Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top 10 CDs of 2010

As with the books, these are CDs I've discovered in 2010, not necessarily ones released this year. Also not ordered in any specific way.

Speak Now

I'm a little predictable. If asked to guess what my favorite CD would be in January I probably would have said "Whatever Taylor's new CD is." But I have very specific reasons for loving this CD. The song "Never Grow Up" resonated with me immediately, since I'm balancing trying not to grow up faster than I'm ready, and "Long Live" went on repeat the night after the closing night of Cabaret. Since we're close in age, a lot of what she says I understand, even though our lives are so different. Judge me if you wish, but I love Taylor Swift.

 A Curious Thing

Sometimes when you really love an artist with one CD, you're almost afraid of their sophomore record. I was like that with Amy's second release, coming three years after 2007's This is the Life. That was the CD I toted (metaphorically) around Europe with me, that took me back to buses late at night across the UK and the bar at a hostel in Amsterdam.

A Curious Thing did not disappoint. Amy's deep Scottish voice burrowed into my soul again. Like the first CD, it's a lot about show-business, but also life and being a success. Knowing what that means for you. And if nothing else, her cover of Dancing in the Dark is worth the entire album.

Automatic for the People

I discovered R.E.M. in general this year. AftP is the CD that has "Nightswimming" on it, and that song started my R.E.M. obsession. I'd had the Best of R.E.M. on my iTunes for years, but it wasn't until Ingrid Michaelson did a version of the song at the House of Blues Boston:

That I discovered this song. It worked its way into my head, and my manuscript, and I immediately went to Newbury Comics to find more R.E.M. I love their lyrics, the melody of their voices and the fact that they're unabashedly sentimental at some points, rocking at others.

Yes, Virginia

This is a little bit cheating because it's not like I hadn't listened to this at all before this year. I never appreciated it. All my love for Amanda Palmer, but I barely gave the time of day to the band that started her. Big mistake. The songs are as intelligent, emotional and slightly bizarre. When I heard them live, songs spoke to me in a way they never had. The words were what I felt. Brian's drumming makes you appreciate the drums like nothing I've heard before. They're simply amazing


Need You Now

Months after the titular single went up the charts, the album is still there too. "Need You Now" is definitely not the only song worth singing here, and maybe not even the best one. I don't usually like country-- not the heavy kind-- but I love the simple lyrics and emotion in Lady Antebellum's music. The fiddle doesn't hurt either. (Note: Not to be confused with Lady GaGa, whom I also love).


Marry Me
Mentioned by Jennifer Donnelly in Revolution, St. Vincent has connections to both Amanda Palmer and Sufjan Stevens, whom she toured with. She's definitely not Christian Rock a la Sufjan. But she's not quite Amanda theatrical. I could see her crooning into the microphone in a cabaret in the forties. We all know I love a cabaret.

Many Great Companions

If you buy one record from my little list, make it this one. Everyone deserves to know Dar, and this retrospective is a great way to start. I've loved her stuff since I was thirteen, listen to it on repeat when I write, and still I come away with something new every time I hear a song. Her lyrics are intelligent, thought-provoking and fun. Her voice is gorgeous, and you can really see how she's evolved when you listen to this album. Also enjoy the voices of those who sing with her, the friends she's picked up along the way. 


A Fine Mess

"Me I'll just fill up on coffee/let the caffeine do the talking" Kate sings in a song about unrequited love. "If I were an English teacher/Maybe I could get you to dance with me". The lyrics and the tune are heartbreaking. But in another track she's swearing against the people who wronged her, a strong, rocking woman. I love both sides of her, and especially this album. I even enjoy her cover of Hallelujah, something that I won't do unless your name is Rufus Wainwright.


The Queen is Dead

Even after I saw (t500) Days of Summer, I wasn't one of those obsessed with The Smiths people. I liked them, sure, but I didn't care much about them. Then I discovered "Sing Me to Sleep" again through Jennifer Donnelly. After that, forget it. Love. Morrissey is an incredible songwriter. I hate that they split up for got, but at the same time, there's enough in three records to keep fans going a long time.


Raise Your Glass (Explicit Version)

Okay, okay, it's a single. But this song so embodies the way I've felt lately, as well as the things the world needs to know. It's okay to be different, it's okay to be "too school for cool". You can still rock out with the chick who's still a rock star. Watch the video. You'll get it. 


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