The first time I was told that I had eclectic taste in music, I was in second or third grade on a long road trip with my family. I had my book of CDs and oh-so-cool walkman and was proudly singing some song off of …Baby One More Time when my father remarked that I was probably the only 8-year-old with everything from Britney Spears and the A*Teens and boy bands to the Olsen Twins’ Greatest Hits CD (yes, that did exist) to the Godspell soundtrack in my CD collection. I didn’t think anything of it and kept on singing along.
Recently though, I realized I do have the absolute strangest taste in music. I listen to Sutton Foster and Laura Osnes’s live albums recorded at the Café Carlyle as much as I listen to the new Luke Bryan CD. I know all of the words to “Monster” by Young Money but also “Wild Night” by John Cougar Mellencamp. I have Levelz in my iTunes library but also every Bob Dylan song.
Every time I see an article posted online like “10 Songs to Listen to Today” or “5 Songs for When You’re Feeling Sad” or “20 Songs for Feeling Nostalgic and Eating a Pint of Ben and Jerry’s” or “8 Songs for Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Girls Who Like Boys” I read them and listen to the songs and try to connect with them but I rarely ever do. I just haven’t found a playlist online for kids whose parents raised them on The Talking Heads and the Sound of Music soundtrack, but I’m sure I’m not the only one out there…right?
Instead, I’ve compiled my own playlist of 7 songs that I really do think everyone needs to listen to, in response to Madison Moore’s “7 Songs You Should Be Listening to Right Now.” I’m not saying my music taste is better than anyone else’s but I think it is an under-recognized taste that deserves a listen.
1. “Royals” by Lorde
Now, I didn’t want to start out and seem like a total nutcase right off the bat, so I did include a song from the Top 10 chart on iTunes. I’m not quite sure when this song hit the charts because I heard it on a friend’s iPod on the day of the royal baby’s birth (how fitting, right?) but I have been hooked since then. Lorde is a 16-year-old Australian girl and when my friend played this song for me, she said “Lorde is the next big thing” and she was absolutely right. Not only does this song have a sick beat, but I love that she’s basically telling you that it’s cool to not be rich or try hard and just love what we’re actually doing and what we’re surrounded by. This is basically my new victory dance song and I can’t wait to hear what else she has in store.
2. “You Never Need Nobody” by The Lone Bellow
I only started listening to The Lone Bellow this week, but this is the song that got me to download the entire CD. First of all, this song has such a unique style to it – almost a gospel feel at times but also a little blues-y and slightly folky. When I recommended the band to a friend, I told him that they reminded me of Mumford and Sons but with a girl. This song kills me though. When I’m in a bad mood or a funk, I get in my car and turn this song on and blast it and belt it. Who can’t feel empowered by the lyrics “You never need nobody. You’ve never been alone” because I certainly feel ready to take on the world after singing this song.
3. “Hung the Moon” by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors
As opposed to “You Never Need Nobody,” this is a song that desperately makes me wish I was in a relationship and that I felt this way about someone and that someone felt this way about me. This song chronicles a relationship from the beginning stages of love to the wedding day, unsurprisingly because Drew’s wife, Ellie, is the lead singer on the song. I love the soft vocals and harmonica and how the song seems to transport me into this fairy tale-type world, without the dripping sap of a Taylor Swift song.
4. “Pieces” by Andrew Belle
Let me start by saying this, Andrew Belle’s sophomore album is brilliant. “Pieces,” the first single from the album Black Bear, definitely has more of a modern feel than most of the stuff I listen to, but I can’t get enough of it. I’m no music expert, so I couldn’t give you any technical mumbo-jumbo about why I like the music and this guitar riff or this effect but I can tell you that this is a song that has more depth musically than anything on the radio.
5. “Wide Open” by Steve Moakler
Steve Moakler might be the best singer-songwriter that you’ve never heard of before. The first time I saw Steve play, I was a senior in high school and he was performing a free concert in the basement of my friend’s church. I was told he was the friend of a friend of a friend and that I’d probably really like him. I liked him off the bat. He was cute, charming, and I related to his song “18,” which he wrote for his younger sister. “Like you’re 18 years in with no way out and you’re the star of the story you don’t care about. Just a little girl in a bigger world turning upside-down.” Yeah, I got that. I was leaving for college and felt like everything was changing and I couldn’t keep up. “Wide Open” is that song for me nowadays. I actually think it was written with the confused twenty-something in mind. “I’ve found that letting go of what you’re holding leaves your arms and heart a little more wide open,” he sings. Yeah, I get that, too.
6. “Where the Kids Are” by Blondfire
This is another one of those songs that I can’t really explain why you should listen to it or, quite frankly, why I even like it. I hate most music with an electronic feel, but there is something different about this song. I think it feels like summer in a song for me. Maybe it’s the lyric “where the kids are running free tonight” that makes me feel careless and like I’m back in my carefree college days as opposed to this new grad school/real life thing that I’m not looking forward to starting. This is the song that I play when I’m driving through the Ft. Pitt Tunnel looking to feel like Emma Watson/Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. “Where the Kids Are” just takes everything else away and lets me take a deep breath and enjoy a second of headspace, even if I’m driving through the tunnel on my way to work.
7. “Forever Like That” by Ben Rector
I’ve adored Ben Rector for about 4 years now. He’s an incredibly talented singer/songwriter, he’s kind of nerdy cute, and adorably awkward when you meet him.
I discovered him on Noisetrade a few years ago and since then, he’s become the guy I most want to sing me to sleep/the guy I want to sing at my wedding/the guy who I want to write songs for me (unfortunately for me though, he’s happily married. You’ve probably heard him on your favorite ABC/NBC/CW show in the background. I’ve been waiting for his new album, The Walking in Between, for what feels like about a decade now, even though it’s only been about two years.
This song though, I heard about two years ago in concert and I actually think the first time that I heard this song, I cried. It’s beautiful. It has maybe the most heartfelt, genuine, gorgeous lyrics of any song I have heard. Listening to this song is like listening to a poem, not the slightly creepy Chris-to-Des on The Bachelorette when they first started dating but more like a really beautiful e.e. cummings poem. As I said to my friend earlier, if you don’t use this song as your wedding song, you’re an idiot and your marriage will fall, because I’ve never heard a better proclamation of love than in this song.