Tuesday, February 21, 2006

iTunes Top Ten

John Scalzi was doing it, and I'm compelled to do whatever the cool kids are doing, so here goes. I'm using the same rules he did -- top ten most played songs, but only one per artist.

1) "Don't Drop the Baby" by the Judybats -- a wonderful song by one of the most criminally under-rated bands of the '90s. It ranks so high in part because it's on my "kid-friendly" playlist, which gets used heavily when the Things are around.

2) "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by U2 -- one of my favorite covers of all time, and a song that gets played a lot (by me, at least) around Christmas. I tend to like melancholy and depressive music anyway, as will probably soon become clear.

3) "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions -- an amazingly energetic song that I've yet to get tired of, even twenty years later. This is also one of the rare songs where Costello runs right along the border between honesty and cynicism, without diving headlong into the latter.

4) "Pictures of Matchstick Men" by Camper Van Beethoven -- another song that never fails to make me smile, with the best rock violin solo ever played.

5) "Better Things" by Fountains of Wayne -- a cover of a minor late Kinks song (that would have been wonderful if played by the 1968 Kinks) that would be the ending credits music for the movie I'll never make. It's a great walking-out-into-the-world song, so I hope someone puts it at the end of a movie someday.

6) "Spider Man" by the Ramones -- are all of my favorite songs covers? That's pretty odd. This is another one on the "kid-friendly" list, and the Things love it even more than I do. Even though they didn't write it, it's an archetypal Ramones song: loud, dumb fun that ends up sneakily being much smarter than you originally thought.

7) "The Spine Surfs Alone" by They Might Be Giants -- I listen to a lot of TMBG, but I'm not sure why this one is the highest. Maybe that's because it was on their most recent record, so it just came up in the random rotation a lot. It's a fun song, but it's not my favorite of theirs, or in my top twenty or so. The next song, though, is one of my all-time favorites: their live version of "Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas," one of the most kick-ass songs of all time despite (or perhaps because) the fact that it's a little physics lesson in disguise.

8) "Don't Let Me Down, Gently" by The Wonder Stuff -- in a fairer universe, this song would have been a monster #1 hit internationally for months on end. The sound is pure drag-you-out-of-your-chair crunchy power pop, and the lyrics are humorously depressive in a great pre-Fountains of Wayne way.

9) "Wall of Death" by R.E.M. -- yet another cover song, which neatly gets both R.E.M. and Richard Thompson onto this list. I don't know if this was Thompson's point, but I always think of this as an sideways answer-record to "Helter Skelter" -- both are seemingly-ominous songs about amusement park rides. (A "wall of death" is one of those big cylinders that you stand inside, and then rotates so fast that you're held onto the wall my centrifugal force while the floor drops away.) This is a lovely song in an amazing version, though the original is either almost as good or just a bit better -- it depends on my mood at the time.

10) "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen -- yes, I grew up in the '80s; can you tell? I've always loved this song, and now the Things seem to like it as well. Sometimes rock 'n' roll can reach for that epic sweep, those moments of grandeur, and actually achieve them -- this is one of the best examples.

(That actually take me up to #14. There were two more Fountains of Wayne songs -- "Little Red Light" and "Denise" -- and They Might Be Giants's "See the Constellation" in between some of those.)

Now, who's next?

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