1. “Earth Angel” by The Penguins
A smooth and wholesome doo-wop song, which was one of the first early R&B songs to crossover as a pop hit. The song’s well known for the cover done by Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys but nothing touches the original, as per almost always.
2. “An Angel Cried” by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
Bob Gaudio, the genius behind many of the Four Seasons greatest hits, wrote this soaring song that famously resurfaced during the opening of Ariana Grande’s sweetener. This song beautifully showcases the dual power and delicacy of Valli’s voice.
3. “Mr. Lonely” by Bobby Vinton
Bobby Vinton, the Polish Prince, sang this soothingly sad dream-like ballad as an ode to loneliness. I can picture a movie where a character is crying, eating ice cream, and listening to this song. Akon sampled this song on his iconic “Lonely” song.
4. “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers
It’s always a lovely day when you listen to Bill Withers. I always feel comfortable when I hear his voice. This song makes me think about my grandma. It makes me smile and it makes me cry. It makes me think of music and the power of love.
5. “All I Want” by Joni Mitchell
“All I Want” starts off sounding like some George Harrison experiment. The instrumentation sounds like a mix between a ukulele and a sitar. Then Joni Mitchell starts singing and I remember how amazing the human voice is. Joni Mitchell sings a rollercoaster around this track about a relationship.
6. “From the Morning” by Nick Drake
Nick Drake seems to be in every Wes Anderson soundtrack and I think it’s because so many of his films have characters who go through powerful emotions. Nick Drake’s music is an exercise in catharsis for working through these feelings.
7. “Sugar Man” by Rodriguez
I feel like Rodriguez sings for one part of my consciousness. It’s the part of my mind that’s rooted in love, but trapped in paranoia. This song is about the illustrious and mysterious sugar man, that thing that you can’t stop thinking about, the thing that you can’t run away from. Drugs, love or life itself.
8. “If You See Her, Say Hello” by Bob Dylan
From my favorite Dylan album, here’s Dylan doing Dylan best. A great poem of a song with classic instrumentation. A serious and heart broken cry out for love with much love built in.
9. “Everything You Do is a Balloon” by Boards of Canada
Boards of Canada are Scottish but their music is from space. What part of space? The space bar where drinks cost a sentence. The drink of choice is hip-hop and house with a dash of ambience.
10. “Untrue” by Burial
The guts of London are splashed across a Burial record. You might hear this music at a rave, on a pirate radio or in the headphones of a subway surfer.
11. “Gassed Up” by Nebu Kiniza
“Gassed Up” captures the heart of what is commonly referred to as the “Soundcloud” rap sound. It’s fun, light and extra bouncy too. Pairs nicely with a trampoline.
12. “Stay the Night” by Mariah Carey
I love the way Mariah Carey’s vocals take you to the next level. The production on this is handled by the diva queen herself with the help of Kanye West. If you’re mixed up in love this song might just cheer you up or at least give you an emotional reprieve.
13. “Hidden Place” by Bjork
You can disappear into Bjork’s music and end up in a new soundscape. I think the music was produced on Venus and sung on Mars. If you enjoy this song, it’s more than worth it to check out the full album, Vespertine.