“Breathless,” Stairwell – I’m pretty sure I made this playlist for a girl; I’m also pretty sure this, an almost excessively-poppy song, was on here to make amends for the first track. I’m a gentleman like that. 4 stars.
“For Ivadell,” Mineral – all about the ending on this song. I think this song made me really start liking Mineral, and consequently helped me realize that you don’t need to be able to sing in order to know how to sing. 4 stars.
“Last,” Slick Shoes – One of the 10 best pop-punk songs of all time? I say yes. 5 stars.
“Deeper Still,” David Wilcox – Wilcox was slightly notorious after being banned from Wheaton College for performing “East Asheville Hardware” at a campus concert (with its opening line, “When you love somebody and they dick you around, doesn’t that really suck.”) “Deeper Still,” on the other hand, is one of the most melancholy songs ever. Got a lot of plays post-breakups. 5 stars.
“Hide and Seek,” Imogen Heap – obviously I got caught up in the moment. Fantastic song and vocal performance; one of my favorite 20 tracks of all time? Doubtful. (Did I mention I’m pretty sure I made this playlist for a girl?) 2 stars.
“Part of the Deal,” Sense Field – HOLY CRAP. AWESOME. 6 stars.
“Hurry,” Sleeping At Last – I was sure Sleeping at Last would keep creating songs like this. I’ll give them credit for trying, but these are heights they never again reached. 5 stars.
(Editor’s note: in reviewing my review, I realize I’m pretty generous with the stars. I make no excuse for this.)
“Time is Running Out,” Muse – I’m pretty confident this song could find a home on almost any mix, at any time. That being said, would you miss it if it were gone? 3 stars.
“Accidentally,” Owen – Good song. So many better Owen songs, though. I’m a confused how this one made it on the list. 2 stars.
“The Lying Lies & Dirty Secrets of Miss Erica Court,” Coheed & Cambria – Not the most bombastic C&C song, but always one of my favorites. Maybe it’s their version of “restraint” that loses its way in the pre-chorus, finds itself again in the chorus, only to lose it all before the outro. Seriously, stick around for the end. 4 stars.
“Red & Blue Jeans,” The Promise Ring – True “emo” at its best. I have no regrets. 5 stars.
“Academy Flight Song,” No Knife – I take it back; this is emo at its best. I have ripped this song off numerous times in my own music, and will continue to do so at every opportunity. 6 stars.
“3×5,” John Mayer – Plenty of people hate John Mayer, and I don’t like all his stuff, but when he’s on, he’s on. Even weirdly prescient when you consider it was written over a decade ago, before the explosion of camera phones: “Didn’t have a camera by my side this time, hoping I would see the world with both my eyes.” Also, “Today, the skies are painted colors of a cowboy cliche. And strange how clouds that look like mountains in the sky are next to mountains anyway.” I’m gonna get a lot of comments for this one, but 5 stars.
“I’m Doing Everything (For You),” The Rocket Summer – The 25 seconds that are the reason this song sticks with me even now: 1:50-2:15. I realize I will probably get more comments for this than John Mayer. I have a sweet tooth. 3 stars.
“Your Hand in Mine,” Explosions in the Sky – I’m not positive, but I’m fairly certain that if you don’t like this song, you have no soul. 5 stars.
“Pictures of Shorelines,” Further Seems Forever – When I first saw FSF in concert, in a small second-floor room in Melbourne, FL, this is the song they opened with. My musical tastes were never the same. “Less of you is more than I can take.” 6 stars.
“Passenger Seat,” Death Cab for Cutie – Death Cab doing what Death Cab do so well. It’s not just the sad piano or the melancholy lyrics; it’s the tense swells of sound in the background, the diminished chords near the end of the song, the feeling that this recording occurred in a remote place that may not even actually exist. 5 stars
“February Stars,” Foo Fighters – Following on the heels of the last song, this track provides the anthemic equivalent. Sure it’s as straightforward as a song can come, but the buildup/slowdown is perfect, the harmonies continue to layer on, and guitars have never been bigger than they are at the end of this song. Ever. 6 stars.
“For Me This Is Heaven,” Jimmy Eat World – Cliche, sure, whatever. To me it’s the perfect song; even now I’m trying to think of another song I would put in its place at the #1 spot, and I’m not having any luck. 6 stars
A couple missteps, but overall a solid list that pretty well sums up my tastes. Top 20 Favorites? Not quite anymore, but there are still quite a few that would rank pretty high. Maybe I’ll listen to it in another 6 years and see how I feel then…