I like to think I have a fairly diverse taste in music. My dad is responsible for my appreciation of classic rock, my friends are to blame for my taste in hip-hop and country, and my knowledge of alternative music comes largely from independent exploration. However exposed, I appreciate all kinds of music, and hope you agree with some of the sentiments expounded below. There's sure to be something for everyone, so go ahead and take a look into my music library and eleven of those songs I just can't stop listening to.
1. Ancient Names, Pt. 1 by Lord Huron
Admittedly, I am typically not much of a Lord Huron fan. I don't dislike them, but most of their music is a bit slow and melancholy for my taste. Ancient Names, Pt. 1, though, sounds unlike most of their music. It has more of an Arctic Monkeys feel to it, and is noticeably more upbeat and intense. I feel as if Lord Huron took a step outside of their comfort zone with this one, and it worked.
2. Drip or Drown Remix by Gunna feat. Lil Yachty
Not as family friendly, melodic, or instrumental as Ancient Names, Pt. 1, Drip or Drown Remix is everything that Lord Huron isn't. A heavy bass line, smooth 808s and a simple yet effective melody combine to produce what's one of my favorite Atlanta rap songs of the last few years. Lil Yachty's feature doesn't hurt, with an abrupt yet clean introduction adding to the trap feel. It's hard not to get a little bit cocky when this one comes on.
3. Zen Beat by Tadashi
As sad as it is, you won't be able to find this one on Apple Music or Spotify. I actually saw it in a kayaking video initially, but the audio itself can only be found on Youtube and Soundcloud. With that being said, it's worth that incredibly minor inconvenience of switching apps every single time. I'm not particularly fond of wholly instrumental music; there have to be lyrics to keep me interested, even if it is EDM, house, or anything of that nature. "Zen Beat" is a rare exception; there are no words and it's not a short song, but the easy going, skillfully executed tune is just upbeat enough to keep you engaged (or just downbeat enough to provide background music). Listen to "Zen Beat" during your next yoga session or late night drive.
4. Always Alright by Alabama Shakes
I've really been getting into Alabama Shakes lately. Their happy-go-lucky tunes never fail to put me in a good mood, and "Always Alright" does so more than anything other song they've put together. It makes me think of that epiphanic moment when you finally realize you're horribly overwhelmed, and you simply decide not to care. Lyrics like "I don't care if it's seven in the morning, for all I care it could be the second comin'", and "I don't give a fuck about your attention at all", sung in such a passionate, almost excited tone convey the feeling of a massive weight being lifted off of one's shoulders. To put the cherry on top of what's already an awesome song, there's a beautiful, hopeful guitar riff in the final 35 seconds of the song that ties it all together so perfectly. From beginning to end, "Always Alright" is certainly one of my favorites right now.
5. Let It All Work Out by Lil Wayne
The diversity of this album really impressed me. Dedicate is simply a rhythmic bop, and Mona Lisa tells a whole story. "Let It All Work Out", though, I believe to be the "realest" song on the album, and perhaps even the best sounding, with soulful sampling from Sampha's "Indecision" providing a metronome for the verses Wayne delivers over rich, contrasting vocals. What makes this song so special, though, is Lil Wayne's confession in the final verse. He illustrates the moments surrounding his suicide attempt which he has alluded to, but up until this point never fully admitted. It's a moment of transparency for a notoriously bada** Lil Wayne, and it's verses and songs like this that make him rise above his rap colleagues as one of the best to ever do it.
6. Lost In My Mind by The Head and the Heart
As opposed to most other songs on this list, "Lost In My Mind" doesn't necessarily make me happy. Happy isn't the right word, perhaps bittersweet would work better. Yes it is beautiful, and yes, I'll gladly listen to it six times in a row, but that doesn't mean it isn't a bit forlorn. Imagine saying goodbye forever to your significant other because they graduate and move to the other side of the planet--no hard feelings, no bad terms, just an inevitable parting of ways. You're still in love, but now you must say goodbye for the rest of your lives. That's how "Lost In My Mind" makes me feel, but it's so damn pretty. It's not all bitter, as some chords convey a sense of hope, as do lyrics like "we can start moving forward", especially considering the triumphant tone he uses in delivering this part of the song. As a whole, though, it is rather melancholy. Beautiful, but perhaps not suited for the pre-workout playlist or any instances of that nature.
7. Panic Cord (Hucci Remix) by Gabrielle Aplin
The build up to a massive beat drop may not be executed better in all of history than in Hucci's remix of Gabrielle Aplin's "Panic Cord". I'm not sure if this one would be considered trap, dubstep, house, or all three at the same time, but it sure is intense. Hucci takes what was once a beautiful acoustic tune, and turns it heavy. In the beginning of the song he keeps the bass to a minimum and lets the vocals do most of the talking, but does so for three whole minutes in a way that primes the listener for what is likely one of the sickest beat drops they've ever heard. He does so with balance, though--neither the instrumental or the vocals ever truly steal the show; rather, he manipulates them with precision to create what is one of my favorite dubstep/trap/house/etc. songs out there. Don't be turned off by the slow start--do yourself a favor and listen to the song in its entirety. You won't be disappointed.
8. Knockin' On Heaven's Door by Eric Clapton
I love Bob Dylan and Guns N' Roses, but Eric Clapton just did it better. He mixes elements of reggae, classic rock, and blues to make this soothing, wholesome rendition of a classic. The harmonica sounds like something out of Langston Hughes' New York while the castanets click peacefully like two coconuts colliding in the wind--it's a Heavenly melodic tune. I truly believe that if there is a God, Eric Clapton's version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is probably his favorite.
9. 4am - Bay Bridge Music by Andre Nickatina & Equipto
A lot of the music on this list sets itself apart because it's of a genre or style that I'm generally not crazy about, but that song somehow just makes it work; "4am - Bay Bridge Music" is no different. As much as I respect 90s and early 2000s hip hop, it's not my favorite sound. I like modern rap because it typically shows more instrumental creativity, but this throwback shows that sometimes a little goes a long way. Lyrics like "been walkin' through the crown plaza with my ballys on" makes you wish you were riding down Ocean Ave in an El Camino smoking a spliff with Dr. Dre. By sticking to the very basics--trap drums, bass, cymbals and an awesome flute melody underneath upbeat, witty verses--Andre Nickatina and Equipto bring the West Coast swagger with "4am - Bay Bridge Music".
10. White House Road by Tyler Childers
It's important to note that there are two versions of this song on Apple Music, and one is far superior to the other. The version on Childers' album Purgatory isn't bad, but I feel as if the instrumental is a bit excessive and joyous for the lyrics. He also did an "OurVinyl Session" during which he recorded an acoustic version of "White House Road" and absolutely killed it, blowing the album version out of the water. I never thought an acoustic song could sound this badass, but by blurring the lines between country, folk, and blues, Childers delivers the narrative of a gritty southern man. His raspy voice paints a picture of perseverance amidst struggle, and lyrics like "get me drinkin' that moonshine", "we been sniffin' that cocaine", and "Lord it's a mighty hard living, but a damn good feeling to run these roads", make you wish you were a bad, bad man. Don't let the country classification discourage you; country might be my least favorite genre, but "White House Roads" gets me going every time.
11. Almost (Sweet Music) by Hozier
You remember the significant other of yours who was supposed to move halfway across the world for work upon graduation? Well, imagine they just got the job offer of a lifetime twenty minutes down the road, and the love of your life no longer has to leave. That's what "Almost (Sweet Music)" feels like. This blissful jam is sure to put even the most dejected of folks in a better mood. Hozier's incredible voice gives the song its acclaim, but the background vocals are what really drive it home. "Almost (Sweet Music)" is feel good music at its finest.