in Music

The ABC’s of iTunes (Pt. 2)

The B Stands For…

Previously on Pop Insomniacs…

They say that music is the tunnel to one’s soul. Okay, I think I might have just made that up, but for the sake of not being able to come up with a better intro sentence, I’m gonna go ahead and go with it.

There’s a grain of truth in that saying I might have possible/probably just made up, and it’s this: Music is truly reflective of who one is as a person.

With that in mind, I decided to take on a mammoth project that should give you an idea of who I am. This is the first in a 26 part post that will cover my top ten favorite songs from every letter of the alphabet.

I do this mainly because there’s no way I could narrow this down to an all encompassing top-ten list.

And now, for the epic continuation…

Barbara – “San Francisco”

We packed our bags and hit the road
We headed north up to San Francisco
Loaded up with things to sell and things to barter
We picked up Barbara who was off to meet her father

As with many songs in my music library, I’m not entirely sure what this song means, but there are definitely some callbacks to ‘60s San Francisco (duh), which is interesting when juxtaposed with the electronic beat. Plus, it’s catchy, which is the other things many of my favorite songs have in common. I am so shallow.

Bat for Lashes – “Laura”

You’re the train that crashed my heart
You’re the glitter in the dark
Oh, Laura
You’re more than a superstar

Although “Laura” is a more recent addition to my library, it’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. Many of my favorite songs take a while to actually reach that status. I’ll listen to the slow and/or boring melody, and move on (see, shallow!). However, I’ll sometimes come back for a second listen, and fall in love with a song  that I initially skimmed over. This was definitely one of those cases – ever since I really listened to those lyrics, I’ve been hooked.

Bedouin Soundclash – “Mountain Top”

But we’re climbing back up to the mountain top
Climbing to the mountain top
Call it what you want,
Call it old punk rock

This is a band that makes zero sense: A reggae/ska band that hails from Toronto? In my head, snow and maple syrup don’t mix with jerk chicken. The band has taken the bare bones of the genre and mixed it with punk rock, creating a pretty unique sound in the process, one that I’m pretty fond of. This track, which is more heavily punk influenced than some of their other efforts, has become a favorite of mine.

Beirut – “Scenic World”

When I feel alive
I try to imagine a careless life
A scenic world where the sunsets are all

Not only is Beirut king of the “B”s, the hipster gold/New Mexico native is most definitely on my top ten list of favorite artists period (if such a list could actually be created). However, adding this song to the list may actually be cheating, since there are two version of its. While one feels more intimate and slightly electronic, and the other is bombastic with a full band, I have trouble choosing a favorite, so they’re both ending up on here. As per usual with songs that sound so happy, there’s a dark undercurrent that takes it to another level of awesome.

Ben Folds  – “Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)”

You wanna see what’s in my head?
Check it out ’cause,
I got pictures of what’s in my head
I got pictures of what’s in my head

This one is more of a rare find: while most songs on these lists will be favorite songs from favorite artists, this song is really one of the only ones I enjoy from Ben Folds’ collection of work. It’s not that I actively dislike anything else he’s done, but most of it doesn’t really pull me in. Somehow, though, the mix of self deprecation and humor in this autobiographical little ditty did something for me none of his other songs could.  

The Black Keys – “Everlasting Light”

Let me be your everlasting light
Your train going away from pain
Love is the coal that makes this train roll
Let me be your everlasting light

Lots of Black Keys lyrics are famous for being pretty simple, and this one’s no exception. It makes it onto this list for the catchy, repetitive beat, the backing females, and Dan Auerbach’s unnaturally high vocals.

Bob Dylan – “Boots of Spanish Leather”

So take heed, take heed of the western wind,
Take heed of the stormy weather.
And yes, there’s something you can send back to me,
Spanish boots of Spanish leather.

Warning: Things are about to get terrifyingly cliche, but at least I’m getting into some of the classics, right? This song is on here because I get sad sometimes. Alternatively, sometimes this song plays accidentally when I’m in a good mood and it makes me sad. It’s an infinite, bipolar cycle of happy and sad, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bon Iver – “For Emma”

Go find another lover;
To bring a…to string along!
With all your lies,
You’re still very lovable.

Okay, if I didn’t prove hipster cred with Beirut, then this pick has gotta do it. That wasn’t a question, this one will prove it. A mixture of awesome horns and ambiguous lyrics (according to the person who put the lyrics online, it’s a conversation between a couple, and they keep interrupting each other) cement this one’s place on my list. Plus, it’s about a crashing and burning relationship, a theme I seem to just eat up all the fuckin’ time.

Born Ruffians – “Barnacle Goose”

We’re going to do it right
We’ve locked it in our sights
I’ll la-dee-da & they can dum-dee-day
We’ll tra-la-la all night and day we’ll go far

This is one of those songs that will become obsolete once you’ve moved past your twenties. You’ll listen back and think, “Well, it sure was nice listening to that back then, but now I feel nothing for it.” Thankfully, I’m still in my twenties and this song is going strong in my iTunes. Plus, it’s catchy. Woooooh.

Bright Eyes – “Something Vague”

No, no, I think it’s more like a ghost
That’s been following us both
Something vague that we’re not seeing
Something more like a feeling

Ah, Bright Eyes, it’s good that I’m ending with you. I’m not sure why, but it feels right, you know? No? Okay, well I’m not sure what I mean, either. Let’s move along. This is just an all-around good song – lots of foreboding, but a sense of hope at the same time. Essentially, contrasting themes that I think we’ve established are pretty cherished by me.

Photo Credit: Asia Noise