10 Songs Recently Played on My iPod

I know, iPod, right? So dated.

  1. “Two Lights,” Five for Fighting
    • The lyrics of this song are hard to grasp without contextual information, but with this information they are candid, without being cliché, and not so figurative as to draw attention to their poeticality. John Ondrasik’s greatest virtue remains his ability to write meaningful lyrics, especially in the void of 21st century pop. 
  2. “Bedshaped,” Keane
    • A stylistic accomplishment, “Bedshaped” is a controlled performance of lyrical depth, flawless in its delivery, with an underlying suppleness reminiscent of Coldplay. 
  3. “Fast Car,” Tracy Chapman
    • More than just a song to listen to as you’re driving down the highway at night, “Fast Car” possesses that narrative quality that songs today lack, while boasting the voice of a singular artist. 
  4. “You’re the Inspiration,” Chicago
    • Chicago is an underrated, if overselling, band, and ‘80s Chicago is, in all its sentimentality, my favorite. What makes “You’re the Inspiration” the biggest hit to come out of the period is the interplay of its voices, the balancing and counterbalancing of melody and harmony. The layering of voices gives the song depth, while Peter Cetera’s lead commands but never overshadows. 
  5. “Unwell,” Matchbox Twenty
    • How can you not love the opening motif? The transitions are seamless, and vocal artistry is hardly a problem for Rob Thomas. 
  6. “Sunny Came Home,” Shawn Colvin
    • The lyrics of “Sunny Came Home” don’t quite match the tenor of the accompaniment, resulting in a work that undermines and ironizes itself—which is the brilliance of the song. It’s also a better revenge song than Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats” (nothing against Carrie). 
  7. “Chasing Cars,” Snow Patrol
    • A minimalist pop song seems like a contradiction, but “Chasing Cars” makes it work with its sensitivity to dynamic and layering, and with its sparse, haiku-like lyrics. 
  8. “Hotel California,” The Eagles
    • An effortless song in every way. Neither overdone nor underdone, “Hotel California” represents the best of ‘70s rock and claims impressive staying power. 
  9. “Drops of Jupiter,” Train
    • An example of a song with meaningful, if self-consciously grandiose, lyrics. “Drops of Jupiter” dabbles in metaphor and hyperbole, which works with the its charismatic singer and sweeping, orchestral accompaniment. The song, which recalls The Beatle’s “Hey Jude,” is more affecting for its compression (I’ve always found the postlude of “Hey Jude” protracted), its command of the metaphor, and the earnestness of its delivery, which is never less than convincing. 
  10. “What a Wonderful World,” Louis Armstrong
    • Can you argue with a classic?