUTER
This could very easily be their best known song, and if you’ve been living under a rock for over twenty years, please do yourself a favor and seek out the animated video. I had of course heard of the band before, but this was when they knocked the wind out me. The craziness of the song and the places it goes, as well as the sheer genius of the musicianship set it apart from every other band out there at that moment, and for the most part, it still does. When the song takes a crazy turn, as you the listener are right there prepared to hold on for dear life, and for me, that's where the realness and amazing qualities of the song truly burst out.
32 FOO FIGHTERS
MY HERO: THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE
Another very worthy track in regards to their legacy of great rock n roll. The guitar part is so simple and badass that even after hearing this song hundreds of times, it's still one of the stand out sections for me. Just listening to the track makes me think of days as a younger kid, playing with my dad, and laughing and joking. I guess I don't have a hero per se, although
the lyrics have always made me feel like it's a song that has a fatherly feel to it. Whether it's from the point of view of a father, or a child looking upon with amazement of a parental figure,I can't be sure. The video very much ties into that also. The man saving the family, and then simply walking away after the work had been done. He does it gladly, and he's grateful he could do it. The video is pretty powerful, but it doesn't compare to the force of the song, and that's saying a lot. The song, in the end though, remains
31 PINK FLOYD
WISH YOU WERE HERE: WISH YOU WERE HERE
At Number 31, Pink Floyd’s dedicated track to the one and only Syd Barrett. The story I’ve heard is that Barrett showed up at the studio, hardly recognizable, and his manic, drug induced state so devastated the band, and especially Roger Waters, that this song was written as a kind of living eulogy for the once brilliant man. Listening to the song(and the whole record for that matter), you can feel the sense of loss and hurt the band felt during this period. The guitar is gentle and quiet, and the vocals provide the needed hurt to bring out the pure soul of the song. It’s one of the most well known and beautiful songs of our time, and it absolutely deserves to be,
30 ARCADE FIRE
SPRAWLS II(MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS): THE SUBURBS
The choice between number one and two was difficult, but in the end it had to be done. “Sprawl II(Mountains Beyond Mountains)” not only reaches nearly to the top of the pile, but it helps to tie all the themes running rampant on “The Suburbs” into one spectacular and beautiful bow. Regine’s voice again shines through, but through it all the song's success lies not just with her gorgeous rendition of a monotonous life, but in fact with all the members of the band who excel at writing music that people can relate to. That idea of “We can never get away from the Sprawl” is a real, complicated feeling that many people have with their hometowns, whether or not the grow up in “The Suburbs,” but it’s in that moment you realize the world is one big Sprawl, and over Mountain lies the potential to exist a Sprawl that’s perfectly weird in the exact way we are, and we can make the best of what the world has to offer.
29 TAME IMPALA
FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS: LONERISM
For many people, this was the song where they suddenly became aware of the majestic mode of storytelling that Impala lays out. The dinging opening, the lush overlaid guitars and bass, and the minimal but effectiveness of the drumming all make the song one of the best by the band. When Parker bellows the chorus, and various other sections you can grasp and understand the weariness permanent in the song structure. So many of their songs go hand in hand with raw emotion, of guilt, second thoughts, and other feelings that it eventually becomes your song too. It’s amazing, and it’s a song that still gets all the love it deserves.
28 THE BEATLES
To this day a song that brings tears to my eyes. It's an uncompromising view of the world, and ultimately that's what makes it more personal and honest. People often feel overwhelmed, neglected, and not good enough. It's the human condition. The guitars add a level of thoughtfulness to the track and in the end it makes more of an impact than if the song had been performed by a full band. Yet again, the slight orchestral part makes a world of difference. You feel the pain of the main character, and you want to help him. But you can't. People make mistakes, and they must figure it out for themselves. The conclusion though, to me at least, is that mistakes are made, and before you can move on and pick up the pieces you have to come to terms with the consequences and resolve to either fix it or move on.
27 DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE
I WILL FOLLOW YOU INTO THE DARK: PLANS
There are times in one’s life where nothing feels right, but for those times there are always songs that bring you a sense of closure and peace. This is that song for me. It could be about a romantic relationship, or a friendship that has weathered storms, or it could be about a family member who’s left your world to join the other. For me it’s a little bit of all three. I’m reminded how amazing it is to share your life with someone who understands you perfectly, and who will always be there.“I will Follow You in the dark” is a testament to the struggles of life and also to the joy in finding people who complete you and who will always take the leap and will happily follow you in the dark, hand in hand, just as they joined you in life.
26 DEFTONES w/ MAYNARD JAMES KEENAN
PASSENGER: WHITE PONY
I'm surprised how many people don't pick up on the connection between this song and Be Quiet and Drive. To me it seems obvious. I can't help but think it's a companion piece. Maybe this song is from the point of view of the other person in the car, or the Passenger as you will. I'm sure it's not meant to be a storyline, but two songs on back to back albums about the explorations of driving? Seems a little bit too obvious to ignore. The imagery in use here is amazing. They perfectly capture what's happening in the song. From beginning to end, it's just an incredible ride. I wish the Deftones were more of the band to try frequent collaborations, but this set the bar pretty damn high.