A few weeks ago, when the time came to start working on my 2012 Top-Whatever post, I started think about how much effort went into last year’s Top-10 albums post, and how the silly thing ended up being more than a thousand words, and, with no small amount of lazi/restless-ness, I decided I didn’t really feel like doing that again this year.
So what did I choose to do instead? Something even more time-consuming of course! Taking inspiration from the squirrel in that creepy White Stripes song, I’ve decided to split my year-end post up into 5 parts, each one a Top-5 unto itself (with a bonus, Christmasy Top-5 tomorrow). First up? My favorite 5 songs of 2012, in the order in which I’d put them if I was assembling a mini-mixtape.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis — “Thrift Shop”
Including “Thrift Shop” was the second-easiest list-making decision of the year, trumped only by not including Bob Dylan’s 14-minute Titanic song. No track brought me more joy than “Thrift Shop,” and no music video made the rounds among my friends more successfully. Though “Same Love” explores more of the duo’s depth, I would never have made it to “Same Love” without “Thrift Shop,” and despite its lighthearted subject matter, the latter provides an excellent illustration of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ wit, execution and heart.
Read more about Macklemore & Ryan Lewis here and here.
Fiona Apple — “Every Single Night”
I’m a little conflicted about “Every Single Night.” Not about whether I like it, or whether it should be included in this list, but about why I fell so hard for it. The way I see it, there are two possibilities:
- I fell for it for all the reasons I mentioned in the post I wrote about it (it’s beautiful, passionate and does an astonishingly good job of mapping Apple’s thought process).
- I fell for it because it was posted at the bottom of an article that trumpeted the arrival of a new Apple album, which was totally unexpected and exciting news.
Unfortunately, I didn’t map my own thought process at the time and have no way of knowing. But it doesn’t really matter, because “Every Single Night” is a masterpiece of emotional communication that belongs in some sort of museum. Or a group therapy session. Or both.
Read more about Fiona Apple here and here.
Fun. — “Some Nights”
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’re no stranger to the fact that I love listening to music while I run. (That is, when I’m not falling on my ass.) Never have I encountered an album better suited for running than Some Nights, nor a song that’s withstood the test of repetitive listening more gracefully than its title track. We’re talking dozens and dozens of plays — it’s position just an intro track away from the album’s start meant it got hit hard, like that row of beach-front houses The Weather Channel shows during a hurricane to get you all freaked out. Nevertheless, it’s still standing strong, and on behalf of the cheeseburgers I was able to eat this year because I burned enough calories to maintain a (somewhat) steady weight, I salute you, “Some Nights.”
Read more about Fun. here.
Brooklyn Rider — String Quartet No. 14 in C# minor, opus 131, Mvmt V Presto
Like most kids, I spent my childhood hating Brussels sprouts. I hated the way they tasted, the way they looked, the way my sister loved them… (Seriously, what child likes Brussels sprouts? It’s kid treason!) And then, one day, my wife and I were out at a restaurant, and I had some sprouts that were prepared perfectly, with just the right amount of butter, and it just clicked. Just like that. All of the sudden, the stupid little green balls of fake cabbage made sense. That’s just what it was like listening to the fifth movement of Brooklyn Rider’s take on Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 14. All of the sudden, classical music looked tastier than a McDouble. In those 5 minutes of frenetic stops and starts, I saw a lifetime’s worth of exploration opening up in front of me, and to say that I’m grateful would be an understatement.
Read more about Brooklyn Rider here.
Frank Ocean — “Pyramids”
I can remember clearly the moment I realized that Channel Orange was truly special. I had dutifully started from the first track, with very little exposure to the album beforehand, and was impressed by the genres and textures that comprised the first 9 songs. But the “Aha!” moment came 71 seconds into 10th track “Pyramids,” when that club-happy synth butts in and pans from ear to ear in a delightfully unnatural echo. To me, that moment is the whole album in a nutshell — something unexpected taking an already-great song to another level. Channel Orange is a stunning, evocative collection of songs that are packed with so much creativity that they can’t sit still, with stylistic swings that stack layers of goodness on top of one another.
Read more about Frank Ocean here.
Check back tomorrow for a peek at what’s spinning this Christmas at YHT headquarters.
6 thoughts on “5×5, Part 1: Songs”
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Yes to Frank Ocean!! No Matthew E. White?
Listening back now, I kind of regret not putting more Frank Ocean in these 2012 round-up posts. Channel Orange is just so good, and talking about “Pyramids” barely scratches the surface.
(Glad you saw the Matthew E. White later on!)