As the year winds down, I start dishing out my end-of-the year lists. You already saw albums, and now I’m going to break it down even further. Songs!
Just like the last list, don’t expect to see anything but rock on here.
DISCLAIMER: When I say, “secondary single”, I don’t mean it was literally the second single. I mean it was overshadowed by a more commercially successful single. That also doesn’t mean I don’t like the “primary” single. The four instances on this list are perfect examples of that statement. I like all of them.
So without further ado:
10. Ok GO – “The Writing’s On The Wall” (Hungry Ghosts)
Some may say “I Won’t Let You Down” is the better song, and I’ll give you that the music video was amazing. But “The Writing’s On The Wall” sounds more like the Ok GO we know from “Here It Goes Again” and “Get Over It”. The power-pop, Prince-esque sound is what fans wanted from Hungry Ghosts, and this track is the epitome.
9. Modern Baseball – “Your Graduation” (You’re Gonna Miss It All)
This song perfectly describes what Modern Baseball is all about. With every passing syllable, it becomes more and more clear that there’s a grudge being held here. Whether it be towards an old life, old friends, old lovers, or old enemies – it serves as a testimony to how difficult it can be to cut ties with these relics from a not-so-distant past.
8. Kongos – “I’m Only Joking” (Lunatic)
A theme of this list is my preference for secondary singles that weren’t shoved down my throat on the radio (skip to #1 for a better example). Regardless of that sentiment, the heavy drums and ferocious vocals are what gives “I’m Only Joking” the edge over “Come With Me Now”. I also like the f-bombs too. A well-placed swear can spice up any song.
7. U2 – “Every Breaking Wave” (Songs Of Innocence)
This is undoubtedly the most instrumentally superior track on Songs Of Innocence. Lyrically, it isn’t anything too special. The slow intro is mesmerizing, with the evident lead up to the line, “If you go!”, and the rest of the chorus. Every note from every instrument is right where it should be. This is the best U2 song since “City Of Blinding Lights”.
Do I embed the video? I know you own it.
6. The War On Drugs – “An Ocean In Between Waves” (Lost In The Dream)
This is the standout track from this year’s pleasant surprise of an album from the Philly indie-rockers. Clocking in at just over seven minutes, this song features no chorus. Just a steady build up until the last two minutes of pure instrumental pleasure, which evokes more emotion than any lyric before it.
5. Cage The Elephant – “Cigarette Daydreams” (Melophobia)
This is easily my favorite track of Cage The Elephant’s three-album catalogue. I think it depicts the vulnerability of adolescence, especially young relationships that tend to breakdown for no good reason at all. The scratchy acoustic guitar fits the song perfectly, and the build up to the first iteration of, “You can drive all night, looking for the answers in the pouring rain”, is perfection.
4. Foo Fighters – “Something From Nothing” (Sonic Highways)
Everyone is entitled to their opinion on this album, but there’s no denying that its opening track is an amazing Foo Fighters track. It’s the epic intro this album needed. I remember this being the first Foos song since 2011, and at first listen the goosebumps that set in after the bridge were some of the best goosebumps I’ve felt in a while. There’s a classic Grohl scream, the pace picks up, a quick Rick Nielson solo, and the track cements itself as one of the year’s best.
3. Weezer – “The Futurescope Trilogy” (Everything Will Be Alright In The End)
I know, I know, this is technically three songs. But they mesh together, that’s why a collective name was given to the three. If Rivers Cuomo refers to them as one song, then I reserve the right to as well. He actually nailed it himself in an interview in which he revealed it to be his favorite song(s) from the entire Weezer catalogue. There’s so much emotion coming from instruments alone. And its the perfect ending to Weezer’s best album since 1996. “I. The Waste Land” and “III. Return To Ithaka” are dazzling instrumentals, while “II. Anonymous” showcases the gang vocals and power-rock that Weezer is known for. I can imagine a stadium erupting when “Anonymous” reaches it’s climax of,
“So I thank you my love, thank you my friends
Look in the eyes of my enemy
It’s all just a gift that I’m going to give to you
I don’t even know your name
No, I don’t know the words to say
So I call you Anonymous.”
2. The Black Keys – “Weight Of Love” and “Gotta Get Away” (Turn Blue)
I’m breaking all the rules now. This just became a top 11 list right quick. There’s an unwritten “one song per artist” rule, but I’ve been sitting here for an hour trying to decide between Turn Blue‘s opening and closing tracks, and I just can’t do it. So I’ve decided that since this is my blog and I don’t have to answer to anyone, I’m just going to do both in one entry. “Weight Of Love” is the first heavy blues song by Dan and Patrick since Brothers. The slow-burning song serves as an epic intro that culminates in a legendary guitar solo, in which you’re just waiting for that high note to kick in. “Gotta Get Away” is most definitely my favorite song from the entire Keys’ catalogue. Now you can see where the tough decision came from. It’s a very simple song with cliché after cliché about the open road and black tops, but pair that with the southern-rock vibe and this song was a smash-hit waiting to happen.
Side note: The placement of these songs is intriguing. It almost sounds like they should be flipped. “Weight Of Love” would make for a spectacular finish, but since everything in between is so dark and down-beat, I think ending with the only up-beat song on the album was the way to go.
I’m preparing to get a lot of shit for this one…
And the upset of the year goes to…
1. Bleachers – “Rollercoaster” (Strange Desire)
This is what I was alluding to when I talked about my preference for the secondary single that wasn’t shoved down my throat. This is the first feel good hit of the summer since, well, “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer”. Although “I Wanna Get Better” was the summer hit, this was the track should have been topping the charts. It was released as a single in June, but didn’t start getting airplay until November, which is a shame. It’s clearly the best track from Strange Desire, and far superior to anything Jack Antonoff has done with fun. (Do I need an extra period there?) Not many songs give me as much of a rush as this one does. This is the type of song fun. should have been playing at outdoor venues last year. A club just simply can’t contain the hook, the electric snares, the woah-oh’s, and the overlapping vocals. Not even to mention the catchy chorus and the arousing pre-chorus build ups.
Side note: I love Jack Antonoff’s glasses.