Heidi’s Top 25
My husband and many of his friends like to do year-end song reviews of music that came out in the past year. This I am not able to do, largely because when something is released is so far down on my radar I wouldn’t even know how to find it if you paid me. I can’t even do a clever iTunes play count organization because of last fall’s hard drive incident. So what the following will be is the music which was influential in 2008. I may have discovered it prior to 2008, and likely most of it was released before this year. But every song on this list was important to me in the past twelve months, and in addition to giving a brief review, I’ll give you the reason why. When I can direct you to a sample, I will.
This will sort of be in order of importance, because I’ll be referencing this list for cues, which tells you how many times I listened to a song in the past 12 months. However, some of those play counts are seriously inflated, so I’ll be deviating. I may also make some predictions for 2009 influences, too.
And so, with no further ado:
I have no samples for these two, but they can be found on iTunes and Amazon.mp3, and they are absolutely worth it. I have waxed rhapsodic on E.S. Posthumus before, and I do love all of their work. They are at the top of my last.fm charts, and they will stay there, possibly forever, unless they stop producing albums, in which case they’ll just stay there for a good long time. They are everything I love about music: classical and cinematic sound, messed up with fusion and a certain something that just makes my neurons dance.
These two songs in particular top my list because they are the songs I listen to for any story I’m writing when I’m feeling low, when I don’t think it will ever work out or make sense, when I think I am a fraud or that I will write my heart out and no one will like it, or worse, laugh. When I listen to these two songs, I can believe almost anything, and with "Oraanu Pi" especially, I have hope again.
3. Axiom of Choice, "Evanescent" from the album Unfolding
I think this song was a find because of last.fm, one of those days where I clicked on recommendations and ended up spending money. (There are a lot of those days.) It was a rec because I was listening to a lot of Niyaz and Stellamara and Lumin, I believe: a lot of Middle Eastern-fusion music. I was trying to find Timothy when I listened to the others, but when I heard "Evanescent," I found Charles.
"Evanescent" was the soundtrack to the version of the opening scene that finally stayed in THE WITCH’S APPRENTICE: I literally played it until I had the first draft of the scene down. I liked the feeling of bittersweet hope it gave, and the sense of longing. More than anything, though, it was the catalyst that gave me the last brick of a story that, for most of 2008, I thought would probably kill me.
4. Thea Gilmore, "Juliet (Keep That In Mind)" from the album Avalanche
I put the link for this one because it has the lyrics, which even without the music are great, as is the case with all Thea Gilmore’s music. I got into Thea Gilmore because Neil Gamain was always talking about her on his blog; the album Avalanche is my favorite by far, and "Juliet (Keep That In Mind)" is now something of a family anthem, not in the least because Anna likes to belt it from the backseat of the car at the top of her lungs whenever it’s played.
This song serves as a light-hearted reality check to me whenever I get too glum or pouty. I am decidedly a Juliet.
5. The Magnetic Fields, "I Think I Need A New Heart" from the album 69 Love Songs
TMF is on my radar also because of Mr. Gaiman, though they took a lot longer than Thea Gilmore. "I Think I Need A New Heart" was one of the watershed songs for me; strangely enough I played it a lot during the last act of writing TWA on the first go-round. The story was taking me to strange places and making me nervous and sad, so as a lot of the worst stuff happened and faces melted off and I broke every convention for myself I ever had, I had this song set on repeat. It is in no way the tone of the story, but it served like an anchor for me, and managed to make me feel like this might somehow work out after all. And the song was right.
6. Amethystium, "Unbounded" from the album Isabliss
This album fell under the category of "Oh my god, I didn’t know Amethystium had a new album!!!!" which, as it happens, came out this year, and this is by far my favorite song. It is the soundtrack song to the part in TWA where Madeline appears out of the mist and takes on the demon, which is absolutely one of my favorite scenes ever. I desperately want to see it on film.
7. Bear McCreary, "Roslin and Adama" from Battlestar Galactica Season 2 Soundtrack
Many thanks tocarylerg for hooking me up with all three BG soundtracks; I listen to all of them a lot, actually, while I write, but this song deserves a special mention because it served in both the revision draft of TWA and the nanowrimo draft of TEMPLE BOY. Beautiful, heartbreaking, bittersweet, and full of hope. (You may be sensing a theme.)
8. Way Out West, "Just Like a Man" from the album Don’t Look Now
Way Out West is another last.fm find, this time from surfing the recent listens of some random someone who visited my page. I have several of their songs, though no full album; this song featured in the soundtrack of "One Night," the short I wrote for a magazine which I assume someday will appear, and also in the nanowrimo draft of TB.
9. James Blackshaw, "Past Has Not Passed" from the album Litany of Echoes
Also found via last.fm, though I have absolutely no recollection of how. All I know is that James Blackshaw haunts me and soothes me at the same time. His music features very, very heavily in the revision soundtrack of SMALL TOWN BOY, and this song in particular is key to Will.
10. Depeche Mode, "Freestate" from the album Ultra
Depeche Mode and I have a strange little history. I started listening to them in the first draft of STB, and though they were integral to the story, I hated them. I hated having to listen to them, and they always upset me. Now I’m thinking they must have been some strange precursor to my subconscious of the darkness that would be coming. I actually enjoy listening to them now, though they aren’t an everyday listen. They speak specifically to Alex, one of the STB characters, and always have. This song has the resolution of the story hidden in it somewhere. I’m still sifting through it, but it got a lot of play in 2008, and it was key in some of the rebirth of STB.
11 Lamb, "Sun" from the album Between Darkness and Wonder
I’ve loved Lamb for years; they were an iTunes surf discovery. Generally I find I get by on The Best of Lamb, but one day this year I surfed their other tracks and found I could not live without this one. I like the energy of it. It and several other "sun" themed songs feature heavily in the TWA and TB soundtracks, for very good reason, but this one is hands-down my favorite. Very, very Charles.
12. Hooverphonic, "Eden" from the album Blue Wonder Power Milk
I believe youngdaniel gets the credit for introducing me to Hooverphonic; he sent me a link to a song of theirs and called it beautiful. He was right, and it got me sifting through the rest of their catalog. Largely they haven’t stayed with me, but this song is a redo of Sarah Brightman’s "Eden" or maybe that one isn’t the original either; I have no idea. But again, this song helped restart STB, because the SB version of "Eden" has always been important. Finding the Hooverphonic version was one of the first times I began to think that story might not end up dead on the floor. It made me think it would be reborn, changed in form and tone, but beneath it all, still the same.
13. Kylie Minogue, "Cowboy Style" from the album Impossible Princess
There is a short m/m erotica story that I am GOING to finish in 2009 which is, at this moment, called "Special Delivery," and it features a lot of Kylie music. This song in particular is something of a theme for Sam, the protagonist, who is encouraged in very graphic detail by the delivery man to the grocery store where he works, to cut loose and let go.
14. The Magnetic Fields, "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" from the album i
This song falls under much the same category as "I Think I Need A New Heart"; this one, however, gets included just because I like it so much. It always makes me laugh and smile.
15. Seal, "The Right Life" from the album System
I think Dan sent this to me awhile back, but I discovered it when writing "One Night," and it became something of a theme. Pretty much that’s the story, right there, only my version has more belly dancing and more m/m sex.
16. Mars Lasar, "Sacrifice" from the album Karma
Mars Lasar is the reason why I try to be careful when I click on last.fm recs when we are low on money. I found him at a critical point of nanowrimo, and this song in particular made me decide it would be better to apologize to Dan for spending when I shouldn’t than to not have this song for the last act of TEMPLE BOY. Beautiful, haunting, and it made me cry a lot, but it got me through the bit that surprised me and hurt to write.
17. Shelia Chandra, "ABoneCroneDrone 3" from the album ABoneCroneDrone
You might recognize this song from the TV show Heroes; it’s even listed on their soundtrack. Can’t tell you how I found it, because I don’t recall, but it’s excellent Etsey music.
18. B-Tribe, "Sensual Sensual" from the album Sensual Sensual
B-Tribe is an excellent example of why you should allow people to share music mp3s; I was given the above album by someone (whom I wont name, because I know she’s sensitive about being hounded by insane music companies, but thank you all the same) because they thought I might like it. I now own everything of theirs I have been able to purchase online, and the ones I can’t I have my eye on for hard copies later. All of B-Tribe is good for lots of writing settings, but this song in particular was used in TWA, "One Night," "Special Delivery," and TB.
19. Ronan Hardiman, "Ready For Life" from the album Anthem
I know about Ronan Hardiman because jeffreyjingles used to play it in his art classroom (he may still, but I no longer substitute teach in the same district as he teaches, so I can’t verify this), and it prompted me to buy Solas for myself. Thanks to the Ames Public Library, I found out he had a new album. Several of the songs were used in TB, but this one was pretty much the main theme.
20. Hem, "The Fire Thief" from the album Eveningland
I know about Hem because of Steve; once again, one song ("He Came To Meet Me") led me to collect as much Hem as I could afford. I think Eveningland is my favorite album, and "The Fire Thief" is one of my favorite songs. It’s used in STB, but it is a good anthem in general, and has particular meaning to me. I play it, like so many others, when I need to be reminded. The lyrics are particularly poignant.
21. David Arkenstone, "O Come O Come Emmanuel" from the album Enchantment: A Magical Christmas
This song is a very recent find; I have been rewriting the opening scene to STB all week, and for whatever reason "O Come O Come Emmanuel" became important. I now have about eight versions of it from multiple artists, but this one is the one I keep putting on repeat. I always liked the song, but now I really love it. This is good, because I don’t think I’m even close to being done listening to it as far as writing goes.
22. Enigma, "The Same Parents" from the album Seven Lives
Another shout to youngdaniel for saying in a last.fm shout, "Hey, you knew Enigma had a new album, right?" Because I didn’t, and the album, again, became key to TB. I think it may have yanked it out of its 60k hibernation, in fact. This song is weird to me, because my initial reaction was that I didn’t like it, and part of me still doesn’t. But jesusgod, did it make the story spark. It was one of those moments I knew that there were real muses, because when I rejected the song, they pretty much said, "Listen again. It’s important." And so I did, and because of it, I got to the end of the draft during the month of November.
23. Goldfrapp, "A&E" from the album The Seventh Tree
Another Steve introduction, and I’ve blogged it before. Once again, the lyrics are key. I like the song because it’s actually a little sad, though that doesn’t seem the right word. Demented? I guess I like it because it’s a celebration of how messed up we let other people make us, and somehow finds the hope in that.
Plus, the video is beautifully strange, much like Goldfrapp in general.
24. Afro Celt Sound System, "When You’re Falling" from the album Volume 3: Further In Time
Another tip off from someone who thought I would like this: oh, god, I totally do. It was given to me awhile back, but when I found it I wished I had it earlier. It falls under the category of "Odenall Pi" and "Oraanu Pi," because it just makes me feel good. I have been tossing it into playlists and soundtracks at random, and I will be hunting down more Afro Celt Sound System very soon.
(It features Peter Gabriel, which makes it extra fun.)
25. Coldplay, "Viva La Vida" from the album Viva La Vida, Or Death And All His Friends
Last.fm strikes again: they’ve listed Viva La Vida as their number one album of 2008, and it made me click on it. "Life In Technicolor" hooked me, but this song gets the nod because it’s the one I looped to find Will enough to start writing the opening scene. I listened to the album and the LP Prospekt’s March while I wrote an opening scene that in the end did not work, but it gave me the last piece of the New Will that I needed, which let me go back to John’s POV and write Yet Another Cafe Scene.
The video in particular rocks, I must say, and perhaps is a good place to end, for with it ends my Heidi’s Greatest Hit List of 2008.