Monday, February 1, 2016

Top 100 Songs Of All-Time, 60-51

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

Tyler, The Creator | IFHY | WOLF | 2013

To think Kanye West wanted to be on this track still has me scratching my head. At its core, 'IFHY' is Tyler at his most natural, musically and personally. Angsty teenage love poured out over bubble-gum Hip-Hop, with a music video to elegantly match. The fact that it stands out so much on Wolf makes its allure even greater, as darting synths parade around in a joyous frolic. Pharrell's contributions, joining Tyler in a sing-a-long devotion of love, is as evocative as it is childlike, dazzling with the wonderment of a new relationship and the troubles of a struggling one. Plus, the music video, played out in a real life dollhouse, is one of Tyler's finest directional works.

Animal Collective | What Would I Want? Sky | Fall Be Kind | 2009

The lore behind this song is well known. The only authorized sample of a Grateful Dead song, one 'Unbroken Chain' in particular. Knowing the importance of that Animal Collective used it to near perfection, a beautifully rendered song on the low parts of life. Avey Tare's wide-eyed vocals lend the strongest hand to the song's greatness, as he progresses with a simplicity that only a day-to-day conversation could hold, remarking on life passing him by. The backing, including the sample, may be Animal Collective's greatest, and cleanest, showing of Neo-Psychedelica, with a concise focus on the pristine. 'What Would I Want Sky?" is a song that spews remembrance upon first listen, a memorable experience that only gets bested by 'Fireworks,' their other completed work on the intrinsics of humanities complications with life. 

El-P | $4 VIC / FTL | Cancer For Cure | 2012

It's as if the past decade of El-P's underground run with Definitive Jux got summed up and then exponentially capped upon with the 8-minute mega closer to Cancer 4 Cure. While his third official LP segued gracefully into the now-blossoming Run The Jewels-era with more straight-forward instrumentation and structure, '$4 Vic' did not play by those rules, exceeding elongated El-P closing standards by flawlessly moving between moments with ease and grace. Everything everyone could ever want from El-P is in this track. Hard New York street drums, scratchy vocal disruptions, chaotic synths from space, and a lyricist spitting with fluidity and passion. The second half, reprising his 2008 'Fuck The Law,' sounds climatic, eery, and conclusive. A summation of the running theme in his music, a guy and a girl escaping to this other realm fighting the paradox's found in their relationship

Rob Dougan | Clubbed To Death | Furious Angels | 1998

In my infancy of branching out beyond Hip-Hop some Breakbeat House acts caught my attention. From Fatboy Slim to Basement Jaxx to Rob Dougan's earth-shattering single used in the Matrix, the latest of which lands here on my list. It's a track that fiddles with alarming noises and calming measures, bringing in a full orchestra to accompany a large, dominating Drum n' Bass that carries the track. 'Clubbed To Death' acts larger than life, world-encompassing, as a blistering beat bounces through organic violins, a piano medley, and haunting strings. All of this combines into one of Electronic's more explosive tracks, a ravaging rallying cry that takes what it knows best and expands on it to strenuous lengths for maximal effect.

Sisyphus | Alcohol | Sisyphus | 2014

By far the best track to emerge out of Serengeti, Son Lux, and Sufjan Stevens' love child Sisyphus. The cinematic closer to their genre-leaping album, 'Alcohol' merged each artist's style together effortlessly, leaving a riveting, derelict track in its wake. Much of Sisyphus was playful, bouncing on Art Pop beats talking about missed booty calls, absurdist dream states, and plainly-spoken relaxation techniques. Weaving throughout though were tales from Serengeti's childhood, culminating in a brutal finale where alcoholic parents fight over a demented marching band-like beat. Above all else what makes 'Alcohol' memorable is Serengeti's flow, a dysfunctional pattern of word-of-mouth stuttering that revels in its own complexities. One word poetry laced together, each standing as descriptive retellings of a time not missed, looking internally at one's own faults, the repercussions of others in mind. The track, the album, the meaning, all exploding out in Sufjan's emotional finale, yelling "I am not my father" as a self-assuring revitalization. 

Shabazz Palaces | Youlogy | Black Up | 2011

Sure, around 2011 when Shabazz Palaces' debut LP dropped I heard my fair share of Experimental Hip-Hop, but nothing up to that point hit me in such a impactful, glorious way. It took the constant looming presence of sonic Space in many abstract tracks and amplified it to such extremes that what resulted was a distant cry of humanity, where only the satellites picked up on our residue. Their 2014 release, Lese Majesty, expanded upon this, maybe a bit too much, because the clearest example of this unearthly complex was 'Youlogy,' the masterwork in structure, songwriting, and production on Black Up. Each piece worked as its own song, brought together by relentless use of rise/fall structures where not a single moment was forever present. Above all else, and when Shabazz Palaces are at their best, is when Ishmael Butler brings his social commentary from his Digable Planets days to the forefront, this time through intricate scribblings of a society where "things are looking blacker, but blacker's looking whiter.”

Sufjan Stevens | Impossible Soul | Age Of Adz | 2010

Is this really one song? Like, c'mon now Sufjan, is this really one song? Upon first inspection at the duration you'd assume a hidden track lurked under all the passing minutes, but nope, this is 72-word song title Sufjan Stevens we're talking about here. 25 minutes packed with music spanning the gamut of every genre Stevens has dabbled in, and about half a dozen more he just threw in there (Autotune anyone?). And yet each part is absolutely magnificent. It's a walking time capsule to Stevens' broken heart, breaking apart only to come together. There's so much here there's no reason it shouldn't be it's own EP. Also, "boy we can do so much more together!" has got to be one of the most breathtaking refrains of the 2010’s.

Fashawn | When She Calls | The Ecology | 2009

Fashawn's debut was similar to Blu's in a lot of easily distinguishable facets, namely Exile's presence as producer overlord. On Boy Meets World Exile threw his taste for sampling in with a dash of West Coast fanaticism, revealing some dramatic results, including 'When She Calls.' Using Joanna Newsom's 'Cosmia' as a sonic and lyrical backbone, Exile and Fashawn weave this riveting tale of relational problems culminating, as foreshadowed, in a stark suicide. Newsom's harp and childlike voice echo within the confines of the song, Fashawn adding to her refrain to make the chorus a sweeping statement on the everyday bouts of depression. Fashawn's evolution of the track, with each verse revealing more, bears similarities to Blu's 'Cold Hearted,' both doused in fidelity, choosing to elaborate the drama of life with a real life encounter.

Gorillaz | 19-2000 | Gorillaz | 2001

Take your pick, the original or the Soulchild Remix, either both exquisitely showcase the quirky brilliance of Gorillaz's debut Bubblegum Pop joint. Apart from a few instances scattered throughout their discography no track is as continuously catchy as 19-2000, from the ground up with a simple, infectious beat competing with multiple overlapping melodies. Even the nonsensical lyrics play a part in the disjointed silliness. "I get the cool, get the cool shoeshine" is just one of those lines ludicrous enough to create a sensationalized smile on one's face, the precursor, "here you go!," only emphasizes that more. The Remix cranks things up, at least behind Albarn and his vocals, with additional instrumentation that takes away some of the charm in place of a easily danceable rhythm. Noodle's prominent vocals on the chorus makes for an irresistible earworm and one of the best moments in all of Gorillaz's discography.

Outkast | Elevators (Me & You) | ATLiens | 1996

Few will ever question Outkast's place amongst the top tier of Hip-Hop artists, but what's often gone unnoticed is their excellence in the field of production. Few tracks were actually flashy, but where their bread and butter resided was in their minimalistic approach, case in point 'Elevators (Me & You),' where nothing more than a bass and hi-hats carried the spacious atmosphere. It was also a perfect showing of 'Kast's impeccable record of distinguishable choruses and classic verses. That chorus, one of the smoothest in Hip-Hop to date, is now sported on merchandise as its gone down in music lore. The verses interspersed between features numerous classic lines, including Dre's entire third verse, which sees the story of an ignorant fan who glorifies Dre's life while ignoring the problems he himself has. As always, the flow is on point, making 'Elevators' one of Outkast's most well-rounded tracks.

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

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