60. “What’s My Age Again?” – blink-182 (Enema of the State, 1999)
As a child of the late 90’s/early 00’s, would this list really be complete without a song from blink-182? Obviously not. Blink ushered in a new era of rebellious, irreverent punk-rock thanks to hits like “What’s My Age Again?”. Sure they had their more serious moments (see: “Adam’s Song”), but they were always at their best when they were at their most lighthearted. There’s a sobering reminder to be learned from these man-child rock stars and this song in particular: “No one should take themselves so seriously.”
59. “Lonesome Dreams” – Lord Huron (Lonesome Dreams, 2012)
Discovering new music is one of the music-lovers favorite pastimes. The feeling of taking in something new is exciting. But Lord Huron creates an unusual discovery experience because their music is just so…familiar. Listening to Lonesome Dreams without an odd sense of déjà vu almost seems impossible. It recalls memories of love and adventure, but it also moves the heart to re-experience such things. This sense of familiarity speaks to the emotional power of Lord Huron. No song speaks to this sentiment, figuratively or poetically, quite like “Lonesome Dreams.”
58. “Sodom, South Georgia” – Iron & Wine (Our Endless Numbered Days, 2004)
Back when I was in fourth grade, Amanda Petrusich wrote an excellent review of Iron & Wine’s Our Endless Numbered Days. She spoke to the guarded nature of Sam Beam’s second LP, differing from the intimate feel of The Creek Drank the Cradle. I agree wholeheartedly. And that’s why “Sodom, South Georgia” stands out to me. In the midst of a record full of closely-guarded secrets and quiet ponderings, “Sodom, South Georgia” is oddly specific and personal. Beam addresses the death of a loved one before retreating into his world of metaphors and visuals. It’s almost as if he wants to open up, but won’t allow himself the comfort. It’s heart-breaking and show-stopping at the same time.
57. “Playing House” – Active Child (You Are All I See, 2011)
I’ve beat the EDM and R&B horses to death already. So I’ll sum up this track quickly: Pat Grossi’s deft blend of suave falsetto crooning and beautiful ambiance in “Playing House” is stunning, a luscious atmosphere which Grossi can manipulate and expand. The interpersonal conflict of the lyrics is relatable and honest. And that’s always a winning combination.
56. “Making Money” – Ben Rector (The Walking In Between, 2013)
If you’ve read my blog before, you may notice some inconsistencies on this list. For instance, Ben Rector’s brilliant “Making Money” clocked in at #6 on last year’s Top 50 songs list, ahead of songs already featured on this list (“Pusher Love Girl”, “Hive”, etc.) However, Rector’s music, always so vibrant and fun, stands out to me because of how shockingly down to earth it is. He’s a songwriter of the people, one of the easiest guys to like in the realm of music. “Making Money” highlights that quality more than anything else he’s ever done. By tackling a quality of life that all people share, Rector breaks down the fourth wall. It’s not even a song as much as it is a conversation.
55. “Land Locked Blues” – Bright Eyes (I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning, 2005)
I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is Conor Oberst’s magnum opus (in my opinion), a challenging, rewarding combination of folksy narrative and post-emo influence. At it’s highest heights, it soars. But the lows are what interest me about the record. “Land Locked Blues” is both sad and aggressive, a lament on society and love. At times, it seems rambling and self-serving. But it’s also fascinating and transparent in a startling way. It takes guts to attempt to fit all these things into one track. Oberst is the perfect writer to do so.
54. “Love Interruption” – Jack White (Blunderbuss, 2012)
Jack White is today’s rock god, a cocky and wildly talented superstar whose enigmatic personality makes him magnetic in a way that isn’t too present in music culture today. The name calls to mind wild guitar riffs and loud, sloppy garage rock. But one of Jack White’s greatest achievements was going solo and showing us that his powers extend beyond the loud noises he’s able to create. “Love Interruption” is a stroke of genius off of his solo debut. By trading his electric weapon of a guitar for an acoustic and some woodwinds, White’s wicked songwriting jumps to the forefront. His poetry is so visceral, so shocking; but should we really be surprised? He’s been communicating the same things with his guitar for years.
53. “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” – CAKE (Comfort Eagle, 2001)
It’s almost impossible for this song to escape its eternal tie to “Chuck”, but something tells me we’d all know it even without Zachary Levi’s face popping into our heads at the first sound of that guitar lick. The beauty of “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” is that it forces you to have an opinion. CAKE’s music has always been unique, but Comfort Eagle‘s number one hit reins in the weirdness just enough to make it palatable for everyone. That doesn’t mean you have to like it; but you can’t deny its special.
52. “Suspension” – Mae (The Everglow, 2005)
Mae will always confuse me. I look at their discography and see albums like Destination: Beautiful or Singularity or (m)orning, all mediocre albums in every sense of the word. And then I see The Everglow, an effort so vast and so rich in texture and emotion, and I can’t believe they all come from the same band. The Everglow is an hour-long journey into the spaciuos world of Dave Elkins’ imagination. It’s uncut emotion; unbridled joy and crushing sadness rolled up into a collection of dreams. “Suspension” is both the kicker into the dreamiest stretch of the record and the purest expression of wondrous naivety I’ve ever heard in a 4-minute song.
51. “Collapsible Lung” – Relient K (Collapsible Lung, 2013)
I wrote about Collapsible Lung in my recent post ranking my favorite band’s Top 10 songs (notice a trend in the things I write about?) You can read my expanded thoughts there. But I will say this; Collapsible Lung eclipsed more than a few songs on this list because of Matt Thiessen’s dedication to his writing. Without the context of it’s album, “Collapsible Lung” would be just another (excellent) Relient K track. As a stand-alone, it’s among Relient K’s best. As a return to form, it becomes so much more.