Sunday, 8 August 2010

My Top Ten... Songs

A few weeks ago now I listed my top ten favourite bands, having listed my top ten favourite albums before that. I thought it was time to take this particular string of top tens to it’s logical conclusion, so I present to you… my top ten favourite songs, again in no real order

Shine on You Crazy Diamond – Wish you were Here, Pink Floyd – If this were in any particular order this would probably still be number one. This song is an absolute masterpiece, 26 minutes and 13 seconds worth of pure brilliance. From the very first note it is mournful and inspiring at the same time. If any rock song deserves to be called a work of art, this is it.

Time – Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd – Pink Floyd are the only band to get two songs on this list, because they are geniuses who, at the height of their powers, wrote undeniably beautiful and brilliant pieces of music. Time may not have the marathon-like length of Shine On, but nevertheless it is every bit as powerful. Waters has an ability to condense even the most profound sentiments about relentless onrushing of time into a relatively short, punchy song, which is addictively easy to listen to and yet at the same time incredibly powerful and intense.

Here I dreamt I was an Architect – Castaways and Cutouts, The Decemberists – The Decemberists have written some magnificent lyrics in their time, but this wonderful story about a relationship, told through three disconnected dreams in which the narrator is, in order, a Soldier in Auschwitz, an Architect and a womanizer from Spain. This song has some of the most brilliant and delicate lines I’ve ever heard. The music is nothing in Pink Floyd, but the lyrics are something to be admired with awe-struck wonder.

Savages – Songs for Swinging Lovers, The Indelicates – Speaking of brilliant lyrics, here’s a song by a band that I’ve not mentioned before, but only because I only discovered them a month or so ago. Since then I’ve listened to little but Songs for Swinging Lovers. I said in my review of Someone Here is Missing that it would take something special to beat that brilliant Porcupine Tree album to the best record of 2010 and it seems I was tempting fate, because sure enough, this little gem appears. And do you know the best thing about it? You can download it for absolutely nothing right here. From this album I could have picked any number of songs because they are all absolutely brilliant, but I’ve chosen Savages because it is an absolutely stunning song, questioning the artists’ own value in the society. It is subtle, tragic and beautifully written. The music is pretty damn brilliant too.

3rd Planet – The Moon and Antarctica, Modest Mouse – I think I’ve said before that Modest Mouse albums tend to have a couple of fantastic songs, a good collection of good ones and the odd shocker. Well 3rd Planet is one such fantastic song. What makes most of these songs stand out (with the exception of Shine on) are the lyrics and 3rd Planet is no exception. The thing about this song, the thing that makes it so good, is that everyone you ask will tell you that it’s about a different thing. To me it is about a man suffering existential grief and loss of faith at the death of his child, but I have also seen it explained in terms of the story of the Garden of Eden and the coming of Christ. This ambiguity is what makes the song so interesting and enduring – keep listening to it to try to figure out what the hell it’s all about. To continue the theme of music being an afterthought, the riff is superb as well.

Chrome Plated Suicide – Telepathic Surgery, The Flaming Lips – As a rule Flaming Lips music from after 1999 is better than from before. There are only 2 exceptions to this; the album At War with Mystics and the song Chrome Plated Suicide. The former being a slightly sub par album released in 2006 and the latter being an absolutely amazing song from 1989. The highlights of this song are the chorus, which is catchy as hell! And the music, which is probably the best example of the fuzzy, distorted style that makes The Flaming Lips so unique.

Dead Flag Blues – F#A#∞, Godspeed You! Black Emperor – This is another song that breaks the mould of having amazing lyrics, because it doesn’t have any lyrics. It is also 16 minutes long. What it does have a pitch black voice over at the start, which is dark foreboding and wonderfully written. It really sets the tone for an eerily dark and depressing song. From the violin that comes in half way through the opening monologue the music is truly wonderful. You will finish the song depressed, but you will not regret it.

Last Train Home – Start Something, Lostprophets – Finally, a song some of you might know! Easily the most mainstream of the modern music on this list, this is probably one of the first songs I heard by Lostprophets and it made me fall instantly in love with them. It’s not as profound or as interesting as the others on this list, but its presence proves that there is room for catchy, powerful rock and roll in the music world. As you might expect, this is an absolutely awesome live track from a band that really need to be seen live to truly appreciate.

Shot Down – Everything Is, Nine Black Alps – Again, this is the song that got me into Nine Black Alps. Another really powerful rock song that I imagine would be absolutely awesome live (I need to catch NBA live some time). This song has all of the signature anger that defines Nine Black Alps and this album in particular, along with some really clever lyrics and an absolutely fantastic solo, the only problem with both the solo and the song in general is that it’s too damn short!

Lazarus – Deadwig, Porcupine Tree – As my regular readers will well know, I am a massive fan of Porcupine Tree, so this list would not be complete without at least one song from them. While I love the heavy stuff that they do, I still think Porcupine Tree are at their best when they slow it down and write a beautiful, quiet little song like Lazarus. It’s just as powerful, but in a completely different way, which is what makes songs like Lazarus, Collapse the Light into Earth and Stop Swimming stand out in some of my favourite albums.

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