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Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

I have a certain respect for punk orientated bands that are able to mix emotion with the standard punk music. Rise Against are a perfect example of this; throughout their entire back catlogue you start to see a pattern. Their songs feature many different themes, however the one thing that is obvous in every one of their songs is that they are well written and intend to serve a purpose.

Like The Angel‘ focuses on a man, presumably lead singer Tim McIlrath, who seems to be torn between the career he has chosen as a musician and the woman he loves. It’s clear exactly how he feels about this woman, and the fact that he is away from her clearly kills him. The song is beautifully written to articulate that fact and the music works incredibly well to symbolise the brutality of the music he plays, mixed with the sorrow of his frayed relationship.

Close Competitors:

Hero Of War

There are amazingly beautiful songs in this world, and Hero Of War is one of them. Again, dealing with a subject matter that the band truly believes in (the futility of war), they are able to evoke such emotion in such a small amount of time. The song takes the form of the inner monologue of a young soldier and how good war sounds. But in a beautifully clever fashion, the song reaches the climaxes of being a huge middle finger to the principles of war and how futile it all is.

Swing Life Away

Rise Against are one of the bands that cannot make a bad song, and they also can’t make a song that doesn’t evoke some sort of emotion. ‘Swing Life Away‘ is a bittersweet song that deals with the underprivileged, and how, despite their situations, are still able to make the best of their situations. With lyrics mentioning; “I’ve got some friends, some that I hardly know, but we’ve had some times I wouldn’t change for the world.”, it had the ability to give an insight into the forgotten people of the world whilst still showing how admirable they are.

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64. St. Anger – Metallica

You want to know something? I disagree with the bandwagoning of this album. It wasn’t a terrible album. It wasn’t their best, but it was still a killer album. If you want proof, there are two songs you can listen to; “Frantic” and “St. Anger”. St. Anger is a monster of a song that contains every single little thing a rock song, let alone a Metallica song, should contain.

The song starts with the album’s trademarked low tuned riffs, before the ‘infamous’ drums comes in. These ‘infamous’ drums came from Lars Ulrich’s drum set having a far more ‘metallic’ and crass sound when compared to other albums. However, in my opinion, this adds greatly to the character of the album, but I digress. The song then moves into classic Metallica territory with Hetfield’s voice and slow guitar chords. But then the pre-chorus comes in which raises the tension in the song. But the defining point of this song is the chorus; “Fuck it all and no regrets, I hit the lights on these dark sets. I need a voice to help let myself, to let myself go free.” Now, every time I listen to this song, the strangest thing happens; I get chills the second time that Hetfield sings “Madly in anger with you.” Every time without fail, but only on the second time that he sings it.

The song itself is an aural assault that does not let up from the moment the song starts, until the moment it finishes. It’s a perfect timeless piece of thrash metal that still cements itself as the most important Metallica song of the new millennium, and in my opinion, it will always stay that way.

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If ever a song could be classified as the epitome of indie, this would be it. It has been called the anthem for the indie generation by some (namely me), and it rightly deserves such a label.

This collaboration of Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie and Jimmy Tamborello from Dntel became popular after their first and so far only album Gave Up, in 2003. The most popular song from this album was Such Great Heights, a gentle indie pop song that managed to become an underground hit despite not even getting into the top 40 in many countries. The song managed to become one of the most popular songs of the year and even managed to appear on many critic’s ‘Top 10’ lists.

The song begins with an electronic rhythm that shifts into deeper electronics. A beat comes into the song before Ben Gibbard’s soulful voice comes in to balance the track. The lyrics are themselves soulful and beautiful and have a delightfully fragile charm to them. It’s such a beautiful song that has been inspirational to, and loved by thousands of people through it’s great charm.

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There are 2 things that must be noted here. Firstly, the fact that I have The Mars Volta today and At The Drive-In yesterday are totally and utterly unintentional. For those who are uneducated, The Mars Volta essentially evolved from the dissolution of of At The Drive-In, which is why they have the same singer and guitarist. Secondly, I’m slightly bending the rules here. I am focusing on the song “Inertiatic ESP”, but I’m treating the preceding song on the album, “Son et Lumiere”, as the intro. Frankly, the song starts with a massive punch in the face if the ‘intro’ is disregarded, which is a good thing. But there is much more beauty to the song if the ‘intro’ is included. But anyway, I’ll shut up now.

The song showcases Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s exceptional vocals and Omar Alfredo Rodríguez-López’s outstanding guitar playing perfectly. An experimental song, this is the opening cut from their 2003 concept album De-Loused In The Comatorium. The song again showcases the varying styles and odd time signatures that the band widely employs. There is a great energy to this song, and there is the perfect amount of ‘downtime’ present to complement the more ‘in your face’ aspect. This song is utter brilliance, and everyone should be aware of this song.

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At The Drive-In were an incredibly influential band. More to the point, Cedric Bixler-Zavala is an incredibly influential songwriter. Unfortunately AT The Drive-In are no longer with us. However Bixler-Zavala and Omar Alfredo Rodríguez-López are still churning out similar tunes as members of The Mars Volta. But to get to the point; rarely are there bands that are able to express a political or current concern with such eloquence, but Bixler-Zavala’s songwriting prevails and intensely influential lyrics are made.

Invalid Litter Dept. was written about a series of murders in Cd. Juárez, Mexico, however, the song is written with such ambiguity it is very hard to determine the actual meaning of the song. The metaphors and wide vocabulary used in the writing adds another element entirely to the song. Then of course, the unorthodox yet alluring guitar work by Rodríguez-López adds yet another element to the song. The spoken word vocals, and the screaming near the end of the song show just how powerful, what is essentially, a spoken word track can be. There is so much raw power in the voice of Bixler-Zavala, and he draws the listener in so well that he can make you think you know all about the reasons behind this song.

Close Competitors

Pattern Against User

The reason this song did not make the countdown is mainly due to the fact that the best part of the song consists of only five beats of a drum and one loud yelp in the first 1.5 seconds of the song. To me, that is the best part. However, I also believe it only acts as a precursor to the greatness of the rest of the song. Again, the vocals are so powerful and the chorus is among one of the best. But it’s the ferocity featured in this song that makes it so good. This sounds like a song that was written as a ballad, but at some point someone realised it should be sped up. It has a rushed feel which works to the advantage of the song. However, the only disadvantage of it being so fast is that it is over far too quickly.

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If you are anything like me, then you may find it strange that out of all the songs released by The White Stripes in this decade (which, mind you, is where the majority of their music was released), that I picked one of the very few songs in which Jack White does not sing. Yes, I picked one of the few songs in which Meg White is the singer, and frankly, it is something she should do more often.
I have always admired Meg White for a few reasons. Namely the fact that she has been able to make a name for herself as a competent drummer in the music business which, let’s face it, is essentially a man’s world. Then of course, her voice. For one of the shyest and (in my opinion) one of the most attractive musicians out there, she manages to utilise her voice in this song to a level not seen before. Her voice perfectly suits the song and the bridge of the song features her voice reaching an unthought of level of brilliance.

The song itself is utterly simple. Just a couple of chords which repeat before a bridge which is still essentially the same thing, just with Meg White’s drumming. But I chose this song only because of the atmosphere it has. I believe it’s much better and much more ‘rock’ than any of the other White Stripes songs, and frankly I think this song should be more well known.

Close Competitors

Seven Nation Army

I’ll bet that the second you saw that it said ‘The White Stripes’, you instantly assumed I had chosen this song. Well, no. While I do admit it’s an amazing song, it’s become far too cliched now. I know that’s a terrible reason not to include the song, but I do prefer In The Cold, Cold Night anyway. Most people would have discovered The White Stripes thanks to this song, and what a song to come in on! It has THAT riff and Jack White’s signature vocals. This song has it all!

Fell In Love With A Girl

In the second that you press play for the first time, you have no idea what you are about to unleash upon yourself. Jack White’s barking vocals, an atomic blast of a song that is gone within the blink of an eye and the beyond simple 4 chord guitar riff. It’s short, it’s abrupt, but oh my word is it a great song!

We’re Going To Be Friends

Childhood innocence. It’s essentially the inner monologue of a young child going to school and the simplicity of the child’s mind. It’s a short sweet song that shows how emotional Jack White’s guitar playing and lyric writing can be without becoming too saccharine. It’s a pretty song, which unfortunately not well known. But thanks to Conan O’Brien’s friendship with the band and their appearance on his last ‘Late Night with…‘ show, this song has gained new fans.

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73. Pork And Beans – Weezer

Ah, the ol’ ‘middle finger’ approach to songwriting, it’s bliss. Generally these types of songs come when the songwriter is royally pissed off. In this case, Rivers Cuomo was told by his record executives that Weezer needed more commercial material. That being said, Cuomo wrote this song about standing up for himself, about the triviality of the record industry and above all, defiance.

It’s ironic really, and slightly annoying to me, how bands can be told they need to be more ‘commercial friendly’ and instantly write a hit song. It makes me wonder, “Why couldn’t they do that before? Why did they wait to be told?”. But it also makes me realise that there is a reason these songs were written. By any measure, this song is wonderful. The music is typical thumping Weezer and the lyrics are once again, typical Weezer. You could not get a more Weezer-ish song if you tried.

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I would like to start this post off with a quote from Tom Reynolds in his book ‘I hate myself and want to die’; “Having listened to numerous drug songs over the years and studied their critical analyses, I’ve concluded that they basically fall into two categories: 1. stark, 2. harrowing. Music writers use these descriptors alternately when writing about drug songs. What separates the two normally depends on whether the songwriters were themselves addicted. The Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin‘, for example, is ‘stark’ because Lou Reed was once an addict. Billy Joel’s ‘Captain Jack‘ is ‘harrowing’ because he wasn’t.” That being said, I can assure you that ‘Feel Good Hit Of The Summer‘ is stark due to the fact that it effectively tells a true account of the band’s appetite for drugs.

Rock rumours state that the band was ingested the entire content of the song’s lyrics in one night. Allegedly, they consumed “Nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy and alcohol” before following it up with “c-c-c-c-c-cocaine“. If these rumours are true, it not only shows that the odds of QOTSA splitting following an overdoes in the band is unlikely, but it also shows how raw the band can be. A stark drug song, such as this, shows great honesty in the songwriter for being able to talk about drugs in this way. But in this case, it’s just a fun song.

I’ll be honest, if I could teach ‘Writing A Hit Song 101’, I would use this as an example. This song is not complicated at all. The verse consists of one chord, as does the chorus. It features a fast and sloppy guitar solo, a very simple and straightforward drum beat and lyrics which only consist of 8 unique words. In short, this is musical mastery. If every song was like this, not only would it be clear that there are a LOT of users out there, but it would show that good songs are not a thing of yesterday.

Close Competitors

Mosquito Song

When I first heard this I imagined the context of the song and I was honestly scared. It has a very scary premise, but the musical direction taken in this song is amazing. The guitar is unorthodoxly tuned down 2 steps and there is an orchestral arrangement present as well. However, most people that listen to this song will not recognise this as a Queens Of The Stone Age song. It is very strange for the band, but the music in this song is absolute perfection. Many musicians dream of creating a song as good as this, and quite frankly, many never will.

Little Sister

Can Queens Of The Stone Age make a bad song? I’ll say no. This upbeat song is characterised by a cowbell of all instruments, and features a famous mini-solo following the chorus. Josh Homme’s voice in this song proves how good of a singer he is. The chorus shows how amazingly ‘rock’ his voice can get without becoming cliched. Truly Queens Of The Stone Age are an amazing band that will be around for years since they continue to churn out great songs such as this.

Burn The Witch

It is in this song that Queens Of The Stone Age show their stoner-rock roots. The intro is typical of the genre, in which a strong beat is present and a small riff as well which then goes on to anchor the entire song. The distorted vocals again portray Homme’s perfect vocals, and frankly this song is the epitome of rock music.

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Before you start sending hate mail at the fact I’ve got a Fall Out Boy song in here, please understand, Fall Out Boy mean a lot to me. I’m not kidding either, I got into Fall Out Boy in 2006 after they released From Under The Cork Tree, it was around this time I went through one of the hardest times of my life. I listened to these guys on repeat for roughly three months, and in the end I found out that I had become drawn towards the acoustic version of Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner.
Maybe it’s the lyrics that make me love this song. I do believe that the lyrics in the bridge; “So wear me like a locket around your throat, I’ll weigh you down, I’ll watch you choke, you look so good in blue, you look so good in blue”, are utterly amazing. Or maybe it’s the fantastic acoustic guitar and the unorthodox, but utterly inviting, chords that manage to make the song work. But whatever makes this song so awe-inspiring is done with perfection. The vocals don’t overshadow the rest of the song, the guitar is clean and well played and the lyrics are beautiful.
What’s not to love?

Close Competitors

Dance, Dance

The first Fall Out Boy song I heard. I was amazed at how great a song that was essentially a cliched emo-punk song could be.  And Patrick Stump even gave me hope that the nerdiest looking guy (I mean how nerdy he looks in real life, no just the film clip) could be a great musician. All I knew when I heard this song was that I wanted to write songs like this and make catchy tunes as well as they did.

Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down

I first saw this song title and saw the word ‘sugar’ in it. I instantly assumed it was some shitty rap song, so I avoided it. But then, the same night I heard “Dance, Dance”, I heard this song, and I was massively blown away! I was shocked at how good these guys were. The inspiring, indirect lyrics, the guitar, the catchyness and the chorus. Oh man, the chorus! I STILL get chills listening to it.

I’ve Got A Dark Alley And A Bad Idea That Says You Should Shut Your Mouth (Summer Song)

Again, this song is beautiful. The lyrics make this song. Theway that Pete Wentz writes songs is inspiring. If I can somehow write songs as well as he does, I will be happy. The lyrics are not only powerful, but they truly show a sense of desperation that goes well with the minor key of the song. And again, I still get chills from the chorus.

Note: As I said, I was obsessed with Fall Out Boy for 3 months, so I can’t write ALL the songs that made my shortlist. But I was hooked on their 3rd album, which is why all the songs here are from that album.
Other songs in my shortlist were:

  • XO
  • Hum Hallelujah
  • Our Lawyer Made Us Change The Name Of This Song So We Wouldn’t Get Sued
  • Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy?
  • Of All The Gin Joints In All The World

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    There are songs that exist only to be enjoyed. That does sound like a stupid statement, but most songs are made with a purpose; some songs are political, some songs are intended to be serious, and in this case, People Say is intended to be optimistically fun. While the song tends to focus on the necessity of war, or the lack thereof, there is an optimistic tinge to this song which can drag a casual listener into the song and not let go until the end.

    The song is in the key of C, which means it is a very straight song that lacks in experimentation, but it somehow manages to be incredibly interesting. With obvious blues influences and jazz-based chord styles, the song manages to present optimism through the breath-taking lyrics. The song predominantly focuses on the human cost of war, but the lyrics are able to trivialise that aspect so well that it feels as if the song is about something totally different. The thing about this song that makes it stand out though, is the fact that not only does the music maintain an upbeat feel, but the fact that this is one of the few songs in this countdown that follows the standard ‘verse chorus verse’ structure and manage to maintain originality and interest. This song does not get boring quickly, and if you think it does, well that’s your loss.

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