Welcome back to part two of my very first biennial music countdown, this time focusing on the best songs released over the past two years. I haven’t been doing annual song lists for as long as the album ones, started somewhere around 2006 I think, and as I explained in Top 75 Albums, I missed 2013 so once again that explains this whole biennial treatment.
Anyway, this took longer than I expected to put together, partially due to it always being the more difficult of the two lists, but mostly just because I had other priorities to work on and this ended up being pushed to the side. Oh well, it’s done now and ready for your listening pleasure.
I decided to go with the number 75 again to keep the lists equal, though that meant a lot of excellent songs not making the cut. Very tough decisions this time around, made all the more difficult by the following set of rules:
- Each song must come from an album that has been officially released during the calendar year(s) in question. The album can be of the full-length LP or shorter length EP variety in this case. I generally do not consider songs from singles, 7″ releases, etc. because they tend to show up on a longer form album also, but exceptions to this rule are possible.
- Only one song per album. The main reason for this is that otherwise I’d probably end up with a list consisting of songs from only a handful of albums, which would be kind of boring. It also helps in narrowing down the list before putting the songs in order, though sometimes choosing the best song from an album can be extremely difficult…
- Each song is graded solely on its own merit, ignoring the overall performance of the album it may come from. For example, an amazing song is still amazing even if it appears on a terrible album.
- Unlike the album list, non-standard album songs are eligible. This means that songs appearing only on special edition, iTunes, and retailer specific format releases as bonus tracks are considered.
- Cover songs, remixes, and parodies are considered but only if they’re better than the original recording. For example, almost anyone can record a great cover of “Paint it Black” but if you haven’t improved it, what’s the point?
- Previously unreleased songs appearing on compilation, reissue, demo, and live albums are considered.
Once again, I’ll try to keep my commentary on each song to a minimum and let the music speak for itself. However, for songs coming from releases that didn’t make the Top 75 Albums, I will provide a few comments on said release. Also, I’ll comment on the music video specifically for the few songs that actually have them. OK, let’s get started with 75 through 71…
“First World Problems”
Artist: Weird Al Yankovic
Album: Mandatory Fun
“First World Problems” probably isn’t the best song on Mandatory Fun (I think I like “Jackson Park Express” more, maybe), but I had to go with it for the simple fact that it’s way better than anything the Pixies recorded for their comeback album Indie Cindy. What an awful piece of shit that is. Ugh. Weird Al’s homage to Surfer Rosa/Doolittle era Pixies is spot on and the lyrics are better than 9/10’s of the tweets attached to #FirstWorldProblems. That’s good enough for me.
Album note: Mandatory Fun is a good album, but that’s it. Like every Weird Al album since the turn of the century, it’s held back by the shitty state of today’s popular music ruining the sustainability of his parodies. Songs like “Word Crimes” and “Foil” are hilarious lyrically, but musically I can’t stand them. The only good parody from a music standpoint is “Tacky” and even that one is too repetitive for me. The style homages save the album from the dumpster and, as usual, the polka medley is excellent.
Music video note: Hilarious literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics. Weird Al is obviously having a lot of fun underneath that douchey blonde wig. I wish he’d make a spiritual sequel to UHF. =(
Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Album: Grinning Streak
I’ve always been a huge BNL fan (the first cassette I ever bought out of my own saved up money was their debut Gordon from 1992), so I’ll continue to try out their new stuff even though they’re not nearly the same band anymore. “Limits” is a nifty little song with a typical catchy as fuck chorus from Ed Robertson along with his trademark sorta goofy lyrics. Cool piano solo bits near the end also.
Album note: Horrible. It’s better than their first album without former co-lead Steven Page, but that was a complete garbage pile so that’s not saying much. The only other song close to “Limits” in quality is “Odds Are” and besides those two there are maybe two other songs on the album that can be considered even listenable. They haven’t had a great album in a long time and I don’t see that changing unless they somehow lure Page back with bags of coke.
“All the Rage Back Home”
Album: El Pintor
Love the interplay between the twinkly guitar and drudgy bass on this song. Excellent verses that feel like choruses in delivery and I dig the background chanting during the chorus.
Album note: Mediocre, handful of good, handful of bad, much like all their albums since Turn on the Bright Lights, an excellent debut that they’ll likely never top.
Music video note: Bland black and white video of the band performing with a ton of closeup shots and some surfing footage that seems completely out of place to me. Meh.
Artist: Vulture Industries
Album: The Tower
Another very cool, very unique song from this avant garde metal band. The instrumentation sways and varies throughout, the operatic vocals soar, and that weird dark carnival mood is ever present.
Album note: Good overall, but certainly a step back from their first two albums. The black metal influence has been stripped back almost entirely now and they’re edging closer to progressive rock territory than ever. Not necessarily a bad thing, but at times this album gets a bit too experimental and soft for my liking.
Music video note: This is easily the coolest animated lyrics video I’ve ever seen. Love the artwork and the presentation is stellar as fuck.
“Sea of Death”
Artist: Looptroop Rockers
Album: Naked Swedes
The intro is provided by one of the survivors of the 2013 Lampedusa migrant shipwreck disaster, which the lyrics of the song touch on while focusing on the struggles of refugees in general. Brilliant and politically relevant, with great chorus vocals provided by Sabina Ddumba.
Puck Propaganda Director of Written Content
Puck is a renowned Grammar Nazi who suffers from OCD and occasional bouts of indiscriminate rage. His love/hate relationship with film, television, music, video games, comics, and sports often leads to uncompromisingly honest opinions and analysis. Puck's goal is to ensure the site provides high quality, diverse material that encourages discourse among current readers while also enticing new visitors.