Here are five more songs to finish off my playlist:
6. Blame It On the Boogie, The Jacksons. When Michael Jackson died in September, I was one of the many people who was shocked by the news. And when the radio was flooded with Michael's songs, I discovered this little gem. I think it's been overlooked because it's not a Jackson 5 song and it wasn't on a solo album. It was by The Jacksons - an in-between project that didn't get as much recognition. Still, it's a fun disco tune with a great bass line and fun harmonies. And you can really hear the joy in Michael's voice as he takes the lead on this one. He really had fun with this song.
7. Human by The Killers. I first heard this on the radio and thought I had discovered a new song by The Cure, but was surprised to learn that it was from The Killers, for whom I previously did not care. That soaring melody got me first but the ambiguous and cryptic lyrics really drew me in. "Are we human or are we dancer?" My interpretation is that he's talking about the cathartic moment where an artist transcends the physical and becomes indistinguishable from his or her art as a pure force of creativity. I've been fortunate to experience that several times and it's the goal for any musician, artist, dancer, poet, or performer. To witness it as an audience is amazing as well.
8. Every Day I Write the Book by Elvis Costello. Speaking of really good lyrics, here's Elvis Costello. He's comparing being in love to writing a book and keeps coming up with clever ways to spin the metaphor further and further. I like that the music doesn't compete with the lyrics - it's just a cool, simple groove that isn't over-embellished or over-produced. The music is great and the lyrics are great and they come together to make something really special.
9. It Must Be Love by Madness. This half of the list is really leaning on the oldies. Kids, Madness was a ska band from England back in the 80's. They were a lot of fun and influenced people like Gwen Stefani and Dave Matthews. This wistful, romantic song is one of their best, with honest, sincere lyrics, a strong backbeat, and a really fun arrangement. I adore the pizzicato strings (via keyboard) and that fantastic bass line with the triplets just brightens my day. In fact, all the elements - piano, bass, drums, horns, xylophone, keyboards - are such wonderful elements independently that it gives the whole song a loose, improvisational feel while still holding together as a whole. Just like two people in love - separate but one, independent but working together.
10. Speakers Funk by Giant Panda. These guys made my list last year and I had to include them again. They have a great flow, a strong focus on the music, and they keep the old-school style alive. And it's a song about music - about the joy of finding a great new song and listening to it in your car at high volume. And really, that's a great summary of this list. I hope you've found some of that joy for yourself!