Coming soon: Some lists of my favorite music of 2011, including my favorite and least favorite songs, and my favorite singles released to country radio. Before then, however, here are a few great songs from this past year that didn't quite make it to my top 20 or 25, which honestly doesn't really mean a whole lot of anything. The top ten is my surefire bread and butter, my pure unadulterated favorite songs from 2011. Their reveal will be exciting, I promise. Anyway, click on the links (bolded song name and artist) to hear the song and/or see the video or performance of it.
"Moves Like Jagger" - Little Big Town - Part of their Scattered, Smothered, and Covered cover song series, Little Big Town's version surpasses Maroon 5's grossly overplayed original in every way, stripping the song down to it's bare, organic essentials and adding a sweet banjo line for good measure. Take me by the tongue and I'll know you, kiss me 'til you're drunk and I'll show you... (deep thoughts, Adam Levine)
"My Love Follows You Where You Go" - Alison Krauss and Union Station - This might be the most upbeat song on their latest release Paper Airplane. It's pretty much straightforward bluegrass (at least for AK+US), and with the always superb musicianship of Union Station and the seemingly supernatural vocals of Alison Krauss, this tale of a parent lamenting as their teenager leaves home to chase a bright future -- yet at the same time declaring that their love will always be there with them -- goes down smoothly. Future like a promise, you're a city of gold, stubborn in your bones, and Jesus in your soul
"Curse The Love Songs" - The Hawk In Paris - This usually isn't my thing, but a good song is a good song. And with Dan Haseltine (from one of my favorite bands Jars of Clay) on lead vocals, it's hard to go wrong. Haseltine has a unique and emotive voice that fits nicely with the heavy-drums-and-synthesizers style, an admitted and blatant reference to eighties musical bombast. But there's also a ton of heart here. Have you ever stood out in the rain, watched love grow cold and roll away, and in your heart feel the weight that things will never change
"Another Sunday Morning Hangover" - Levi Lowrey - Any person that used to be heavily involved in church but has since strayed for one reason or another will connect with this song. It's not that you don't believe anymore; you do. It's just that you got tired of feeling so damn guilty about everything all the time. Sometimes that guilt can creep back in, especially on some of the more wild nights. Or, specifically, those Sunday mornings you now spend recovering from the night before rather than sitting in a pew. God knows you've tried to change and go back many times. Maybe one day you will for good. Maybe not. I know the Lord turned the water to wine, but the devil made me drink it last night
"The Mirror" - Jill Andrews - Probably my favorite female vocalist and singer/songwriter of all time (I'm not exaggerating). Also, I used to have a HUGE crush on her (definitely not exaggerating, see picture above). Formerly of the group The Everybodyfields, a phenomenal band that made "real country music from the Great American South," Andrews went for pop stardom in the vein of Sara Bareilles (although Andrews is on a completely different level than her, to be quite honest) with her first full-length solo release The Mirror. And though it would have been well-deserved, it didn't really pan out. But the record is pretty good, and the title track and only single (I believe) is quite catchy. The chorus also contains some really nice background vocals that add a pleasantly nostalgic effect to the whole affair. You broke the mirror but I will get the bad luck
"Rope" - Foo Fighters - When it comes to modern rock, it just never gets any better than Foo Fighters. They are melodic, balls out, and riff heavy. The best and most consistent band in mainstream rock, "Rope" is the song that hooked me into buy their new record Wasting Light. It recalls late 90s, early 00s Foo for me, probably because guitarist Pat Smear from 1997's The Colour And The Shape returned for this album (I remember him vividly from the "Monkeywrench" video), not to mention the fact that the album was recorded in Dave Grohl's garage. And both of those are really good things. This indecision's got me climbing up the wall, been cheating gravity and waiting on the fall
"Quarter Chicken Dark" - Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile - I will always at the very least check out anything mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile puts out, because while I don't necessarily like everything he does, I certainly think he's prolific. He's in top form here, along with his three counterparts who I admit I'm not too familiar with. The musicianship on display here is incredible and a joy to watch. It feels literally like a combination of bluegrass, classical, and jazz while not really being any of those, and believe it or not, you can kind of rock out to it. They released an album in 2011 called The Goat Rodeo Sessions (hmm...okay), and this Colbert Report performance is fine stuff.
"Paradise" - Coldplay - This is quite simply a gorgeous song that's driven by it's sweet-as-a-candy-cane melody, strong and heavy beat, and some really beautiful strings/synths (I can't really tell which). It sounds so good that I don't even know what most of the lyrics are. It doesn't matter. Gotta see these guys in concert before I die, though, for sure. This could be Para- Para- Paradise, Para- Para- Paradise