We listen to a lot of music, but these are the top of our list
We get down to this time of year and top ten lists start popping up everywhere. I’m sure we’ll have our share of lists as well. After all, this has been an extremely eventful year. There’s a lot to consider as we move into the new year.
Through everything we’ve endured, we’ve been listening to music. A lot of music. While we do try to keep the mix current to some degree, the songs we listen to the most tend to be older. We’ve needed a lot of emotional comfort this year and the songs that are familiar help provide that. The mix is interesting. I don’t know that I’d actually want to put all ten of these together on a mixtape. At the same time, though, these are some damn good songs. We’ll count them down backward just to create a false sense of drama.
The Bottom Five
10. My Funny Valentine – Etta James
Yeah, it’s old school, but then, so am I. There’s something about the sound of Ms. James’ voice that is like drinking a cup of hot cocoa on a snowy day. I really like the simple guitar accompaniment in this version of the song as well. I can just imagine sitting in some smoke-filled speakeasy when the lights go down, the room gets quiet, and her deep voice begins …
My Funny Valentine, a song by Etta James on Spotify
9. New Day – Alicia Keys
Change of tempo, change of style, change of era. New Day is essential Alicia Keys. I have this song on multiple playlists so I’m actually a little surprised that it didn’t rank higher. This is a must for those early mornings when we’re trying to get the kids out the door to school. More than just the song, though, I have mountains of respect for Ms. Keys so just hearing her voice makes me happy.
New Day, a song by Alicia Keys on Spotify
8. Everyday People – Sly & The Family Stone
This is another happy song with the added benefit of bringing a little high school retro feeling to the mix. The song is a bit of a distraction, though. There’s seldom a time when it comes on that I don’t have to stop what I’m doing and dance in my chair a little bit. If there’s no one around, I might even get out of my chair, though that tends to scare the dog.
Everyday People – Single Version, a song by Sly & The Family Stone on Spotify
7. Embraceable You – Gloria Estefan
Yeah, I know, most people like Ms. Estefan’s livelier music with a Cuban beat. I totally get that. Those are fun songs. But her album of standards really provides a great vehicle for the rich warmth of her voice to shine through, something we don’t necessarily get with all those dance songs. This is ultimately a couple’s song, though. If Kat’s not around when it comes on you can be sure I’m messaging her the lyrics.
Embraceable You, a song by Gloria Estefan on Spotify
6. Focus – Ariana Grande
Ha! I bet you didn’t think I know who Ariana Grande is! WRONG! Just don’t ask me to pick her out of a lineup of children at the mall. How in the world such a powerful voice comes out of a small package defies physics and physiology. As much as anything, though, this is just one of those songs where the rhythm catches hold and my office chair magically starts moving on its own. Seriously. Old men like me aren’t supposed to dance to new music like this.
Focus, a song by Ariana Grande on Spotify
The Top Five
5. Isn’t It Romantic? – Ella Fitzgerald
The top five has a lot of older standard in it and this is another one of my early morning favorites. The song not only speaks to the romantic in me, the ease of Ella’s voice helps keep me calm on those days when the morning headlines have me ready to punch something. I can just close my eyes and imagine a ballroom full of lovely people, the women all dressed in classic Oscar de la Renta gowns, swaying gently to the music without a care in the world. Sure, it’s pure fantasy, but it works.
Isn’t It Romantic?, a song by Ella Fitzgerald on Spotify
4. Thanks for the Memory – Bob Hope
When the late Bob Hope was cast as an unemployed writer for this 1938 movie, I doubt he knew the title song would one day become so closely associated with him that many people thought he was the composer. He wasn’t, of course. Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin wrote the original version. Over the years, though, it became a staple at the end of the comedian’s shows and with each one, he would re-write the lyrics to fit the show. This song is pure nostalgia for me, and hearing Bob’s voice again never fails to make me smile.
Thanks For The Memory, a song by Bob Hope on Spotify
3. This Can’t Be Love – Nat King Cole
This is the second of three songs by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart in my top five. Yes, I know they’re all older than I am, which means a fair portion of you are likely to have never heard it before. Rogers & Hart were staples on Broadway and in pop music of the 1920s and 30s. When you hear people talk about “the standards,” this is the music to which they’re referring. Even Lady Gaga has covered Rogers & Hart songs. If you’re a singer, you have to be able to do well with this songs. Why this song and this version? Because it was the first song to come up after my first date with Kat. Shhhh, don’t tell her.
This Can’t Be Love – 1999 Digital Remaster, a song by Nat King Cole on Spotify
2. Hold on, Hold on – Neko Case
Neko Case has one of those pure voices I can recognize with the first word she sings. I’ve been a fan of her music for several years now and keep going back to this one song over and over and over. The line, “The echo chorus lied to me with its hold on, hold on, hold on” seems especially fitting right about now. There’s a good reason this song is number two on my list. It’s gotten a tremendous amount of play the past few months. Like, every day, multiple times a day.
Hold On, Hold On, a song by Neko Case on Spotify
1. The Lady Is A Tramp – Ella Fitzgerald
This is vintage Ella Fitzgerald when her voice was at its best. The Rogers and Hart composition is one of my all-time favorites and is at the top of my list of standards. There have been dozens, maybe even hundreds of artists attempt to cover this song, but no one ever has nor ever will do it as wonderfully as Ms. Fitzgerald. When I’m down, this song and lift me up. When I feel like I don’t fit in, this song reminds me that’s okay. The strength and power keeps me moving, keeps my head up, and helps me power through even the most difficult days. Ella recorded this song several times but this is my favorite version.
The Lady Is A Tramp, a song by Ella Fitzgerald, Buddy Bregman Orchestra on Spotify
There you have it, our top 10 songs for 2016. Perhaps it wasn’t quite what you were expecting. I know I was a little surprised by a couple of the songs in the bottom 10, but I love them all. Spotify created a six-hour playlist of my top 100 songs for the year as well. I’m not going to take the time to go through all of them with you, but if you’re interested in listening, you can find the playlist before. Happy listening!
We collected all the songs you loved the most this year, wrapped them up, and are serving them back in this beautiful little playlist.