Last New Year's Eve, I spent my time doing two things: texting Maureen about our Trashy Romance Novel-writing pseudonyms, and dancing around my bedroom to songs that shuffled up on my iPod (including, if I recall correctly, "All I Ever Wanted" by Basshunter, which is a great song for getting out excess energy). So as 2012 approached, I pondered which songs I want accompanying me as a new year begins, and I came up with 10 tracks.
The list below was culled from my current collection. Most of the tracks aren't recent, but they certainly sound good to me, and that's really the goal of any playlist I ever make. They come to you in no particular order. I hope you'll check them out, if you're not already familiar with them. Enjoy!
1) "Thunder," Matisyahu
I'm sure that Matisyahu is old news to some of you, but I only recently discovered this song, and I am a little bit in love with it. The chorus, in particular, resonates with me right now: "Look for me through the wind and rain. / Thunder, remember my name. / I'll be coming--yes, I'm running, oh, I'm on my way. / Just stay and I'll be there by the break of day."
2) "O Children," Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Months ago, I wrote the following to a professor: "Most people know this because it was featured prominently in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. And let me just say, they put it to good use there. It's devastating and joyful all at once," and I stand by that assessment. When Cave delivers the lines "I'm hanging in there, don't you see, / In this process of elimination," I die.
3) "No Seas Cobarde," Melina León
The title means "you are not a coward," and though the entire song is sung in Spanish, León delivers the lyrics here so fiercely that no translation is needed, only a receptivity to emotion. My Spanish is crap, but the song appears to be about a cheating man and the woman who calls him out? At any rate, it's a great song to blast in the car.
4) "Bloody Mary," Lady Gaga
There was always going to be a Lady Gaga song on this list, and I know you know that. Blasphemy aside, tell me that Gaga's digitally-altered growl-delivery of "And when you're gone, / I'll tell them my religion's you" isn't fierce in a mind-melting sort of way. And the last minute-ten or so is pure pop fusion. It might be love.
5) "Samba Nova," Stone Temple Pilots
Maureen's brother Mark may hate Stone Temple Pilots (and, by extension, me? I'm not sure), but I still love them, as you have undoubtedly noticed. So this--a bonus track on Stone Temple Pilots that was left over from the Shangri-la Dee Da sessions--is on the list, not only because it's lovely in a heartbreaking sort of way but also because it evinces one of the last times Scott Weiland's voice was this strong; after Shangri-la Dee Da, he joined Velvet Revolver, a gig that changed his vocal stylings, maybe irrevocably--only time will tell.
6) "Lucid Dreams," Franz Ferdinand
You know I have a big ol' crush on Alex Kapranos, right? Right. Romantic delusions aside, "Lucid Dreams" is nothing less than a magnum opus, pretty much the embodiment of Franz Ferdinand's musical aesthetic (both vocally and instrumentally), and I value every second of it's 7:56 running time.
7) "Ava Adore," Smashing Pumpkins
There is something wonderfully progressive about the sound of this song, yet the lyrics are classic: it's a tale of obsessive, dangerous love, complete with brilliant lines like "Lovely girl, you're the murder in my world" that perfectly sum up unhealthy but oh-so-fun relationships. Additionally, the music video is wicked cool (and twisted, and very late-'90s--in a good way).
8) "Modern Love," David Bowie
As far as opening tracks on albums go, this is a good one, as it introduces the listener to an updated Bowie sound evident on Let's Dance and sets the stage for later songs on the album (notably, "China Girl" and "Let's Dance") while still retaining aural connections to past work like "Young Americans." Plus, the circular chorus makes for a fun sing-along.
9) "Could've Gone Mad," POE
When it comes to love songs, the irreverent ones are the most fun, like when POE sings "You can bring whatever you wanna bring, baby, / Each and every one of your friends. / And if you want a dog or a big bullfrog, / Hell, I got room for them." "Could've Gone Mad" is a bright spot on a brilliant album that tends toward the depressing or macabre, and though it certainly retains some of those elements (I mean, just look at the title), it transcends them, as well.
10) "Summer Day," Sheryl Crow
In the midst of winter, it's nice to have a reminder that summer will be here eventually. It's also nice to hear something uplifting from time to time. This track certainly does the trick for me, and it makes me want to dance. And what better way to start the new year than with a dance?
Feel free to share your own essential tracks for the coming year in the comments; we'd love to know what you're listening to right now!