Favorite Songs of 2016

Better late than never: Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2016; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

Fronteras, by Gaby Moreno on Ilusion
Million Reasons, by Lady Gaga on Joanne
Lady Wood, by Tove Lo on Lady Wood
Move Your Body, by Sia on This Is Acting
Hold My Hand, by Jess Glynne on I Cry When I Laugh
Until the Day Dims (Heavy Hands Remix), by The Woodlands on Heavy Hands Remix
Gimmie Love, by Carly Rae Jepsen on Emotion
A Happy Place, by Katie Melua on The House
Fight Song, by Rachel Platten on Wildfire
School Friends, by Now, Now on Threads
James, by Maggie Rogers on Blood Ballet
We’ve Only Just Begun, by the Carpenters on The Essential Collection
Open, by Rhye on Woman
Hold You Tonight, by The Woodlands on Gems and Bones
Hollywood, by Grouplove on Big Mess
Almost Makes Me Wish for Rain, by Lucius on Good Grief
Still Falling for You, by Ellie Goulding on Bridget Jones’s Baby Soundtrack
Used to Love You, by Gwen Stefani on This Is What the Truth Feels Like
Mayhem, by Imelda May on Mayhem
Lone Ranger, by Rachel Platten on Wildfire
Maybe This Christmas, by Tracey Thorn on Tinsel and Lights
She’s Got You, by Rhiannon Giddens on Tomorrow Is My Turn

The highlight this year is Tove Lo’s “Lady Wood,” which has some serious sonic landscapes.  Tove Lo also wrote another song here, the Ellie-Goulding-helmed “Still Falling for You.”  Ms. Lo is at the top of her game.

Gifts from 2015: BookDragon’s Top 25, NYT’s The Year in Illustration

I missed these two nice mentions before 2015 came to an end:

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center’s BookDragon named Love Love as one of its top 25 of 2015.  Here’s what it had to say about it:

Love Love by Sung J. Woo proves that jaw-dropping dysfunction can make for some spectacular Schadenfreude.

Over at The New York Times, they picked a handful of best graphics for their The Year in Illustration list and guess what was there…

None other than the fantastic artwork by Jun Cen for my Opinionator piece back in April.

Thank you, 2015.  You were the gift that kept giving until the very last day.

Favorite Songs of 2015

“I hope the world sees the same person that you’ve always been to me / And may all your favorite bands stay together”

Here’s a list of my top songs for this year, in an order that might be surprisingly mixable. These are not necessarily from 2015; I just happened to have heard them in the last twelve months.

When We Were Young, by Adele on 25
Budapest, by George Ezra on Wanted on Voyage
Jealousy, by Pet Shop Boys on Behaviour
I Can Change, by Brandon Flowers on The Desired Effect
Clearest Blue, by Chvrches on Every Open Eye
Want to Want Me, by Jason Derulo on Everything Is 4
Fire Under My Feet, by Leona Lewis on I Am
Queen of Peace, by Florence + the Machine on How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
All Your Favorite Bands, by Dawes on All Your Favorite Bands
Karen Don’t Be Sad, by Miley Cyrus on Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz
Farmer’s Road, by Telekenisis on Ad Infinitum
Capable of Anything (8 Chamber Rock Song Featuring yMusic), by Ben Folds on So There
Superheated, by New Order on Music Complete
Talk About You, by Mika on No Place in Heaven
Just Like Me, by Betty Who on Take Me When You Go
Cradle to the Grave, by Squeeze on Cradle to the Grave
Crystals, by Of Monsters and Men on Beneath the Skin
Wherever Is Your Heart, by Brandi Carlile on The Firewatcher’s Daughter
Missing You, by All Time Low on Future Hearts
Nobody, by Selena Gomez on Revival

The snippet under the heart up there is from Dawes’ “All Your Favorite Bands,” whose lyrics seem apt to mention as my own favorite band, New Order, pretty much broke up forever this year (they put out a new album, but without one of their key founding members).  Musically, the highlight this year is Mika’s “Talk About You,” which never fails to put a smile on my face.

95.9 FM, the Fish, Driving Through Beverly Hills

bh

I’m driving a rental in L.A.  It’s a Ford Focus, the cheapest thing I could find.  Still has way more power than my Prius, so I still feel like I’m redlining every time I press the gas pedal.  This Focus has Microsoft SYNC, which is supposed to make connections to smartphones via Bluetooth bulletproof, except my phone, for whatever reason, will not connect.

So I’ve been relegated to listening to the radio.  After clicking through the channels, the one I found I liked the best was 95.9 FM, the Fish.  I found myself liking just about every song from this station.  It might be because many of them have these soaring melodies, almost Jim Steinmanian (that’s the guy who wrote those Meatloaf sagas, plus Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” etc.).  And then the DJ came on, Delilah, and she was talking about such deep, meaningful things, about the difficulties of life, the elusiveness of salvation, how we can find ourselves in this confusing universe of ours.  Wow, was this a cool station or what?  So very different.  Must be an L.A. thing.

And then came on a commercial about a movie I’d never heard before, War Room.

On the outside, Tony and Elizabeth Jordan seem to have it all—great jobs, a beautiful daughter and their dream home. But their appearances are deceiving: Tony relishes in his professional success and flirts with temptation, while Elizabeth resigns herself to increasing bitterness. Their marriage is on the verge of crumbling until their lives take an unexpected turn. When Elizabeth meets Miss Clara, she challenges Elizabeth to create a battle plan of prayer for her family by establishing a “war room.” This new film from the Kendrick brothers is a vivid reminder that prayer is powerful weapon.

The next song that came on was Carrie Underwood’s “Jesus Take the Wheel,” and then I finally realized I’ve been listening to a Christian Rock station.

One strange thing about me is that I hardly ever listen to the lyrics of any song.  If I like a song a lot, then I’ll eventually pick up on the lyrics, but even with those, it’s entirely possible I just learn the words on a pure sound level; i.e., my brain isn’t actually processing anything.

Even stranger?  I’m still listening to the Fish.  What can I say, I like the music.