tremble clef

Sunday, January 24, 2010


1. Pet Shop Boys, "The Way It Used To Be"

2. Camera Obscura, "French Navy"

3. Saint Etienne, "Method Of Modern Love"

4. Röyksopp featuring Robyn, "The Girl And The Robot"

5. Bag Raiders, "Shooting Stars"

Despite withholding its chorus until the final minute, "Shooting Stars" nevertheless sounds incredibly hooky all the way through -- thanks to its looping synth riff, which is therefore, quite literally, the unsung hero of a track that needs to be considered as classic as "Music Sounds Better With You."

6. Medina, "Kun For Mig"

"The beeps fill my universe, music only for me": while Shannon trusted in the music to lure her man, here it's all over but the crying, and the music can only serve as a numbing drug for Medina, and to break our hearts in turn. Since I first heard this song, Medina has recorded an English version ("You and I"), but the wonderful thing about the original Danish track is how polyphonic that title is. Sometimes, when I do the aural equivalent of squint, I hear Medina singing, "comfort mine comfort mine"; at others, she is whispering, "compromise compromise"; always and in whatever form, the phrase never fails to be appropriate and evocative.

7. Marit Bergman featuring Titiyo, "300 Slow Days In A Row"

Marit and Titiyo have been in a lesbian relationship, for presumably a while, but they've drifted apart. Since they are duetting, they clearly both recognize this -- but since they aren't communicating, they don't, or can't, let each other know. PARADOX! [/Tracy Morgan voice] This came out as a single in 2008, but it didn't hit me till I heard it in the context of the album The Tear Collector; the steal from ABBA's "Happy New Year" is still undeniable, but that just ups the melancholia quotient.

8. Richard Hawley, "For Your Lover Give Some Time"

9. Cicada, "Love Don't Come"

Has a grammatical error in the title, but also laser sounds on the verses, and laser sounds always win.

10. Florence + the Machine, "Drumming Song"

11. Junior Boys, "Hazel"

12. George Michael, "December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas)"

13. Pet Shop Boys, "King Of Rome"

While "Last night I lost a day" may be my favorite line, the pivotal one, in the logic of the song, is "Some day, you'll deign to phone me." Throughout the track, our narrator has only appeared to be imagining himself as the tragic King of Rome. Yet, in this moment, adopting the royal diction that is the verb "deign," it seems for a moment that he might actually be regal -- but, in exactly the same moment, he also finds the tables turned, since it is the addressee, and not himself, who must "deign" to phone.

14. Summerhill, "Parking Lane"

Hear it at, or at

15. Mini Viva, "I Wish"

It might sometimes appear that I only have time for deceptively upbeat songs that sneak in some melancholia, but here's a track with something like the opposite tendency. In "I Wish," the relationship is clearly over ("I was one with you," we are immediately told), and all that's left is for Mini Viva to wish for its revival, and then to wish that wishing works ("If I wish that hard enough, would love come home again?"). Yet, thinking of the boy in question, our singer also can't help but allow a glimmer of joy to overcome her, and reduce her to more primal forms of speech: "He could be the one who touch the light inside my soul, oh oh oh oh!"

16. Chrisette Michele, "Blame It On Me"

The only reason to watch American Idol this year is to see if the auditioning masses, ever searching for that big soul ballad they can shriek out à la "If I Ain't Got You," cottons on to "Blame It On Me," or to see if the producers realize that this, which already has room for the big gospel choir to join in, singing and clapping, would be a perfect coronation song. (Wait. I think I mean that's a reason not to watch American Idol this year.)

17. Paloma Faith, "Smoke & Mirrors"

18. Tommy Sparks, "Miracle"

19. Bliss featuring Ane Brun, "Trust In Your Love"

20. Charlotte Hatherley, "White"

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