It might surprise you, dear readers, but even I, the personified sunshine that comes out of life’s ass, now and then have a dark day. Usually, I watch slasher movies were stupid people get killed in a horrifying manner because my inner sociopath finds that very relaxing. However, the best way for me to power through a down-phase is music. Dancing in my room to some great pop songs, listening to my favourite tunes on my way to work or just sitting down, getting the ear-plugs in and focusing on that one great album for an hour without doing anything else can save a day.
So, here is the list of the Top 10 songs that always help to get me going again, they are old as time itself and I probably talked about them before but that’s the magic of certain songs, they are like soul food, that one Disney movie from your childhood or that ugly stained sweater that is simply comfortable.
1.Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill
I might have mentioned it before but this song is the theme song for every big life decision. Gabriel wrote it about the time he quit Genesis to take care of his family. His first daughter’s birth was a difficult thing and everything happened through the very stressful recording of the legendary “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway”. His decision to quit the band after touring the album was met with a lot of critic and Gabriel asked himself whether he had made a mistake. That’s what the song is about. He actually talks about it quite openly in the song, how he decided to get out of the business to concentrate on his family. Now, as we all know, Gabriel didn’t have to regret his decision because his following solo albums are some of the greatest milestones of music history but still, this song is a good reminder that even if you know that you’re doing the right thing, there is always that nagging voice that you might regret your choices.
2.Blind Melon – No Rain
This song. This song has one of the greatest intros that always manages to make me smile. It’s one of the few 90s alternative songs that didn’t disturb (but intrigue) me as a kid but genuinely make me happy. And when I was going through my awkward teenage-phase, I was pretty much addicted to that song which held a special place in my most listened-to mixtapes of that era. I like that it talks about alienation and – I guess – a form of melancholy without being overly depressive.
3.Elbow – Asleep in the Back
I hardly ever fell asleep in the back of a car (which is the inspiration for this song) because I suffer from motion sickness and was more often than not a-sick in the back. I’d say that the song is a love song, tying the title to feeling so comfortable with someone, that it reminds you of this time as a child when you fell asleep to the conversations of your parents, the radio and the humming of the motor of the car. There is a certain amount of trust that you have as a kid, that you’ll wake up and be where you wanted to be. And it is difficult to find someone you trust so much that you scatter all your flaws in front of them, like a broken Ming Vase and they will still go on that journey with you. It’s the scariest thing there is but it is also beautiful.
Also: Elbow-music-videos are the best.
4. The Black Crowes – Soul Singing
I am ashamed to say that I only discovered this song a couple of years ago. It sounds like it was supposed to be released in 1993 but then got stuck in the time-space-continuum until its release in 2001. Man, if there is one song to get that psychedelic tunica on you once bought in a fit of 68-nostalgia, this is it. You got a great chorus to sing along, a fantastic gospel choir to get those hands shaking and a wonderful guitar-break in the middle where you can think about your life for roughly 10 seconds before you dance the day and night away again. I listen to this one at the office a lot and I am always tempted to start clapping along and dancing through the room. So far, I could keep it down but one day…
5.Gene Kelly – Singin’ in the Rain
Gene Kelly is the personified smile and this song, written by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown, is like his personal theme-song. Even if there have been countless interpretations, Kelly’s version is so full of joy and you actually hear him smiling, it’s insane. I still think that the best part is the “dudidudu” at the beginning because you know what will happen and you get all excited.
6.The Temptations – My Girl
This is definitely one of the songs that always get played at an Oldie party, in a romantic movie and whenever else someone needs an uplifting love song. And it just doesn’t get old. Apart from the stellar choreography in the clip, this song has no sexy-talk as A LOT of the 60s love songs and therefore can also be for a good friend or family member without being really wrong and awkward. It’s also one of the first songs I remember falling in love with, so this holds a special place in my heart (together with BB King’s “Stand By Me” but that’s the kind of song I listen to when I need a good cry, so not suitable for this list).
7.Gotye – Learnalilgivinanlovin’
Whenever I talk about Gotye, I go all music-nerd/hipster on people because when he released “Like Drawing Blood” which featured this little ditty, I was absolutely convinced that it would become the biggest hit of the summer. Well, it didn’t and I still don’t know why because this song is a huge ode to 60s Motown songs like “My Girl”. There is an excitement about songs like this that immediately pick you up, something that’s surprisingly scarce with modern pop but maybe a side-effect to the fear of appearing silly when you’re too excited. Learn from Wouter De Backer, the Muppets and the Temptations: There is nothing silly about being pumped with positive energy.
8.The Muppets – Life’s a happy Song
I still can’t believe how incredibly charming, funny, loveable and true to the original movies the Muppets-revival has been. The movie is so freakingly adorable and I will punch everyone in the face who says otherwise. And this song, written by Brett Mackenzie from The Flight of the Conchords ,is the perfect mix of the happiness and silliness of the Muppets. I think, instead of singing some religious hymns or the National Anthem at school, sport events or else, we should sing this song all the time, everytime.
9.Feeder – Just a Day
Back in the days of music-tv, I stumbled upon this glorious song and it blew my mind. I loved the silly fan-videos and the energy of the song that I then searched for YEARS until I found it again. See, in 2001 it wasn’t that easy to find a song by just googling some of the lyrics and seeing on which record it was. This song was released as a b-side and therefore not in my local record store. At some point, I forgot the title and always looked for “All by myself” and it drove me mad that I had this great song in the back of my mind but didn’t know where and how to get it. And then I did and it was wonderful and I listened to it a thousand times and I still love it and so should you.
10.Cold War Kids – Miracle Mile
I was a little underwhelmed with the present Cold War Kids-album which mainly had to do with the fact that I always liked their upbeat, aggressively peppy songs more than their (admittedly gorgeous) RnB-like numbers. And with a first single like “Miracle Mile”, I though they were back on the craziness of their debut, alas, it wasn’t meant to be. That doesn’t mean, though, that this isn’t a fantastic song about picking yourself up after you realized that you took the wrong turn and need to take that big step, risk something to be able to feel alive again. Well…it’s the song at the beginning of the movie whereas “Solsbury Hill” is the one for the grand finale.
11. Pharrell Williams ‘Happy’
It feels slightly redundant to add this song but it also feels very rude to not include a song that potentially already annoys so many people by being overplayed and overused whenever something joyful occurs. I for one, still enjoy this tune very much and particularly love to dance to it (which mostly is in my own flat late at night, slightly drunk). Aside from the song itself, though, I really respect the media concept. The 24 hours of music videos and the thousand videos the song inspired are nothing but upbeat, warm and lovely, no matter how big the business machine behind it probably was, the result was something that actually made people smile and feel good for a few minutes and that’s after all what pop should achieve.
Also: Some of those dancers are absolutely fantastic. By the way, I just fast-forwarded through roughly 13 hours of “Happy” to find this guy who was the first dancer I saw during the 24 hour marathon and absolutely loved. Minute 24.
Bonus: Cartman ‘Come Sail Away’
For me, it works wonders. I can be in the shittiest of shitty moods but I can not get through this song without cracking up. That’s some well timed comedic gold right there. The secret lies in the fact that it’s the full song, the whole 5 minutes and 12 seconds. Pulling through is one of the big basics of good comedy.