Who out there has had a summer job working in a mall? Did your work play music in the background? I’d be shocked if you’d say no. How many of those songs got stuck in your head after hearing them over and over and over? Five, ten, fifteen? Odds are, if you’re a music lover, you found yourself singing along to each song, regardless of whether or not you liked it, am I right? That’s what happened to me this past summer.
I had the opportunity to work at a couple of different malls and, lo and behold, I found myself a bunch of new songs to add to my iPod. Here are some of my favorites.
The first song is “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons. Vocalist Dan Reynolds’ unique voice could be called the indie counterpart to Kings of Leon’s Anthony Followill. The choice of handclaps and mandolin forming the base of the song is brilliant. A real piece of art.
The second song is “Stay Too Long” by Plan B. It is an energetic mix of funk-rock and rap. As the song progresses, rapping, guitars, and background vocals build upon one another in the sonic equivalent of a five-layer cake. Just when you think it’s enough, another layer pops up. Perfect for keeping yourself awake during a study session.
The third song is the only hip-hop song to make the list: Chiddy Bang’s “Ray Charles.” It’s kind of a funny song if you listen closely to the lyrics; Chiddy raps about being the “new Ray Charles,” and chronicles his life as a blind celebrity. A tad insensitive, maybe, but something that keeps you engaged in the music nonetheless.
The fourth song is Grouplove’s “Spun.” Christian Zucconi and company have indie rock and roll down to a science; any one of Grouplove’s songs could have made the list. This song gets the nod due to its guitar work and amazingly-layered harmonies. The three-dimensional lyrics add to this masterpiece, which is a nice diversion from what is normally played on the radio.
The fifth song is “Midnight City” by M83. Such a fitting title. Sublime verses, anchored by punctuating drums, quickly change into a beautiful chorus of synths. It’s like a musical journey, with just the right amounts of vocals to enhance the song. And then there’s the saxophone solo near the end. If there’s one song on this list to check out, it’s this one.
The sixth song is Gotye’s “Eyes Wide Open.” You guys know him from “Somebody That I Used to Know,” but this could have easily been his first single. It probably should have been. The up-tempo beat puts Gotye on a completely different level than “Somebody.” When you hear it for the first time you’ll find yourself saying “who’s that? It can’t be Gotye.”
The final song is Florence + the Machine’s “Shake it Out.” This song is the most dynamic, theatrical, and well-produced song on the list. Nothing negative can be said about Florence Welch’s vocals; the raw power and emotion are just amazing. Using an organ to carry the song was the perfect move. This song is so empowering; use it for pumping yourself up for a test or for lifting your spirits after a hard day.