Favorite Songs July 05-October 08


Dez 20 2008, 22h58

The other day [this was now months ago], my external hard drive finally arrived in the mail. I’d been planning on getting one for at least a year, and I actually picked out the one I wanted when I was home in August, but for whatever reason I didn’t get around to actually buying it until this Monday. I bought it so I’d have a place to put all my music files, as they’ve been clogging up my internal hard drive for some time.

It’s worked fine (to delete all your music files while hoping that the one on your external h.d. will work is to know fear) but it had an unintended consequence—since I copied rather than directly moved all my files onto the e.h.d., they’re technically different files. Because of this, all the listening data iTunes had stored up vanished.

Thankfully, I foresaw this so I tried to save a bit of that data. Knowing that stuff is really fascinating—if you have no life, that is—and I didn’t want to lose everything iTunes knew about my listening habits since July 2, 2005, the day I got my computer. I saved some of the information, and I decided that I’d put part of it—my most listened songs—on last.fm as a kind of repository of my favorite music from between July 2005 and October 2008. So here goes: they’re in order of most listened, and I set the cutoff at 25 listens (which is what the last 2 have). The way iTunes works is pretty different from last.fm, it records what you listen to only after you’ve finished the song, so there is no pretense to accuracy in this, especially since it’s also not tracking what I listened to on CD, the internet, vinyl or the radio. Still, it’s kinda fun:

1. “Since I Left YouThe Avalanchesadded3/28/06 7:00 PMlast listened9/6/08 7:15 PM
It’s not at all surprising to me that this would be the song I’ve listened to the most in the past 40 months—it might be my favorite song. It’s just so full of life, so ecstatic just to be music. It’s as if Brian Wilson and DJ Shadow collaborated and came up with something better than either was capable of on their own (if that's possible).

2. “Angel GoneBeat Happeningadded1/23/08 12:36 PMlast listened9/18/08 2:20 PM
Probably the last song Beat Happening will ever record, a single released in 2000, it nails everything that made the band great—vocals both coy and angry with rudimentary yet perfect guitar and drums accompaniment. When Calvin brings the song back after it sounds like it’s over he kills every time.

3. “The Perfect KissNew OrderLow-Lifeadded12/8/05 4:02 PMlast listened9/20/08 1:05 PM
Also maybe my favorite song. I wouldn’t pretend I could describe it.

4. “Freak SceneDinosaur Jradded5/29/07last listened10/4/08 5:00 PM
Nathan blogged about Dinosaur once and mentioned how it sounds like J Mascis crams 500 different hooks into this song, and that sounds right to me. The poppiest Dinosaur songs—this one, “The Wagon”, maybe “Not You Again”—get the noise to pop ratio right in a way Sonic Youth never even did. I’d bet everyone has a “Sometimes I don’t thrill you/Sometimes I think I’ll kill you/Just don’t let me fuck up will you/Cuz when I need a friend it’s still you” relationship in their life.

5. “Waterloo SunsetThe Kinksadded12/8/05 3:49 PMlast listened5/27/08 2:34 PM
A perfect and melancholy pop tune from a man who wrote a lot of perfect songs in his day. I’m fascinated by it, obviously, but it’s always seemed as if it could be slightly better.

6. “Volver a comenzarCafé Tacubaadded11/13/07 3:21 PMlast listened8/27/08 2:32 AM
I believe I already waxed poetic about this one. It’s fucking incredible.

7. “Crumble”Dinosaur Jradded5/2/07 3:16 PMlast listened10/9/08 2:11 PM
From the first second on, you know something’s a bit different about the reunited Dinosaur. There’s honesty rather than obfuscation (which, deep down was always about honesty itself). But it seems to me that J’s guitar here matches his voice uncannily.

8. “This Charming ManThe Smithsadded12/18/05 6:20 PMlast listened12/16/07 11:00 PM
The song that hooked me on The Smiths. It’s all there—Johnny Marr’s lighter than air guitar, Moz’s charmingly troubled persona.

9. “We're Not Alone”Dinosaur Jradded5/2/07 3:18 PMlast listened9/20/08 1:16 PM
The second of many songs you will see from “Beyond”. It personifies “Ear bleeding country” pretty darn well.

10. “Midnight in a Perfect WorldDJ Shadowadded1/27/06 last listened7/31/08 2:22 AM
I’ve already overused the word “perfect” but I’ll go ahead and say it—“Midnight In A Perfect World” is a, uh, perfect song in a way that only two other songs I’ve ever heard are (those being the first song on this list and The Beach Boys' “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”). The noise that begins the track—I don’t know what it’s a sample of and I couldn’t possibly begin to describe it—is just fascinating. Everything else is in the right place too—from the massive drums to the piano to the vocal. Just perfect.

11. “After HoursThe Velvet Undergroundadded5/16/07 7:26 PMlast listened9/15/08 5:15 PM
The sweetest, most coy track you’ll ever hear; also one of the best—Lou was right to give it to Mo. Loser anthem? The blueprint for all subsequent twee music? Best Velvets song?

12. “Stuck Between StationsThe Hold Steadyadded11/1/06 10:30 PMlast listened9/15/08 5:34 PM
Part of me doesn’t believe that this is only the twelfth most listened to track on my iTunes. It was nothing new for Craig and the boys, but I know that at least my world was rocked by their Springsteen-with-more-balls approach, and this was my introduction to them. I think a lot of other people’s were too.

13. “SalivaMF DOOMadded12/5/05 6:57 PMlast listened2/3/08 11:39 PM
I’m slightly embarrassed that this would be the single most listened to hip-hop song on here—it’s far from my favorite, and the only thing that really accounts for it is how obsessed with it I was in Fall 2005. Shit, it’s not even the best song on the Viktor Vaughn album, though it is a lot of fun.

14. “Kiss Me on the BusThe Replacementsadded3/21/06 4:46 PMlast listened3/29/08 4:00 PM
Hard to ride a bus without thinking about this one. Again, far from the best Mats song, but a lovely one at the same time. The jaunty guitars and youthful eagerness get it just right.

15. “Girlfriend in a ComaThe Smithsadded12/18/05 6:27 PMlast listened10/5/08 2:22 AM
Really not that different from the last song—I’ve actually always thought of Moz and Westerberg as different sides of the same coin (with Morrissey being a sort of more literary Westerberg). Not a second too long; Marr’s guitar (and those violins) steal the song.

16. “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in SpaceSpiritualizedadded2/18/07 5:30 PMlast listened9/25/08 10:06 PM
Painfully beautiful, painfully honest.

17. “I'm In Love With A GirlBig Staradded9/19/05 11:10 PMlast listened7/9/08 2:40 PM
One of the most disorienting experiences in my life (which is right) was hearing this song in a Heineken commercial. One of Alex Chilton’s most vulnerable vocals—and this man sings most of “Third”—it’s always reminded me of Elliot Smith.

18. “Almost Ready”Dinosaur Jradded5/2/07 3:15 PMlast listened10/6/08 5:29 PM
The sound of Dinosaur roaring back from extinction, somehow better than ever. J Masics is gonna give being happy a try—he really is—but he’s not quite ready just yet. See, he’s almost ready. Let’s hope however ready J gets, he never stops obliterating every song he’s on with the multi-tracked attack of his guitar.

19. “This Is All I came To Do”Dinosaur Jradded5/2/07 3:17 PMlast listened9/20/08 12:54 PM
Wouldn’t have sounded out of place on “Green Mind”. A duet between J and his guitar.

20. “Been There All The Time”Dinosaur Jradded5/2/07 3:18 PMlast listened9/20/08 1:10 PM
Dear J, Lou & Murph
Please record another album.
Love, Aaron

21. “SuedeheadMorrisseyadded10/24/05 10:29 AMlast listened10/2/08 10:47 AM
The eerily precise piano and percussion are kind of unnerving, but in a good way. You have nothing to be sorry for, Stephen; I eagerly await your autobiography.

22. “Lie Down Here (& Be My Girl)Nick Cave & The Bad Seedsadded4/3/08 10:11 PMlast listened10/5/08 2:31 AM
Maybe the manliest song I have ever heard? Seriously, all the guilt my liberal arts education has instilled in me about being a man just evaporates when I listen to this track. The guitars howl furiously, and the piano bit seems to sneer at them. Nick Cave grumbles about how sexually frustrated he is. Nothing else could possibly matter when this song is on.

23. “Pristine ChristineThe Sea Urchinsadded3/9/07 3:12 PMlast listened9/26/08 4:31 PM
The Sea Urchins wanted to make a great pop song so badly I think they just willed it into being. More homemade-sounding than most, but as good a pop tune as you will ever hear.

24. “Boys Don't CryThe Cureadded12/1/05 10:28 AMlast listened9/11/08 1:42 AM
The Cure’s best-ever single. It’s just so…sunny.

25. “Gold SoundzPavementadded8/20/07 5:28 PMlast listened9/21/08 12:19 PM
Snaking guitars lurch back and forth as Malkmus lays down one of his best vocals ever—as always it’s not about anything, except for this time it is. The meaning’s in the voice, not the words. This = rad.

26. “The Seed (2.0)The Rootsadded11/17/05 3:47 PMlast listened2/15/08 11:23 AM
I would play this a lot because I knew Emery (my roommate freshman year) loved it—the striking thing about this song is how well everything works except for Black Thought’s vocals.

27. “Stay Another SeasonThe Avalanchesadded3/28/06 7:01 PMlast listened7/24/08 1:32 AM
Not a mind-blowing song or anything, and probably this high on the list because it comes immediately after “Since I Left You”. It uses the vocal sample from that track to make a sort of tropical sounding tune. The structure of the song might be the most interesting bit—there’s essentially two parts, with the first breaking down right as the second gets built up.

28. “FeelBig Staradded9/19/05 10:59 PMlast listened4/8/08 4:52 PM
I’m not very sympathetic to the ‘rockist’ school of criticism, which in caricatured form would maintain that rock music got the formula right during the 60s and 70s and that all subsequent developments are stupid, but “Feel” is, to me, proof that they might actually be right.

29. “Seguir Siendo”Café Tacubaadded12/4/07 2:47 PMlast listened8/22/08 11:57 AM
30. "Tengo Todo"Café Tacubaadded12/4/07 2:48 PMlast listened8/22/08 12:00 PM
Together, these two songs form an absolutely gorgeous suite. The piano and vocals that introduce the song foreshadow the darker, more introspective themes of the record. When the guitar kicks in the vocals start doing this excellent cascading thing, and when “Seguir Siendo” transitions into “Tengo Todo” the tension is almost unbearable until the rhythm kicks in. Beautiful harmonies on “Tengo Todo”.

31. “Touch the SkyKanye West ft. Lupe Fiascoadded10/11/05 4:44 PMlast listened9/17/08 5:53 PM
Exhilarating, better even than its fantastic source material, fellow Chicagoan Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up”. Production-wise a nice middle ground between the good but conventionalish “College Dropout” and the too-icy electro-isms of “Graduation” and the new one. Some nice, and not too self-absorbed verses; Lupe kills.

32. “AccordionMadvillainadded7/2/05 4:15 PMlast listened9/29/08 11:25 AM
Ridiculously good—as an MC I swear to god MF Doom plays with words so brilliantly it puts him in the company of the greats of Western Literature (which is true of the whole album). The woozy beat blends left-field and listenable expertly. Fucking genius; this actually is my favorite hip-hop song.

33. “Common PeoplePulpadded1/16/06 11:33 AMlast listened7/5/08 12:09 PM
Would be a good song title for a track about Common fans. Also a devastating class critique and maybe the best single of the 1990s.

34, “Family AffairSly & The Family Stoneadded5/23/07 2:29 PMlast listened9/30/08 10:32 PM
The sound of a man losing his mind, albeit in an incredibly and darkly funky fashion.

35. “Teen Age RiotSonic Youthadded9/12/06 1:18 AMlast listened10/4/08 1:25 PM
Sometimes a band’s most well-known song is actually their best song too. Squalls of guitar like you wouldn’t believe.

36. “Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On)Talking Headsadded10/7/05 3:52 PMlast listened8/28/08
Paranoid, awkward and funky at the same time.

37. “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)”Talking Headsadded3/24/08 3:32 PMlast listened9/22/08 11:25 AM
A really special song in the Talking Heads catalog, I think. It’s rhythmically and melodically very simple—hence the tile—yet all the more poignant for being so. Beautiful lyrics too—about looking around you and realizing that maybe, for once, things aren’t all that bad. Maybe they’re even good.

38. “Impossible GermanyWilco added4/2/07 2:31 AMlast listened10/9/08 11:56 AM
Pretty like Wilco had never been before. A lot of people thought “Sky Blue Sky” sounded complacent, but they just missed the point—it wasn’t complacent but content, a perfectly valid subject for pop music. It’s always gorgeous when the three guitars begin playing with and off each other in the final third of the song.

39. “Autumn SweaterYo La Tengoadded10/11/05 10:43 AMlast listened7/24/08 1:03 AM
Drone-y and dreamy. Delightful.

40. “FireworksAnimal Collectiveadded9/11/07 2:43 PMlast listened9/10/08 1:34 AM
Already wrote about this one too.

41. “Two Hearts in 3/4 Time”The Avalanchesadded 3/28/06 7:02 PMlast listened7/24/08 1:39 AM
Another brilliantly constructed pop tune. The drums sound like they’re made of 1s and 0s and the samples coalesce almost psychedelically.

42. “GilaBeach Houseadded12/19/07 11:20 PMlast listened8/26/08 1:13 AM
Music for dark, sleepless nights. The lyrics don’t matter, but everything else does, from Victoria Legrand’s deep, well-enunciated vocals to the somewhat more substantial than usual drum machine to the plaintive haze of the guitar and keyboard.

43. “Cat Walk”Beat Happeninglast listened8/16/07 4:11 PMadded9/13/08 1:26 AM
One of the great things about Michael Azerrad’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life” is how it argues that Beat Happening were maybe the most revolutionary punk band of all time. If you didn’t like the childish affectations or amateurish musicianship you could go fuck yourself. Most of America, including the underground, chose to, but that doesn’t mean Azzerrad isn’t right.

44. “September Gurls”Big Staradded9/19/05 11:09 PMlast listened2/26/08 5:38 PM
In an alternate universe where things are as they should be, this is the most popular song ever. But here on Earth-Two it’s just a great pop song with great guitar and great vocals from a great pop band.

45. “Little Fury Things”Dinosaur Jradded5/12/07 1:39 PMlast listened9/6/08 7:28 PMAlternative & Punk
The song begins with an anguished amalgamation of sound, tosses in some alienated lyrics and generally rules. A strong argument that the guy who invented effects pedals deserves a Nobel, or if not him J (or Kevin).

46. “KiloGhostface Killah feat. Raekwonadded3/28/06 11:49 AMlast listened10/2/08 10:08 PM
There’s no way the guy who wrote the kids song sampled here could imagine what nefarious use it would be put to. The beat isn’t straightforward, hard to pin down but great, as Ghost and Rae prove, to rap over.

47. “Everyday Is Like SundayMorrisseyadded10/24/05 10:25 AMlast listened10/6/08 3:35 PM
Some days it really does seem like every day is silent and grey, and those are the days “Everyday Is Like Sunday” sounds best. Stephen Street does his best Johnny Marr, and it’s a pretty good one.

48. “Everybody Knows This Is NowhereNeil Youngadded 9/28/05 4:42 PMlast listened5/27/08 6:53 PM
Dirty, countrified and grouchy/pensive. Neil Young has written more perfect songs than most people will ever listen to, but this is up there.

49. “Starfish and CoffeePrinceadded12/12/06 9:01 PMlast listened9/20/08 2:43 PM
If you know what this song’s about, like ABOUT about, I urge you to let me know. Until then, I’ll just dig on its absurdly poppy pep. This isn’t the only time Prince would show his debt to Lennon/McCartney, but it’s the best. My favorite Prince song on my favorite Prince album.

50. “I'll Still Be ThereRazorcutsadded3/9/07 3:18 PMlast listened6/27/08 2:22 PM
In the same universe where “September Gurls” is the most popular song ever jangle-pop dominated the 1980s and “I’ll Still Be There” topped charts on both sides of the Atlantic. A gem of a love song.

53. “Center of Gravity”Yo La Tengo added10/16/06 8:32 PMlast listened9/15/08 4:54 AM
It’s always sounded sort of Brazilian to me. There’s almost nothing to it—wood blocks, bass, guitar and the Ira-Georgia harmony—but it’s so sweet I almost swoon.

51. “A Magazine Called Sunset”Wilco added10/9/05 3:15 PMlast listened8/22/08 9:12 PM
The direction—avant-pop more pop than avant—they could’ve taken after “Summerteeth”; so catchy it makes you wish they had. That they released it on a low-profile EP suggests the band needs help picking out singles.

52. “Stockholm Syndrome”Yo La Tengoadded10/16/06 8:30 PMlast listened8/24/08 2:35 AM
If there was a genre called anxiety-pop this would be its banner song. YLT at their best are so songwriterly—every component adding to the melody without calling undue attention to itself—and this song is them, with the always great James McNew on vocals, at their songwriterly best.


  • nsacks

    Engaging reading as always. I made a few notes to myself while reading this: -Judging from experience, I think I've heard more people claim that "The Perfect Kiss" is the best song ever than any other song. Not that I necessarily disagree. You should have talked more about the killer bass solo at the end, or bass solos in general. -The best part of "Waterloo Sunset" for me is always the "but I don't/need a friend" part whether or not the sentiment happens to be apropos for me. It's Davies at his most lilting. -You know I love Dinosaur as much as anyone, but I disagree that Sonic Youth can't get the noise/pop quotient right--I can think of "Teen Age Riot," which you mentioned, and songs like "Sugar Kane" and "Theresa's Sound World." -I have no idea why "Kiss Me On The Bus" is your most listened to Replacements song, but I can't complain because apparently my most-listened to is "We'll Inherit the Earth." -I don't think Big Star really factors as a key band among "rockist" circles that I am aware of. -It's funny how we have the same favorite Yo La Tengo songs. I think I love "Autumn Sweater" the most because of the groove, which is catchy in its own right.

    Jan 30 2009, 2h10
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