4. Round and Round by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
For me, modern music is divided into two distinct eras. The first, inchoate time period is defined by the penchant for lead singers to scat sing the guitar riffs, make vaguely carnal sweet nothing whispers between bars, and, of course, the spoken word solo. Listening to Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, pre-Hagar Van Halen illustrates fitfully. The second, current era shuns these musings, these moments of drug-fueled candor. “Round and Round” mangages to occupy both eras. There is a phone call in the middle of the song, a phone call that gets answered. The chorus is the size of the multiverse. Atmospherically, the song hits the listener like a high-tide wave of cake batter, and the wave carries that listener back, back to when things were becoming what they became.
3. All of the Lights by Kanye West
As the thematic successor to the virtuosic “Flashing Lights” and introspective “Street Lights,” this song is Kanye West’s truest embrace of maximalism. Whereas the two prior songs in the trilogy were singular visions, “All of the Lights” features a minor militia of collaborators, a frantic, Danger-Mouse-on-No-Doz beat.. The song is an audial menagerie. It menage-a-trois marries the twitching, amorphous sonic textures to a litany of voices to a straightforward, redemptive narrative and even manages to make Nikki Minaj bearable. Also, the above picture.
2. I Remember by Yeasayer
To write a good song is nearly difficult. To write a good love song is nearly impossible. To write a great love song is impossible. The artist must universalize the most particularized and intimate aspect of human life, must reevaluate the since-time-immemorial evaluated anything ever. I won’t venture as far as to say that “I Remember” does this, but I will venture as far as to say that it comes close as close can come.