February is a short month, but seriously, this year is pretty much almost over. So while I prepare for April (at this rate, March is already done), here’s what I was blasting out of my boombox this month.
[Same note as last month: I’m going by iTunes play count, so I can’t be a weasel…]
1. Frank Ocean – “Eyes Like Sky”
Good Lord on high, this is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard. These LYRICS. The soft acoustic number reminds me of something from the early ’90s that would have fit nicely on the “grown up” stations (alongside Des’ree and Tracy Chapman or something). Don’t let that fool you. I tear up every time I hear this part:
“I said I wish you could see the ocean/He said I wish you could see hope
I said have you ever seen a mountain?/He said no but my faith can move those
I said I wish you could see the stars/He told me I should see love”
*Neil rips out heart strings* D:
He delivers it with such aching sincerity that I should just stop writing the rest of this list because I haven’t stopped listening to this song for about a week.
2. Taio Cruz – “Higher” (feat. Kylie Minogue)
Anything (ANYTHING) that “features” Kylie Minogue is guaranteed to be good. Because Kylie Minogue. (Editor’s note: for all of you hipsters scoffing and rolling your eyes, go listen to “Where the Wild Roses Grow“, her duet with Nick Cave. And then shut the fuck up.) It’s upbeat Euro-pop and, even though it came out in 2010, my sister just discovered it and we loves it, precious. Like Usher, but less skeevy and trying-too-hard. [Note: the US version has Travie McCoy… hahahahahahahahahaha, I don’t even know what to say to that….]
3. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – “Thrift Shop” (feat. Wanz)
Yeah, Neil finally joined 2013. I was so resistant to this song for months but then I finally listened to it all the way through (it’s on the radio every few minutes). The Nate Dogg-ripoff chorus hooked me. Then I read the lyrics and, after LOL’ing for a while (FYI, R. Kelly’s sheets smell like “pissssssssssssssssssssssss”), I decided that I liked the message (This validates my unabashed love of secondhand shops). In his defense, I love the throwback early ’90s vibe. And his other songs are surprisingly thoughtful. I’ve been schooled. This is fucking AWWWWSUMMMMMMM.
4. Azealia Banks – “Harlem Shake”
I know, I know… just like #3 above, this is racially divisive and played out. Cry me a river. Bauuer’s version is pretty boring (I still think that the best of the meme videos improve the song, i.e. the Matt & Kim BESTCONCERTEVERHOLYSHIT); Azealia’s rap gives it a ton of aggressive grit and, frankly, cred.
5. The Pierces – “You’ll Be Mine”
This hot sister duo made of my favorite records of ’07, the catchy and witty-as-fuck Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge. Coldplay’s hot bassist handles instrumentation on the 2011 album that spawned this track (You & I). It’s not as immature, playful and sarcastic as Thirteen Tales, instead sounding like earnest adult stuff, much in the vein of recent KT Tunstall.
6. Stephen Frost – “All The Lovely Things”
Playful. Cabaret. Whistling. Tap-dancing. FRENCH. This is the song they played in the saloon from the MJ/McCartney video for “Say, Say, Say” after Michael, Paul and Linda continued on their quack-journey. My favorite track so far. Good job, kid.
7. Justin Timberlake – “Suit and Tie” (feat. Jay-Z)
Hey, did you hear JT is back? Of course you did. This was in heavy rotation at the start of the month (I actually liked it!) but it’s getting so played out that I don’t really care anymore. I’m not even getting tickets for the Legends of Summer throwdown at Fenway. Whatever. In regards to this song, I’ll let my mother handle my thoughts:
“Wow, this is so nice! They need to bring back music like this…. Mmm, nice!” Continues dancing. Jay-Z abruptly jumps in. “No. Oh no. Now it’s ruined. Whyyyyy’d they have to do that?!???” Stops dancing.
I love Jay, but his verse is so jarring and distracting that it loses me. T.I. is a perfect compliment to JT. He should be brought back.
8. Marina and the Diamonds – “E.V.O.L.”
Another clever kiss-off/fuck-you to love. She is unstoppable. This b-side would fit nicely on her first album, but it boasts the slick production from her latest. I had this shit on repeat for days, so I’m not sure why it’s all the way at #8. It should be at #5. Blast this one, jilted guys and gals.
9. MS MR – “Bones”
“OHMYGOD, IT’S THE GAME OF THRONES SONG!!!!!!” Thank you, GoT s3 trailer. This song is gloriously dark and grim. Bits of Florence. Bits of Bat for Lashes. Flourishes of orchestral strings, gut-booming drums and spooky wailing. So good. Their EP is only $2.99 on iTunes. Check it out.
10. Olly Murs – “Troublemaker” (feat. Flo Rida)
Yeah, this isn’t Maroon 5. I know you thought it was Adam, but you are mistaken. Being an Olly fan for a couple years now (Murs hipster!), this is a jarring shift from his fun, throwback British Pop (not Britpop) that ranged from Robbie Williams to One Direction to Estelle. This is clearly THE big grab for the US market. If you haven’t heard it on the radio yet, you will. Oh you will.
Album of the Month
January belonged to Tegan and Sara. Their pop breakthrough is untouchable and beloved by critics, ensuring you’ll be hearing about it until next January when all the 2013 lists come out (this one included). My February record is from 2012, but I just got it (thanks HEG). It’s so effortlessly good that it’s criminal.
Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox
My favorite tracks are “Moonshine,” “Natalie” and “Money Make Her Smile” (the bass line on that track is filthy good). This album drips throwback, whether it’s of the Michael Jackson variety (“Natalie” is “Dirty Diana”/”Billy Jean” 2013. The chorus reminds me of this, for some reason) or old fashioned ’50s doo-wop pop rock (“If I Knew“). It’s all short too, clocking in at less than 40 minutes. Way to leave us wanting more, Bruno. It’s split into two personalities: the earnest, less bombastic tracks (“Young Girls“, “When I Was Your Man” and my aforementioned favorites) and then there’s the party-starting jams. From the ridiculous lyrically-NSFW sexcapades of “Gorilla” and daft funk of “Treasure” to the ubiquitous “Locked Out of Heaven” and the reggae smoke track, “Show Me.” Like the eponymous machine from the title, this album plays like a selection of greatest hits from decades long passed. This little guy is awesome.