Friday, February 29, 2008
20. "Love Profusion," Madonna, American Life
I think this is one of the most underrated albums of recent times, especially in Madonna's catalog. Here is a Madonna forgoing the glamor and dance-floor aesthetic that brought her to fame; here is a more mature Madonna, pondering her place as a woman, a mother, a lover, and an American in the 21st century. This is the song that comes into my head when I feel like I'm drowning in infatuation, when I'm with a guy and I don't know what I'm doing and I'm kind of being a bitch but it's only because I'm nervous. And the clipped acoustic-guitar loop works perfectly.
"And I know I can feel bad when I get in a bad mood..."
19. "Tonight I Have to Leave It," Shout Out Louds, Our Ill Wills
One of the few albums I fell in love with upon the first listen. Shout Out Louds have a knack for writing lyrics that seem to read my mind; I've thought the words to "South America," for instance, many nights of wondering what I'm going to do. But it's this song, the lead single, that made them one of my favorite bands; the rollicking old-time piano, the jabbing acoustic guitar, and the desperation we all feel when we're breaking up with someone.
"When we go out dancing, I don't want to be bothered..."
18. "Turn Into," Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Show Your Bones
I actually heard the acoustic version of this song first, so that's what I was used to. But I am in awe of this song; the acoustic intro belies the instrumental intensity that awaits the patient listener, and Karen O's self-harmonizing only adds to the audible kaleidoscope that this song becomes. If I were to run a fireworks show, this is the song I'd want playing in the background.
"That girl you found keeps that kind of window closed."
17. "Tim I Wish You Were Born A Girl," Of Montreal, Cherry Peel
Winning the award for sweetest use of an electric guitar ever (it sounds like a kazoo), this is a cute acoustic song about the nature of love; Kevin Barnes sings about making chicken soup and watching soap operas with his buddy, wishing that his buddy were actually the girl of his dreams. But there can exist love between friends, even straight male friends; this is a tune sung by someone both sure of his masculinity and still frustratingly single. I can relate! (Well, one out of two ain't bad, right?)
"But it's just not the same, cuz you're a man, and so am I."
16. "Walk Away," Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better
Dark alleys, Mod hairdos, and Cold War-era politics all fit into this great rock-noir song by every indie kid's least favorite band, Franz Ferdinand. The chorus is something we've all wanted to say to someone we're in an argument with, and the politician-alluding ending sums up the song's message perfectly: that sometimes, a fight can seem like the biggest deal in the world, when really it's the most trivial.
"Why don't you walk away? Why don't you walk away?"
15. "D.A.N.C.E. (Mstrkrft Remix)," Justice (and, I guess, Mstrkrft)
It's the hit single's darker, more intense cousin. While the single version is doing shots on the dance floor, this remix is doing lines in the bathroom. And when the synth-drenched outro begins, I always crank my iPod up to the loudest it will go and let me eardrums get pounded. But that's the way this remix likes it; pain for pleasure, baby.
14. "Electrolite," R.E.M., New Adventures in Hi-Fi
It's a love song and a farewell to old Hollywood; it's Sunset Boulevard meets Mulholland Drive. It's a great little number that closes out a solid R.E.M. album effort, and Michael Stipe's voice is just wonderful. (By the way, Marc Jacobs? What?) You'll listen to this song once, and then want to listen to it again and again.
"I'm Steve McQueen; I'm Jimmy Dean."
13. "Wolf Notes," The Fiery Furnaces, Blueberry Boat
The Fiery Furnaces is (are?) one of my favorite bands, and Blueberry Boat may be my favorite album ever. Don't let the fact that this song is only number thirteen fool you; just about every song on this album is a gem. It's just that the album works as a sort of chaotic, crowded, yet strangely coherent whole, and choosing a single song is tough; beats and synth lines flow from one track to the next, the lyrics are crazy but also follow a general weird-people-doing-shady-things theme, and by the time you've listened to the whole thing your head is swimming but you've just got to hear it all again.
12. "All My Loving," The Beatles, With the Beatles
I mean, come on, it's the Beatles; they kind of had to appear on this list, didn't they? But more importantly, this is the song that reminds me of childhood more than any other. I was really attached to my dad, and he'd always play this song right before he left on one of his week-long business trips, and I'd dance around the living room (not even joking, Soren) and then start crying after he walked out the door. This song can still bring me to tears, if I'm in the right mood.
"Close your eyes and I'll kiss you; tomorrow I'll miss you."
11. "Just One Star," Antony and the Johnsons, Hope There's Someone [EP]
The most unique voice in today's music world singing about how lonely he is; how could I not love this? It's also really short (under two minutes) and sparse (just vocals and piano.) In essence, it's a great song for me to listen to if I need a quick, therapeutic cry.
"I wanted to be more, more than I could bear."
10. "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!," Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas
My favorite holiday song is by Sufjan--figures, right? But the melody is gorgeous and the lyrics heartbreaking. It reminds me of my parents fighting while I'm home over Winter Break, so I go outside and nearly freeze as I smoke a cigarette and count the minutes until I get back to New York. Strangely, it's a comforting thought; it's nice to know you have a place to go that's safe and warm and that you won't be able to wait to leave again.
"Our father yells, throwing our gifts in the wood stove, wood stove."
9. "Heaven In the Afternoon," Belle and Sebastian, White Collar Boy [EP]
This just might be my favorite love song. Making great uses of the saxophone and just-cheesy-enough strings, this sweet song--about love, about losing innocence, about the ways we feel safe--is the song I always play when I imagine myself kissing the love of my life by the Hudson River, when the Manhattan skyline is lit up behind us and nothing matters but each other. This is not the last time you'll see this band on this list; they're good enough to warrant two top-ten entries.
"I love you like I love my blood; I love this town, I love you just as much."
8. "Gronlandic Edit," Of Montreal, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?
A different side of Of Montreal. By the time this album was released, Kevin Barnes was a much more bitter man, no longer in the mood for singing about fantasy worlds or heterosexual life partners. He was having problems with his wife, so he wrote an album about it. On this song he's "hiding in our friend's apartment" and lamenting the fact that "all of the beauty's wasted." And that part when he sings, "I guess it would be nice" for the second time and the drum stops? Always gives me chills.
"All the party people dancing for the indie star, but he's the worst faker by fa-a-a-a-a-a-a-ar."
7. "The King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1," Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
Fun fact number one: Did you know that this was the only song from this album that Josh liked for about four months? Fun fact number two: Did you know that this is one of the most beautiful songs ever? The acoustic-guitar-and-bass combo contributes to the historicism with which this album is obsessed. And any song that can nail both love and bad parenting is alright in my book. (Not that I had bad parents, but I still like it when songs talk about that.)
"And dad would dream of all the different ways to die, each one a little more than he could dare to try."
6. "Bled White," Elliott Smith, XO
One of the few albums that I think would make John Lennon jealous if he heard it, every song on XO is a tragic masterpiece. From the mourning regret of "Waltz, No. 1" to the sad, a capella "I Didn't Understand," this album hits all the right notes in all the most miserable places. But this one is, in my opinion, the best; it's strangely upbeat, with an awesome use of background vocals and a melody that could almost be a 50s grocery-store jingle. Elliott Smith's lyrics are the words my brain would form if it were smarter.
"So here he comes with a blank expression, especially for me cuz he knows I feel the same."
5. "Amsterdam," Peter Bjorn and John, Writer's Block
Jess could've told you that this one would make the list. Like "Young Folks," it makes great use of whistling, but instead of sweet these lyrics are sad. It's the feeling we all get when we're missing someone and we know we'll probably never see him again, so we try to move on, but it's hard. Peter Bjorn and John know that; they'll never let you down.
"And I got to go away to a place of my own; working hard, fill my time."
4. "Hung Up," Madonna, Confessions on a Dance Floor
By far, the song I've listened to most often. It's my walking song, my getting-ready-for-a-big-night-out jam, and the song I play when I imagine that one day I'll be a glamorous celebrity who gets paid to go to clubs, decked out in a glittering white tuxedo and shiny black dancing shoes (because I'm a huge fag.) That said, it's also my favorite dance song of all time, and damn you ABBA for making such a catchy loop. Yeah, she'll sample your ass onto the dance floor.
"Waiting for your call, baby, night and day, I'm fed up--I'm tired of waiting on you."
3. "Piazza, New York Catcher," Belle and Sebastian, Dear Catastrophe Waitress
I first heard this song in my friend Erin's living room; she was online, IMing her girlfriend while we waited for her brother to bring back the car so we could go out. Then this came on and she was about to change it, but I told her to leave it on because I liked it. That night, downloading it onto my computer, I realized I loved it. Thus began my love affair with Belle and Sebastian; Stuart Murdoch is undoubtedly the man of my dreams. And this is the song we'd listen to after sleeping together for the first time, me by the window smoking a cigarette and wondering what the future has in store for us, he lying in bed, half-asleep and smiling because I've made him happy. Ugh. Fuck you, Stuart Murdoch, for giving me such unrealistic expectations about love. You're just as bad as Disney.
"Elope with me, Miss Private, and we'll sail around the world."
2. "New Slang," The Shins, Oh, Inverted World
I don't know whether it's comforting or depressing to know that no matter what I do in life, I'll never write a song as good as this one.
"Dawn breaks like a bull through the hall; never should have called, but my head's to the wall and I'm lonely."
1. "Stockholm Syndrome," Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
Maybe it's just a little home-state pride, or maybe it's just that Yo La Tengo are from New Jersey too, but to me, this song is the Jersey Shore. It's the bright, colorful lights of the game stands lining the boardwalk; it's the quiet roar of the ocean at midnight; it's the crushing knowledge that you actually have to work for love, and that sometimes you feel trapped, and you just want to forget it but something won't let you. Above all, it's everything I love about Yo La Tengo; their ability to write painfully true yet maddeningly ambiguous lyrics; their ability to inject everything with the perfect dose of melancholy; their ability to make me cry; and their ability to make me remember why I love music so much.
"What's the matter? Why don't you answer? What's the matter with me?"
20. Rilo Kiley - Does He Love You?
One of my favorite memories of high school is driving down Kelly Drive towards the city with my friend Ilyssa blasting this song and singing at the top of our lungs. Listen particularly carefully for the climax when Jenny screams, "But he's distant and you found him/ On the phone screaming 'baby I love you'/ And I'll leave her and I'm coming out to California."
19. Band of Horses - The Funeral
I've loved this song for awhile now but it's been kind of ruined by its usage in a Toyota commercial, which bumped it back several spots. It's a shame, because this song is fucking great, but now whenever I listen to it I think of shiny happy people in shiny happy cars.
18. Elliott Smith - Between the Bars Elliott Smith is a go-to of mine when I'm feeling like I want to kill myself (JK!). But really, this song was in The Royal Tenenbaums and if there's one thing you can count on Wes Anderson for, it's having great soundtracks to accompany his mostly almost-great movies.
17. Radiohead - Thinking About You
When I came home from Berkeley the summer before senior year I played this song on repeat and watched slideshows of the pictures I'd taken. Aka I'm pathetic, but whatevs, this song is special to me. (Aww, lolz)
16. Neutral Milk Hotel - In an Aeroplane Over the Sea
The lyrics to this song make you feel happy to be alive, particularly the refrain, "How strange it is to be anything at all." Metaphysical, AND the melody's catchy. Leave it to NMH.
15. Van Morrison - Sweet Thing
This song makes me cry. I don't want to say anything else about it.
14. Bon Iver - Flume I heard this song for the first time last week and I'm completely in love. If you haven't heard Bon Iver (which, as I so called, is a bastardized form of Bon Hiver, meaning "Good Winter" in French), then I suggest you pick up his record. After a 3 year long bout with mono and a difficult breakup, he retreated into the woods and emerged with this piece of gold. If I had to put my poetry to music, I'd use Bon Iver's sad guitar.
13. Frou Frou - Let Go Nothing so characterizes my sophomore year and flat out obsession with Garden State (no, I'm not ashamed) as this song. The first time I heard it I got chills, and that initial beauty never really waned.
12. LCD Soundsystem - All My Friends
Catchy, upbeat, but with sad-ish lyrics: is there really any other way to describe LCD Soundsystem? Sure, but I'm not going to try.
11. Various Artists - Adagio For Strings
The only classical music piece on my list. Ok, so we played this song in Concert Band in high school and I fell in love. It was the only piece of music I ever truly enjoyed playing. It's kind of ruined by the fact they always use it for World War II battle scenes and overdramatized breakups, but the song encompasses so much emotion that it's difficult to deny how amazing it is. Yay for minor chords!
10. Sufjan Stevens - To Be Alone With You
This song is a perfect combination of grownup romance and wishful teenage angst: afterall, what more do you want when you're a teenager than to be squished up together with someone in a car or at the movies or in your parents' basement?
9. The Decemberists - Red Right Ankle
Acoustic, simple, beautiful. The lyrics make me weepy.
8. Neutral Milk Hotel - Oh Comely
Jeff Mangnum is really one of my favorite lyricists of modern rock groups. And the fact that they centered their record, In an Aeroplane Over the Sea, around the story of Anne Frank is creepy and kitschy and somehow perfect.
7. Broken Social Scene - Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl
This song was my anthem when I was a 17 year old girl. Whispery and echoey and with a climax as intense as, well, a climax, the lyrics fit perfectly into my idea of myself as a teenager. And how many girls put "Park that car, drop that phone, sleep on the floor, dream about me" in their away messages?
6. The Decemberists - On the Bus Mall
The guitars in this song are mind-numbing. Colin Meloy strikes again.
5. Joni Mitchell - All I Want
Junior year of high school my friend Dina and I became literally obsessed with Joni Mitchell's Blue. We would actually skip school just to go home, smoke baby joints, and listen to it. All I Want is maybe my favorite from the album.
4. Radiohead - Pyramid Song
The syncopation of this song is what makes it work so well. The beat actually comes just a split second after you feel it should come. And it has that classic Radiohead synthesizer vibe.
3. The Knife - Heartbeats
This song is so freshman year of college: from pregaming in our tiny dorm, to late nights and copious amounts of drugs at places like Bleach (RIP) and Ruff Club, this song seriously defines an entire chunk of my life.
2. The National - Slow Show
Just listen to the refrain: "You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you" and tell me you didn't tear up a bit.
1. Sufjan Stevens - Casimir Pulaski Day
My alltime favorite song is acoustic and sad and about someone dying: go figure! It wholly sums up my senior year. I used to play it every night driving home from my ex-boyfriend's house. It is sad and melodramatic and perfect.
JOSH: i have an idea for a blog post but it's very self-important and kind of a cliche, so tell me if you like it
JOSH: we each count down our like, 20 favorite songs
JOSH: and like say why we love them
JESS: yeah sure
JOSH: but i'd only do it if you did it too
JESS i was thinking of doing like a beauty entry
JESS: like good products we use
JESS: LOL like people care
JESS: i'm just good at talking about fashion
JOSH: LOL "josh, meanwhile, steals cover-up from duane reade. HE IS SO COOL"
JESS: LOL do you really?
JOSH: yeah hahaha
JESS: i used to steal speed from duane reade
JESS: and by speed i mean no doz
JESS: OTC speed
JOSH: LOL, i'm sippin some liquid speed
JESS: me too!
JESS: we should do a post about our favorite founding fathers
Who has ideas for posts they want to see? Also, does it surprise you that we actually put thought into this thing?
Thursday, February 28, 2008
How fitting that Stumble brought me to this while I was enjoying a cigarette.
I hate this. I hate the fact that they want to censor movies. I hate the fact that they assume that just because a character in Juno smokes, teenagers across the country will pick up the habit (just like they'll start having unprotected sex and then giving up their babies for adoption!)
I hate the fact that they even want to remove smoking from historical films. Historical--as in, the past; as in, before people knew smoking was bad for you. I'm sorry, but you take cigarettes out of an old-time Western like 3:10 to Yuma and you completely ruin the movie. Back then, everyone smoked; it was just something people did, and ignoring that doesn't change the fact of the matter. Not only does the removal of cigarettes from films like that manipulate the audience into believing a false version of the past--I know that's kind of what historical films do anyway, but in this case it's ignoring an everyday part of a given past society that was otherwise depicted with complete realism--but it also blames the movie industry in general for influencing kids to smoke.
I have never met a single person who started smoking because they saw it in a movie. When you go to the movies, you know you're watching a story unfold--even the smallest child understands that cars don't talk and trucks don't turn into robots, so I highly doubt that they'll suddenly feel compelled to forgo the lollipop and ask Mommy for a Parliament. Besides, taking cigarettes out of movies won't make children blind to smoking; take your kids to New York City for twenty minutes and they'll see plenty of people puffing away.
First they banned smoking sections in restaurants. Now they're working on this. God, either ban the cancer sticks completely or quit trying to slowly phase them out--everyone knows that smoking is bad for you anyway.
Now I want another cigarette.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
JESS: that's such a hard question, like i can't even wrap my head around it
DAVID: how is that a hard question?
JESS: i don't know, obama probs has a massive cock
DAVID: yeah true
DAVID: and thus jessica selected her presidential candidate
JESS: is papa becker there?
JOSH: no! i don't know where the hell he is
JOSH: i hope he didn't get in a car crash
JESS: omg! i'm sure he's okay
JESS: *knocks on wood 3 times in sets of 3* (Editor's note: It should be obvious by now that Jess has OCD. I know, it's embarrassing. Just don't come over before bed or you will get sucked into her rituals, like turning her white noise machine on and off 3 times and saying little 'prayers' three times (and once for good luck))
JOSH: i just ordered delivery and now i'm gonna guilt him into paying for it
JOSH: LOL i am so selfish
JESS: i just ordered delivery too
JESS: haha yeah you are, get a job you fucking bum
JOSH: in all fairness, i've been applyin'
JESS: how hard is it to get a work study job?
JOSH: um last time i got one it took 3 seconds. i've applied to 2 since friday and haven't heard from either. i don't understand why this is so difficult.
JOSH: i'm 3 seconds from working at wendy's
JESS: maybe they don't want to hire you cuz you're a member of teh gayz
JOSH: that must be it
Anyone wanna hire a deeply sexy, pale, skinny, Jewish gay boy? He has a razor-sharp wit and pool-blue eyes. Inquire within.
I don't know what this is: a promo for ESPN, a tie-in with some new Fergie-related thing, just a comedy sketch, whatever. Point is, I think it's hysterical. My favorite part is when she's spelling "pugnacious" and she's really pissed off but she still sings the last three letters; the contrast between her voice and her facial expression is priceless.
It's just one of those things that you, like, joke about with your friends in the car while listening to "Glamorous," but then they actually went ahead and made a skit out of it. I'm a little disappointed by the lack of "tastey," but it's still just self-deprecating enough to show that Fergie has a sense of humor.
And a meth face. But damn, that meth face can spell.
I don't know what this has to do with Jewish values, or why the kid's friend doesn't call the paramedics because little Moisheh Moneymaker is HAVING A SEIZURE, but there you go.
First Shania Twain lyrics, now this. I swear to God, if my Stumble brings me any Whoopi Goldberg videos I'm deleting the entire application.
...For a day or two. Just to teach it a lesson.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Ok, fine. I don't have classes on Tuesday so I get the whole day to do nothing. Except for the fact that I lose 6 hours of work, which rounds out to about $50. Not to mention I had already gotten to campus. I think I should find some way to make them pay me for my lost time. It's not like NYU can't afford it.
Anyway, I decided to see The Counterfeiters at the Angelika on Houston because I didn't have anything else to do. I was the only person under 50 years old, but the movie was great; it won best foreign language film at the Oscars, and I say well-deserved. I had a strange obsession with the Holocaust when I was younger, so movies that take place in concentration camps always hit me right at the center. I highly recommend it.
Hopefully tomorrow the building will be fixed so I can go back to making $9/hour for flirting with old alums.
Hannah and I at 15
Monday, February 25, 2008
JOSH: andwasn't high
JESS: lol yeah!
JESS: it was fun
JOSH: it was
JOSH: perhaps it's a sign that we don't need weed as much as we think we do
JOSH: lol jk =D
He often tells me that life would be easier if he were gay. I always laugh when he says that, thinking about how easier my childhood would have been if I were like all the other kids and went for breasts instead of dick. What I always end up saying to him, however, is something really gay, like "Yeah, it's pretty fabulous."
Thing is, it's not fabulous. I think there's a misconception out there that courtship is easier for gays than for straights. But I would argue the opposite: if you are gay (especially if you're gay in a place teeming with queers like downtown New York), it is almost impossible to find a lasting mate. One-night stands aren't too difficult to come by, but when you get right down to it, anyone with fifty bucks and a desire to cruise up Sixth Avenue at three in the morning can get lucky.
The thing about heterosexual love is that guys and girls don't really get each other. "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" aside, boys and girls operate differently. They communicate in different ways, look at the same situation from varying perspectives, and often have incongruous values or life goals. The girl who's crushing on the guy reads his Facebook messages like a zoologist observes an animal. "What can he mean?" she thinks. "Why did he say that? Why is he so difficult to read?" I've heard girls ask these questions more times than I can count. So when a boy and a girl actually fall in love and stay together, well, it's a wonderful thing. That two totally different sorts of people can find common ground aside from the inborn drive for sex is mystifying and magnificent.
But for gays, it's the opposite. Gays don't ask as many questions. The reason is that we all operate in pretty much the same way. Sure, there are different kinds of gays: Splash kids, hipsters, straight-boy-wannabes, dancers. But in the end, our genes and our brains are pretty similar, and when it comes to reading each other, we all know what to expect. Therein lies the problem. We all try to read each others' moves. If a cute guy hits on me in a bar, I'd like to think I know what's he's thinking, and then I assume I know that he expects me to react in a certain way. It becomes a mutual guessing game, kind of like that movie WarGames, in which the Pentagon's supercomputer comes up with different scenarios for nuclear war with the Soviets. At the end, the computer learns that it always ends in a stalemate. That's what happens too often during gay courtship; the two potential lovers spend so much times reading each other and thinking of ways to outsmart each other that they don't actually spend too much time being with each other. Because love should end in a stalemate; nobody should "win," and nobody should trick the other into "losing." And the only way to ensure that happens is by forgoing the mind games and just hanging out; true love lies in the exploration of someone different, where instead of trying to figure him out, you accept him and love him for his quirks and flaws.
This is my problem. I am a neurotic mess who spends all his time trying to read other people. A gay guy I know from class writes on my wall, and even if he clearly means it platonically, I immediately think of all the different reasons for him to contact me. Does he like me? Is he trying to see if I like him? What if I wait a couple days so that I seem busy, that way he won't be able to determine how I feel and he'll have to reveal his hand first? Meanwhile, he just wanted to know the damn homework assignment due tomorrow, and maybe he wanted to get together to study. Of course that would just send me over the edge and I'd probably have a heart attack right then and there.
What I'm trying to say is that life would be easier if there were no such thing as love, if we all just existed as friends and didn't have to worry about hormones and emotions getting in the way. Maybe I'm just venting because I'm still so frustratingly single, but I'll be damned if I let my guard down, even for a second.