Monday, January 18, 2016

Top 100 Songs Of All-Time, 80-71

Music has rapidly become the most important thing in my life, and only partly because of the rise of this blog. It provides me with inspiration, sources of understanding, contemptment, etc., you name it there's a track, an artist, an album that gives me that feeling. Along with the rise of my musical interests came an increasing habit of creating lists, rankings, ratings, and everything that makes the creative force that is music mundane. Regardless, doing said analysis leads me to developing further understanding of each aspect of music as I typically provide write-ups to each piece. In comes my top 100 tracks of all-time. Updated yearly, this list gives my fellow readers a perfect sense of how my musical scope has formed, the sporadic nature of its evolution, and the diversity it further engulfs itself in. Each Monday I'll post one part of this ten part series, leading up to my overall top 10. 

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

Kid Cudi | Heaven At Nite | A Kid Named Cudi | 2008

There was a time when I loved Kid Cudi, and much of that adoration was because of this song and others like it. While the sound wavered, became stale, and didn't always work, that overt Ratatat use made for a few very special songs. 'Heaven At Nite' still gets me every time I listen to it, besides the heavily guitar-led production, Cudi really shines with his drawling vocals, especially in the chorus. It moves at a snails pace, but somehow maintains interest. The first verse is self-aware and sets up for the finale to take over and end his first mixtape. 

Vampire Weekend | Hannah Hunt | Modern Vampires Of The City | 2013

The finale to Vampire Weekend's penultimate track is rather convincingly their best work. Few things in 2013 sounded as breathless, defiant and wailing as 'Hannah Hunt's' closing. The sound, slowly perfected since their debut, aimed at reveling in a modernized approach to antique musical elements. Crisp guitars mumble behind a thriving piano melody, rickety and explosive, before Koenig's crackling voice escapes a few bars about his insouciant relationship with Hannah and her unrelenting willingness to escape anything and everything she encounters. With the tribal drums signaling its resounding conclusion, 'Hannah Hunt' aims to work as Vampire Weekend's turning point, with the first half reserved and preparatory, while the latter erupts in a ball of pent-up emotion.

Modest Mouse | Styrofoam Boots | Lonesome Crowded West | 1998

Blue Sky Black Death has their own sound, one that's hard to describe as well. It's kind of a mesh between styles, but what looms over it all is immaculate mastering. Each song sounds immensely detailed, with numerous layers connecting over each other like puzzle pieces. 'Sleeping Children' gives off this airy vibe that puts listeners in a trance-like state of perpetual dreams, gliding along the skies with these long, textures sounds moving along with you. The samples add to the allure, especially the haunting female vocalist appearing towards the end.

De La Soul | Bitties In The BK Lounge | De La Soul Is Dead | 1991

Straight up story tracks are essential to the foundation of Hip-Hop. While many detailed the violent upbringing of everyday life in the ghetto, artists like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and even Slick Rick poked fun at the ordeal, unraveling mundane encounters that go in unforeseen directions. The two pinnacles of this, ATCQ's 'I Left My Wallet In El Segundo' and De La's 'Bitties In The BK Lounge.' It's the latter that's my favorite, one that joins a fantasy realm mid progress where Pos meets Tracy Chapman in a Burger King and proceeds to fall in love, before being jolted back to reality with a disgruntled customer hounding the emcee about getting food. The ensuing battle rap is one for the ages, hilarious in every way but also comes equip with some seriously stellar flows and bars. 

Blackalicious | Alphabet Aerobics | A2G | 1999

It may be one of the most well-known songs rising out of the underground Hip-Hop scene, and that's largely due to its crossover appeal. Everyone loves singing along to their favorite songs, it's another thing when you make them practice ad nauseam. Gift Of Gab mastered the alphabet with the help of Cut Chemist's sampling and scratching. While it's nothing more than nonsensical rhyming, 'Alphabet Aerobics' is what Hip-Hop is all about, the freedom of expression, the ability to make whatever you want without constant musical constraints. On top of all that, it's a really, really fun song.

M83 | Raconte-Moi Une Histoire | Hurry Up, We're Dreaming | 2011

Hurry Up, We're Dreaming saw Anthony Gonzales finally blossom into the artist he's always should of been. On the sprawling, two-disc megalithic album he revels in Ambient Pop, adding the ladder in full effect where, apart from some hints on Saturdays = Youth?, it was entirely absent. However, even though his 2011 LP distanced itself from his former work by being more proud and boisterous, one track took on a life of its own, and no I'm not talking about 'Midnight City.' 'Raconte-Moi Une Histoire' travels a serendipitous journey through a five-year old girls (presume) accidental LCD trip. It's a concept based in absurdity, but silly enough to work. Even though the dominating factor is the girl, with her wide-eyed bewilderment and joyous exposition, M83 makes the track entirely memorable, building one instrument over the next to extreme levels. It's nearly impossible to theoretically count, but one could assume its over 20 layers, an excessive amount that somehow maintains civility, with a beautifully grandiose soundscape, despite the ease of it to fall to mush.

Flying Lotus | Massage Situation | Reset | 2007

The song that gravitated me towards Flying Lotus' sensational sounds. It's one of his earliest works and yet still remains the pivotal anchoring point to his Glitchy, smoke-infested style. The uncomfortably tormented vocals dancing throughout these underutilized hi-hats creates an ethereal experience that glides listeners through FlyLo's alternate world. If the first half was a dream though, the second half is a nightmare, as the hi-hats turn aggressive, startling synths chant along with them as the vocals soon succumb to a cacophony of synthesizers folding into one another. 'Massage Situation' may not be FlyLo's most complex work, or his most ambitious, but it's the track that garnered attention and praise through its minimalistic approach to off-kilter beat work.

GZA | Cold World | Liquid Swords | 1995

Before Killer Mike and El-P were able to take over by successfully melding underground tones with mainstream appeal in Run The Jewels, P.O.S. was probably the closest thing to accomplishing that task. Not saying 'Purexed' would have been his smash hit, far from it, but the way P.O.S. spoke, clearly articulating himself with precise flows over inventive beats laid claim to enjoyable, yet thought-provoking tunes. 'Purexed' starts and evolves with a blaring organ, Alexander's flow meanwhile glides effortlessly over the non-conformist beat with insane fluidity. The chorus though, as hi-hats and rapid drums fill the space, drastically change the sound before returning to the calm, collected verses to show off a two-tone parity.

CunninLynguists | Predormitum | Oneirology | 2011

At least for me, what's always carried Cunninlynguists is Kno's production. Nothing against the rapping, Deacon The Villain & Natti both always do admirable jobs, but Kno flourishes as an beatsmith especially when he's on his game. Nowhere was that greater than on Oneirology, which was largely due to their concise concept centered around dreams. Everything came with a fuzzy, hazy aesthetic with lush instrumentation thrown behind it. The intro provided the starkest, most deliberate form of that, brightened infinitely greater by a fantastic use of a Biggie sample. Everything in the song is large and soaring, including the chorus which features chipmunk female vocals gliding across a pounding drum beat.

Outkast | Rosa Parks | Aquemini | 1998

Outkast is the coolest group of all-time. And arguably the catchiest. Really my infatuation with them may be too much, but there's nothing Big Boi and Andre couldn't do when at their pinnacle. 'Rosa Parks' was one of the best showings of that. A demented Pop song in disguise, glossed over by an improper Civil Rights reference acting as a raucous party number, with one of their most Southern-tinged beats on one of their most out there albums, rooted with grizzled slang and pristine flows, a harmonic bridge with a harmonica, and an LSD-trip through a poorly animated green screen music video. In other words, it had everything anyone ever wanted before they even expected it. That's what Outkast was all about, being trendsetters, advancing the genre of Hip-Hop in galactic directions where everything was accepted and thought-provoking lyrics weren't at ends with music's catchiest Pop songs.

100-91 | 90-81 | 80-71 | 70-61 | 60-51 | 50-41 | 40-31 | 30-21 | 20-11 | 10-1

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