So it's been a long ten years, yet at the same time, it seems like just yesterday we were stocking up on non-perishable food in preparation for the Y2K disaster. But here we are, a mere 5 midnights away from 2010. And I have just one question...where are those damn flying cars already? Anyway, we've finally made it to the end of my Top 210 Songs of the Decade list. Now children all over the world can finally sleep, the angels can sing, and we can all get back to our daily lives. I hope you've enjoyed reading about artists and songs you've never heard of. Maybe one or two of you (read: everyone reading my blog) have even checked out some of the songs and (gasp!) agreed with my assessment. In any case, here are the lucky 30...the songs that topped off the soundtrack to MY 00's (still haven't figured out how to refer to that darn decade, huh? well, are we entering the 10's or the teens now?). The descriptions here are deservedly a little lengthier than in past entries, so settle in. Here's to another ten years of great music...
30. Def Leppard - Now (only appropriate to begin the last post with my favorite band of all time...this was the awesome first single from their poppier, yet under appreciated album, X)
29. Shinedown - Burning Bright (Shinedown has actually gained more commercial relevance with their successive two albums, but in line with my typical nature of going against the grain, I think it's their debut CD, Leave a Whisper, that remains their best...this song is actually only the SECOND-highest from them on my list)
28. Jason Wade - You Belong to Me (if anyone mentions Taylor Swift, I will heave - this is a different song from the 1950's that has been covered by many artists over the years...here, the amazing Jason Wade from the band, Lifehouse, gives his lilting take for the Shrek soundtrack)
27. Gas Giants - I Hope My Kids Like Marilyn Manson (Robin Wilson of Gin Blossoms fame has tongue firmly planted in cheek for this ode to anyone who anyone who does it their own damn way...due to record label hell, the Giants' one-off CD, From Beyond the Backburner was relegated to being a weakly supported indie release, but remains one of the great overlooked gems of the decade)
26. Tyrone Wells - More (may have mentioned it before but it's worth repeating - discovered this incredible singer-songwriter accidentally at the 2009 South by Southwest Music Festival...if you haven't listened to his album Remain, go do it)
25. Glen Phillips - Courage (first saw the Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman do this one acoustic at a Toad show, long before he released his little-known but classic album, Winter Pays for Summer, on which the recorded version first appeared - to say this guy knows his way around a melody is an understatement...still, not his last appearance on my list)
24. Disturbed - Land of Confusion (not easy to remake what was a top 5 hit and breathe new life into it, but Disturbed rock their faces off, transforming the 80's Genesis hit, and almost making me forget about that creepy Ronald Reagan puppet/cartoon figure from the old video)
23. Theory of a Deadman - Better Off (as with their modern rock comrades, Shinedown, my album preference doesn't coincide with ToaD's commercial success...I think 2005's Gasoline was a solid rocker, this single being the best of the bunch)
22. Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone (I was late jumping on the Kelly bandwagon, and it was this in your face kiss-off that grabbed my attention when she did it a cappella on VH1...I instantly realized that despite my shunning of all things Idol, this girl had TALENT...and certain other admirable attributes, which we won't get into here)
21. Daughtry - What About Now (speaking of Idol, how ironic that another alum has become one of my favorite rock acts - this one is a classic)
20. David Cook - Light On - (Idol, we must stop meeting like this...Soundgarden's/Audioslave's Chris Cornell co-wrote this rock ballad and Cook sings the crap out of it - I unfortunately wasn't as impressed with the rest of Cook's debut CD, but this one will be on repeat for years to come)
19. Shinedown - Fly From the Inside (their first ever single, and in my opinion, still their best - crank it up in the car)
18. Phil Collins - Can't Stop Loving You (Collins long ago left his chart domination behind, but he continued to have bursts of success with soundtrack contributions and this adult contemporary hit, which I didn't know until just now, was a British top 10 score for Leo Sayer in the 70's - Collins' best since the late 80's/early 90's)
17. Aimee Mann - Wise Up (I had already been a big fan of the Til Tuesday singer's solo work when she was tabbed to provide the musical backbone to the 1999 flick Magnolia - possibly my favorite movie of that decade - and although many found it to be goofy and sappy, one of the most emotionally gripping scenes in the film was a montage of several characters singing passages from this jolting ballad...the lyrics are simple but pack a punch, and made this the best use of a song I've ever seen on screen)
16. Nada Surf - Always Love (some will remember this band's quirky 90's hit "Popular" - along with this one, still the only two songs of theirs I know, but they score some major pop/rock cred in my book with this one...check it out)
15. Default - Count On Me (Nickelback's Chad Kroeger discovered this Canadian band and they scored a modern rock hit in 2002 with "Wasting My Time" - that was pretty much the end of their success in the States, but this Kroeger-penned track blows away anything else I've heard from them...or Nickelback, for that matter)
14. Will Owsley - Upside Down (a seeming pop/rock genius who unfortunately has left a scarcity of original material for us to enjoy - he released this track as a double-sided single with another song on my list, "Psycho" in an exclusive deal with iTunes, and promptly dropped off the face of the Earth)
13. Helloween - If I Could Fly (I had heard of these guys back in the heyday of hair metal, but I didn't truly "discover" them until many years later, after this 2000 barrage of rock bombast had already been released...an acquired taste indeed, but the piano riff and guitar crunch seal the deal for me...a classic highway rocker)
12. Semisonic - Chemistry (I saw these guys open for Sheryl Crow sometime in the 90's, and as good as Crow was, they upstaged her - Dan Wilson is, as I mentioned before, with few equals in pop/rock songwriting...this one presents a fun analogy between exploits in the laboratory and exploits in relationships - "...and we found out that the two things we put together had a bad tendency to explode." Indeed.)
11. Angie Aparo - Spaceship (the first single that was intended to catapult this Atlanta singer-songwriter to stardom...video on VH1, touring with Matchbox Twenty...alas stardom was not to come and he had to "settle" for Faith Hill's aforementioned hit cover of the song "Cry," also off his 2000 album The American. Yet STILL not his top mention on my list)
THE TOP TEN
10. Glen Phillips - True (a collaboration with the earlier exalted Dan Wilson...doesn't get better than this)
9. Mike Garrigan - Another Day in Paradise (so hard to choose one favorite from Garrigan, one of the best singer-songwriters of the past two decades...ask me again in ten years, and I may pick a different song of his)
8. Live - Run to the Water (the Pennsylvania rockers have inexplicably had true chart success evade them since the early/mid-90's...don't let their 1999 album The Distance to Here go overlooked though...this single from that collection stomped onto my personal playlist when it was released in the early days of this decade...when you're done, go listen to every album they've put out since then - there are three, and they're all great)
7. Papa Roach - Last Resort (easily the most commercially accessible song in my Top Ten...modern rock perfection)
6. Revis - Caught in the Rain (discovered this first single via a baseball computer game...as I mentioned before, after releasing what I considered to be a classic first album, these guys disbanded - this one shakes you like thunder from your stereo)
5. Joey Tempest - Forgiven (the Europe frontman escapes his hair band days by crafting what can only be described as a perfect pop/rock album, his solo work more in the singer/songwriter vein - makes you forget that this guy ever stood on a table and shouted ROCK THE NIGHT in a cheesy 80's video...his 2002 album, Joey Tempest, is available used for $9 on Amazon - or you can just ask me for a copy)
4. Collapsis - October (my introduction to Mike Garrigan, and I haven't looked back since...contains the best use of the word "couscous" in any song to date...but seriously folks, go to mikegarrigan.com or look up his solo stuff and this band on iTunes...do it)
3. Bad Religion - New America (admittedly not a HUGE fan of this legendary punk band, but I have to say, when they get it right, they get it right...this one is a clarion call through the megaphone of rock music to all Americans that we can't rest on our laurels if we want to achieve true happiness and peace - so many resonant lyrical passages here, but perhaps one of the most telling is, "You can live in staunch denial and mark me as your enemy. But I'm just a voice among the throng who want a brighter destiny." Amazing this was written ten years ago, huh?
2. Nina Gordon - Tonight and the Rest of My Life (what's truly amazing about this song, is that it actually made it onto pop radio and STILL didn't become a smash hit...I mean, what does a singer/songwriter have to do? If it were possible to paint a dream and then sing the painting, this reverie-like melody would almost surely be the result. I got a jolt when Gordon, the seething 90's rocker chick, transformed herself overnight into a Sarah McLachlan-come-lately...especially because she out McLachlan-ed McLachlan in every way. All I can say is, please come back Nina. I want more.
When I started the arduous task of compiling this list in 2006, I honestly had no idea what my number one song would be - or even if it had been released yet. It had. After sifting through all the music of the 6+ years previous, it came as little surprise to me that my favorite currently-working singer-songwriter came out on top. What was somewhat surprising, and what gave me pause, is that my number one was not an original song. Was it right for a cover song to top my chart? Well, being that nobody besides me was ever intended to see this, I didn't give it much further thought, and no song since has given me reason to change this ranking.
Angie Aparo - Champagne Supernova (As I stated before, it takes a certain talent to take a song that was previously a huge hit by another artist and transform it in a way that makes it fresh, improves upon the original, keeps it relevant, etc. Since Aparo's take on Elton John's "Rocket Man" had previously blown me away, I assumed that was the best it could get. Then he released his full album of mostly covers, One With the Sun, and included this Oasis track. To call it mesmerizing would be a gross understatement. As much as I loved the original, this one made me completely forget that the song existed before Aparo. That's an achievement in remaking others' works that can be reached by few. Sadly, for me, Aparo, after his next original album, 2003's For Stars and Moon, largely dropped off the recording scene. I was lucky enough, though, to catch him live one more time in San Francisco a couple years ago, and that performance only reaffirmed his place in my personal music stack as the true #1. Again, for those in the Southeast, or NY areas, where he most frequently performs, keep your eyes out. An Aparo show is something you don't want to miss. Until then, you can find the covers album along with his 2000 classic, The American, on iTunes, and the aforementioned For Stars and Moon used on Amazon. For his amazing independent debut, Out of the Everywhere, along with a boatload of unreleased tracks, you'll have to snag a burned disc from me. All could not be recommended highly enough.
Thanks for reading, and hopefully listening. Happy New Year and an amazing 2010 to everyone.