Well that month went by fast, hunh? 2013’s first is already in the bag; 11 to go before this year’s edition of the Year-End music writer/critic/blogger self-love orgy. To keep tabs on my diet, I’m going to be doing a monthly “Playlist” of songs that are on constant repeat on iTunes. And since nobody reads this, then surely it’s just for my own record-keeping. I am so clever.
Let’s kick this off, then. For honest disclosure’s sake, I chose to arrange songs in order of my iTunes play count. That way, I won’t be able to weasel all the “cool” stuff on the top of the list and hope that you didn’t make it to the bottom of the rankings to see that I’ve listened to Josh Groban’s new single an insane amount of times. Tsk, tsk.
[Editor’s Note: these songs aren’t necessarily January 2013 releases; they’re just the ones that Neil’s been listening to non-stop.]
1. The National – “Bloodbuzz Ohio”
A lush, bittersweet tune, reflecting some of my recent (but not exact) woes of late: “I still owe money to the money to the money I owe/I never thought about love when I thought about home.”
2. Josh Groban – “Brave”
Haha, sue me, I fucking love Josh Groban. His songs swell with power and allow me to pretend I can sing. Raising me up since 2003.
3. Churchill – “Change”
This track is a fucking banger. Lil’ bit of Fleetwood Mac, lil’ bit of Lady Antebellum. Predicted to be a frontrunner in my year-end Top 20.
4. The Strokes – “One Way Trigger”
Comeback singles are a bitch when a band tries to switch things up. Like other songs that threatened to be crushed underneath nutso levels of hype (“Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”, “Madness”, for example), this song turned out to be a grower. I gave it many spins to prove itself and I’m glad I did. Can’t stop listening to that falsetto.
5. How To Destroy Angels – “How Long?”
The catchiest thing Trent has written since the last NIN album. The groove is reminiscent of Year Zero, but there’s a distinct air of positivity to it all, likely injected by his wife’s vocals. So pretty, so hypnotic.
6. Ellie Goulding – “My Blood”
It’s hard to pick just one track off this perfect album, but I listen to this (and “Hanging On”) most. I finally read the lyrics and see it’s about a breakup (damn you, Skrillex!): “And God knows I’m not dying but I bleed now/And God knows it’s the only way to heal now/With all the blood I lost with you/It drowns the love I thought I knew.” Gaddamn! Ellie makes injecting heart and soul (and blood) into seemingly cold electronic music.
7. Junip – “Line of Fire”
Listen to this NOW. It’s Jose Gonzalez and his band. If you don’t know who he is, get into that back catalog (start with In Our Nature… there’s a cover of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” that is a stunner). The band bolsters his sound in ways that make me squeal. It’s positioned at #7 only because I downloaded it today, but I can’t stop listening to it. Gah!
8. Tegan and Sara – “I Was A Fool”
Seriously, thank God they went along with their pop sensibilities and made this fuckitall album of gems. It’s my January Album of the Month. This is one of my favorite tracks. It starts off like an old J-Pop song (Ayu!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) but it’s all 80s synth-slow-jam. They’ll be on the Top Albums of 2013 all over the place.
9. Noisettes – “Let The Music Play”
One of my favorite bands. One of my Top 3 albums from 2009. This is their latest, Contact, released last year in the UK, yet to have a release date in the US. Gone is the gritty punk-rock snarl from their debut; they’ve ramped up the pop and R&B throwbacks from Wild Young Hearts into some smart pop perfection. This song is a good place to begin.
10. Chuckie and Promise Land feat. Amanda Wilson – “Breaking Up” (Bartosz Brenes & Tony Romera Remix)
Kids, I’ve been listening to this so-called “EDM” since before you were born. That being said, there is no bandwagon to jump on. If it makes me want to dance, I’m in. If it fools me into believing that I can handle dancing from dusk til dawn without destroying my knees and back (old!), then it has to be good. This song is HUUUUUUUUUUGE and makes me miss the good old dancing days in Shanghai. Likely locked-in to be my favorite dance song of 2013. We shall see; it’s a bit early.
Other tracks making the rounds that may rise or fall in the February rankings:
Santigold, “Disparate Youth” – the most pop-accessible track off her list-toppling 2012 album
Frank Ocean, “Wise Man” – achingly beautiful track that was dumped from the Django Unchained soundtrack.
Neon Trees, “Hooray for Hollywood” – driving, high-energy pop-infused rock with a huge oh-ooh-whoa chorus.
Jewel and Kelly Clarkson, “Foolish Games” – update of the ’90s classic into a crushing duet that we didn’t know we needed so badly… just wait until Kelly Clarkson hops in. It’s like that moment I always talk about in “Lady Marmalade”: when Xtina swoops in and steals the entire show with a killer run.
Metisse, “Boom Boom Ba” – unofficial theme to an old canceled show (Dead Like Me), Buddha Lounge-y trip hop preciousness.
The Knife, “Full of Fire” – fuck a duck, this song is brutal. More industrial-NIN than they’ve ever been, it’s 9+ (!!!) minutes of head banging dance music.
And last but definitely not least, my good pal, Stephen Frost, with his new single, “Age of Gold.” There’s a little Sean Lennon in there, some classic old-fashioned-y pop. I’m just waiting for some Phil Spector Wall of Sound production to make it a classic.