Spotify is a great tool, but it’s not perfect. It has a lot of songs, but it doesn’t have ALL the songs, which is a problem. Here’s a playlist composed entirely of songs that you can’t find on Spotify.
Just because it was recently Christmas, here’s an old favorite covered by a New Orleans brass band including Troy Andrews aka Trombone Shorty. This song was featured on Aaron Sorkin’s short-lived Studio 60, and was featured in the Christmas episode in a very moving finale.
You’ve heard The Weeknd, but until you’ve heard ‘Wicked Games’ covered by the Canadian and mostly French singing Béatrice Martin with a simple piano accompaniment, you haven’t heard Shakespeare the way it was meant to be done.
It’s hard to know what to say about this one, other than you can sit there and groove to it. That, and I wish youtube had better sound quality. Also, this is how much I care about lyrics: not at all. I mean if they’re exceptional then it’s a bonus, but I straight up cannot make out the words to this song, and it doesn’t matter at all.
This is an old song covered with a generous helping of cheese. I find something very sensual in the vocals. I might prefer it to the original. Hands up if you first heard the original on Breaking Bad; one, two, everybody under 50? That’s what I thought.
First of all, this is from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and if you haven’t seen it, you should do so immediately. It’s an amazing movie built around some amazing music. This particular song is from a tribute album where various artists – Ben Folds, the Polyphonic Spree, the Pixies – covered songs from the movie. ‘Wicked Little Town’ is fine as a standalone, but do yourself a favor and check out the film as well.
This song is ‘as advertised;’ it’s super happy. There was a time in my life when I was so psyched with Wooten that I may have OD’ed and now it’s a well I almost never go back to, but once in a while…
Here’s a special one. Tallest Man is great, and I’m happy to see he’s finally getting some recognition. This is him covering Jackson Browne’s “These Days” (for some reason the video link says it’s a Nico cover; that’s completely wrong). What makes the video special is the location; the Music Inn in New York. It’s him wandering around the music store and basically fucking around and creating a beautiful song.
Hiromi is probably my favorite contemporary musician. Why? Briefly, she has incredible chops and plays with unbridled joy. Here’s a song that demonstrates both, though it’s more of a show piece than a compositional masterwork, of which she has several. The amazing thing about this song is you truly don’t grasp how hard it is to make what she does look easy. That is, until you start looking at some of the attempted covers:
What’s striking is that these are pretty competent musicians; just to get to that level to play that speed with that accuracy you have to be pretty good. I could probably practice that song for 6 months and not get to that level. But you can tell, right away, that they’re playing with about 5% of Hiromi’s flair and fluidity. She’s got the incredible chops, but she’s also got incredible musicianship, creativity, and feel. That’s a scary combination.
These guys play very technically good bluegrass, but they’re creative about it too. Known as much for their interesting covers as for their more traditional fare, this one hangs out on the far side of that dichotomy. “Reptilia,” of course, being a Strokes song, and if you’re familiar with the original, it’s hard to imagine it being driven by mandolin, fiddle, and banjo. Nevertheless, this works like gangbusters, capturing much of the dark urgency of the original and imbuing it with a bluegrass flair.
So I’m pretty comfortable with extreme hyperbole, which means if I said this was the best song of 2010, no one would care. That doesn’t make it not true, however. This song just bites its fangs into your neck until you get on board with the sickness. It might seem like your standard dance-punk extendo-blast, but just feel yourself get swept up in the noise, how the guitar seamlessly morphs into a series of staccato laser blasts, the banshee wail of a voice inciting you to, basically, riot. This song is categorized on Allmusic as “Post Punk/Noise” and the album is called Steal Your Face. Have I sufficiently hyped it?
Just for kicks, here’s one of my favorite songs of all time. This is one of three songs that tops 100 plays on my iTunes library. It’s one of the most beautiful solo piano pieces I’ve ever heard. Check that, one of the most beautiful, period. And it was improvised. Chew on that for a minute. This track is a part of the Radiance album, a totally improvised concert Jarrett played in Osaka in 2005.