We're counting down our 100 favorite songs of the year. Today, 61-65. Check out previous posts here.
65) Topher Mohr - "Ruthless"
Finally, someone wrote that missing link song between Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real” and Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne.” And, like “Kid Charlemagne,” this one combines largely despondent lyrics with some of the most euphoric guitar work imaginable. Musically, this one deserves a spot in any wedding reception playlist, couples on the floor singing to each other. Lyrically, though … “I loved you more than him / I loved you more than you’ll ever get to find out …”
Mohr is the guitarist in Mayer Hawthorne’s band, and I first learned of this song when Mayer gave up the spotlight for one song during the band’s recent show at Bimbo’s. So I feel a little weird ranking it above any of Mayer’s songs from the last year. I hope it doesn’t cause any tension between the guys.
Topher Mohr - "Whole Heart"
Cheryl Lynn - "Got To Be Real"
Steely Dan - "Kid Charlemagne"
64) Caribou - "Odessa"
In which we didn’t even have to rob and drug dealers.
One review I read called this the perfect soundtrack for the sun melting snow. That is absolutely right.
Whitest Boy Alive - "Golden Cage" (Fred Falke Remix)
Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You"
63) Robyn - "Cry When You Get Older"
[And, to prove the point made below, here's Robyn's cover of "When Doves Cry"]
“Back in suburbia kids get high and make out on the train …”
It’s always fun to imagine every Robyn song as an obscure Prince cover, but this one is probably the Prince-iest of them all. Androgynous sexuality, undeniable danceability, and songs that dig into the underlying sadness exactly as deep as you need them to. Sweden is the new Paisley Park.
Robyn - "Who's That Girl?"
Robyn - "Be Mine!"
62) Kanye West - "See Me Now" (f/ Beyonce and Charlie Wilson)
Proof that I don’t really get hip hop anymore, if I ever did. Released as part of Kanye’s free-music G.O.O.D. Friday series, “See Me Now” was met with almost universal derision from the internet hip hop community. Months later, it didn’t even make the cut for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which, if you haven’t heard, is the music blogosphere’s newest nominee for Greatest Album of All Time. All of this just mystifies me, as this was pretty easily my favorite hip hop song of the year. Then again, I don’t really want Kanye to innovate. I just want him to keep making “Gone” over and over again. I went soul loops and slow-moving bass lines and swagger and Charlie Wilson on everything.
Though I admit it is somewhat off-putting to hear Beyonce say the n-word.
Also, I’d like someone to write a book about the nature of American celebrity in the twenty-first century and call it Like a Mix Between Fergie and Jesus. That line has just an impossible number of layers to unpack.
Kanye West - "Gone"
Snoop Dogg - "Signs" (f/ Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson)
61) Jenny and Johnny - "Big Wave"
I’m limiting myself to two block quotes from Fluxblog in these write-ups because, really, I’m not going to become as insightful a music writer as that guy just by copying and pasting everything he does. This one, though … this one is perfect:
“Big Wave” sounds like it should be uncomplicated and carefree, a summer fun song about surfing or whatever. Instead, it’s about debt and financial recklessness, with Jenny Lewis singing about bankruptcy and loans in the same wounded sweetheart tone she reserved for up tempo Rilo Kiley tunes like “Portions For Foxes” and “It’s A Hit.” It’s not the most mind-blowing irony you’re going to find, but it works, and the breezy, “hey, who cares, everything is gonna be fine” tone of the music is an appropriate sound for a topic that a lot of people try not to think too hard about at their own expense. What makes the song really work is that it’s very much about the emotional toll of economic distress, and Lewis’ voice hits just the right note of sadness and wounded pride throughout the track, but most especially during the bridge up to the chorus. She doesn’t go too far with it, but she gets across enough to suggest that she’s only skimming the surface of the “big wave” of sorrow, confusion, and regret coming her way.
Jenny and Johnny - "Scissor Runner"
Jenny Lewis - "Rise Up With Fists"