This morning I was exposed to the delicious treat of listening to a pair of GVSU students talk about their favorite musical talent. What made the conversation interesting was that the female half was clearly immersed in the minutiae of genres and obscure artists, while the male half knew a few names but was far more interested at staring at the young lady’s ample and well-shaped bosom. Apparently, stumbling through a music conversation was his passport to a grand sightseeing adventure.
Their teenage exchange prompted me to reflect on my own choices in music. In the spirit of sharing, I’m offering my list of preferred music, with commentary. Caveat lector.
* N.B. — In general, I prefer baroque-era music (especially Bach’s organ works and similar, ornate and musically complex works) and medieval polyphony. However, since a list consisting of “Bach, J.S.” and “Anonymous 4” doesn’t really warrant a full blog post, I’ll focus on what I like in music written since 1960.
Jason’s Playlist: Alpha by Artist
- AC/DC. You Shook Me All Night Long. Why? Because it’s fun to sing along on a summer day with the windows down and the volume maxed out.
- Aerosmith. Dream On. The melody and the lyrics resonate.
- Air Supply. Nothing at All. One of my all-time favorite love ballads, mostly because I like the verse lyrics — the “And …” trope is pretty cool.
- Bon Jovi. I’ll Be There for You. Fond memories from my youth make this a sentimental favorite.
- Bon Jovi. Livin’ on a Prayer. One of my three signature karaoke songs.
- Cabrera, Ryan. On the Way Down. I just like it.
- Cetera, Peter. Glory of Love. Another hit from my youth.
- Cheap Trick. Surrender. One of my three signature karaoke songs.
- Def Leppard. Love Bites. I just like it.
- Eminem. 8 Mile. Listen to the words — powerful stuff.
- Eminem. Sing for the Moment. Again, powerful lyrics and an interesting social commentary.
- Five for Fighting. Superman. The lyrics resonated very strongly when I was in a funk a while back.
- Fogelberg, Dan. Leader of the Band. I think of my grandfather every time I hear this song.
- Gaynor, Gloria. I Will Survive. The beat and the brass and an extra dash of sass make this a perennial favorite.
- Gentry, Montgomery. Roll with Me. Sentimental reasons.
- Gin Blossoms. Follow You Down. I just like it.
- Goo Goo Dolls. Iris. Yeah, I know, but still.
- Goo Goo Dolls. Name. Like the lyrics.
- Green Day. Good Riddance. This song gives me a sense of “mission accomplished,” not sure why.
- Guns ‘n Roses. Every Rose Has Its Thorn. Middle-school sentimentality — I loved dancing to this song.
- Guns ‘n Roses. Sweet Child O’ Mine. The riffs are world-class, and the extended metaphors are surprisingly adept.
- Hanson. I Will Come to You. A capella musicality at its most brilliant.
- Hawkes, Chesney. The One and Only. Miles recommended it and I really enjoy it when I need a little anthem to boost my spirits.
- Henley, Don. The Heart of the Matter. I like the theme of the song. Henley has a skill in telling a story in musical format.
- Hoobastank. The Reason. This song always makes me to think of what might have been had I made different choices at different points along my life.
- Joel, Billy. We Didn’t Start the Fire. The history buff in me loves the litanies.
- Lachey, Nick. What’s Left of Me. Ryan sent me this song.
- Lavigne, Avril. Complicated. Reminds me of a couple I used to know really well, and I still like the song for its memories in addition to the point it makes.
- Limp Bizkit. Behind Blue Eyes. Haunting.
- Linkin Park. Numb. I played this song over and over and over after a breakup years ago.
- Madonna. Crazy for You. I loved roller-skating to this song during junior high.
- Marx, Richard. Hazard. The song’s (true) backstory is fascinating but the song itself is phenomenal. The melody is appropriately somber relative to the lyrics.
- Matchbox 20. Bent. Love it, my pace always quickened when this came up on the playlist while I was running.
- Matchbox 20. Unwell. I used to think about myself when this one came up in rotation.
- Morissette, Alanis. You Oughta Know. SpiteRock is fun sometimes. Especially when you’re already bitter.
- Oasis. Wonderwall. I just like it.
- Pearl Jam. Better Man. My “neighbors” in the dorm my freshman year used to blast this, and I grew to appreciate it.
- Poison. Ride the Wind. A great summer roadtrip song.
- Poison. Something to Believe In. I love the lyrics.
- Pop Evil. 100 in a 55. Sentimental reasons.
- Restless Heart. When She Cries. My dad used to play this a lot in his truck, and I grew to like it. It is like a “snapshot” song that reminds me of happy memories.
- Rogers, Kenny. Islands in the Stream. The perfect duet song. I believe he does it with Dolly Parton. When it pops up I fantasize I’m singing it with Jessica Simpson (don’t ask) at the karaoke bar at Imperial Palace in Las Vegas.
- Rogers, Kenny. The Gambler. OK, who doesn’t love this song? Anyone who has ever stepped foot in a casino at The Happiest Place on Earth has adopted this as a secondary national anthem.
- Simon & Garfunkel. Sounds of Silence. OK, so not everything that came from the 60s was bad.
- Stewart, Rod. Rhythm of My Heart. One of my three signature karaoke songs — a real crowd-pleaser.
- Third Eye Blind. Semi-Charmed Life. This is just a fun song.
- Toto. Rosanna. A song I remember from my very young days, it used to play a lot on the radio and I just decided I liked it — a judgment that so far hasn’t changed.
- Train. Meet Virginia. Love the lyrics. I was going to make this a signature karaoke song but Emilie thought it was a dumb idea.
- Tyler, Bonnie. Holding Out for a Hero. ’80s synth at its most magnificent — an under-rated iconic song from the heady days of the Reagan Revolution.
- Tyler, Bonnie. Total Eclipse of the Heart (Extended). My favorite rock ballad ever.
- Wham. Careless Whisper. Yeah, I know. I get mocked a lot for this one.
- White Lion. When the Children Cry. I have always liked the way this song was performed.
There. Fifty-two songs spanning multiple genres. I’m sure I’ve given my friends ample cannon fodder, but hey — I like what I like either because the melody is catchy or the lyrics resonate or the song is associated with some memory, person or event. At the end of the day, I’d rather like music that means something to me than to like music that other people think I should like in order to be considered trendy or musically literate.