Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Top 20 Songs of 2016, Part 2

I didn't expect it to take a week for me to get back to posting this list, but suddenly, for better and for worse, my job has exploded. So let's get back into it.

10. Lights - "Follow You Down"

Lights is the performing name (and apparently now, the legal name) of a female electropop musician from Canada. This song come from her album Midnight Machines, which is mostly just an acoustic version of her album from last year, Little Machines. "Follow You Down" is one of only two new songs on the album, but it's a good one, very quiet, very pretty. I really don't have much else to say about it.

9. White Lung - "Below"

White Lung is a female-fronted Canadian punk rock band from Vancouver, British Columbia. The song comes from Paradise, their fourth studio album, and by far their best. "Below" is pretty much the ballad of the album, on which they reach emotional depths I didn't previously realize they were capable of. Pretty good year for Canada. They made this list twice.

8. Kristin Kontrol - "X-Communicate"

Kristin Kontrol, aka Kristin Welchez is also Dee Dee, the lead singer of the California indie rock band Dum Dum Girls. Kontrol has since moved to New York and released this solo project. This album tends more towards danceable synth-pop than her work with the Dum Dums. I'm only so-so on the album as a whole, but there's no question that this is an excellent track.

7. Blink-182 - "San Diego"

There's a lot to like on Blink-182's California album, and this song is at the top of heap. It's a lost love song, with some powerful vocal harmonies on the chorus, as the singer looks back with regret on a happier time before things fell apart, when he and his love bought a one-way ticket to San Diego to see a Cure concert. A lot of longtime Blink fans have had a hard time getting into this album, but as more of a casual fan of the band, I enjoyed it. Especially this song.

6. Mother Feather - "Beach House"

Mother Feather is a glam rock band from New York City. Although I enjoyed their self-titled debut album, this, their most atypical song, is my favorite on the album. It's a musical version of many a city dweller's fantasy, namely to own a house on the beach to which to escape. But unlike most people, this band is willing to work for it: "But I want the beach house/I wanna build it with my bare hands/Work until I wear out/Sleepover with my best friends." I'm not even a beach person, but they make it sound soooo good.

5. Against the Current - "Young & Relentless"

As you know if you read my Top 10 Albums list, I really liked this Poughkeepsie band's LP debut album a lot. This kind of seems like it might be the group's theme song. They're this very young band, full of energy, and somehow their lyrics just capture that fast-paced lifestyle that the young often lead: "We could be anyplace, anytime, in any moment/It's a race to the line". I myself  need a nap just thinking about it.

4. Gwen Stefani - "Rare"

This is a pure pop song, my favorite of the year. In a world full of songs about love gone wrong, this is one about love gone right, as Stefani tells her man "You're rare/And I'm loving every second of it, don't you know/You're rare/And only a stupid girl would let it go." The album, This Is What the Truth Feels Like, hit #1 on the Billboard charts, but for some reason, they didn't release this as a single. Maybe they still will.

3. Twenty One Pilots - "Heathens"

This is one of those songs that grabbed me at first hearing. It was a natural fit for the Suicide Squad film, a movie where the heroes are a bunch of misfit super villains, so it's no surprise this was part of the soundtrack of that film. It's an ode to finding beauty in the damaged and downtrodden of society. The last line says it all: "It looks like you might be one of us."

2. 888 - "Critical Mistakes"

888 is an alternative electro band from Denver, CO. Like "Heathens", this song grabbed me at first listen. And also like "Heathens", this song has a great video that goes along with it, featuring people who messed up their lives by making terrible mistakes like murdering someone or accidentally killing someone while drunk driving, being confronted by the people whose lives they have damaged, and trying to find a way to live with the things they've done. As I said in my intro to Part 1 of this list, I actually cheated on my own rules with this song and bought the EP as a download because a hard copy wasn't available. The song was worth it. For the last few months I struggled to decide if this song or the next would be my #1.

1. Bayside - "Mary"

In the end, though, I guess it's no shock that in a close call, I leaned a little in the direction of Bayside, one of my favorite bands. "Mary" is a little different for a Bayside song. To my ears, it sounds more like classic rock than their usual pop punk. It's an ode to a lost friend (or fan), with a very danceable chorus. I've searched the Internet in vain to find who the actual Mary might have been to lead singer/songwriter Anthony Raneri, but in the end, I guess it's enough just to enjoy the song. "So go on, work all your angles out/Get a plan together, get your demons out/'Cause Mary, the world wants to bring you down/But don't you let them."

So that's it for this year's Top 20 Songs list. I hope you liked the list, and that maybe you enjoyed some of these songs too.