Thursday, December 17, 2009

Emotionally Compelling Playlist for Adults

Adult contemporary music tends to be boring and lacks emotionally compelling lines. It's more cerebral, more designed around easy emotions and communication than evocation. But music that's not for adults tends to be a kind of simplistic that borders on ignorance, to express emotions that adults have already worked through and understand. One of the problems with modernity and self-awareness is that it leaves little room for nuance and tragedy: it's too transparent. These songs fulfill the Frostian prdiction that nothing gold can stay: any band or performer capable of this kind of tension in their music can't keep it up, and either the band breaks up, the singer stops recording, or they slip back into something simpler and less impressive. Billy Joel may be the exception to this-- he managed to sustain it for three or four albums.

1. Blink-182 - Always (especially if you watch the video)
2. New Found Glory - It's Not Your Fault (except ignore the video)
3. Fountains of Wayne - Valley Winter Song
4. Billy Joel - Summer, Highland Falls
5. Billy Joel - Captain Jack
6. Annie Lennox - Why
7. Bonnie Rait - I Can't Make You Love Me
8. Ginblossoms - Hey Jealousy
9. Poison - Here I Go Again
10. Natalie Merchant - Carnival
11. Mandy Moore - I Wanna Be With You
12. Something Corporate - 21 and Invincible
13. Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
14. Colin Hay - Waiting for My Real Life to Begin

At first glance, this is a playlist about midlife crisis-- feeling that things have fallen apart in a way, or that you've become profoundly alienated from a world you both constructed and were forced into. But at the same time, there are some pieces in there that embody the potential that adults can still see in their lives, that adults can still want things rather than mourn the collapse of things they've built: I Wanna Be With You, Once in a Lifetime, Here I Go Again. And then recognizing the blessings of every day: Valley Winter Song.

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