I've been making lists of my favorite songs for nearly a decade (At least publicly anyway -- My brother told me this weekend he remembers me making these lists as a kid). For this year's choices, you can click on the name of the song to hear or download the song. Some are links to Youtube. Some are links to free mp3s. Enjoy! And tell me your favorites!
41. Arcade Fire - We Used to Wait
I love the repetition of the piano. I love the way the songs starts with the repeated "I used to." I couldn't relate to most of the Arcade Fire album "The Suburbs," but this is one song whose lyrics really meant something for me. I miss waiting for things. I miss what life used to be. The 24-hour news cycle, the rush of adult life -- none of it compares to the way time used to move.
42. Drake - Karaoke
Drake waits nearly two minutes to begin rapping in this three and a half minute song, but I think that's a good thing. His singing voice is so pretty, so measured here that the rap is almost unnecessary. In only a few lyrics, Drake paints a picture of losing a girl who doesn't want to come along with his new successful life. He even makes time (in sparse words) to describe here lighting a tea kettle. (Put your hand to the metal and feel it / But do you even feel it anymore?) Most of the album drills home just how much he's made it, but always with a caveat: "Don't be fooled by the money. I'm still young and unlucky."
43. Tegan & Sara - Turnpike Ghost (Steel Train cover)
In which Tegan and Sara cover their opening act's song, totally outperforming the original artists. This is catchy as hell when T&S sing it.
44. Perfume Genius - Learning
This song is soft like raindrops, so I'm not at all surprised it comes from Seattle. It's a good soundtrack for days when the sun is down by 3:30 p.m., but it's also good sing-along music. The piano part is so simple. His voice is so soft. But there's something very arresting and dramatic about the two together.
45. Delorean - Simple Graces
This song is good summer (windows down) driving music. I have no idea what half the lyrics are, but I just think the song is so fine to listen to.
46. Hot Chip - One Life Stand
I love the phrase one life stand, and I also love the beat in this song. It's slow, but danceable. The steel drum is nice, too.
47. Laura Veirs - July Flame
This song came out so early in 2010 that I nearly forgot about it is I made this list. But I spent many of my early rainy 2010 days listening to this on repeat as I drove to work. She's a Portland girl, so I imagine the Northwest rains might have been playing as she crafted this song, even though it's a song about July. Either way, it's just a really pretty song, and it shares a name with a variety of Northwest peach. I like the way it builds toward that powerful (and strings-laden) end.
48. Julian Lynch - Rancher
This is song is more woozy and electric than I might normally like, but I like the way it somehow embodies both dark and light. Some of the sounds are unlike any I've ever heard. Most of the time, I listened to this song in the thick radiator heat of my apartment, and when the song ended so soon, I'd listen one more time.
49. The Magnetic Fields - You Must Be Out of Your Mind
I'm sure most people don't think the latest Magnetic Fields album is all that great, but I spent a lot of time listening to it this year. This song starts the album with a slew of quirky lyrics (You can't go around just sayin' stuff because it's pretty. And I no longer drink enough to think you're witty.), but amid that there's this: "If you think you can leave the past behind, you must be out of your mind." That followed me for a good chunk of the year, and it did so in this tight little catchy tune.
50. Spoon - Mystery Zone
This is exactly what you'd expect a mid-tempo Spoon song to sound like. Not ground-breaking, but definitely listenable. I like the rhythm. I like his voice.
Honorable mention: Northern Portrait - When Goodness Fails
The lead singer's voice sounds like Morrissey. His lyrics include "I'm gay in the old-fashioned sense of the word," "I have come to disappoint you" and "you're so impossibly cruel." One look at the album cover, and it's pretty clear they're trying to mimic? honor? etc? The Smiths. Still, this song is really fun to listen to.