Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 in Musical Revue

I had a hard time picking out my favorite songs of 2011, because mainly the music that I liked this year came in 20-second snippets. If forced to select my top 3, I choose these, but I don't feel nearly as much affection for them as I do for the hooks, bridges, and backbeats I will describe next.

3. (defun botsbuildbots () (botsbuildbots))
This one comes from the Portal 2 soundtrack. Now, I love video game soundtracks as much as your average geek, but since the music is meant to be the background and not the main event, it can tend to be a little repetitive, which is why it only makes the bottom of my list. Still, a whole 3-disc (virtual) collection of wonderfully spooky and atmospheric electronic music surely deserves a mention. I had trouble choosing among the best three songs from the collection (all having to do with robots), but upon some puzzled contemplation of this one's title, I knew it was the one.  Sure, on the tracklist it's called "Bots Build Bots," but played in your computer, it reveals its true name, with all its repetition and glut of parentheses—it's a recursive function! Nope, your average geek just can't resist. [VIDEO]

2. Mr. Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan
If 2011 taught me one thing musically, it was that you should never say never. Being a strong opponent of jazz in any form, I have cultivated in myself a healthy loathing for jazz's best friend—the saxophone. Turns out, though, that saxophones, when played without pretension, can actually make a pretty catchy addition to a song. After I'd heard this song a few times, I knew I liked it. And then when I realized that it featured saxophones (I wasn't paying attention to the lyrics as usual, or I might have deduced this earlier), I was floored. My paradigm was shifted. Later, I was even to discover another song with saxophones that I liked (appearing next post, because this one is getting so long). My paradigm totally left the country. What makes this song better than the other saxophone song? Well, as you know, lyrics have ruined many a good tune for me, but the right accent can add interest to even the stupidest of words. Listen to how she says, "Like a freak!" That was actually the thing that first drew me to this song. [VIDEO]

1. C.L.U. by Paul Oakenfold
Last year, my top song was the TRON soundtrack. So it's only fitting that my top song this year be – yes – a remix of the TRON soundtrack! There are two things that make this song the pick of the litter: 1) The zingy sound that starts it off, and 2) the way it builds up and suddenly explodes into what I can only describe as coolness at 2:16 and 3:28! Paul Oakenfold usually doesn't impress me with his original work, but he does some bomb remixes! [VIDEO]

Honorable Mention

Being behind the times is my favorite place to be, but it means that I'm always learning about new music after it's no longer new enough to appear in my list of favorite songs of the year. Here are a few of them that totally rocked my socks in 2011.
  • Haleakala (DJ Cosmo vs. Pedro del Mar Remix, originally by Transformer on Maui)
    Written in 2009, this song only reached my ears this October. Like all good trance, it gets off to a slow start, but I have taken the liberty of trimming it to the coolest part. [mp3]
  • Cracks (Flux Pavilion Remix, originally by Freestylers - 2010)
    One day, I heard something amazing filtering through the cracks between my housemate's room and mine. I knew I had to have it, so I feverishly typed into Google the only lyrics I could make out, which were about three words spanning two phrases. Google delivered. Through this song, I discovered the weird and wonderful world of dubstep (video to introduce you to dubstep, since "Cracks" isn't the best example of the genre). Don't tell my housemate I stole it from him. [VIDEO]
  • Epicentre [First Movement] (Carbon Based Lifeforms - 2004)
    While there's nothing catchy about this song, it's definitely evocative. Evocative of what? Well, I'm not sure, but I am sure that the sounds in this song sound like they're being played backward, which remains one of my favorite musical gimmicks. [VIDEO--turn the volume up for best effect]
Because I know you are just as thrilled as I am to be hearing all of these mind-blowing, super sonic  masterpieces, I will give you a little bit of time to bask in the experience. Tomorrow (or whenever I feel like it) I shall return with a review of those hooks, bridges, and backbeats I promised you.