So, this is going to be a less 'DEEP THOUGHTS' post and more like a, I want to share with you guys my favorite writing music post. It was hard for me to narrow it all down to 40 songs but I think that's the best approximation. There were some repeats, of course, and those I decided to just replace with 'next up' from the list as much as I could. Since it'll also be a longer post, I'll divided into two parts: Top 40-20 and Top 20-1.
I won't go into too much detail as to why a particular song resonates with me but I'll try to see if I can make a case for the song and who knows, maybe get a few converts.
40. Rata Blanca - La Leyenda del hada y del mago
Rata Blanca was one of the first metal bands I was introduced to (the others being Sonata Arctica, Mago de Oz, Nightwish, Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica) and I was very surprised and very pleased when I learned that all these bands didn't go the normal 'boy meets girl, girl meets boy' kinda route. Here, Rata Blanca goes the boy meets girl, but boy is actually a wizard, girl is a fairy, and an evil that existed in the land didn't want them to get together.
39. Mago de Oz - La Danza del Fuego
When I played Tibia, one of the bonding moments I had with a few other players was when I discovered that they were also metalheads. So, rather than spending my hard-earned gold pieces on more potions and runes, I'd spend them on books where I could write song lyrics. I had like three books with this song: Cuando oigas a un niño preguntar / porque el sol viene y se va / dile porque en esta vida no hay / luz sin oscuridad.
(When you hear a child ask, why does the sun come and go, tell him, in this life there is no light without darkness)
Then there's also the line that says "don't lay roots on one place, move yourself, for your are not a tree, you have two legs. The wisest man knows that his home is exactly how large he imagines it to be."
38. Nightwish - Endless Forms Most Beautiful
For all of the evolutionary biologists that read this page (lol) this song, and well, the album, are an homage to Darwin and Richard Dawkins. Dawkins himself pops in the album himself to read a few lines. Anyway, I love this song because of just how awesome the title is, but also because this kind of let me embrace Floor Jansen as Nightwish's new vocalist.
37. Bright Eyes - Bowl of Oranges
I want to say Conor Oberst is probably the emo-iest artist I listen to. And when I listen to bands like Thursday and Taking Back Sunday, that's saying something. But he's an incredible songwriter and I think that Bowl of Oranges reflects a really good perspective on life and I can still quote that song by memory. Relevant line: So that's how I learned the lesson, that everyone's alone, and your eyes must do some raining, if [you're] ever going to grow, but if crying don't help you can't compose yourself it's best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or a simple song of hope.
36. Edguy - Vain Glory Opera
There is something so...bombastic and so ready to pump my blood up. I love it.
35. FFX - To Zanarkand
The song that inspired one of my favorite poems. Just listen to those notes. Seven notes and it's already evoking this kind of swelling inside of my being that's a mix of sadness and anxiety. Given that it's been like a dozen years since FFX came out, I think it's safe to post spoilers. Basically, Tidus (the main character although I could make a point that Yuna is just as, if not more important, than Tidus story-wise) gets all excited to finally get to see the home he left after this big ol' monster called Sin threw him across time and space as he destroyed the city. haha metaphors lol. ANYWAY so Tidus is expecting to find his city, only to realize that it's now entirely in ruins and has been like that for a lot of years. So the music starts playing and you realize you're hearing as song of heartbreak and hope because he says, alright, there's no going back home now, we have to finish this mission.
34. Brand New - Jude Law and a Semester Abroad
There's something about this song that...well, it's about a bad breakup. When it got regular airplay in my CD Walkman, I dedicated it to unrequite crushes, too. Except there was never a girl who left for England in my scenario.
33. Johan Johannsen - Sun's Gone Dim
This song played in the trailer for Battle; Los Angeles and there's a certain feeling of hopelessness. When you see the actual trailer, you see devastating scenes of warfare, all muted while this song plays. I don't know why I find that juxtaposition so beautiful but I do.
32. Rhapsody of Fire ft. Christopher Lee - Magic of the Wizard's Dream
This is a good piece because I use it to connect to people who may have never been exposed to metal but have been exposed to Lord of the Rings. Christopher Lee is a prominent part of this song (and in one of Rhapsody of Fire’s albums) so it’s pretty cool to see the eminent actor rocking out to metal. And by rocking out, I mean looking very regal and dignified.
31. Little Boots - Remedy
I love this song because it is so catchy. No more poison killing my emotion I will not be frozen, dancing is my remedy remedy. How can anyone NOT dance to that. And here's the thing about when I write, depending on how the music goes, I will pretend I'mm the keyboardist. I also admit that this has gotten me the strangest looks in everywhere from law school study rooms to coffee houses.
30. Hammerfall - Stronger than All
This song also gets repeat airplay in my workout playlist.
Come and fly with us / together as one we belong / this magic of metal unites us / it's making us strong!
29. Mew - Comforting Sounds
This song would be in my top 3 driving songs, and on my top 5 of most relaxing songs. Basically, it starts out slow, and then the music swells with your heart to this crescendo that puts stars in your eyes. I remember this car commercial a few years ago, where this girl is seeing the city nightlights for the first time and I feel this song is exactly that kind of feeling in music.
28. Taylor Swift - Style
I'm not ashamed to say I'm Team Taylor. She produces the best shopping mall - ish sugary pops in the moment. When I mention mall songs I mention songs that'd get airplay at stores inside. I'll write another post about my obsession with shopping malls later.
27. Ricardo Arjona - Mexico
I find it kinda funny that the best song about Mexico outside folk songs like Cielito Lindo and Mexico Lindo y Querido is written and sung by a Guatemalan immigrant to Mexico. He speaks of leaving Guatemala, afraid and anxious, and his mother asking the virgin of Guadalupe (Mexico's patron saint) to protect him. And in the song he references things he saw that later became several of his songs. But there's one verse that gets me all choked up when I sing this song. He's talking about walking in La Alameda (Mexico City Central Park) when an old lady says Pedro Infante (a Mexican movie idol who died young) is still alive, he walks here every morning...because in Mexico, what is loved never dies.
26. The Used - Blue and Yellow
I just really like this song. I remember discovering it when a friend sang it with his band at a talent show in high school and now it's one of the songs I had to have whenever I made a new mix CD. Which, by the way, became problematic because at one point over half the songs were 'ha to have' songs. "Rather waste some time with you..." is such a good line.
25. Calle 13 ft. Ruben Blades - La Perla
Calle 13 gets a lot of flak but, I really enjoy his lyrics and how he is unabashedly Puerto Rican in his hip hop. Now in this song he combines that with Ruben Blades and, it's a great beat, a great melody, and a great song altogether.
24. Thursday - War All The Time
This song has one of my favorite single-sentence lyrics and my favorite chorus:
“Listen to the lullaby of carbon monoxide”
War all of the time
In the shadow of the New York skyline
We grew up too fast, falling apart
like the ashes of American flags
if the sun doesn’t rise
We’ll replace it with an H-bomb explosion
A painted jail cell of light in the sky
Like three-mile-island nightmares on TVs that sing us to sleep
They burn on and on like an oil field
Or a memory of what it felt like
to burn on and on and not just fade away
all those nights in the basement, the kids are still screaming
on and on and on and on.
The song, per the band, is about “growing up amidst conflict and confusion. It is also about falling in and out of love against a backdrop of cynicism and learning to think for yourself when the media barrages you with information, opinions, and fear.”
I also happen to think it’s a great writing song because of the content matter. I also remember walking into Cortez Hall in my alma mater once and seeing that someone had scrawled the first four lines of the chorus in one of the stalls. So, I had kinship with a random stranger through a bathroom stall in a pleasant way.
23. Blind Guardian - Battlefield
Oh, I love Battlefield. Okay, I love all of the songs on this list I GET IT. This song is based on the Hildebrandsied, the Song of Hildenbrandt, a Germanic epic poem. So naturally the song is about battlefields and war and what’s lost in war. It’s also a great introduction to power metal as a genre. What I like about this song is that it’s good for writing sprints, or when you need that injection of adrenaline. It also fits perfectly when writing about any fantasy setting. Power metal gets a lot of crap for talking about fantasy and dragons and what not but honestly, what’s wrong with escapist lyrics? From the power metal wiki:
Power metal's lyrical themes often focus on fantasy and mythology, camaraderie and hope, personal struggles and emotions, war and death, or combinations of the listed themes. For example, Finnish band Sonata Arctica have been known for focusing their lyrics of their songs on fantasy but also have many songs based on reality, love and relationships. Many Power metal bands based their concept albums on fantasy books and national epics; for example Blind Guardian based their Nightfall in Middle-Earth on The Silmarillion by Tolkien and Kamelot based Epica and The Black Halo on Goethe's Faust. Some bands have even written their own imaginary stories, like Rhapsody of Fire's Emerald Sword Saga and The Dark Secret Saga, Iced Earth's Something Wicked Saga or Avantasia by Edguy's Tobias Sammet. Many otherwise typical metal themes such as religion and politics are comparatively rare but not unheard of. Historical themes have also been used. Sabaton's main lyrical themes focus on historical wars, war battles and individuals of war who are and have been notably recognized in war. Examples include WWI, WWII, Vikings, Audie Murphy and much more from around the world including the American, Swedish and German militaries. Serenity, an Austrian (symphonic) power metal band, focuses mainly on historical figures and events, including Sir Francis Drake, Marco Polo, Galileo,Beethoven, and Napoleon.
Yeah, I love all of that. Also, Sabaton is one of my favorite bands and still one of the best concerts I’ve seen, even if the venue wasn’t that great.
22. Kanye West - Black Skinhead
When I first heard this song, I asked “No, really, what’s the song called?” and then my girlfriend flipped the phone and I saw that, yeah, it was called Black Skinhead. Name aside, it is such a good pump-up song, which is always crucial when I need to write a lot. Whatever is said about Kanye, he is a damn good producer (and in this one he collaborates with Daft Punk and with Lupe Fiasco) and makes catchy songs.
21. MIA - Paper Planes
I’ll confess that I don’t know much about M.I.A.’s music, but I do know that this song is a fun and because I associate it with one of the most interesting weekends I had in college. The newspaper had sent one photographer and myself to cover the Red River Athletic Conference tournament in 2008 held at Texas Wesleyan University, and the first night, after both our teams advanced to the next round. Because we were a two-man crew, we were lugging around a lot of equipment on our bodies. So as I’m disarming my trusty tripod, this song starts blaring through the speakers. And I start dancing to it by myself. The song? M.I.A.’s Paper Planes.
Honorable mentions: First 20: Stratovarius - Eagleheart; Cartel de Santa - La Pelotona; Lady Gaga - Bad Romance; Rhapsody of Fire - Unholy Warcry; Panteon Roccoco - La Carencia; Mana - Me Voy a Convertir en una Ave; Sabaton - Atero Dominatus; Amaranthe - Drop Dead Cynical; Theatre of Tragedy - A distance there is; Tiger Army - Under Saturn's Shadow; Medina Azahara - Cordoba
To be continued...