100. “Everlasting Light” – The Black Keys (Brothers, 2010)
I have to be honest in saying that I’ve never really understood the hype around The Black Keys. Are they good? Of course. Are they great? Occasionally. I just don’t see them as the type of world-beaters that a lot of people do. What I will say for them though: I admire their hubris, especially when it comes to insulting Justin Bieber and trolling his entire army of a fanbase. And that type of bold maneuvering is what introduced me to them in the first place. When I picked up a copy of Brothers on a whim, “Everlasting Light” slapped me across the (figurative) face. I thought these guys were supposed to be heavy indie-rockers. Dan Auerbach’s falsetto captured me, and I can never think of them without remembering my first moment with their music. That’s how powerful “Everlasting Light” is, even if it wouldn’t rank among their most popular hits.
99. “Capitol City” – Wilco (The Whole Love, 2011)
I’d like to think I’m an experienced consumer of “dad rock” (although in my personal case, I’d have to say I grew up with more “dad disco.”) Jeff Tweedy has certainly inspired and captured a young and hyper-cynical generation of music lovers with his timeless music, especially on classics like Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. But nothing says Wilco, to me at least, like the simple, twangy tones of “Capitol City”. It’s easy to jam to, and it’s just complex enough to keep itself challenging. “Breathe in that country air”: Who can say no to that?
98. “Threnody For the Victims of Hiroshima” – Krzysztof Penderecki (1960)
If you started listening to the music before reading this paragraph, I’m horribly, horribly sorry. My tastes range quite far and this may be the outer limit. However, sometimes it takes a massive leap to open yourself up to something new. Such was the case for myself and Mr. Penderecki’s music. Music speaks most to me when it captures what it means to be human: emotions, experiences, stories, etc. (Side note: Get used to that motif. You’ll be seeing it a lot through this project.) And I’ve never listened to anything that so perfectly captures the feeling of fear. No, not fear: Terror. It’s written from the perspective of directly post-Atom bomb Japan, so it makes sense. If this piece doesn’t chill you to the bone, you’re a tough customer.
97. “Plage” – Crystal Fighters (Star of Love, 2010)
It’s hard for me to go through a summer day and not at least consider listening to this little ditty from London’s Crystal Fighters. I still have no idea what a plage is (I think it’s a synonym for beach?), but that doesn’t change my feelings for the song. It’s beautifully catchy and aptly simple, a tribute to summer love and warmth.
96. “I’m In the Band” – The Hellacopters (Rock & Roll Is Dead, 2005)
Thank you, Guitar Hero. Without you, I certainly wouldn’t have spent hours of my life locked in my basement battling animated Tom Morello and Slash for eternal faux-rock glory. I also like to think I wouldn’t have a warped view of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” But I definitely wouldn’t have found what is now one of my favorite rock-n-roll tracks. I’ve never heard another one of The Hellacopters’ songs, and I don’t care if I ever do. Their silly rock show narrative is hilarious and candid with a catchy melody to boot.
95. “The Boy With the Arab Strap” – Belle and Sebastian (The Boy With the Arab Strap, 1998)
Like any good Belle and Sebastian fan, I stumbled upon this gem because of Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer.” I can’t ever hear “Color my life with the chaos of trouble” without seeing Zooey Deschanel serving ice cream to legions of teenage boys. However, I think that’s part of the reason I love this song so much. My tastes in film and music were expanding at that time, so “The Boy With the Arab Strap” has incredible nostalgic value for me. That, coupled with the jangly, upbeat feel of most Belle and Sebastian music, makes this an all-time favorite.
94. “Place To Be” – Nick Drake (Pink Moon, 1972)
Pink Moon is one of the most haunting albums to ever be released. Despite the mythological implications of a pink moon and Nick Drake’s following suicide, the album is about as bleak as they come. But there’s no denying that it is beautiful. The craft is impeccable, especially when you consider it was all recorded in one night. And “Place To Be” is arguably the album’s brightest spot, which isn’t saying much. It may be a wistful remembrance of youth, but it cries of innocence and significance lost. And that’s something we can all relate to at some point in our lives.
93. “Hive” – Earl Sweatshirt (Doris, 2013)
Earl Sweatshirt and the rest of OFWGKTA were part of what I like to call my “rap renaissance.” I’ve been really fascinated with rap and hip-hop for the past few years, and I firmly believe that Earl is the most important rapper alive today. Kanye West has transcended rap. Kendrick Lamar is probably the best rapper alive. But Earl is the most important. Genres are continually polarizing, and the thick, rich, dark quality of Earl’s music represents the future of rap music. He’s not even 21 and his tracks are already the most developed in the industry. Seriously: pay attention to this guy. (Warning: NSFW language.)
92. “Shutterbugg” – Big Boi (Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, 2010)
To refer back to my “rap renaissance” for a second: Big Boi actually came beforehand. But I think my re-introduction to Outkast’s southern half reminded me that there was good rap out there that wasn’t Kanye West. “Shutterbugg” caught my attention with it’s bass-blasting qualities and Big Boi’s skills on the microphone. As I’ve grown with it, I’ve come to appreciate not only the songs more unique qualities (namely, the jazzy guitars), but also Big Boi’s solo work in the context of his whole career. And even as I continue to dive deeper into his work, “Shutterbugg” serves as a milestone marker.
91. “September” – Earth, Wind & Fire (I Am Sessions, 1978)
I’d like to think my father would be proud of me for this selection. I not the biggest fan of R&B, but I can really get into its forefathers. My working knowledge of Earth, Wind & Fire could best be classified as “non-existent”, but any song that brings me back to my childhood like this will always be unforgettable. It’s also a reminder to me that sometimes the best place to find good music is back home. My dad raised me on disco, and I’m happy with the results it has produced.
Stay tuned: 90-81 is coming your way soon.