seal photo from a recent video by my friend Bob Turner
In my last post I described the qualities of a great song, and specifically what certain songs evoke in me. This list is my favourite songs of the thousands I listened to for the first time in this (now nearly-finished) decade. I’ve been making these lists since the 60s.
It’s an eclectic and diverse list; I suspect few readers will have heard more than a handful of these. For each song I list the length, the genre, the year (if it was actually released before 2010 and only recently discovered by me), and a brief descriptive blurb. Clicking on the number of a song will take you to a YouTube or SoundCloud recording of the song (just hit your ‘back’ arrow to return you to the list after you’ve sampled).
Genres (as close as it’s possible to categorize some of these songs): D: Dance, F: Folk, N: New Age, S: Singer-Songwriter (mostly, again this decade, by women), W: World. For the second decade in a row, half the songs on my favourites list were written by women.
|Song, Length, Genre, Comments
|Totally Illégal (Harmonik song remix)
Canadian/Haitian duo Freakeyz riffs off the 'kompa' (instrumental groove) of Haitian supergroup Harmonik's song Illégal; then DJ Mayass remixes that. I looped it to make it longer.
|The Seal Lullaby
The composer famous for his 'virtual choirs' dusts off a song that he wrote for a Disney movie that was never made; words by Rudyard Kipling.
|Eric Whitacre Singers
The masterpiece of the Scottish folk superstar, written in open D tuning.
|Yaw Rek Leu (feat. Corine)
Cabo Verde's Philip and Sénégal's Corine combine on a love song sung in Wolof, with the very recognizable zouk/kompa/kizomba rhythm.
The ultimate find-yourself-by-travelling song, with an homage to Jack Kerouac.
First of 3 songs by Patty on this list, and this is probably the rawest.
|Love's a Game
A tour-de-force of guitar and compositional virtuosity, with its heart on its sleeve.
|The Magic Numbers
The live version of this song with lots of improvisation; possibly the spark that started a lot of DIY kompa musicians, including quite a few on this list.
|So It Goes
Perhaps the most intense, gut-wrenching anti-war song ever written.
The stripped-down remake that out-charted the '80s Tears for Fears original.
|Joue Tululute (Milca) Remix
Floridian/Haitian duo riffs off the kompa groove from French/Haitian Milca's hit song.
|Gello Keyzz & Sonson
|Totally Incroyable (Dave Bo Kote mix)
My own concatenation of the kompa grooves from two big hits by Haitian supergroup Harmonik.
|Désenchantée (Live / Lyon / 2013)
The #1 hit of the French superstar who plays to sellout crowds throughout the country.
First of 2 songs by Cheryl on this list; gentle and ironic. When she performs now it's mostly fun stuff.
|Where I Find You
My fave song of the Aussie neo-folk star.
|The Kind of Love You Never Recover From
Best know for her satires like Sensitive New-Age Guys, Christine absolutely soars on this raw and revealing lament.
If you're sensing a trend here of World Weary Women Song-Writers (WWWSS), you got me. Here's another soul-wrenching masterpiece.
|Longtime (feat. Javon J)
Another Floridian/Haitian kompa artist; this original song adds a reggae counterpoint to the rhythm.
|Young Black Pearl
First of 3 early 2000's 'ghetto zouk' songs on this list from French/AfroAmerican/Vietnamese Shydeeh; this is what rap could be with complexity, composition and crafting.
The wildly underrated Winnipeg trio's finest song IMO,
The quirky hotel in question is in West End Vancouver, and it's just as Cheryl describes.
The Australian EDM duo channel the Beach Boys at their most harmonic and nostalgic.
|Empire of the Sun
Profane and outrageous, this song is an angry feminist rant, with brilliant and complex composition.
Fun and inventive instrumentation make this innocuous dance number into something irresistible.
|Mwen Bouke (BODO Remix)
BODO is Yves Clément Michel ex- of Haitian groups Zenglen and Disip, riffing off yet another Harmonik groove.
|Soon Be to Nothing
The veteran Atlanta folk rock duo write a song that could be about non-duality, with an enchanting rhythm.
|Om Namo Bhagavate
The classically-trained German mantra artist spins stunning melodic lines and harmonies that you never get tired of.
The long-time UK champion junior Steel Band plays the brilliant Trinidad master Duvone Stewart's arrangement of Barbadian Peter Ram's hit.
|Swear Like a Sailor
Toronto tropical house master's breakout hit.
|Angels (Kygo Remix)
The Norwegian superstar DJ brilliantly remixes the English band's hit with his signature instrumentations.
|Kygo & The XX
|Moola Mantra - Part I II III
Another classic from Deva, with layers and variations that go on for over half an hour; I first heard this in Second Life.
It is, of course, not really about kites at all.
|Key to My Soul
My favourite from Seattle Jim; the protest song king shows his heart. Catch him at fairs throughout the Pacific NW.
Gouyad is the provocative dance that accompanies kompa music; original work by the Haitian-American trio.
|AlexCkj Ralph_MMG CamKeyz
|You're Free Now (feat. Sarah Jarosz)
This clever and brooding guitar virtuoso seems to flourish in collaborations with smart women singers.
|Anthony da Costa
|The Deal Yo
More complex rhythm, vocalization and instrumentation in this 'ghetto zouk' hit.
|My Best Friend (Cap-Verde)
The 'princess of Zouk' hails from Guyane Fr but sings in many languages and has an international following.
|The Mhairi Bhan
Another classic from the Scottish folk master, about a fishing boat of course.
|Riding Shotgun (feat. Bonnie McKee)
Another smart collaboration by the Norwegian tropical house whiz, this time with the Swedish DJ Oliver Nelson.
|Kygo & Oliver Nelson
|Ighvidzebs Chemi Tbilisi (Tbilisi Awakens)
A lovely folk song from the Georgian Republic sparkles thanks to Salome's jaw-droppingly powerful and nuanced voice.
|Kickin' This Stone
Wisconsin's Johnsmith tells a complex story tinged with double-meanings and clever, gentle social commentary.
|Time and Space
A clever piece of electronica is sparked by the astonishing sultry voice of Lou Rhodes.
|Cinematic Orchestra ft Lou Rhodes
You'll never think of rain the same way after listening to this; watch the inspired animated video too.
|She's Saving Me
Another love song from the Atlanta duo with an enchanting rhythm.
|Alberta is Her Name
The Small Glories' Cara Luft co-wrote this song with James Keelaghan. She and SG partner JD Edwards now live in Winnipeg. Gorgeous lyrics.
|The Small Glories
|Small Of My Heart
This award-winning female duo from Cape Breton blend several genres to make savvy and penetrating songs.
Floridian Leo from the Haitian Kompa group Klimax does both remixes and laid back original songs like this one.
This Guadeloupe Zouk artist is one of the founders of Femmes Fatales, dedicated to supporting Caribbean women musicians.
|Alive and Well (feat. Bishop Anstey High School Choir)
A simple soca song by Trinidadian superstar Voice comes alive with a local school choir's inspired backing.
|Ou Diferan (feat. Maxiimus)
|Red & White & Blue & Gold (Live)
|True Love (Harmonik remix)
|DJ Willmixx, Bensky
|The Moon & St Christopher
|Kate Rusby & Kathryn Roberts
|Domine'm (ft Jeff Konple)
|The Hurting Time