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Friday, January 15, 2010

Millennium Playlist Day Five: #20-1

20. Elkland - Apart (2005)
Best bit - 0:49 That fractured, staccato second half of the chorus.

19. The Sounds - Dance With Me (2002)
Best bit - 0:00 One of my favorite synth hooks of the 00's.

18. The Callahan - Melody That Counts (2005)
Best bit - 1:48 Comes back more aggressive than ever. Love the lyrics in this song.

17. Melody Club - Baby (Stand Up) (2004)
Best bit - 0:00 The breezy, wordless hook that opens the song. Perfection.

16. Scissor Sisters - Take Your Mama (2004)
Best bit - 1:02 When the electric guitar comes in, signaling the chorus, resistance is futile.

15. Daggers - Money (2007)
Best bit - 0:39 What a freakin' chorus. I mean... c'mon!

14. The Mo (with Kris Le Mans) - Nostalgia Locomotive (2004)
Best bit - 3:01 The ending of this is transporting. The drums, the harmonies. So beautiful.

13. Bodies Without Organs - Sunshine In The Rain (2005)
Best bit - 1:17 When those Beach Boys-esque harmonies join the verses.

12. Delays - Lost In A Melody (2004)
Best bit - 0:01 Okay, so maybe this is the most striking synth hook of the 00's?

11. Melody Club - Take Me Away (2004)
Best bit - 2:39 The funky guitar adds yet another hook to a song already infused with them.

20-11 by milproj3

10. The Similou - All This Love (2004)
I first heard this song in conjunction with the video and was taken with the bright colors, the keytar and the scenery straight out of Super Mario, so it's hard to separate the image and the music. Even without the visuals, it's one of the sunniest, happiest songs I've ever heard. Surprisingly, the lyrics are actually pretty dark and depressing. Come to think of it, a lot of my favorite songs are like this. There's a contrast that I find very provocative in a pop song (see track #3 for an even better example). I can't think of anything else that sounds like this. The vocals, the bubbling synths. It's one of a kind.

9. Moneybrother - They're Building Walls Around Us (2005)
One of the biggest sounding songs I've heard, Moneybrother took about five hundred string ensembles and worked them to the bone. It adds up to something as adrenaline-fueling as a good action movie. It grabs you right from the start and keeps building until it reaches the frantic climax. It's the best use of strings in a pop song that I can remember, and totally galvanized this guy's career. It will rightfully be considered his masterpiece.

8. The Ark - Calleth You, Cometh I (2003)
Galloping. Sheer, unbridled joy. I'm not even writing in full sentences here, but you get the idea. From the two and a half minute on, it's the best thing the Ark has ever recorded, and may just be the best musical experience of all time. It is literally the sound of Heaven opening up. I'm not sure if you can fully experience it unless you've been to one of the band's concerts and heard an entire audience singing this back. Chills. Total chills.

7. The Ark - Father Of A Son (2003)
Probably the ballsiest, most controversial song on my list. I don't think the Ark always get the credit they deserve for their lyrics. They're a pop band, yes, but the things Ola writes about, and the way he tackles them, are unique, important and, more often than not... pretty damn life-affirming. This is a big fuck you in the faces of many, and done with a sense of fun and panache that makes it completely irresistible. It's the best example of gutsy glam rock that the decade has to offer.

6. Melody Club - Electric (2002)
Melody Club have a lot of great songs, but if I were to pick one that encompasses them completely, it would be Electric. It's one of the brightest, most anthemic songs of the decade. If I'm in need of a song that'll make me feel good, this is the one I choose. It's about dancing, and really nothing more than that. And if you're gonna release an ode to dancing, you better be sure that it makes people wanna get up. I can't imagine anyone sitting down to this. It's so massive. The chorus was ripped from the stars, I swear.

5. The Ark - It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane (2001)
This was the single that introduced the Ark (who, if you hadn't guessed it by now, are my band of the decade) to the Swedish and International public. It's still their rallying cry, a timeless message delivered in an impossibly dynamic, dramatic way. Lyrically, Ola's at his best here, crafting an anthem for anybody who ever felt different (aka: everybody). It's one of those songs that, when I first heard it, I swore was a remake of some older hit. It has that timeless quality to it, a melody and sentiment that's universal.

4. Laakso - Norrköping (2007)
A television season's worth of coming-of-age drama condensed into a three minute pop song, this has some of my favorite imagery of any pop song. It was never a single, but remains my favorite track in Laakso's stellar catalog. It represents everything I love about this band. They're storytellers, but more than that they manage to put their finger on a certain type of mood. They're masters at conveying the emotional battlefield of adolescence and early adulthood and setting it to music that's as varied and unpredictable as the lyrics. This track in particular obviously comes from a personal space. It's nostalgia done right, with just a little bit of sentimentality.

3. Delays - Valentine (2006)
A damn near post-apocalyptic love song set in a New Orleans under the impending threat of Hurricane Katrina. Conversely, one of the sunniest sounding pop songs of the decade. Completely original. And listen to the album version, I beg you. The single release loses all momentum. It's like ripping out the climax of a novel before you read it. This came and went when it was released in early 2006, and is one of the most under appreciated singles of the past few years. It's a moving, cinematic pop song of the highest caliber, and really epitomizes what this type of music is capable of if pushed to the limits.

2. The Mo - The Right World (2004)
This song, along with one or two others on the countdown, was the inspiration for starting this blog. This is the song that changed the musical landscape for me. I discovered the Mo and Melody Club on the same night, a few months after listening to the Ark's first two albums. It's when I really discovered Swedish pop music for the first time, and more specifically, the exact genre of music that really connects with me. It's reminiscent, in ways, of Europe's The Final Countdown, a song that (according to my parents) I was OBSESSED with as a toddler. This is even better, though. Flawless. The synths, guitar, drums, lyrics. Everything comes together perfectly. I've played it hundreds of times, but each time it's like that first night I heard it. It still gives me shivers.

1. The Ark - One Of Us Is Gonna Die Young (2004)
Oh god, where to start? This is just everything, isn't it? The Ark writes songs about the big picture. Life and death. On first look, this is a fun, simple pop song, but the lyrics are something else. The twisting of Summer and mortality, youth culture and higher purpose. It's a c'est la vie type of song, but it's one that really gets it and, in turn, yanks you off your butt and convinces you to go do something. And, on top of all that, it's... well... a fun, simple pop song. Not easy to pull off, but this ticks every box. And did I mention the drums? The fill that leads into the final chorus is as rattling as a round of bullets.

10-1 by alienhits

(Music posted for evaluation purposes only. If you like what you hear, support the artists. Follow me on twitter and facebook)

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6 Comments:

Blogger Poster Girl said...

"Norrköping" appearing here is SO deserved. I'll never get over it not being a single, not being heard by many more people. Fantastic list (of course)--I genuinely adore all the top five songs in a timeless way, though personally "It Takes A Fool To Remain Sane" is probably the Ark song that moves me the most ("One Of Us" is probably my second favorite of their songs...well, "Calleth You Cometh I" ranks up there too). "Valentine"--"of the highest caliber" is exactly right.

6:29 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

this countdown has been immense! I have really enjoyed it and you will be pleased to know that it got me playing some old Ark albums and purchasing some Melody Club :)

4:38 AM  
Anonymous Jes said...

Wow, I love your website. Keep it coming!

And this new way of streaming the music is wonderful. Makes it a lot easier to hear the songs.
Such good music!

10:08 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

PG: I credit you for initially introducing me to Norrköping and bringing my attention to Laakso as a group worth listening to. So glad I bought the album. It's really one of my favorites of all time.

Paul: That's all I can ask for! What Melody Club did you buy? And there's nothing better than classic Ark. I consider it my duty to get as many people into them as possible :)

Jes: I'm glad you like the new streaming method. I think it's a lot easier, too. I like not having to click onto an outside link.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Tom Q Public said...

A lot of Delays songs on your countdown, I noticed. I spotted "You See Colours" in the used rack at the local store a couple weeks ago and I think it was from your blogging about them that I chose to pick it up. Glad I did ... I'm starting to like them ... and it was only $5.99, so looking at Amazon's Marketplace prices, I seem to have gotten it for a steal! Thanks for introducing me to them! ;-)

-T

7:32 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Congrats! I don't think the album was even released in the States, so that's quite a find! (though who would return/sell it, I have no idea)

7:40 PM  

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