I’m the retro music chick, which means, by definition, I don’t subscribe to the modern music scene. But sadly, I also have to go to the grocery store (the retro music chick makes a mean lentil soup) so I am often subjected to the radio. And occasionally, I like what I hear, so I’ve compiled my list of the top four songs of 2006 — these songs have the substance of something old, with the freshness of something new — and in #2’s case, as always, something inherently blue.
1. “Starlight” – Muse. Black Holes and Revelations wasn’t as good as Absolution, (despite what my friend Mike says) but this track inspires what the other songs lack — a sublime sense of purpose and an intricate sort of love. This is the kind of music Muse is meant to make. (Black Holes and Revelations)
2. “You Have Killed Me” – Morrissey. Mozzer and I have an abusive relationship — he will always crank out neo-angsty crap, and I will continue to listen to it. Ringleader of the Tormenters is the wankerific follow-up to 2004’s You Are the Quarry, which manages to boast two great singles while still being one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. “You Have Killed Me,” however, captures the delicate balance of the greatest Smiths songs — the overly happy Marr-esq guitar melody interwoven with lyrics which totter playfully on the edge of emo. Sure, it’s just “These Things Take Time,” but that’s a great song — why not make a sequel? (Ringleader of the Tormenters)
3. “Breathe” – Anna Nalick. There is no end to female pop stars plucking out vaguely emotional lyrics over synthesized guitar chords (Kelly Clarkson, anyone?) Since Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton disappeared from the scene, radio ladies have lacked any semblance of depth. Until now. Simple, a little dippy and not the least bit innovative, “Breathe” still remains a strong pop hit. I grit my teeth, but listen over and over again.
4. “Learning the Hard Way” – Gin Blossoms. I’ll confess, I have a weakness for cheesy early '90s pop-alt bands, and the Gin Blossoms are the best of the bunch. Infectious and charming, this song works melancholy sheepishness like oil paints to create a portrait of youthful restlessness. (Major Lodge Victory)
I’d also like to point out that frontman Robin Wilson kissed my eager, pale cheeks several times when I saw him at Magic City Music Hall in October 2004, the very same venue where Andy of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy plopped a sweet little pucker on my pretty little head and Dirk Schumaker let me leave his hat on.
Of course, I also have to do my part to warn people of terrible, terrible music, so I’ve included my bottom four as well. These are songs so ungodly, I don’t like seeing their name in print. Stay strong.
1. “Bad Day” – Daniel Powter. If I was on a date with Tom Waits and this song were to come on, my day would instantly be ruined. Trite lyrics sung like he’s being strained through a tube sock filled with lime Jello make this tune ultra-cringeworthy. I would also like to give a shout-out to every tow-headed dirtbag with a guitar — stop it. Stop writing songs designed for middle school dances. Stop writing fake-pretty songs designed to get chicks into bed. Dave Matthews started it and now I’m going to end it, starting with…
2. “You’re Beautiful” – James Blunt. I do not know a single person who likes this song — granted, that’s because all of my friends are over 15, but that doesn’t detract from my point. This song is awful. Awful, awful, awful. And it might not be so bad if not for his banshee wail screeching the tepid chorus obviously written for some obnoxious pre-pubescent mallrat in response to the eight hundredth time she’s looked at her size negative four body in the mirror at Abercrombie and Fitch and bemoaned in an equally abrasive voice, "I’m so fat!" while hoping she’ll be so overtaken with your words of unshakable devotion to her plastic anorexia that she’ll conceive your child in the parking lot of The f***ing Gap.