It seems most years I put together a post listing out my favourite music from the year before. I haven’t done that for 2013 as yet, and it’s because I’ve forgotten. It’s been on my mind periodically to get it done, but each time I think it it feels like a chore. I love music, tres, but geez, without sounding like an old fogey, there’s much less music I love today than there used to be.
In fact, it’s rare these days I can match the word ‘love’ to the word ‘music’ when it comes to recent releases. There’s the odd bit of musical inspiration that stands out like a nugget of gold in a pile of slag, but you wouldn’t hold your breath searching for it. I acknowledge that I have become one of those people who think things musical were in the past, but I also understand why.
I was brought up on rock music, and particularly guitar rock, and I guess what you might call classic pop. Rock music doesn’t get much of a go on the mainstream radio networks, and the depth of authentically good rock bands is pretty thin. Pop music still exists, in a way, but in large part very different from what it was. My impression of the current music scene is that it is dominated by female performers whose audience are teenage girls in large part, and electronic-based music. The good old days of grunge are long gone.
That being said here’s my belated list for 2013. Bear in mind that these are relative. If you compare the list I put together today to one I might have compiled 20 years ago then the list 20 years ago would be far superior, averaging I would think a full extra star. In fact, there are songs that wouldn’t make the list 20 years ago which I would consider superior to most on this list. That’s how depleted the once rich music scene has become.
Here it is:
Do I Wanna Know? – The Arctic Monkey’s
This was my favourite song for the whole year. I’d listen in the car driving, turning it up and banging my hand on the steering wheel in time to it. Clever song from a band that has really matured. Reckon their album AM was the best of the year. Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High? another top song, on an album of very good songs.
From Can to Can’t – Corey Taylor, Dave Grohl, Rick Nielsen & Scott Reeder
This is another song I’d bang the steering wheel too. Like any grown man with good-sized balls, I love Dave Grohl. He’s the sort of dude I’d happily hang out with over a slab, and the Foo Fighters are possibly my favourite band and the last real rock hold-out. This song swells and builds, heavy on the drums, jangling guitars that get the pulse racing, good old-fashioned fucking grunt music, but with intelligence. Comes from the soundtrack to Sound City – From Real to Reel.
Applause – Lady Gaga
I’m a little bit embarrassed putting this here, but the truth is that this is a driving, compulsive bit of music. You can’t help but listen to this and feel yourself flowing with energy, and itching to get up on the dance floor. If it makes me want to dance it must be good. Lady Gaga is by no means my kind of music, but I admire her.
Happy – Pharrell Williams
Yep, another song I’m a tad embarrassed to have here, but not because it’s no good but because it became such a massive mainstream hit. I’m too cool for that. I’d have rated this song higher, except that, in the way of these times, it got completely overdone. It’s a good song though, and the lilt and melody epitomise the subject matter. It’s a bright and optimistic song that leaves you feeling fine. And I like Pharrell.
Resolution – Matt Corby
The only Aussie on this list, this is a good song. Not great, but good. Hopefully, it’s a harbinger of more and better things coming from Corby.
Old Skin – Olafur Arnalds (featuring Arnor Dan)
This is the odd song out here. Most would never have heard of either the song or the singer. Even I have to ask, who the fuck is Olafur Arnalds? This is a quieter, melodic song, tinkling piano building into a fuller sound overlaid by a plaintive male voice. It’s a seductive song you feel as much as hear. One of those songs you hear in the background and wonder what’s that?
That’s the official list, but I’ll make reference to a few others in passing. Gotye partnered up with Perfect Tripod to cover the old Reels classic Quasimodo’s Dream. The more I listen to it the more I think it should be on the list. It’s a great song, this is a very good version, and Gotye is always excellent. I encourage you to seek it out.
Another notable cover was Heart doing Stairway to Heaven at the Kennedy Centre. Check it out on YouTube.
Another Aussie, Vance Joy, had a monster hit locally with Riptide. Clever song, clever film clip. And liked John Newman singing Love Me Again. He’s a great voice and you find this song hooking you. Retrograde, by James Blake, gets you as well if you’re willing to give it time.
Finally, mention must go to Queens of the Stone Age. Their album, …Like Clockwork, was maybe next best after the Arctic Monkeys in my opinion. And their song The Vampyre of Time and Memory belongs on this list too. Understated, but powerful.
That’s it for 2013. Worth noting that I only added 18 songs to my iTunes library last year. Considering I have about 3,500 songs in total that’s pretty scant, but tells a tale.