If anyone here has read the book High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, they would know that I am way too much like the main character in that book. I constantly rank things and say ridiculous, hyperbolic, and 100% accurate nonsense like “SpongeBob Squarepants (seasons 1-3) is literally the best television program of all time, followed by Jeopardy!, Seinfeld, The Leftovers, Game of Thrones.”
Every month this year, I will curate a list like this, ranking my favorite tracks of the month.
For this month, and every other month, I’m going to separate the pool of 31 or 30 or however many songs into tiers.
This month is going to be divided into five tiers because that’s just how it worked out. I’ll start with the lowest tier (which is still featuring AMAZING music) and work my way to the top. Here we go.
I’ll include a brief explanation as to why I love the song below.
The Game of Thrones Tier:
31. “Retrograde” – Maggie Rogers
The chorus and, in particular, her vocal wail, which are so vintage Maggie Rogers. She’s on here thrice–more than anyone else.
30. “Deadass” – Kemba
The bass line. SHEESH!
29. “Exits” – Foals
It’s so New Order and soooo “Shout” by Tears for Fears. Plus the video has Bran Stark. Perfect fit for the GOT tier.
28. “Never Alone” – White Lies
The drum energy. Reminds me of the tetherball song from the end of Napoleon Dynamite. “The Promise” by When in Rome, by the way. I definitely knew the name of the tetherball song. I just wanted to call it the tetherball song.
27. “F&N” – Future
The beat change. Duh.
26. “By Myself” – FIDLAR
The juxtaposition. It’s a crazy-dark premise that’s presented like a bar anthem, which I find endearing. Get some help, guy.
25. “Friendzone” – Huron John
The chorus, which is 47 levels of cute-as-hell. Makes me want to buy a PS3, which would actually be the most modern console I own. I have a PS2, and my prized possession. . . my Nintendo 64 with Pokemon Stadium 2, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros.
24. “Red Bull & Hennessy” – Jenny Lewis
Her sinister little “HAAAAALLELuuuuuuu” at :25. You know you’ve got a badass on your hands, and J-Lew is certainly that.
The Leftovers Tier:
23. “Let Go” – Aaron May
The immediate stankface provided by the beat. The video, which was produced by the seventeen-year-old Austin rapper, is neat. Give me more Aaron May.
22. “Tuesday” – Malibu Ken
Experimental hip-hop can wield some bananaland results. “Tuesday” is NUTS. A microcosm for what cool experimental hip-hop can be. The hook provided by the intro is truly insane.
21. “Freelance” – Toro y Moi
The best Daft Punk song of the year so far.
20. “Gallipoli” – Beirut
The horns at :32 make me feel like I’m watching a scene in an A24 movie where a teenage Latin boy is pedaling his bicycle in the calles of Spain.
19. “I/m Not Here [missing face]” – The Twilight Sad
To be honest, this album is so damn good that I don’t even fragment the album into songs, but moments. I like the moment on this album that’s called “I/m Not Here [missing face].”
18. “CAN’T LET GO” – Luke Christopher
This dude is releasing a song a WEEK for a YEAR. I’ve loved two of them so far, out of the 7 or 8 I’ve heard. One was from 2018, but this cut really rules. I really dig the guitar buildup feeding into the chorus. Also, the choral melody is “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
17. “Old Man” – Stella Donnelly
My favorite part is when she rips on old rich dudes for being pervs. I like that part.
The Seinfeld Tier:
16. “Overnight” – Maggie Rogers
Maggie Rogers is my lock screen image. She’s also my home screen image. Folks, Maggie Rogers? More like Maggie Rog-hers. I’m hers. Folks. Folks.
Also the chorus is ridiculous.
15. “After You Comes the Flood” – MONO
Japanese post-rock band MONO (coolest collection of words I’ve ever assembled in writing) really take their time here to craft a seriously layered, multi-faceted, KILLER rock song. Instrumentals, when done right, often reap larger rewards than songs with vocals, in part because the music really gets a chance to shine. Here, they do.
14. “La Vie En Rose” – Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus sings in French.
13. “You Mean Everything” – The XCERTS
This would be the biggest song of 1996. Totally unapologetic pop-rock.
12. “Dylan Thomas” – Better Oblivion Community Center
I love their harmonies. Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst make some great rock n’ roll. Or should I say. . . (a pun is coming and it’s going to be really bad). . .
B.O.C.C. n’ roll????
11. “Orange Juice” – Lostboycrow
“Belief is a telescope that nobody taught you how to hold” SMACKS. What a great lyric. Plus, the lo-fi vocals really mesh with the melody. I wish his EP was all this good. It’s O.K., Lostboycrow. You’ll find your boycrow again, I’m sure.
The JEOPARDY! Tier:
10. “Juice” – Lizzo
The best Bruno Mars song ever.
9. “No Parachutes” – OWEL
The strings at :20 evoke such strong feelings of Arcade Fire nostalgia. Ugh. Can’t wait to watch OWEL take off and soar***.
8. “Yellow Bike” – Pedro the Lion
“My kingdom for someone to ride with” — the perfect indie rock guitar licks — “I’d trade my kingdom for someone to ride with. . .”
And sticks the landing.
7. “WHEN I WAS OLDER” – Billie Eilish
Every additional layer adds something totally transfixing. What a remarkably ENTRANCING song. Billie Eilish is going to be freaking huge. Those that think this isn’t Radiohead-level inventiveness just aren’t listening.
The SpongeBob Squarepants (seasons 1-3) Tier:
6. “Uncomfortably Numb” – American Football & Hayley Williams (Paramore)
Hayley’s line toward the end–“Comatose, like father like son.” I’m not sure there is a more gutting lyric this year so far.
5. “Monster” – dodie
This song really is kind of miraculous. Everything about it works so well. It’s also so distinctly of the moment sonically.
4. “When I’m With Him – Perfume Genius Cover” – Empress Of, Perfume Genius, Jim-E Stack
How sparingly Perfume Genius implements percussion, but uses it to pound my body into a fine powder.
3. “VTr” – The Twilight Sad
My favorite song on my favorite album since Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass in 2017.
How it’s not my favorite song of January is surprising, but it should illustrate just how remarkable the whole album is. It’s truly a nonstop adrenaline trip.
2. “Say It” – Maggie Rogers
I contend that the chorus to this song is still the best moment of music of the year so far. Maggie Rogers looks like she would fit in at Woodstock in 1969 but makes THIS. I’d pay $20 (I’m a teacher and this isn’t monetized) to watch Pharrell’s reaction to this.
1. “Seventeen” – Sharon Van Etten
Throw Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, and Winona Rider into a Nutribullet. Or maybe just invoke the Polyjuice Potion by plucking a hair from all three. Either way, some odd combination of the three made Sharon Van Etten. Her song “Seventeen” features the grandiosity of the Boss, the chutzpah of Stevie, and the ready-to-detonate quality of Winona Rider into one completely perfect rock song. The live versions include the same vocal explosion as the studio version, but with every vein popping out in her neck and forehead like the meme of the kid at his desk.