Sunday, 25 December 2005

Fifteen Songs of 2005

Just thinking back on the new songs that moved me in 2005 - which doesn't necessarily correspond to a best-of, since sometimes for whatever reasons you can intellectually recognise the quality of a song and see why it speaks to everyone else and still not have it say anything to you. Keeping the list short at 15 songs, in alphabetical order and with links to legit downloads where available:

  • Antony & the Johnsons, "Hope There's Someone". There's something about that quiet piano and this former drag queen's falsetto.
  • The Arcade Fire, "Rebellion (Lies)". It was a 2004 release in the US, I suppose, but man, the more I listen to them the greater they sound. And they were the song of one of my best musical moments of the year. If not for Feist, "sleeping is giving in" would be my favourite lyric of the year. Also, props for "Neighbourhood #2 (Laika)" and "Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out)" (both of which can be downloaded).
  • Feist, "Let It Die". "The saddest part of a broken heart / Isn't the ending so much as the start" is my favourite line of the year, and her voice is something else, as I noted before. What is it with these Canadian musicians these days? Incidentally, "The Simple Story", her duet with Jane Birkin, is pretty lovely. But then duets with Jane Birkin tend to be. (Pleasant segue into "Je t'aime moi non plus"...)
  • Fiona Apple, "Extraordinary Machine". Technically not a 2005 recording, I suppose, but it only really saw the light of day this year, and it's, well, extraordinary. Here's my longer writeup of the song on Delta Sierra Arts.
  • Kaiser Chiefs, "I Predict a Riot". Frankly, the rhymes are naff, but it coasts by on sheer force of will. And the song always worked when I DJ'd. (Download)
  • Kanye West, "Diamonds From Sierra Leone". The remix with the ostensibly retired Jay-Z of course, just for the lines "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man! / Let me handle my business, damn". And great to see someone making socially conscious rap, since the Black Eyed Peas seem now to be more obsessed with Fergie's lady lumps.
  • Louis XIV, "Finding Out True Love is Blind". All swagger and no depth, but catchy as hell. I was introduced to this song by, of all things, MVP Baseball 2005 - but that game did have a kickass soundtrack, one which also included the Bravery's "An Honest Mistake" and Hot Hot Heat's "You Owe Me an IOU".
  • Madonna, "Hung Up". If only because I once spent an hour interviewing Stuart Price, then a performer and now her producer, and vaguely recall ending up playing with toy cars in the trailer. That, and I can't resist ABBA hooks.
  • The Mountain Goats, "Love Love Love". For some reason I got a kick out the fact that it namechecks Tiger Balm.
  • The New Pornographers, "Twin Cinema". Love the bite of the guitars on that main riff. (Download)
  • PINE*am, "Gymnopedie 0.1". A Japanese rock take on the Satie classic. (Download)
  • Sufjan Stevens, "Casimir Pulaski Day". Sufjan had to grow on me: the first song I listened to off Illinois was "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts", and I must say I didn't really take to the tune - perhaps it was my instinctive contrarian response to the hype. But this is a folk-rock marvel. (Download)
  • The Sugababes, "Push the Button". I'm kind of surprised by how many indie-music blogs listed Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" as one of their top singles of the year - Said the Gramophone and Work For It for instance - I know there's got to be at least one obligatory pop song, but I'd take the "Push the Button" anyday.
  • Swearing at Motorists, "Northern Line". It won't be released till early 2006, but you can get the MP3 on their Myspace page (warning, the page plays music automatically, so don't be startled), and I like the crunch of the opening chords.
  • Weezer, "We Are All On Drugs". As always, Rivers Cuomo does great power-pop hooks.

And then there are a lot of songs that I haven't had time to fully digest yet but that I've had favourable first impressions of, including:
  • The Boy Least Likely To, "Be Gentle With Me"
  • Brendan Benson, "Cold Hands Warm Heart"
  • Gretchen Lieberum, "Key Largo"
  • Imogen Heap, "Hide and Seek"
  • The National, "Abel"
  • We Are Scientists, "Cash Cow"
And I know what the cool indie-kid picks that I'm missing should be: *cough* Akron/Family, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, KT Tunstall, Okkervil River, Wolf Parade *cough* but to be honest it's tough keeping up with everything, and stuff that doesn't grab me immediately tends sometimes to get sidelined, unfortunately. That, and I still don't get the adulation for the Wolf Parade - I like them okay, but not at the album-of-the-year levels some seem to be placing them at yet. Q didn't quite go fully ecstatic over them either, so maybe it's just one of those groups that Americans fawn over more. Or maybe it just needs time to grow on me, like the Arcade Fire did.

And after all that, I must say a lot of my best music memories of this year have nothing to do with songs of 2005, or even of this century...

Top tracks of 2005, based on mentions in indie music blogs

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Hi Daryl

I'm suprised there isn't any Postal Service on the list =) Kasier Chiefs are on my Top Songs of 2005 list too. Great song. Heh.

Blessed Christmas!


Thanks Randy, and a great Christmas to you too!

Postal Service would be there - they definitely played an important role in 2005 for me - except that weren't they already big news in 2004?


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