As a wise man once said, "Frankly, I find music journalism unbelievably tedious – of anything it reminds me more of wine reviews than a media reviews and I can’t fucking stand wine reviews. “Blah blah, hint of summer mildew, and almonds and car exhaust blah blah.” It’s just people saying words." As such I'm not going to try and critique the songs so much as try and give you a taste of them to see if you actually want to spend your time listening.
So without further ado - from Billy Joel to Perfume; from Rise Against to Beirut - I present to ye my Top 25 Most Played on iTunes. This is going to be a long page....
25) Date of Birth - Kanon Nakagawa starring Nao Higashiyama
Taken from the character album of Kanon from Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai (aka The World God Only Knows) it isn't so much a song as an instrumental introduction. Essentially it's just Pachelbel's Canon but with a funky bassline and some "Aah"s over the top, and who can argue with that? I guess the reason it's got so many plays is because it's fairly short but still lively and enjoyable. I also recommend the series to anyone who hasn't heard of it, both manga and anime.
24) Freedom - Blood Stain Child
Reppin' it up for the J-Trance/Metal genre. Don't know what it is exactly I love so much about this song - maybe more tracks should open with "DDDDIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE"? Absolutely brilliant piano breakdown towards the end as well. If you're looking for more J-Trance/Metal, and I'm not sure why you would be, check out 'Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas'
23) That's What I Like About a Country Song - Aaron Watson
Blogger's YouTube search can't actually find this for some strange reason, so here's a link
What list would be complete without a good bit of Country eh? And it doesn't get much more Country than this. The lyrics are just amazing, especially in combination with your typical Country sounds. Actually first heard this guy on the in-server radio on Team Fortress 2. Good times.
22) Anyway You Want It - Rise Against
One of my favourite cover songs ever. Just bringing the throaty Rise Against sound to one of the cheesiest classics. The only downside to listening to this so much, though, is that when you end up walking around singing it people don't know you're singing the Rise Against version....
21) Not I - I Fight Dragons
The first of what will be many tracks by I Fight Dragons in this list. Absolutely excellent band whom I recommend to everyone. Not sure what genre they go by these days, 'Power Pop' I think? They use chiptune from a variety of inputs (including NES Controllers, Gameboys and Rock Band guitars) in their live shows, in conjunction with your typical guitar, bass, drums setup. This song is one of the more down-tempo ones though, a great little chip ballad (if you can call things that?). There's also a video of Brian doing solo vocals to this over just the gameboy here
20) My Eyes - Felicia Day & Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible)
From Joss Whedon's 'Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog' - a masterpiece, if I do say so myself. Love the harmonies in this one. It's in your classic male/female dueling vocalists style that you often find in musicals. There are quite a few songs from Dr. Horrible on this list as well.
19) Brand New Day - Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible)
So here's some more Dr. Horrible. This one gets stuck in my head all the time. The fast-paced verses work really well with the character, and the lyrics (as with all of the Dr. Horrible songs) are genius. This is only song in the show, as I see it, which is pretty much pure evil from Dr. Horrible.
18) Breaking Up With Bret - The Grammar Club
This song is all kinds of crazy-awesome, from Shael Riley's vocals through to the ragtime piano part. The Grammar Club is a collaboration of a few different artists in the nerd-music scene (no offence meant of course guys) including Shael Riley (of Double Ice Backfire half-fame) and Beefy. On one review site I think they described this track as "a Ben Fold's song with a guest rapper", which is pretty classy. Just listen to the lyrics. I very much recommend checking these guys out, both as the Grammar Club and independently.
17) Super Driver - Hirano Aya
We all know this one, naturally, as the opening of the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu. Another incredibly addictive song, from a brilliant anime. Ok, there are some negative associations here with the Endless Eight, but I still love it. Hirano Aya is one of my favourite seiyuu and also one of my favourite Japanese artists, so it all works out.
16) 初音ミクの消失 (aka Disappearance of Hatsune Miku) - Hatsune Miku
VOCALOID! Yes, I'm a fan. What can I say, those incredibly high-pitched, artificial, dulcet tones just strike a metaphorical chord with me is all. This is specifically the live version that's on my list - it's such an amazing concert; a brilliant idea. Only in Japan. Hard to describe why I like this song, but just go and listen to it I suppose. It isn't as grating as a lot of other vocaloid stuff, and it's actually got a really good backing played by real musicians (who seem to be getting very into it) rather than the MIDI stuff you get on original vocaloid tracks.
15) Swing Life Away - Rise Against
This is just a really nice song. A lot of Rise Against stuff sounds very similar, but this is almost like a little aside from their main body of work. Not sure what else I can say about it really.
14) Heaven - Lights and Sounds
Only poor-quality live versions of this on YouTube, which is a shame, but I think you can probably find it on LastFM or something. Also I think the EP with it on was a free download. This is another of my favourite covers of all time. The original literally has nothing on this. I mean, it has tambourine! Saw these guys when they were supporting Breathe Carolina and picked up all their music. Absolutely brilliant band, it's just a shame that soon after I saw them they broke up.
13) Bad Horse Chorus - Jed Whedon, Joss Whedon & Zack Whedon (Dr. Horrible)
I think this sort of speaks for itself.
12) Unemployment - The Grammar Club
Some more Grammar Club for y'all. This is your typical political statement song - Democrats are awesome because they pay us for lying around doing nothing. Can't argue with that. As ever the lyrics are great.
11) The Power of Love - I Fight Dragons
To set the record straight, I can say with certainty that this IS my favourite cover song of all time. I've been known to herald this track as containing "my favourite moment in all music ever", which may be a bit of an exaggeration, but that breakdown going into the guitar solo is just so perfect. This is another case in which the original can't hold a candle to the cover version. Gets you straight from the opening. The guitar in this one is epic - you can count on Packy Lundholm for that.
10) Scenic World - Beirut
Do you have enough accordion in your life? Fix that right here, right now. Your classic little 4-chord ditty, but brilliantly executed. I love the main vocalist's voice.
9) Heads Up, Hearts Down (Acoustic) - I Fight Dragons
This list just seems to be one long advert for I Fight Dragons doesn't it? Well if not then, GO LISTEN TO I FIGHT DRAGONS. That should do it. You can even get this song, along with many more, as a free download if you sign-up to their mailing list. The proper version is very very poppy, and I prefer the acoustic one because you can hear some of the harmonies better and you don't lose out on the chips. Another really nice song.
8) Mahou no Kotoba - MONKEY MAJIK
MONKEY MAJIK may well be my favourite band at the moment, with the classic culture combination of Japanese and Canadian. This is from their latest full album 'westview', which I daresay is one of my favourite album releases. Got the lyrics to the English verse nailed, still working on the Japanese one though.....
7) Just Decide - I Fight Dragons
And here they are again! Feels sort of like a power ballad this one, but not cheesy. Love the chorus line particularly, and the really crisp vocals.
6) Tell Her About It - Billy Joel
Yes, this is definitely out of place here. I can't help it if I love a bit of Billy Joel though. 'Piano Man' is one of the classics, but a bit cliche at this point, and so I've taken a liking to this song. Can't really explain why.
5) Dream Fighter - Perfume
Such a massive contrast following on from Billy Joel. Typical Perfume track - very electronic, very poppy, almost vocaloid-esque vocals etc. I suppose this is a bit of a guilty pleasure, as it flies in the face of the type of music I tend to appreciate (although obviously this in itself is pretty varied), but it's happy and bouncy and thus always worth a listen. Of course the video is taken from the Japanese school of ridiculous music video choreography. You may also fancy checking out the Miku-Miku Dance version of the video, if you're a weirdo like me (here).
4) AMBIENCE - FLOW
Another of my favourite artists and another of my favourite albums. FLOW are probably one of the best-known Japanese bands in the West due to their extensive catalogue of anime openings (including 3 from Naruto alone), and usually slide somewhere in between rock and hip-hop. This album rests much closer to the former category, thankfully enough. This track in particular has a bit of a poppy element in the English chorus line, but otherwise would probably be best described as alternative rock. I'm a big fan of this one.
3) I Gotta Feeling (in 3/4) - Black Eyed Peas (Cesque mix)
You're not finding this one on YouTube. We all know the original I'm assuming. Well, this is just the original but shifted into a 3/4 time signature, i.e. it's taken a step towards being a waltz. After having listened to this so much I can't listen to the original at all now, it just feels wrong - so slow and boring! Musically speaking the original was never very good, but it was catchy. This takes that to the max. Not to mention how it plays havoc with the lyrics. The last section of this track is possibly the most akin to musical comedy as you're going to get. I'll make sure to upload it somewhere so people can have a listen; given Cesque's permission of course. Incidentally, check Cesque's own stuff out here and follow the links to the other external sites.
2) HOME - Inoue Joe 井上 ジョー
Genius behind the 'CLOSER' Naruto Shippuuden opening, Joe Inoue does mainly pop/rock/punk stuff taking influence from both Western and Japanese artists. Granted it's a little cheesy (particularly the video), but I'm a big fan. This one gets stuck in my head for hours on end even without having listened to it, it's that catchy.
Drum roll please.....
1) Wonderland - MONKEY MAJIK
I guess it had to be another MONKEY MAJIK track considering I said they were my favourite band previously. If we're talking cheesy then yes this is pretty high up the list, but it's just so nice and happy! It's a great listen whatever mood you're in, and it just fuses together some simple (by which I mean not overdone) accompaniment with a good, melodic vocal line to form an exquisite whole. Incidentally it's one of the MONKEY MAJIK tracks that's entirely in English.
Well that about wraps that one up then. Hope you've enjoyed seeing (and maybe daring to listen to) the music I like. Feel free to post your own lists/favourites in the comments below!