The year 2020 has finally come to an end. During the month leading up to what will hopefully be the beginning of a more proactive era, I spent many hours expanding my mental music library. Thanks in part to the indie films and Netflix dramas I binged over the last few weeks, specifically Little Miss Sunshine (2006), The Crown (2016- ), and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), I came across five memorable songs to add to my list of all-time favorites.
The Mind’s Eye ~ Song Sung
Kicking off this list is a euphoric blend of shoegaze and 1950s pop. In this 2020 release, Song Sung integrates a sock hop-rhythm with the ease of present-day dream-pop to establish their style and challenge the traditional definition of alternative music. The beautifully haunting prelude hypnotizes us listeners, while the ethereal vocals complement the pulsating, echoic soundscape. As the song nears the chorus, however, the vocals grow kinder and more natural, channeling the regal softness of Lana Del Ray. This transition is accompanied by the merging of genres within the instrumentals; the sound changes from gossamer to sentimental with the addition of the classic drum beat and staccato piano not unlike the one featured in The Capris’ “There’s a Moon Out Tonight.” This makes “The Mind’s Eye” a sweet tune for both dancing and meditative listening sessions.
Queen of the Surface Streets ~ DeVotchKa
Bursting with the hopeful energy that we all crave this time of year, DeVotchKa’s “Queen of the Surface Streets” washes away our worries and redirects us toward our aspirations. This tune builds from a humble guitar jingle to an inspiring consortium of folk instrumentals, like the character arch of an indie film protagonist, progressing in mood and increasing in strength. The steady drum beat beneath the warm violin and acoustic guitar adds comfort to this wholesome journey, and the deflation of the melody’s buoyancy after the last chorus ends mirrors the behavior of a narrative falling-action. The song ends as it begins and leaves us with the sense that we, like the solitary guitar, are ultimately at the center of our stories.
I Only Have Eyes for You ~ The Flamingos
To experience the bewitching effects of this one-of-a-kind love ballad we must travel sixty years into the past. Accompanied by transient “do-wop sha-bops,” the starry-eyed lead singer of The Flamingos melts hearts with gentle expressions of devotion, loyalty, and eternal adoration. While the lyrics maintain a romantic tone, the song’s crawling rhythm makes each resonant guitar strum linger like a cloud of smoke. Every note echoes and blends together to create an ambiguously pleasing harmony that lures us to listen a few more times. The Flamingos changed the script of the traditional “doo-wop” tune that defined the 1950s by twisting their thoughtful ode into a shadowy yet mesmerizing composition. “I Only Have Eyes for You” is a timeless classic that reminds us of what treasures exist in the vast archive of love songs past.
Just A Phase ~ Hannah Georgas
Despite its relaxed beat and toned-down bassline, this recent piece by singer-songwriter Hannah Georgas conveys a blunt message about embracing who you are, even if it means falling short of other people’s standards. This track consists of a relatively simple structure and thoughtful lyrics, which gives it the potential to inspire budding singer-songwriters who may be overthinking the means of creating a good song. Following a mellow prelude, Georgas speaks her mind through her honest and relatable lyrics. While her serious tone calls attention to the importance of her words, her delicate annunciation and wispy. elongation of lyrics instills the feeling that everything is okay. The addition of hushed electronic drums and synthesizers also gives “Just A Phase” a more modern pop sound characteristic of indie music festivals. Hopefully we will get the chance to sway to Georgas’ songs amongst a crowd of fellow music lovers in the near future.
Ruby Tuesday ~ The Rolling Stones
Ending this list is The Rolling Stones’ uplifting ode to the fleeting, free-spirited girl who captured the singer’s heart. I had known for a while that this is one of the Stone’s best-known tracks, but until now I had never taken the time to sit down and listen to it from beginning to end. A bittersweet ballad, “Ruby Tuesday” combines the blissful feeling of infatuation with the reluctance that comes with letting go of the person one loves. We are treated to the satisfying ring of a clean, grand piano, whose emotive harmony could make one cry tears of joy and sorrow. The mood established by the instruments captures the essence of the singer’s feelings; he is glad that she is free to live in her own way, yet he admits that, “still I’m gonna miss you.” Nonetheless, the bright tone of the song lifts our spirits and transports us back to the bohemian days of the late 1960s.
Check out the site next month to read about my January Jams. If you want to listen to the songs mentioned in this article, click the link below. If you like what you hear or have a song/artist suggestion, do not hesitate to leave a comment!