back to 100-76
back to 75-51
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back to 50-31
#30. Von (acoustic Heim version)
by Sigur Ros (2007)
So, this is an acoustic live version of a reworking of an older song from their first album... anyway... It is breathtaking. I first heard it in an intimate scene on the Sigur Ros tour documentary "Heima," where the band played it live for a small group in a coffee shop or something. Beautiful, emotional, spiritual. Love it.
#29. 'Til Kingdom Come
by Coldplay (2005)
It didn't even get labeled as an official track on the album, but is far and away the best one on it. Originally written for Johnny Cash to perform, after he died they kept it for themselves. I like it cuz it reminds me of Cass. I sang it to her at our wedding luncheon. Badly. Awww.
#28. Life Goes On
by Love Psychedelico (2002)
Once again, Japan takes American style and does one better. In this case, semi-gospel(ish) country rock. Singer Kumi flows seamlessly between English and Japanese and throws in possibly my favorite lyrical line of any of the songs on this list: "Falling to the end of the sky/I'm rolling over the rain/Feeling to the end of the mind/I'm growing over the pain." I don't know if that's a second-language happy accident, or poetic genius. But its great, so I don't care.
by Mongol 800 (2001)
Epic punk-pop done RIGHT. Awesome instrumentation aside, the lyrics are completely in semi-busted English. The reason it works is because of its naive sincerity. Its a punk Japanese kid desperately trying to write a love song to the object of his affection... who apparently only speaks English. He doesn't care if he sounds like an idiot, so long as the point comes across. Heartfelt song that really made an impression on my mission.
#26. Welcome to the Black Parade
by My Chemical Romance (2006)
I really didn't want to like these guys. Although I liked their "Helena" track from the previous album, I wanted to put them in the "usual emo crap" bin and be done with it. And like a punch in the face, this song comes along and knocks me clean out. "Usual emo crap" is a severe misconception, and "epic" is a severe understatement.
by Love Psychedelico (2001)
One thing I love about this group is the interwoven snippets of understandable (rare in Japanese tunes) English. It's just way too endearing when Kumi proclaims, "I wanna be a cowgirl" in perfect English over the bouncy jangle of her acoustic guitar. And when you hear that "I love you, yeah" line, how can you not respond with an "Oh Kumi, I love you too!!!"? Well, you can't really.
by Sigur Ros (2005)
Another mood chameleon. Is this an incredibly happy or incredibly sad song? Depends on YOUR mood I guess, and I think they meant it to be that way. No matter your take, what gets me evertime is the wind down of strings from about the half-way point. Undescribable beauty and fragility. Makes you wanna hold your breath for fear of interrupting.
My iPod isn't too old, but this song shot to the top of its "most played" category in '07 and still holds that top position. I had heard early live demos of it before, but nothing prepared me for the monster that would appear on Young Modern. I really don't know how to explain it. Just listen. Loudly.
#22. Viva la Vida
by Coldplay (2008)
All I have to say is, brilliant pop is brilliant pop. And Coldplay makes some of the best of it. If yer sick of hearing it on the radio, then stop listening to the radio.
#21. Sorry Or Please
by Kings of Convenience (2004)
I was pursuing a relationship with a gal that gave me all sorts of mixed signals, and then along came this song. It was EXACTLY how I was feeling at the time. I got over it, and found myself a Cass not a month later! I was instantly converted to this duo and their personal, yet relatable lyrics.
#20. タダイマ (Tadaima)
by Do As Infinity (2001)
I hope you kids are looking up the English translation for some of these Japanese tunes. I didn't really listen to this song until I got home from my mission and could understand more of what it was about. The title is basically translated "I'm home!" With the memory of Japan still fresh in my mind at the time, it was a bittersweet realization that hit me pretty hard. Great lyrics, great tune!
#19. You Make It Real
by James Morrison (2008)
This song hit me in such a personal way when I first heard it. I was so exhausted of school and everything else going on, and it reminded me of what its all for: My wifey Cass. Sometimes all you need is a to-the-point love song to take the words outta your head, and this one does it perfectly.
#18. Pyramid Song
by Radiohead (2001)
Thom's apparently singing of a weird dream he had about the afterlife on this one, and by golly he wants you to see what he saw. This song is such a visual experience to me. Every time I hear it I feel like I can see and feel exactly what Thom did. Its an eerie, atmospheric experience. Yet, there's "nothing to fear, nothing to doubt." (And just try following that time signature...)
#17. In My Place
by Coldplay (2002)
This is the sound of a group on the verge of exploding into the biggest band in the world, and not even realizing it. I mean, sure, they were getting popular, but look at that picture. They have no clue. They didn't even bother doing their hair, or cutting it. Even the bald one. I love that each instrument has its own vital melody to contribute to the grandioseness in this'n.
#16. Gronlandic Edit
by Of Montreal (2007)
I was listening to this in my car the first time I heard it, and I about went off the road when that chorus of Kevins blasted in: "I'll FORGEEEE -(forgeee-forgeee-forgeee)-T! I rewound (can you even say "rewound" anymore?) it 5 or 6 times before I finally finished the rest of this fabulous song. After I put my ears back on my head, I finished the ride home. What a ride that was.
#15. One More Time
by Daft Punk (2001)
It seemed like this song was HUGE in Japan. I heard it everywhere on my mission. And when I couldn't hear it in public, it was often stuck in my head. I still get so pumped every time I hear it! It's an exhilarating dance masterpiece. And by the way...unless you are a French robot... STOP IT WITH THE AUTO-TUNE! Baggy thugs are about as far from French robots as you can be... it must stop.
#14. Man of Constant Sorrow
by Soggy Bottom Boys (2000)
"Hot damn, son! I believe you DID sell your soul to the devil!" When I saw this movie, I knew it would be one of my favorites as soon as I saw the "singin' into a can" scene. One of my favorite scenes (and songs) from any movie ever. Too bad its not really George Clooney singing, (that would be Dan Tyminski of Alison Krauss and Union Station). Altogether awesome!
#13. Sense of Life
by Do As Infinity (2002)
Perfect for a spring/summer anthem. This song embodies this group's overall style into one perfect little pop nugget. Melodious, poetic, upbeat, sexy and sad all at the same time. They are so great at expressing the bittersweet in their tunes. Making instantly likable pop songs with substance while sounding similar to background music for Sonic the Hedgehog is quite a talent indeed. The Japanese have a knack for that. I miss it.
#12. Morning Bell
by Radiohead (2000)
Any song by Radiohead (but especially from Kid A) needs to be heard on really nice headphones first. I really can't fathom how any fan of good music fails to hear the melody in songs like this. The way Thom's voice melds with that bass 'n keyboard combo in 5/4 time is completely stunning to me. Each "instrument" forms around the inherent melody flawlessly and nearly a decade later, I cannot get enough of it. I am still in awe to the sheer tension and beauty of this song.
#11. Tuna In the Brine
by Silverchair (2002)
This could be one of the few songs I really enjoy with food in the title. (For some reason that always turns me off...) But that initial oddball skepticism of mine was washed away within about 2 seconds. With epic orchestrations by Van Dyke Parks, this is much less of a "rock/pop song" than it is a whimsical classical piece. "Over-the-top" and "theatrical" are a couple more appropriate adjectives. Daniel Johns is in top form, singing up and down and all around about breaking out of his shell of depression.
Why do I like it so much? Hell, I dunno. Its inspiring and just friggin' amazing. Do I need another reason?