In music’s worst draughts, there sometimes seems like no hope for “spicing things up.” Instead, I find myself needing to throw things all the way back. These are songs that I feel like I’ve listened to over and over again, but still haven’t gotten sick of. Hopefully you won’t be sick of them either.
1. Kanye West – “School Spirit”
When my brother, sister and I were kids, we called this song “the chipmunk song” because of the high pitched background vocals that sounded like Alvin in the Chipmunks. By the time I was eight, I knew all the words of the censored version, which my dad played almost exclusively in his car for a month after its release. I tried to spread the popularity of Kanye amongst third graders, they weren’t interested in more songs about school or people digging for gold in California (which is what I assumed “Gold Digger” was about, naturally).
2. Ryan Adams – “New York, New York”
While the diversity of Adams’ music frequently confuses me and makes me nervous rather than impresses me, his more simple songs are undeniably catchy. It doesn’t matter if I play this song 32 times in a row (which has happened) or haven’t heard it in 32 weeks, I can’t turn it off when it comes on, and am always longing for more after it ends.
3. Death Cab for Cutie – “Crooked Teeth”
Nothing offended me more than when I was in third grade and someone in my class had gone to a Death Cab concert. However cool that was, when I asked her about her concert shirt the next day, she assumed I didn’t know the band. Little did she know that they had been my soundtrack every morning on my way to school. This song, the Plans album and Something About Airplanes had been played every Friday on rides with my dad – and those songs are still my favorites today.
4. The Avett Brothers – “Go to Sleep”
I’m normally fine at picking friends, but when I chose a group that was completely divided on the issue of country music, I had landed myself in a pickle. Unfortunately, even the ones who love country hate bluegrass, which makes it hard for the novelty of this song to wear off. Constantly one of my favorites, while I never tire of it, I find myself frequently forgetting its distinct sounds, and therefore always coming back to it.
5. The Cure – “Friday I’m In Love”
Throughout my childhood, I would listen to this song, singing loudly, even though I knew few of the words. The guaranteed annoyance this caused surely made my parents permanently retire this song in our car, but when I rediscovered it years later, I couldn’t turn it off. The catchiness of the romantic days of the week keep that feeling steady even today.
6. Florence + the Machine – “Dog Days Are Over”
Every once in a while, I find a song that I call a “marathon song,” simply meaning that I feel like I could run a marathon if I had that song on repeat the whole time. This tune definitely fits into that category. It’s uplifting consistency is strengthening and empowering in a way that makes me feel unstoppable while I hear it, which keeps me coming back whenever I need an undoubtable pick-me-up.
7. Sufjan Stevens – “Chicago”
Probably to fully introduce my family to good music, the year this album came out, “Casimir Pulaski Day” and “Chicago” were frequented when my dad was in the kitchen, and therefore, rang throughout the house. Even though Steven’s songs are already extremely detailed, my family would create stories about the songs and share them. I still like to listen to the songs now and think about the weird anecdotes we would invent.
8. Jack Johnson – “Do You Remember”
Jack Johnson has his own playlist on my iPod because the artist tab alone doesn’t dole out a dosage concentrated enough with beach jams to satisfy my need. Listening to his songs is frequently satisfying enough to transport me to a Florida beach for a few minutes at a time, which is a mini-vacation I often need.
9. Kate Nash – “Foundations”
Like “School Spirit,” I definitely shouldn’t have known all of this song before my teens. To be honest, then, I listened to it for the excuse to frivolously swear. Now I listen to it for Nash’s adorably sung accent and the creative storytelling contrasting the upbeat charisma of the instruments. After all these years, the amazing combo still amazes me.
10. Justin Townes Earle – “One More Night in Brooklyn”
It’s hard to pin-point the *one thing* that keeps making me press replay whenever this song ends. For now, let’s just say it’s a fairly all encompassing combination of the slow introduction, JTE’s drawl or minimal, but prevalent, percussion. Not to mention that it’s super short, so one listen could never be enough.