70 - Passion Pit - Tonight, Tonight (Smashing Pumpkins cover)
I conducted an informal poll on this original song a few months back and found out that this might be one of those niche things that secretly unites our nation: If someone explicitly remembers “Tonight, Tonight” by the Smashing Pumpkins, he or she is almost assured to have positive feelings about it.
Really. Ask some friends how they feel about this song. They’ll all respond like this band’s bassist bought them lunch at some point for no discernible reason. (“Aw! That song was really nice!”) For some reason, we banded together as one—a nation holding hands and sharing the same 72 oz. Slurpee—and decided we could all get past Billy Corgan’s voice and like this song as a country. This is the Shaquille O’Neal of stirring rock songs.
I’m glad we decided to do that and no one has asked questions. It must’ve been the strings.
69 - Sarah Jaffe - Perfect Plan
This song wouldn’t be on this list if she didn’t get Ronaldinho to play the kickdrum.
68 - Rocky Votolato - Red River
How some people used to write patriotic songs:
“And you'll be sorry that you messed with the U-S-of-A.
'Cause we'll put a boot in your ass.
It's the American way.”
--Toby Keith, 2002. (This song was #25 on the Hot 100. I don’t know what to say to that.)
How people now tend to write patriotic songs:
“This is what life feels like on the ground
I had a brother who was stationed up in Northern Hill Country
You know he never really came home ...
A black Levis jacket knocking them beers back on the bank of that river
Underneath September skies inside the U.S. border
He made his peace there—just after his boots filled up with water”
--Rocky Votolato, 2010.
Please, lord, tell me we’ve progressed.
67 - Javier Dunn - Animal (Miike Snow cover)
This is one of those situations where someone has written genuine, heartfelt lyrics about deep depression/a lost love one/a girlfriend that wound up being a serial killer and tries to mask it with synths and a great hook.
Gotcha now, Miike Snow! Can’t hide your good lyrics in a club song anymore. Javier Dunn made your song all pretty-like.
Good luck, man. Last time this happened it was “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. And that Cee-Lo Green guy was never heard from again.
66 - Gobble Gobble - Lawn Knives
Know what’s funny? The ground used to have places with grass on it. You could walk on it with shoes on and not get wet.
No, really. This is how it used to be.
65 - Meligrove Band - Bones Attack!!!
“Bones Attack!!!” is a perfect example of a new subgenre called Triumph Music, which is music that sounds like it should be accompanying a pivotal, uplifting part of an indie movie. But, since it usually isn’t, it serves an entirely separate purpose as the penultimate background noise for menial tasks.
It’s the ideal accompaniment to your day if you’re looking for music that will make you feel really good about the fact that you know how to use a toaster.
Put this song on and do your laundry. You will have done the bejesus out of your laundry.
64 - Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - From Above
It’s too bad Ben Folds didn’t come along with us to be one of those era-defining songwriters for anyone under 50. No, not a “stuffed cabbage is the darling of the laundromat”-era Bob Dylan-type. I’m not sure we need a songwriter to explain current events to us anymore because I’m not sure we’d listen.
Ben Folds was already doing very good job of describing exactly the experiences we were going through and exactly how we were going through them.
He got so good at this that it, frankly, started to piss some reviewers off at all of those music reviewing websites. They complained about things he couldn’t change (he played piano! His voice was really different than the guy from The National!), he took it to heart, and he has now spent his last three albums writing about how much he hates bloggers and fat women at Wal-Mart.
Don’t we all.
This kind of behavior is apparently completely prohibitive to a lifestyle in which one might also write a great lyric. Like, say, “Well, I see some old friends sort of die or just turn into whatever must’ve been inside them.” Which is now at least a little ironic, I’d say, given the information we have now.
So he called on Nick Hornby to fix things for him, get him back on the right track. Some things really hit on a pop-level. Like From Above. That’s why it’s here. But they don’t connect in any other way.
There are some demos kicking around on very old, burned CDs here that show a guy struggling to figure out why things work. They’re all hastily recorded and tapes of taped-over tapes, but they show real time and experience and, in turn, value. Maybe he’ll get back to that eventually.
63 - Nathaniel Rateliff - Laughing
But maybe it’s no longer the role of musicians to tell us exactly how it is at any given time. Maybe that’s what Louis C.K. is for. It was in 2010, at least.
62 - Zeus - Marching Through Your Head
Best development in music this year: There are bands using all of the fun parts of Blood, Sweat and Tears (horns, developed harmonies), but they’re not comprised of kids who just got out of college and have a hole in their lives where their a capella group and/or marching band used to be.
They’re actually capable of being subtle. And being very rock and roll.
61 - Fyfe Dangerously - When You Walk in the Room
If you listen closely, you can hear every British 16-year-old picking up his guitar, wanting to be this guy.
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