Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Best of 2011, and my Predictions for 2012 (Today: MUSIC!)

Ever stop and think why you like a particular song?

I do, and when I stop and think about it, oftentimes the reason why I like a song has less to do with the song itself and more to do with what's going on with me at the time I hear the song. Other times, there's one particular moment or piece of the song I like so much that it makes me like the whole entire song. (Something I've commented on before, here and here.)

So here's my list of The Best Songs I Heard For The First Time In 2011 -- which, note, some of them may not have first been made in 2011, but who cares about that? They were new to me this year and why I liked them. Feel free to add your own nominees in the comments.

The countdown is to the Best Song of 2011:

12. The Presidents
, Jonathan Coulton:

Why I Liked It: I first heard about Coulton on a podcast in which it was revealed that he made thousands (hundreds?) publishing his music through his own website, making him something of a hero to me because that's what I'd like to do with my writing. (So far, I'm not making thousands unless I count the money in decimals, the way England used to with the ha'penny, and I really think that we lost something in society when we stopped having money you could break into usable bits.)

I like this song of his the best because (a) it's catchy, (b) it mentions William Howard Taft, who is a lead character in a book of mine that I'll probably finish this year (you can read most of it for free here) (c) It's catchy. That's worth mentioning twice, because you try writing a catchy song about the presidents.

What I predict for Jonathan Coulton in 2012:

He just got his breakthrough song, Code Monkey, turned into some sort of musical by some sort of group, so by the end of the year, and zombies are big, so we can expect a guest shot from him on the final season (this year) of The Walking Dead, where he'll play an office worker turned into a zombie in homage to his song RE: Your Brains.

Here's that musical:

PS: We can hope that The Walking Dead ends this year, can't we?

11. Friday,
Rebecca Black.

Why I Liked It: Mostly because people hated it, which is how I get to like a lot of stuff, because screw you, world, don't tell me what to like. When I heard how much everyone hated the song, I went and listened to it, and it wasn't that bad. I explained it more at length (of course!) here.

What I Predict For Rebecca Black In 2012: Did you know that Rebecca Black's video spawned its own pop culture spinoff already? The Girl In Pink who rode in the car apparently was elevated from "person" to "person some people know about," thanks to riding in the car with Rebecca. She's even released her own single:

Which leads me to my prediction: A reality show for Rebecca Black and The Girl In Pink, a sort of "Teen Moms" meets "American Idol."

10. Butterfly Nets,
Bishop Allen

Why I Like It: Sometimes -- most of the time -- I am in a quiet, pensive mood . The raucous jabbering persona I play on the Internet isn't really me; that's just a character I put on for your entertainment. Soft, quiet songs that make me remember my life only in my memories it's tinted like a yellowing newspaper are one of my favorite things.

Also: that sax solo midway through puts a lump in my throat.

What I Predict For Bishop Allen in 2012: I don't know anything about this group. I don't even know how I came to have their CD or where I heard about them or whether they're even a group anymore. So I'll say... they will do the score for that Prometheus movie. That seems timely.

9. Friday (literal version.)

Why I Like It: Just because something's played out doesn't mean I can't like it. In fact, I'm planking right now.

8. Music For A Found Harmonium
, Ferny Grove Percussion Ensemble:

Why I Like It: I love Awesome Covers of Already Awesome songs, and these kids are good. Plus, they look like they're having fun.

What I Predict For Them In 2012: They've probably graduated and gone on to boring jobs by now -- but maybe the fame engendered by making this list will get them into a reunion tour and they'll cover other songs? They're really good:

7. Their Duet
, Wim Mertens:

Why I Like It:
Someone put a video on Youtube of the "Baby Einsteins" only instead of the "Baby Einsteins" soundtrack, it had this song as the backing. I don't know why people do the things they do, but Mr F and Mr Bunches liked the video and I liked the song so I put it on my playlist.

What I Predict For Wim Mertens in 2012: More people pirating his work in obscure and nonsensical ways, until SOPA goes into effect and we all get sued into oblivion by Viacom and J.K. Rowling.

6. Golden Phone,
Micachu & The Shapes:

Why I Like It: When Sweetie and I went on a date night this year to State Street, she was shopping at Urban Outfitters and this song was playing. I found it catchy and it reminds me of that night, which was marked by pleasant weather, an excellent sandwich that probably killed two chambers of my heart, and a mysterious animal that made me realize Sweetie and I were soulmates.

My Prediction For Micachu et al in 2012:
I will hear their new song while picking up take-out at Chili's and mention it on December 31, 2012, but by then the world will have ended 10 days earlier, making it somewhat of a moot point.

5. Almost Every Single Song By Slow Club, Ever, But I'll Just Pick Out "Me And You"

Why I Liked It:
Slow Club was my 2012 version of Noah & The Whale, a band I became enamored of, but they've outlasted my Noah obsession and earned spots on four different playlists on my iPod (Running, Upbeat, Indie, and the After, which is the music I listen when writing that aforementioned book starring Taft.) Rhythmic music, obscure lyrics, and a sort of Zooey Deschanel-esque vibe without actually being Zooey Deschanel, which is important because I really kind of feel like Zooey overdid it this year.

What I Predict For Them In 2012:
They've been featured in a commercial, and their sound was ripped off for some car commercials, but the life cycle of quirky almost-folksy duos is a short one; Quirky, almost-folksy duos are the fruit flies of the music world. We'll probably never hear from them again, just like Noah & The Whale, which, I know, not a duo, or maybe they are. I really know very little about the bands I like, as I don't particularly care about them, I like the music. I don't need to know anything about the band to enjoy the music, anymore than I need to know about Patricia Cornwell's private life to have enjoyed the Kay Scarpetta books before she got all whacky about them.

4. Will You Be There,
Ida Jo (and the Show?)

Why I Like It: I've always liked this song, and Ida Jo's mournful, folksy take on it elevates the song to a spiritual level. Plus it lets me like the song without the moral quandary of liking something Michael Jackson did. Moral quandaries ruin music for me.

What I Predict For Ida Jo in 2012: God, I don't know. I'm just going to stop predicting stuff. It's getting old.

3. Graphology,
Olivia Mancini & The Mates:

Why I Liked It:
First, it's the kind of song you can see yourself driving to, say, through the plains of Kansas on an early, slightly chilly June morning when the corn isn't that high and the sun has only just come up and everything is flat and shaded bluish-gray except the horizon itself, and you're on your way to an adventure you can't really imagine yet but which will clearly be a lot of fun.

Second: Try writing a catchy song about studying graphology, which is the study of handwriting.

Third: The song seems to be about never stopping learning, and that is something I aspire to. The amount of knowledge I add to my life each day only makes me realize how many more things there are out there that I don't know yet, which makes me sad sometimes but then makes me excited other times, because in both cases, there's still lots for me to learn.

2. Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk,
The New Pornographers (Acoustic Version)

Why I Like It: Not only is it a catchy, uplifting song by a group I love, but also: Mr Bunches loves this song, and we watch the video together and name the instruments they play. Then he sings along with it, which is really amazing considering that not many 5-year-olds know the word byzantine, let alone how to use it in a song.

And The Number one Best Song of 2011:

1: Friday, by Stephen Colbert:

Why I Liked It: It's clearly the Best Song of the Year: It combines Friday, which really was an earth-shattering song when you think about it, with Stephen Colbert, who is himself a pop culture force like no other, and they raised money for charity by doing this, which I found admirable especially in that by doing so, Colbert helped offset the incredible harm he's doing by siphoning money off from Democrats to fund his "Colbert SuperPAC" joke which is intended to make a point but which point it makes is likely to be "helping elect a Republican by getting liberals to give money to a joke cause rather than real causes."

Also: Ladies and gentleman, Taylor Hicks! ought to be said more often.

Previous Bests Of 2011:


Books (And Other Smarty-Pants Things)


Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

I've never heard "Friday" let alone three versions of it.

Andrew Leon said...

I've never heard of any of these. But, then, I don't really listen to the radio much.

My middle kid freaked out when I turned on "Friday" just now, so I had to not listen to it.

Butterfly Nets was nice, though.

Don't have time for any more, at the moment.

Let's see... discoveries this year: Mat Kearney. Especially "Nothing Left To Lose" and "Learning To Love Again"

The Swell Season. At least, I think that was this year. Pretty sure it was.

Stephen Hayes said...

I'm going to be humming Code Monkey all day. Happy New Year.

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