Monday, February 3, 2014

Songs I Loved in 2013

I have suddenly realized I never did a "favorite music of 2013" post. So here's a quick playlist of my favorite songs from the year. These were songs I added in 2013 that got a 5-star ranking on iTunes. I didn't listen to as much music as I meant to this year, so the list is pretty short and all of them together are only about an hour.

1. There Are Worse Things I Could Do, by Naya Rivera and Alex Newell from Glee. I kinda-sorta knew this one from Grease already, but I hadn't really paid attention to the lyrics. The Grease episodes of Glee suddenly brought a more poignant feel to the song, and I found myself really gripped by it.

2. Idea Man, by Groovelily. For the first several months of 2013, Groovelily attempted to release a song every week on their YouTube channel, and I loved several of them. This one is a sad, mournful song about realizing that you may have made a huge mistake. As with all this band's songs, I love the honesty and simplicity in the lyrics.

3. Desert With Lights, by Groovelily. Actually, this one may just be credited as Milburn & Vigoda rather than all of Groovelily. Either way, this one fell a little in my list of favorites over the year, but I still really like it. There's a very optimistic, hopeful feel to this song and it just makes me smile to listen to it.

4. Swimming Pools (Drank), by Kendrick Lamar. And now for something totally different and not at all showtune-y. I heard this song on SongPop first, I think, and then started hearing it elsewhere and found myself kind of intrigued by the lyrics. When I looked them up and found out that it was about him dealing with alcoholism, they became even more interesting. It sort of plays around with the glorification of the substance abuse while also portraying it as a real problem. Interesting lyrics, interesting sound... good stuff.

5. Aunt Betty, by Jeff Blumenkrantz. And back to the showtune-y stuff. I don't even remember how I found this song, but I completely love it. It's a funny, sweet song about an unusual character. The vividness of the descriptions, combined with the simple chorus of, "Oh my god, I loved her," feel very real and honest in a way that I just adore.

6. I'm Still Standing, by Elton John. How had I never discovered this song until this year? They even sang it on Glee and I apparently didn't listen to that version ever. I like Elton John, and I love this song now that I know it exists. It's so happy and triumphant... and I'm always a sucker for "heck, yeah, you can't kill me" songs. They are very necessary sometimes.

7. Come What May, by Darren Criss and Chris Colfer from Glee. Glee got it exactly right when they did this cover. They kept the big, sweeping, enormous instrumentations from the movie, so I got the same gorgeous music but got to hear two people whose voices I actually enjoy sing the song. Plus, they won for their visuals, doing a recreation of the dancing-on-clouds images from when Moulin Rouge! did Your Song.

8. Fight the Dragons, from Big Fish. I saw this musical in the spring of last year. I really enjoyed the visuals and the story, but was largely underwhelmed by the score... except for this song, which, fortunately was one of the few released on the promo CD, so I could get a copy of it. My Broadway love Norbert Leo Butz sings it, and it's a delightful song about how he has to go out to metaphorical "fight the dragons and... storm the castles" for his son.

9. Cups, by Anna Kendrick. Her tiny performance of this in Pitch Perfect was maybe my favorite part of the movie, so when she expanded it into a full song and released it as a single, of course I was going to love it! It's so catchy and cheerful.

10. Manhattan, by Sara Bareilles. OH GOSH, how this song broke me. The quiet melancholy of this song is absolutely haunting, the lyrics are beautiful, and her voice conveys this sort of... sad matter-of-fact "Look, I'll just go" expression. It's one of those songs that I have difficulty talking about because it touches me on such a gut level.

11. Chocolate, by The 1975. I don't even know how I first found this song, and I don't understand most of the lyrics (like I don't know what words they're saying, not "they're too deep for me"), but it's super fun to pretend to sing along to, and the song is so bouncy and fun it just makes me smile.

12. Sixteen Tons/Great Big Stuff, by Norbert Leo Butz. Sadly, there's no available YouTube clip for this. It's from the album of Norbert's live 54 Below show. He sings the old country/blues song Sixteen Tons and mashes it up against Great Big Stuff from his show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The two work surprisingly well together and make for a really entertaining song.

13. Blurred Lines, by Robin Thicke. OKAY, STOP JUDGING ME. I know it's a terrible, terrible song with awful, awful lyrics, to the point where I'm not going to link to it (also because I'm not sure there's anyone in existence who hasn't heard it yet). But my gosh, is the music fun. Every time I hear it, it somehow puts me in a good mood. And having things that put me in a good mood is a good thing, because sometimes they are hard to find. So it remains on the list.

14. I'll Make Love To You, by Boyz II Men. So somehow I had mostly missed out on this song until this year. Heh. And it makes me happy in the same way that so many boy band songs make me happy - it's SO CHEESY but they sound so sincere that it's hard not to kinda like it.

15. Cups, by Sam Tsui, Kurt Schneider, Alex G and Kina Grannis. Uh, yes, I have two versions of this song on my list. Because I like it. And I love Sam Tsui's voice. And these harmonies are fun.

16. Love on Top, by Beyonce... AKA my obsession song of the whole year. I can't even put into words how much I love this song. It's so incredibly happy, and I love the final series of choruses, where the key changes just keep on coming. The notes just keep soaring higher and higher, and it makes so much sense in this song, which is all about how happy she is... of course that's the way the notes are going to go. Seriously, if I were to pick just one song all year to listen to, it'd be this one.

17. Rap God, by Eminem. I've kind of liked his other new stuff this year too, but this one that one that I really liked. It's got an awesome sound to it, and, of course, his rapping itself is fantastic. Sometimes I can pretend I can rap along with him. I can't.

What were your favorite new discoveries last year?

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