So we had so much fun putting together our Top Albums list, we decided to go ahead and make a Top Songs list too! Hopefully this kind of makes up for not posting all year! This list basically collects the songs that really killed us this year, whether they were world-conquering disco anthems, churning electronic chamber pieces, Billboard Top-40 hits, covers of Billboard Top-40 hits, or slowed-down versions of Dolly Parton classics – these are all just amazing songs.
Our rules for inclusion were simple: only one song per artist (Sorry “Afterlife”!), songs could come from one of our Favorite Albums, but couldn’t have been included in our Favorite Album post (Sorry “Holy”!), and finally, every song had to be unequivocally awesome. I promise they all qualify.
They’re listed below in alphabetical order by artist, because we don’t hate ourselves and weren’t about to rank these in any kind of favorite order. That being said, my favorite song of the year was hands-down “Song For Zula” by Phosphorescent. That song is my 2013 jam. Here’s hoping you find your 2013 jam below.
Every now and then there comes a record that I just can’t turn off.
It doesn’t happen quite as often since we started this blog – mostly because we constantly have new music pouring in and we try to listen to as much of it as we can. That’s both a good thing and a bad thing. Good because there’s so much more exposure for smaller artists, and so much more ability to find and define your own musical taste. Bad because I’ve felt my musical attention span getting shorter and shorter over the last few years, and I spend far less time with a single record now than I did, say, five years ago. I’ll be honest, I think about it fairly often – and it makes me pretty sad sometimes. I think it’s one of the symptoms of a general information-overload – where too much is available and too little is valuable (or even valued). And I’m not even talking about illegal downloading – I’m just talking about how much there is to be exposed to online. You could go online for fifteen minutes and listen to maybe 100 different artists from around the world without downloading a single track. But how many of those artists can really touch us in the fraction of a second we give them?
I could go on, but I’ll spare you. The point I started out making was that even with all my worrying there are still some records that break through the haze and force me to pay attention. Go, the new album from Jónsi (the singer and guitarist for Sigur Rós), is one of those records.
Put most simply, this record is beautiful. Fans of Sigur Rós won’t be surprised at that. In fact, on first listen it might be hard to distinguish much difference between Jónsi’s work here and his work with his usual band-mates. There’s still the grandiosity, the instrumental and vocal swells, Jónsi’s gorgeous voice, the same impeccable quality of work. But there are some very poignant differences. An obvious one is that Jónsi sings in english here. Another is that indie darling Nico Muhly took over the string arrangements (listen for his signature flourishes all over the track below). But there’s a more significant difference between Go and most of Jónsi’s other work. As much as I love Sigur Rós, it’s true that most of their music, beautiful as it is, tends toward the melancholy. With the exception of songs like “Gobbledigook” on 2008’s MeÃ° suÃ° Ã eyrum viÃ° spilum endalaust, most of Sigur Rós’s catalog can be pretty blue overall. Not so here. Not only is Go not particularly melancholy, it’s downright exuberant. There’s a sort of childlike mirth that permeates most of these tracks, the kind that makes you feel like everything’s right with the world.
This song is a perfect example. It’s the lead track from the record, and it’s kind of a cross between Sigur Rós’s dramatics and Shugo Tokumaru‘s pocket-orchestrating, with Nico Muhly’s arrangements filling out all of the cracks. Listen to it, and I dare you not to smile.
Jónsi Birgisson, who’s usually making majestic and inspiring music with Sigur Rós, has actually figured out a way to make even more majestic and inspiring music without the band. Go figure. His solo debut is simply titled Go and features production by Peter Katis and arrangements by the incredibly talented Nico Muhly. It’s due out on March 22 of 2010.