Twenty Favorites – 2011

I didn’t make a list! I love making lists and look forward to the new year so I can make lists of things from the previous year. Yet, somehow, I let 10 days (or 12! It took two days to get all those links in!) get by me before I even thought of it. Then, of course, there was a mad scramble to figure out what I would list for you.

When I read other blogs, I love it when they write about songs they like or are interested in or list their favorite playlists. It’s a great way for me to stumble on new music. I figure that others might enjoy that as well, which is how/why I decided to do this particular list.

Having said that, I have a playlist on my iPhone that is called “Obsession Songs”, if you don’t know this about me, I am a playlist junkie. I love making them, putting different songs together in surprising ways, creating themes for songs, you name it. I have dozens of playlists, some functional, some fun, all well-listened to. However, the obsession playlist developed last year when I realized I was going back to the same songs, over and over. Why not, then, create a playlist for just those songs?

Most of them were released in late 2010 or during 2011, but not all. Some I just discovered in 2011. No matter how they got there, these are my favorite songs from the last year. I ranked them (well, actually, iTunes did most of the work in this regard, but some were ranked by me) so you can have an idea of what I loved best. I also decided to include my favorite lyric from each song because…well, mostly because it is fun. But it might pique your interest about a certain song. These are all available at iTunes, if you really like something. I linked the song titles to the best YouTube video I could find so you can hear them. The artist names are linked to their website for more information.

Here we go!

20. Jar of Hearts, Christina Perri. I first came across this song on Glee. I thought it was catchy and clever, so I looked it up (I find many songs that way) and Christina Perri’s original version blows the Glee version out of the water.

Favorite line: You’re gonna catch a cold from the ice inside your soul

19. Tomorrow’s Gonna Hurt, Rocket Club. I heard this song live in concert. They were the opening band from the free 4th of July concert I went to at Mystic Lake. Overall, they were unimpressive, but there was something about this song. I liked it so much I downloaded it during the concert. (There is no video for this, but you can preview or buy it at iTunes)

Favorite line: Tonight I’m alright, but tomorrow’s gonna hurt, it’s gonna hurt like hell. 

18. Devil Town, Tony Lucca. I heard this on the finale of Friday Night Lights. I do get a lot of music from television. This song was played a few times during the five year series, but it hit home with me at the end. Maybe because it was ending, but it just struck me.

Favorite line: All my friends were vampires, didn’t know they were vampires, turns out I was a vampire myself, in the Devil Town. 

17. Anchor, Mindy Gledhill. This is another tv pick. Bones often has awesome songs and they are almost always the ones that Angela listens to while working. Evidently they want her character to have good taste in music. I’ve liked almost every song they’ve used, but this one…this one makes me think a little of Bjork, a little Nena Cherry, and for reasons I cannot explain, a little Five for Fighting.

Favorite line: There are those who think that I’m strange, they would box me up and tell me to change, but you hold me close and softly say that you wouldn’t have me any other way. 

16. Animal, Neon Trees. This probably came to my attention in the strangest way. I have a free app, Six String, that is a Guitar Hero ripoff. I love playing it, but the free songs that it comes with are not songs that I know. This is one of them. I liked playing it and it was catchy. Then, one day, I heard it on the radio and was over the moon because I already KNEW it! I downloaded it and quickly became obsessed with it.

Favorite line: I do it again, you’re killing me now, and I won’t be denied by you, the animal inside of you. 

15. Little Lion Man, Mumford and Sons. I’ve learned that people either like Mumford and Sons or they don’t. No one says, “they’re okay.” I’m on the like side. I discovered them in one of my favorite ways, through Justin. He loves to make me listen to new songs and then I download them and decide if I like them or not. He’s pretty successful at picking things that I like.

Favorite line: But it was not your fault but mine, and it was your heart on the line, I really fucked it up this time, didn’t I, my dear?

14. The Cave, Mumford and Sons. I put these back-to-back because they are the only band with two songs on the list and they came to me in the same way. By Justin. I listened to this one far more than Little Lion Man (#15) according to iTunes, so it gets to be the higher spot.

Favorite line: Now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind.

13. Faster, Matt Nathanson. This is his newest release. I don’t think of myself as a Matt Nathanson fan, but then I realize that I like every single song he’s put out and how can I not be? I heard this on the radio, which is rare for me, and I Shazamed it because I liked it so much. When it came up as Matt Nathanson, I was surprised and bought yet another of his songs.

Favorite line: You taste like sunlight and strawberry bubble gum. 

12. Someone Like You, Adele. I’m not going to lie, the Adele craze passed me right by. I didn’t even know who she was until one day, Justin played me her cover of To Make You Feel My Love. I liked her voice very much. I checked out some of her other songs and I like them all. This one, though, just resonates with me. She sings the hell out of this song.

Favorite line:  I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited, but I couldn’t stay away, I couldn’t fight it. 

11. Somewhere With You, Kenny Chesney. Here’s a secret, I’m not a big Kenny Chesney fan. I like most of his songs okay, but I don’t really love them. Exceptions, Anything but Mine (old song, but far and away my favorite song by him) and this new release. I don’t know what it is, but if this song is on, I find myself singing along without even thinking.

Favorite line: I won’t feel sorry for me, I’m getting drunk, but I’d much rather be, somewhere with you. 

10. Somewhere Else, Toby Keith. I just realized that is three songs in a row that start with “some”…odd. It’s no secret I am a Toby Keith fan. Some of his stuff gets very political, but then he puts out a catchy little ditty like this and I remember exactly why I’ve always liked him.

Favorite line:  Down my shot, shoot my beer, I ain’t gotta go home but I can’t stay here. 

9. The End, Pearl Jam. I missed Pearl Jam the first time around. I was just a shade too young and too much in love with country to like them in the 90s. Tons of people rave about them and I am usually very meh. I still am. Then, this album comes along (Backspacer) maybe it is my age, or maybe it is Eddie Vedder’s voice as he ages, but I fell in love with this album. This is my favorite song from it. (P.S. Eddie Vedder’s album of Ukelele Songs is also worth checking out). I like this song so much that when I added it to my over 2,500 songs, it managed to climb all the way to the Top 25 Most Played, resting at #13. That’s an impressive climb and a LOT of listens to this sad and beautiful song.

Favorite line: I yell, but no one hears before I disappear, whisper in my ear, give me something to echo in my unknown future’s ear.  (And that was the hardest selection…I love all the lyrics, I was tempted to just print the whole song)

8. Till Kingdom Come, Coldplay. Here’ s another band that I am not a fan of. There are a couple of okay songs, but nothing extraordinary. Then, I heard this song. I heard it on a tv show, but I cannot remember which one. I shazamed it and thought, “Coldplay? Weird.” but I downloaded it and I cannot get enough. This song is beautiful.

Favorite line: I need someone, someone who hears. For you I’ve waited all these years. 

7. 1,000 FacesRandy Montana. This one I found while cleaning my bathroom. No kidding. I had the county video channel on the tv in the background and I suddenly found myself bopping along. I had never heard this before, so I went into my room to catch the title and artist. I didn’t know Randy Montana, though he does have other hits. This one, aside from being clever, just never stops sounding appealing to me. (And since I saw the video first, I’m a little partial to this video).

Favorite line: Love has a thousand faces, but I see you, before I ever knew you, I dreamed of you. 

6. Tomorrow, Chris Young. Yeah, this was another Shazam find. I had never heard of this artist, but somehow I Shazamed this song SIX times. I figure I must like it enough to buy it. So I did and I have not regretted it, not a whit. It is just a song that I don’t get tired of. iTunes tells me it is getting close to the Top 25 Most Played, which means I’ve listened to it more than any sane person should.

Favorite line: We’re like fire and gasoline, I’m no good for you, you’re no good for me. 

TOP FIVE!!!

5. We Owned the Night, Lady Antebellum. What is up with Lady Antebellum? All they do is crank out hits. And, they’re pretty country sounding to be crossover hits, but they are anyway. That is probably due to the fact that they are very talented, they can actually sing and play instruments. What a rarity in music these days. Their songs get so popular you get sick of them, but I really hope that doesn’t happen to this song. Given how much *I* love it, it probably will.

Favorite line: She was the purest beauty, but not the common kind. She had a way about her, that made you feel alive. 

4. Wanna Take You Home, Gloriana. Okay, this one surprises me. With the rash of country crossovers lately (see #5) there has a been a backlash of “country” singers cropping up. These are the redneck sounding, twangy musicians. I don’t like that style. Gloriana is such a band. I don’t like their music, but they are very popular. I dislike, intensely, every single they’ve put out. Then, I heard this song on the radio. Immediate love. I Shazamed and-wtf?- it was Gloriana. I couldn’t believe that they put out a song I like, much less one I love this much. I makes me happy each and every time I hear it. When I am alone, I belt it out and dance around my house.

Favorite line: I wanna take you back to my place, you can do your dance on the kitchen floor. Wanna hear your boots knocking down that hallway, right on through the bedroom door.

3. Colder Weather, Zac Brown Band. Aside from being another climber (made it to #14 on the Top 25 Most Played) this is just a beautifully crafted song. Zac Brown can truly sing and he makes music, not songs. Few, if any, of his songs are in the style of popular songs. They are popular because they’re good, not because they’re like every other song. The first time I heard this song, I sat and listened to it all the way through and pulled out my phone and bought it then and there. I then proceeded to listen to it over and over, trying to figure it out and trying, in vain, to find something about it that isn’t absolutely amazing.

Favorite line: And wonders if her love is strong enough to make him stay, she’s answered by the taillights shining through the windowpane. 

2. What Do You Want, Jerrod Niemann. This guy started out as a songwriter, and I can see why. His songs are so smart and well crafted they make you want to listen more to see what you might have missed. And while that is true of this song, it is not why I love it. The first time I heard it, it was the drum intro that caught me. I’m no fan of drums, but then I heard this and wanted to know what came next. What came next is one of my favorite songs…of all time and possibly my favorite song of 2011, except that iTunes disagrees. This climbed to # 7 on my Top 25 Most Played, which is incredible, at more than 100 listens, I still am not tired of this song.

Favorite line: What do you want? What do you want from me? Did you call to say you found someone and I’m a used-to-be?

Are you so excited to see what #1 is?

Ready?

Okay! (Cheerleader flashback)

1. Casual Smile, Steve Carlson. This is a bit of a shocker to me. Steve Carlson, a fantastic singer/songwriter in his own right, is also a songwriter, backup singer, and guitarist for Christian Kane. That’s how I know him. When he put out this album in 2010, this song didn’t even make my radar. It was fine, whatever, but my favorite song from the album was Blind. Then, I started noticing this song, more and more, last year. Suddenly, I was hooked. I really listened to it, all the way through and realized its brilliance. Aside from the incredible vocals, this song is so damn relatable. Then, one day I was checking my Top 25 Most Played list and, what do you know? Casual Smile is not only on the list, it somehow climbed to #5, knocking out some very heavy hitters. I had no idea I listened to it that much, and yet I like it MORE each time I hear it. Don’t worry if you don’t like it when you listen to it. Give it a chance, I promise, it will grow on you.

Favorite line: Whether I’m right or I’m wrong not showing you how I feel, I’m better off without wounds that I cannot heal. 

Honorable Mentions

These songs didn’t make the countdown, but they came damn close and I enjoy them all, so I thought I’d briefly list them, in no particular order.

Times Like These, Foo Fighters (Justin loves the Foo Fighters and has been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to get me on board. I’m not a fan, but I do, very much, like this song.)

Fireflies, Owl City (I was so tempted to include this because they are a local band from Owatonna, MN).

Skipping Stone, Amos Lee (I’ve been a fan of his for years, but I somehow missed this song the first time around and stumbled onto it this year. And there is no video, but you can listen to it).

Just Breathe, Pearl Jam (This one is amazing, but compared to “The End” {#9} there is no contest)

All right, I hope you found at least one new song to enjoy off my list. Comment, tell me what you liked, what surprised you that I like, and suggest something else you think I might enjoy. I love finding new music!

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