I put these songs on my muxtape cuz I love them all and want to listen over and over again. Here are a few thoughts one by one.
1. Mira Billotte - As I Went Out One Morning. I heard this today in Anthropologie and loved it from the first second. Later at home I figured out that it was on the soundtrack of I'm Not There. So I had heard it before. And I know the Dylan original very well. I usually love familiar songs covered by singers of the wrong gender (e.g., Cake's version of "I Will Survive").
2. Duran Duran - Save a Prayer. Reminds me of the gorgeous colonialist travelogue music video, my fave of all of Duran Duran's. The line "some people call it a one-night stand but we can call it paradise" might have been my introduction to the phrase "one-night stand". This song probably gave me the impression that you don't want anyone else to think you're looking for one, but that you might be anyway.
3. Lily Allen - LDN. I always wonder how much of her talent is really her producer, Mark Ronson's. It's tricky, because the very specifically young, female voice is essential to this track. (Updated: see the comments; I'm a little wrong about this.) I hate the faux naïeveté of "I believe it is called al fresco", which is to say I love it.
4. Rihanna - Please Don't Stop the Music. Rihanna is the best pop of the moment for sure. This song samples "Wanna Be Starting Something"!
5. Vampire Weekend - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa. My absolute favoritest song of today. I want to see them, check this out. The chorus is the same as the verse, only an octave higher. The guitar lick is as good as anything on Graceland, and I can't get enough of the revival of this style.
6. She & Him - I Should Have Known Better. I would never have heard of She & Him if Zooey Deschanel weren't the singer-songwriter, and I don't care. It pleases me to imagine Zooey Deschanel singing in a print sundress (the kind I saw today at Anthropologie!) as I listen to her sing. Another gender-reversed cover of a sixties classic.
7. Belle & Sebastian - Asleep on a Sunbeam. This is the most-played track in my iTunes library. On the choruses the male vocal comes in, and then it takes the third verse, with a variation on the melody line, joined again after the first few lines by the female vocal. Beautiful. A perfectly crafted 3.5 minute pop song about escape and dreaming.
8. The Guess Who - She's Come Undone. In Canada this song is on the rock radio stations every ten or fifteen minutes and you can't help yourself. The last "she's come un....doooooone!" is so passionate. I'm mad that that Wally Lamb novel has the same title, though. (I haven't read it, but now the song reminds me of the cover of the book and I would rather not.)
9. Miley Cyrus - East Northumberland High. "You're my type of guy, I guess, if I were stuck in East Northumberland High for the rest of my life, but people change thank god I did." Now she's singing as Miley, not Hannah, and making an identity for herself. Totally constructed, of course, just like the rest of us.
10. Billy Joel - Don't Ask Me Why. The Latin-ish number thrown in between more guitar and synth-driven songs on Glass Houses, the most aggressively rock (i.e., least credible) of Billy's good records. He's a much better singer in his self-searching ballad voice, free from posturing and affectation.
11. Leonard Cohen - Democracy. Everything Leonard Cohen writes or says or sings is profound. This is the best kind of political song: not preachy, simplifying, or accusatory, just critical and passionate.
12. Joni Mitchell - Carey. I wish Joni Mitchell would invite me down to the Mermaid Cafe for a bottle of wine. In the verse, the jump up an octave comes as a surprise the first time ("oh you know it--octave--sure is hard...") and a delightful reminder every subsequent one of what a fantastic song this is.
(PS 5/14: muxtapes are subject to change...out with Rihanna today, in with Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now"...it's pretty smart to limit the muxtape to 12 tracks so you have a reason to keep updating and revising and getting the songs that you just have to have today...)