And so it begins. Prepare yourself for five straight days of the Best of 2011. I’m kicking it off with my ten favorite songs of the year. Here are numbers 10 through 6.
Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Way Over Yonder In the Minor Key”
I have a weakness for alt-country music. I first heard this gem in the movie Love and Other Drugs, then again months later on The Current. The second time around, something resonated with me. It could be Billy Bragg’s voice or the pleasure of joining in the refrain of “Ain’t nobody that can sing like me.” Sometimes a simple song is all I need.
Elliott Smith, “No Name #3”
Good Will Hunting has been one of my favorite movies for years. In 2011 I finally invested in the soundtrack. (A used copy, of course.) The album hinges on six beautiful tracks by Elliott Smith. All are subtle and haunting, but “No Name #3” is decidedly my favorite. There’s something about the way he sings “Everyone is gone / Home to oblivion” that makes it the perfect soothing song.
Ingrid Michaelson, “Parachute”
Okay, I technically heard this song back in July of 2010 when I saw Ingrid in concert. I’m still including it though because I didn’t take much interest in it until 2011. Anyone who has heard her albums knows that Ingrid is a hit-or-miss type of songwriter. Her hits tend to be lyrically simple (like “The Way I Am“) and insanely catchy (like “Parachute”). Supposedly Ingrid didn’t record “Parachute” at first because she thought it was too poppy for her. Something must have changed her mind, and we have this pop confection to show for it.
Gillian Welch, “One Little Song”
Did someone say alt-country? Gillian Welch’s Soul Journey album was one of my best finds this year. That is to say, I found it at a used music store in Uptown. I already featured this particular song once, but it deserves a second mention. I love the way it flows effortlessly between verses. Most of all, I love the message, which is that there’s always a song left to sing.
My love for Robyn is already well–documented on this blog. I was familiar with “Dancing On My Own” and “Call Your Girlfriend” when I bought her album Body Talk. Then I discovered a new favorite in “Indestructible.” Like all of Robyn’s best songs, it has real emotion behind the electronic beats. I highly recommend it for rocking out in the car, preferably while driving to happy hour with your coworkers.
Check back tomorrow for the top 5!