While I'm one of the only people I know who still buys CDs and tries to listen to albums in their entirety, I realize most people listen song-to-song now thanks to the wonders of MP3s and playlists. Hopefully you find a gem or two here that you were not aware of before now. My absolute favorite songs are at the top of this list, but the ranking changes hour-to-hour past the first five or so. I'll number the top 20, just for fun, and comment as I see fit beyond that:
1) Beach House - "Take Care" - As I wrote last night, "Take Care" would be at or near the top of this list. It's a certainty to find its way onto hundreds of playlists for many years to come.
2) Cee-Lo Green - "Bright Lights, Bigger City" - Maybe "F**k You" suffers here for being played too much in a short period of time, but when Cee-Lo's The Lady Killer came out in early December, this was the song I couldn't get past. I blame it completely for not really listening to that album. It feels like I should be readying myself for a night on the town every time those opening synths kick in. I can almost guarantee this song will be popping up in a popular movie and/or tv show by summer.
3) B.o.B. - "Ghost in the Machine" - I said enough about B.o.B. yesterday.
4) Flo Rida - "Club Can't Handle Me" - If someone told me last January that a Flo Rida song would be my #4 song of the year, I might have stopped laughing by February. I dare you to not have a good time listening to this song. Puts a smile on my face every time.
5) Lissie - "Little Lovin'" - I only know this song because it's the theme song of one of my favorite TV shows, Justified (FX is replaying season one starting Saturday night), based on one of my favorite literary characters, Raylan Givens. The song is a slow-burner and really fits the show nicely. Please watch Justified, so I can watch more than two seasons.
6) Aloe Blacc - "I Need a Dollar" - Apparently this is also a TV theme song (HBO's How to Make It in America), though my brother had to tell me that after I sent him a clip of Aloe Blacc playing this song with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon a few weeks ago. It's been in constant rotation ever since. It's all about the "Hey Hey" throughout the song. Since I can't figure out how to post a non-Youtube video, the clip is linked above.
7) Cypress Hill featuring Marc Anthony & Pitbull - "Armada Latina" - Thank you, Eli. When Eli was in town from DC earlier this year, he played this song for a car full of people who all kinda went nuts. I was a big Cypress fan in high school and into college, but I had no idea they were still making music. I'm not normally a fan of sampling legendary songs, "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" here, but they do it beautifully on this track.
8) Jonsi - "Go Do" - Covered yesterday.
9) Corinne Bailey Rae - "Closer" - Just a sexy, sexy song.
10) Kanye West - "Power" - No matter how many times I hear it, I can't get sick of this song.
11) Janelle Monae featuring Big Boi - "Tightrope" - My body involuntarily starts moving as soon as the hand claps and guitar begin the song.
12) Michael Franti & Spearhead - "Hey Hey Hey" - Franti's mix of reggae, hip hop, and positivity never gets old for me. If I listened to a Franti song every morning on the way to work, it would probably improve my daily mood. New experiment starting tomorrow. Can't wait to see them again in concert, especially since I missed them this summer.
13) Phosphorescent - "It's Hard to Be Humble (When You're from Alabama)" - Such a jaunty tune with those horns. It gives me a nasty case of the head bobs. I'm not much for lyrics, but I love the middle verse here.
14) Darker My Love - "Backseat (Heaven Loves a Driver)" - Also covered yesterday.
15) Laura Bell Bundy - "Giddy on Up" - Country haters can skip this one, though you may want to check out the video on mute. I promise her looks are not the reason I love this song. The fact that it sounds like a great Dolly Parton song explains it. I thought it was a Dolly cover I was unaware of the first time I heard it, and I love me some Dolly.
16) Leon Russell & Elton John - "If It Wasn't for Bad" - Elton takes a backseat vocally, but his piano is all over it. Great chorus and an all around fun song.
17) Zac Brown Band - "Let It Go" - My only disappointment with the excellent ZBB concert at Sprint Center in November was them not playing "Let It Go". I didn't mind too much.
18) Morning Benders - "Cold War" - Also covered yesterday. What I didn't mention was hearing the Morning Benders song "Excuses" elegantly used in a new 15 second commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I know a lot of people object to "selling out", but if you're going to do so, do it for something as delicious as Reese's. Give it a watch:
19) Big Boi featuring Cutty - "Shutterbugg" - After years of teasing, we finally got a solo album from one of our Outkast heroes, with this being the highlight. The album got a bit lost in the shuffle for me, but this song stayed in the rotation all year.
20) Midlake - "Acts of Man" - With so many upbeat songs, I had to end the top 20 with a downer. Midlake's last album, The Trials of Van Occupanther, was a favorite of mine in 2006, and I had been eagerly anticipating their next effort. The album did not live up to expectations, but Acts of Man did. Nice and depressing.
Here are a bunch more, without the burden of a numerical ranking:
-Robyn - "Time Machine"
-David Byrne & Fatboy Slim with Florence Welch - "Here Lies Love" - This is a very strange album covering the life of Imelda Marcos. The opening track, however, sounds a bit like a Celine Dion song run wild, which I truly mean as a compliment. Florence nails it.
-Sleigh Bells - "Rill Rill" - My favorite track from an oddly fun album.
-Vampire Weekend - "Giving Up the Gun" - While they didn't live up to a near-perfect debut album, Contra holds up very well on its own.
-Cee-Lo Green - "F**k You" - So, so fun.
-DJ Khaled featuring T-Pain, Ludacris, Snoop, & Rick Ross - "All I Do Is Win" - The KU band plays this at every home basketball game (wouldn't exactly fit at the football games this year), and everyone who knows it throws their hands up at the right part. My favorite new part of the games this year.
-Eminem & Lil Wayne - "No Love" - I wanted to hate this song because of the sample, but I simply couldn't. Both guys are on fire.
-Zac Brown Band featuring Jimmy Buffett - "Knee Deep"
-Little Big Town - "The Reason Why" - I'm a sucker for big harmonies in country music, and Little Big Town gives me a lot of what I love. The album was a bit disappointing, though.
-Easton Corbin - "The Way Love Looks" - Apparently this is the country section of the list. I'm still convinced this is George Strait singing under a different name like in the classic movie Pure Country. Seriously, I love that movie.
-Gorillaz featuring Gruff Rhys and De La Soul - "Superfast Jellyfish" - Makes me laugh and catchy as hell.
-B.o.B. featuring Janelle Monae - "The Kids"
-Nelly - "Just a Dream" - If only because it got me listening to old Nelly again and reminiscing about college.
-She & Him - "Thieves" & "In the Sun" - This album seemed to get ripped by a lot of people who liked the first one, but the first two tracks were better than anything on Volume One.
-Robert Randolph & the Family Band featuring Ben Harper - "If I Had My Way" - I'm more than a little excited to see RRFB for the first time in 5 years on January 21st. They're right up there among my favorite live acts.
-Grace Potter & the Nocturnals - "Paris (Ooh La La)" - I seem to have a conflict every time they come to town, which really pisses me off.
Time for some special categories:
-Johnny Cash - "Aloha Oe" - The well of Johnny Cash archives will apparently never dry up, as they somehow keep finding gems like this one. It's a beautiful arrangement of a traditional song. It'll choke up even the toughest JC fan. Maybe that's just me trying to make myself feel better, but I'm sticking to it. Gorgeous song.
-Preservation Jazz Hall Band with Paolo Nutini - "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" - This comes from the benefit album for the Preservation Jazz Hall Band in New Orleans, so go buy it now! Jim James, Ani Difranco, Merle Haggard, and others contribute, but this is the big winner for me. Sounds like something straight out of the 1920s.
-Kris Kristofferson - "The Winner" - Another compilation song, this one from the Shel Silverstein tribute album Twistable Turnable Man. Kristofferson's reading should win him a Grammy if they have any idea what they're doing. Since we all know they don't, I'm pretty sure he didn't get a nomination. His voice fits the well-known Silverstein poem like a glove.
-K'Naan - "Wavin' Flag - World Cup Remix" - Since this song came out in 2009, I had to use the remix to cheat and get it on the list. I'm sure this is the song I listened to most in 2010, and it will be something I listen to daily for years to come. I played it on repeat the entirety of my 30 minute drive to work the morning the World Cup opened in June, and I struggled to control the smile on my face the rest of the day. I don't even have to listen to it now for it to stretch another smile across my face.
I apologize for any issues with the formatting of this blog. I'll get working on that soon. Now give me some songs to listen to in the comments, please.