This was originally going to be a Thursday 13, but I just didn't have time to get it ready. And then tonight when I was sitting down to get it ready, I realized that there were only twelve songs anyway - so it wouldn't have even worked out as a Thursday 13 anyway. So here it is, my contribution to the year in music. There was only one inclusion criteria - it had to have been released this year. These are probably not the songs most people would have picked, but they colored 2006. So many other songs did as well, but were sadly not released this year, so they didn't make the cut. So without any further delay (and in no particular order)...
My Top 12 Songs of 2006
Jump (Extended Version) – Madonna
OK, a bit of a cheat as the song was actually released in 2005, but this version did see the light of day in 2006, so I feel like it counts. While the original version was pure pop perfection, it always felt like the song was a bit on the short side. This version fixed that – as well as including the fabulous outro used in the Confessions Tour. Nothing short of great.
New York New York – Moby (featuring Debbie Harry)
When I heard that Deborah Harry was going to be making a guest vocal on a Moby song, I just knew good things would come of it. I'm not the world's biggest Moby fan – in fact, I only like a few of his songs, but this song really rocks my world. I read somewhere that it is what "I Love New York" should have been. Personally, I find that a bit harsh – but I do adore this song. Debbie can do (almost) no wrong in my book.
Not Ready To Make Nice – Dixie Chicks
I really debated between this song and "The Long Way Around" as I think both tracks are top notch. What ultimately caused me to choose "Not Ready To Make Nice" – the Chicks' response to all their right-wing critics – is that initially, I didn't like it much. I felt like it was way too confrontational for a first single and that radio would never play it. Well, as it turns out, country radio is apparently not going to play them at all anymore, so it hardly matters. In truth, it's a perfectly understated "fuck you" song.
Minimal – Pet Shop Boys
I love songs that spell. It's that simple. M-I-N-I-M-A-L/Minimal, minimal. And bonus points for finding words that rhyme with minimal. I've always been a bit of a fair-weather Pet Shop Boys fan, but the entire Fundamental album – and most especially "Minimal" are among the strongest things they've released in years.
Kiss Me – Robbie Williams
I pretty much hated everything else I heard on Rudebox – too much rapping, too all over the place musically, but I have to say that this song is pretty good. Yes, it's a cover, but it's a very capable one. The thing I hate most about cover songs are that so frequently, they sound like bad celebrity karaoke. But I think it helps that the song is not one that is exceptionally well known (I didn't even know it was a cover at first) and Robbie does a good job on this. I will probably always have a bit of a love/hate relationship with him. When he's good, he's very very good, but when he's bad, he is horrid.
Real Gone – Sheryl Crow
This track came from the soundtrack to the movie Cars, and I kept on hearing it on the radio – probably just about as much as I heard that hideous "Goodbye My Lover" only this song I actually liked. I had bought Sheryl Crow's last CD and when I kept hearing this song, I knew that it was Sheryl but couldn't find it on that CD. Anyway, the radio station that played it had an online thing on their website where you could go and look at what was playing – and that's how I figured out what the name of this song was. It's simply the best song Sheryl Crow has done in years.
I Don't Feel Like Dancing – Scissor Sisters
I was seriously tempted to pick "Paul McCartney" or "Lights" as I knew that a song from Ta-Dah simply had to make this list. Ultimately, I settled on this one as I don't think I've heard a song quite as immediately infectious as this one in quite some time. I think the Scissor Sisters avoided the sophomore slump quite well – so often second albums are overcooked and overproduced (best example – Ace of Base's second album The Bridge.) And why this song wasn't a hit in America is beyond me. Oh yeah, our musical tastes suck!
Mama’s Room – Under the Influence of Giants
I found out about this song via an ad on last.fm (prior to becoming a subscriber) and I admit that I was mostly intrigued by the name of the group. But I ultimately ended up buying this song off of iTunes and it was one of my most played songs this summer. I didn't really like anything else they did – at least not based on the sound samples from iTunes – but this is a great little pop tune.
I’m Walkin’ – Diana Krall
I know, I know. Not very pop. But Diana has never been about pop music. This song, I think is one of the myriad bonus tracks on her From This Moment On CD that came out in September. This is a cover of the Fats Domino song – and Diana sings the hell out of it. I always love it when she does upbeat songs. Her slow jazz songs are good, but the barn-burners are the ones I really love. This would be one those.
Together We Belong – Kim Wilde
(You may want to avert your eyes here, Mike.) I got a copy of Kim Wilde's new CD in September of this year and well, there is simply not a bad song on it. It is a fine example of a good pop album. Of course, it didn't hurt that she re-recorded six of her old hits so it had that already going for it. But "Together We Belong" is my favorite of the new songs – a very 80s vibe to it while being 21st century all at the same time.
Travelin’ Thru – Dolly Parton
This song should have won the Oscar this year. Period. End of sentence. My friend Mary did say when I expressed my regret over Dolly's lack of winning the Oscar, "yeah, but at least she has a nice rack." Mary, you crack me up! But seriously, this song was in exceptionally heavy rotation last spring, and it just serves to remind the incredibly songwriting legacy Dolly is going to leave behind when she dead and buried (and likely not decaying.)
The Ash Grove – Casey Stratton
If you would have told me at the beginning of the year that a Welsh folk song whose tune we sang in church growing up would make my year-end best of list, I would have laughed uproariously. But here I am. And leave it to Casey Stratton. Simply put, this version breaks my heart. And lifts me up. And everything in between. Casey's gorgeous tenor is perfect for this song. This song came from his collection of folk songs he released around St. Patrick's Day this last year.
As always, comments are encouraged and welcomed!!