Monday, February 8, 2016

Top 100 Songs Of All-Time, 50-41

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

Sigur Ros | Festival | Með suð... | 2008

Yes I first heard this song whilst watching 127 Hours, sue me. When it came on in the closing moments of the movie it was pure bliss, such a simple guitar and drum procession has never sounded so good, so crisp, so emotionally-invested. While the first half of 'Festival' is typical of Sigur Rós, with draining vocals festering precariously over slowly-swaying strings, the latter half is really where it flourishes, the attention it deserves as centerpiece of Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust is whole-heartedly warranted. Honestly, and while it may seem cheap, the finale reeks of institutionalized melody music aimed directly at complimenting emotional film climaxes, a fact it excels in with breathless abandon. Even with this escalating euphoria, things spill over into unbridled elation with a swarm of orchestral sounds rally crying it out to its finish. A truly breathtaking experience everyone who enjoys music must hear. The whistling of the melody at the end a nice touch.

Madvillain | All Caps | Madvillainy | 2004

There is no other song in Hip-Hop period that better encapsulates a 50's-inspired comic book than 'All Caps.' What may be whittled down to a very specific accomplishment is something DOOM had been trying to attain his entire career, culminating in this very song. Much of the credit goes to Madlib for curating such a fantastical beat, helmed by that unforgettable rickety piano collapsing in on itself, along with the piper that drastically morphs into a call-to-arms trumpet. It relives a time before even the roots of Hip-Hop had begun to spread, relying on DOOM's technical mastery to cover something previously unconquered. Amongst a litany of classic DOOM one-liners stands his career-defining declaration, "just remember ALL CAPS when you spell the man's name," the moment where DOOM went from enigmatic weirdo to Hip-Hop legend. For its short duration 'All Caps' leaves a hell of an impact, especially as the centerpiece of Madvillainy despite it being the third to last track potentially lost in a sea of 21 others.

Deltron 3030 | 3030 | Deltron 3030 | 2000

I've heard a lot of Hip-Hop songs in my life and a few years ago I declared this one, this seven-minute opus, as having contained my favorite beat of all-time. Since then nothing has come to best it, so for now Dan The Automator and his haunting drums, cathartic choirs, and whimsical samples will stand atop the podium. Thankfully, for three long verses, sewn between elongated passages of production beauty, Del The Funkee Homosapien orchestrates the coming of the year 3030 and the cruel, violent world everyone now encompasses. Releasing in the year 2000, Deltron 3030 couldn't have come at a better time, with technology quickly running the globe, this futuristic concept album pushed Hip-Hop, especially the underground, in far-reaching areas where more things were viably accepted, including a seven-minute mission statement glazed in ornamental brilliance. 

Outkast | 13th Floor / Growing Old | ATLiens | 1996

Many here, like myself, had a group that showed them to the world of music growing up. For me, that was Outkast. But what's funny is that while I had my set in stone favorite tracks from them, as my taste grew and expanded certain songs rose or fell in line. One such track was '13th Floor / Growing Old' which has now turned into a top 3 'Kast track for me for its beautiful aura, supreme pacing, and elegant chorus. Apart from the strikingly conservative homosexual stance in Big Rude's spoken word opening, '13th Floor / Growing Old' laments itself as one of Hip-Hop's best calling card, a track you show off to nay-sayers about the wonders the genre can do. The piano cascading throughout is somber and thoughtful as Andre and Big Boi consider their potential future's, unknown to where it might take them. Also Andre's final refrain comes as one of Hip-Hop's most poetic moments. "See all them leaves must fall down, growing old. Fat titties turn to teardrops as fat ass turns to flab. Sores that was open wounds eventually turn to scab. Trees bright and green turn yellow brown. Autumn caught em, see all them leaves must fall down, growin' old." Beautiful.

Death Grips | Birds | Government Plates | 2013

Thee most undefinable track in Death Grips' catelogue, and that's saying something. Everything, from the lyrics, to the structure, to the production, confounds Hip-Hop norms. In all honesty, Ride's talk of birds, reminiscent of a Dr.Seuss tale, might have no definite meaning, heightened by the abrupt transitions into emotional panic ("I've got tomorrow coming!"), while the dread parading around freely throughout, with wired strings and destructive bass, sets 'Birds' up to be a track best experienced by the emotions. Put yourself in a dark, tight closet with Ride hollering at you, menacing every now and then, with sounds that equally haunt and enchant, and you're in for one hell of a night. And yet, the most lasting comment attributed to 'Birds,' and a large portion of Death Grips songs, is that it's brilliantly catchy once it sets in. The screeching guitar plundering (played by Robert Pattinson, fun fact) adds to this madman-like delight, where Ride can go from swooning "one bird, two birds, three birds, four" to absolute terror. The fact that the song holds no immediate structure, theoretically moving moment-to-moment, creates a claustrophobic feeling with the want of escape, escalating to hollers of "HIGHER!" at the end to cap things out on one of Hip-Hop's strangest songs.

Godspeed You! | Lift Yr Skinny Fists | Lift Yr Skinny Fists | 2000

I may have joined over a decade late but this song, really this album, might be one of music's greatest examples of art. I'm referring largely to its introduction, roughly the first six minutes. It's an absolutely transcendental work, one that I do not deny has changed lives. All without the breath of a voice. In many ways it's as if you took all the passion and emotion from Arcade Fire's Funeral and jammed it into instruments played as if they had one more use. I've always said the most impactful songs are ones that can stir emotions without inciting it with vocals, and 'Lift Yr Skinny Fists' may be thee greatest example of that in the modern age of man. Like many have said as a precursor to their following statements in regards to this album, I hate to sound pretentious but really, there may be no greater calling card to the fall of humanity than this rousing display of our greatest achievements.

Shad | Rose Garden | TSOL | 2010

Shad just has a way to make happy-go-lucky Boom Bap Hip-Hop for the modern era. Updated drums and crisp vocals battle with antique samples and DJ scratches, that's what makes up 'Rose Garden,' the pinnacle of his intended sound. In two breezy verses Shad decries over the love of another, stating with certainty that through all that life throws at him they'll find ways to stick together. But what really brings the track together is the chorus and its use throughout the song. A sample of 'Rose Garden' by The Three Degrees plays vicariously throughout, given time to breathe during the chorus but chopped to bits to make easier for Shad to spit over in the verses. They even took the song's foundation, a chipper beat bouncing along, to new heights, allowing Shad to gleam over it with his typically flawless approach.

Emancipator | Soon It Will Be Cold Enough | Soon... | 2006

It's a slow-burner that has everything I've ever loved about electronic music in one song. Simple guitar melodies, scratched and glitched, horns vibrating in and out of the chorus, and longing, distant vocals that evoke the cold winter nights Emancipator attempts to capture. It's a short song that makes an ever-lasting impact, one that values time and instrumentation as a commodity needed to be preciously used. It's as if the sparse echoing winter witnessed a glimpse of beauty and held onto it for as long as it could. While there are other vocals spread throughout Emancipator's debut, none capture the mood and setting quite as well as this sample. Hushed, ambient, and soft, broken apart by pieces of tattered drums, the words attempting to come out never settle, leaving a voice longing for attention. It's a campfire song meant for the cold winters, beautiful in its simplicity and arrangement.

Kendrick Lamar | Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst | good kid | 2012

Years down the road, even to some today, 'Sing About Me, I'm Dying Of Thirst' will be known as one of Hip-Hop's greatest songs, and for good reason. A 12-minute, two-part masterpiece, Kendrick Lamar sends listeners through his twisted Compton world following the death of his friend through gang violence. It's one half lyrical revelation, one half aggravated onslaught, all caught up in the womb of a baptism from K.Dot to Kendrick Lamar. Apart from a litany of picture perfect verses, and a chorus that will resonate decades down the road, 'Sing About Me' also boasts some of the most creative uses of musical imagery in the modern era. The first verse ends abruptly with gunshots, signaling the death of yet another loved one, the second sees a struggling prostitute fade into oblivion, the mastery of story-telling here is palpable and evident. Whether based on pure epicness or actual excellency, good kid, m.A.A.d. city's conceptual centerpiece will forever remain Kendrick's calling card, thee song listeners will always return to to see his brilliance firsthand.

Daft Punk | Da Funk | Homework | 1997

Much of Daft Punk's early stardom was due to their simplicity. House music designed to manifest an earworm contagious enough to spread through all those listening. And while those tracks, including 'Da Funk' in some right, are fine and demand the attention they seek, Daft Punk's stellar electro battle manifesting as 'Da Funk' presents subtle complexity that makes it an instant classic for me. The wonky guitars that are as bare bones as they get match wits with hand claps, simple drums, and a 1-2 bass that catches fire and keeps it throughout the track. It's one of House's calling cards, an anthem that doesn't need vocal samples to get crowds to start singing along, the guitars, which many can recall just by saying the tracks' name, do that job splendidly.

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

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