It’s hard to separate between my favorite videos and my favorite songs. Luckily, only one of these videos actually makes it into my favorite videos of the year, most of which also deserve to be on this list. I had to find a middle ground, don’t want to repeat myself more than I already do. In addition to the embedded videos I have added links to all the songs in the so-called honorable mentions (more on that below). If you want to take a look at the list of albums from which many of these songs come from, check here. So enough with the very short preamble and lets get on with the music.
Courtney Barnett – “Depreston”
I wrote about this song earlier this year, said my peace, and still I cannot stop adoring this song. “Depreston” speaks so much to the fear and axiety associated with change and growing up/old. it’s the most sincere song on the new slacker bible that is the album, all the while delivering its message with shy subtly. Barnett never outward exclaims “this is scary”, but it stead pushes outward into the possible new home and its former inhabitant. It’s a sad and lonesome song that doesn’t really offer an overtly positive conclusion, but still feels hopeful for something better.
Grimes – “Kill V. Maim”
This is could be abuot to very different things. One it could be a complex commentary about the roles society places on people, in this case the machismo, violence, and power associated with men and the preciousness linked to women. The song constantly chants out “Cause I’m only a man, do what I can”, simultaneously speaking to the inability to be anything more than what is expected and invoking irony due to the unrelenting privilege associated with men. Images of violence are strewn throughout, showing everyone, including the perpurtryors of violence, being unable to be control it.
Or it’s about a shapeshifting genderfluid vampire alien version of Al Pacino as Michael Corleone. Y’know what, let’s just say it’s both.
Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA”
Josh Tillman’s ode to lies, disappointments, and sadness of a typical American life is one of the more heart breaking songs of the year. Tillman blithely sings about the expectations of the American Dream and how the don’t really live up to the hype. Every instance of normalcy is treated with wry sarcasm and a sense of utter defeat. “Is this the part where I get all I ever wanted?/Who said that?/Can I get my money back?” is a great example of how completely disillusioned Tillman is with the expected life. The best moment comes toward the end of the son where a useless education is meat with prerecorded laughter. “Bored in the USA”, like many other of my favorite songs offers no solution to the problems at hand, instead lamenting everything with the question of “How did this happen?” I’m sure, but hopefully we’ll figure it out.
Jamie XX – “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times)” ft. Young Thug & Popcaan
Seriously, I don’t know what to say about this song other than its fucking good. From and inspired sample of The Persuasions, to Popcaan carrying the good times chants to the modern era, to Young Thug being as dirty as he can be (actually he can get dirtier, but this just enough), it all just flows. There is no better better party anthem this year. Just plain fun in every possible way.
Kurt Vile – “Pretty Pimpin'”
It’s pretty easy to write off Kur Vile’s lyrics, especially considering how so many of them blantanly ask you to that very thing. However, doing that would deprive you of some really interesting imagery and themes. “Pretty Pimpin’” is a prime example. The song finds itself torn between two selves. One is the younger version of Vile, who deemed as cute and looking absentminded despite truly being anything but. The other self is an older version of Vile, aching for the days when he was his younger and brasher self. The juxtaposition between the two is tense until they realize they are one in the same, still wearing the same pimpin’ clothes. The never truly song settles on either one, finding Vile still in the middle of the two, if anything leaning a little more towards being the older version as the songs fades to the repeating line of “I woke up this morning, didn’t recognize the boy in the mirror”.
Honorable Mentions (not really, I mean these pretty much are a continuation of my top songs but I lost track of time and didn’t get to write more about them…especially that sufjan stevens track…sorry…this parentheses is really long)
More duality, this time around dealing with self betterment and self destruction. The two songs blend together so perfectly that it would be a shame to listen to them apart. Green spends part one dealing with her desire to take responsibility for her life, while part two details the things in her head sending her to succumb to all the bad things in her life.
This song was the one that sounded most like Sleater Kinney before the left. It’s loud, intense, and Corin Tucker’s voice is immaculate.
John Darnielle captures the child like wonderment and a need for justice perfectly. With one line, “You let me down but Chavo never once did”, Darnielle turns the song from a love letter to wrestling into an indictment towards his stepfather. Every glancing blow becomes a direct punch to the gut.
Banal lives. Superfical. Everything repeats. All the same. People are boring. People are boring. People are boring. People are boring. This band is good. This band is good. This band is good. This band is good. This band is good. And so is that big, “Beautiful Blue Sky”. I’m no longer afraid to die. Cause that is all that I have left. Yessssssss.
On an album full of pain and grief, this song hit me the hardest. Drugs, death, faith, self destruction, fear, and voice at its most fragile make this one stand out above the rest. Within moments of hearing the slight hum of an air conditioner in the background and Steven’s painfully eek out words, I began to cry. Its that good, plus there’s a Casper reference. Everybody loves a Casper reference. (I joke so that I won’t cry.)