The year was far from radical but we did get some great, middle-of-the-ground songs that indicate how great next year will be. Here goes the third part, #41-60: the 'soul music' edition...
41. Countdown (Beyonce)
: hearkens back to two decades earlier but still comes out fresh. Beyonce, never one known for such emotional reach, connects effortlessly.
42. Novacane (Frank Ocean):
hip-hop soul’s response to The Rolling Stones’ Sister Morphine, Ocean unveils the type of career woman he’d link to shack up with…and the consequences thereof.
43. Underground Kings (Drake):
kudos to Bun B to be the first to recognize this track’s greatness, as Drake documents the restlessness of youth and his own personal anxieties over an outstanding flow.
44. Doorstep (Tune-Yards):
inspired partially by the controversial police-shooting of Oscar Grant two years ago (‘don't tell me the cops are right in a wrong like this’), Doorstep is a turning point in our relationship with Merrill Garbus. Now we’re really listening to her words, parsing their every meaning for the political message hidden beneath the sweet delivery.
45. Coming Down (The Weeknd):
manages to find the right line between sex appeal and sexual imagery. It’s a new disposition we’ve seen heavily this year, perhaps a nod to the path unearthed years before by R. Kelly but, thankfully, The Weeknd manages to swill some well-needed D’angelo into the mix and that adds a stunning new coat to the formula he presents us with.
46. Battery Kinzie (Fleet Foxes):
a cheer on any winter day but also the affirming way Pecknold holds on to the notes seethes with more than just emotional ambiguity.
47. Video Games (Lana del Rey):
the comparisons to Nancy Sinatra aside, one definitely sees the strains of doom that gripped Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black working itself into this frantic ballad.
48. Call Me Tonight (Active Child):
he focuses solely on weaving an otherworldly falsetto over electronic-tinged landscapes, something like a night time Justin Vernon.
49. Mother’s Meat (Dead Rider):
a little Xiu Xiu influence never hurt anyone and when lead vocalist, Todd Rittmann throws in some Bowie-esque theatrics then the full effect of this treat is enhanced beyond measure.
50. Seafarer (Tennis):
Allison Moore knows how to juxtapose her voice to atmospherics and create harmony, instead of being drowned out. She may be calling out to her love for his return but next time she’ll make sure to be a part of the journey.
51. Trip (Vacationer):
simple pop ode dressed up in a woozy bass-line for the weary jet-setter or when the voices in your head are drowning you in negativity. And to think this is merely a side project for the group when feeling especially experimental!
52. Get Some (Lykke Li):
as she sings, this is indeed like a lonely lover’s charm and who can get past the most quotable line of all songs this year, ‘I’m your prostitute/ you’re gonna get some’.
53. Wake & Be Fine (Okkervil River):
written by the band as a testament to childhood memories, they’ve uncovered a beautiful train-wrech that you can’t keep your eyes off.
54. That’s My Bitch (Jay Z & Kanye West):
royal boys night out and though the album itself didn’t redefine hip/hop, there’s no rule against these famous men from spitting out an elegantly-wasted joint once in a while.
55. Some Children (Holy Ghost):
after a surprise turn in Department of Eagles’ While You Wait for The Others, soul crooner Michael McDonald turns up here and, as unlikely as it is, strikes gold again among pre-programmed beats galore.
56. Out of this World (ASAP Rocky):
sure there’s swag here but ASAP Rocky constructs his tale deftly with so many life references that one can’t help but getting hooked immediately.
57. The Muse (Laura Marling):
a Fiona Apple-ish effort that works as well as shows the burgeoning maturity that is seeping out of this precocious singer/songwriter.
58. Just Don’t (Raphael Saadiq feat. Yukimi Nakano):
breezy bluesy jam that allows Saadiq to suffuse his own type of Prince mastery unto lyrical pyrotechnics.
59. Savage Night at the Opera (Destroyer):
there’s a scene in an early Harry Potter film where the gang are trying to decide if music could be used to lull the fierce guard dog blocking the Chamber of Secrets. Here, Dan Bejar has provided us with just the song for such an occasion.
60. Plath Heart (Braids):
a booming, sorrowful sound reverberating nicely. No doubt for the doomed American poet but the rubbed-down electronics at the end really does bleed one’s heart.