The Best of the Ought Nots Revisited, Part IV: 21-40

I tried to do the same exercise I did when writing up my 2010s list last year, breaking down all of my 2000s favorites by genre to see which ones came out on top, but honestly it turned out to be rather arbitrary, with a ton of overlap between several broadly-defined genres. About a third of the list is mainstream pop/rock, and another third falls into the category of “Contemporary Christian music” – this is basically a consequence of my having listening almost exclusively to Christian music in the 90s, and then suddenly gaining access to all of the music I could ever think to try, so long as it was well-known enough for someone else on a file sharing service to have the mp3s, which led me to try out the full albums from a lot of artists I was hearing on the radio back when I could still stand to listen to it. Later in the decade, my interest in indie music started to become a lot more pronounced because I was hearing about a lot of it through word of mouth on the internet, so that takes up the remaining third of the list. Of course, those terms aren’t mutually exclusive, as plenty of artists I knew from the days when I listened almost exclusively to Christian music either broke out into the mainstream, or went indie in search of more creative freedom. The sub-genres that interested me most, at least according to my own definitions of them, were electronic rock, piano rock, progressive rock, and baroque pop. Basically, when I wasn’t looking for loud electric guitars, I was looking for keyboards, and when I wasn’t looking for either of those, I was looking for horns and strings and woodwinds and stuff like that. Strong vocal harmonies were a big draw as well, but those could happen in any of the above genres.

And on that note, here’s some more stuff from all of the above categories that I really love.

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The Best of the Ought Nots Revisited, Part II: 61-80

The summer of 2020 actually marked the 20th anniversary of my first album review, over on the now-defunct site Epinions. I’ve changed so much since then, as a person and as a listener, and I think getting into that habit of listening deeply and critically to each track on an album, not just the ones I considered highlights, helped to facilitate some of that change. I found myself wondering as I started to put together this best-of list spanning the 2000s, which of those 10 years was best for music? Breaking down my list by the year each album was released, this is what I came up with:

12 of these albums came out in 2000.
7 of these albums came out in 2001.
6 of these albums came out in 2002.
11 of these albums came out in 2003.
8 of these albums came out in 2004.
14 of these albums came out in 2005.
12 of these albums came out in 2006.
7 of these albums came out in 2007.
9 of these albums came out in 2008.
15 of these albums came out in 2009.

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The Best of the Tenny Tweens, Part V: 1-20

We’ve arrived at the final round, folks. The true heavy-hitters. The absolute classics that I’m pretty sure I’ll keep going back to over and over when they’re ten years, twenty years – heck, maybe even fifty years old if I’m fortunate enough to still be around then!

The realization that I had a pretty interesting cross-section of artists ranging from household names to the downright obscure on this list piqued my curiosity about whether there was some reasonable way to measure exactly how popular each of them were. It’s honestly not something I’ve ever paid super close attention to – I can usually get a sense of when someone whose music I happen to like has achieved A-list celebrity status around the world, because I’ll hear their music pretty much everywhere when I’m out and about in public, and their concerts will usually be prohibitively expensive. On the other end of the scale, when an artist is so-small time that only a small cluster of people seem to know about them, merely acquiring their music or finding out more about them for the sake of writing a review can be challenging. Word of mouth, and recommendations from other artists I enjoy, are often my primary means of getting into an artist, so for pretty much everyone between those two extremes, I often don’t know how many like-minded fans there are, or what demographic is most into them, until I catch a live show and start people-watching.

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The Best of the Tenny Tweens, Part III: 41-60

We’re at the midpoint of the list now… this is where the absolute best of the B-plus range starts to blend into the A-minus range. But first, some more fun facts (or at least, facts that a nerdy analytical guy like me considers fun), this time related to geography. Where in the world are all of these artists from?

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And then I will be something perfect in your eyes: My Top 20 Falling Up Songs

Here’s an absolutely awful pitch for a band you’re trying to get someone into: “Hey, these guys were childhood friends of another band that you hate with every fiber of your being!” It’s no small miracle that I became a fan of Falling Up in the first place, given how much that little fun fact was bandied about in their promotional details and by Christian radio deejays when the band first debuted. Even for a Christian rock band that was trying to do something more creative and conceptual than their own marketing gave them credit for at the time, I definitely couldn’t have predicted that these guys would have gone on to become one of my favorite bands. Or that they would break up not once, but twice, both times right after delivering one of their weirdest and most wonderful records. Strange as it may seem, the more niche this band’s audience became, the better off they were.

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Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2016: Favorite Songs

The final days of 2016 are upon us, and that can only mean one thing – it’s time for some long lists that try (perhaps in vain) to sum up the best music I was listening to this year. As always, I’ll start with the individual songs that stood out to me the most. The in-depth reasons why I love these songs so much are mostly spelled out in the album reviews I’ve linked to from here, but in addition to the usual video evidence, I’ve also included a quick blurb for each of the Top 30 entries, just to keep it from being a long list with no explanation whatsoever, I guess.

I’ve also made a Spotify playlist that collects a lot of these highlights, if you’d like to spend a few hours following along. (That one’s ordered more as I discovered the songs, not so much how I’d rank them now, and it’s limited to one track per artist.)

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Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2015: Favorite Albums (and Honorable Mentions)

Here’s the cream of the crop, folks – the list of albums that captivated me most in the year 2015. While some of these picks are likely about as predictable as the likelihood of a YouTube comments section devolving into a vicious political flamewar, there are a few cases here where I genuinely surprised myself by falling in love with an artist or even a genre that I had previously decided was “just not my thing”. I hope the music that comes out in 2016 challenges me in similar ways.

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Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2015: Favorite Songs

The first order of business as 2015 comes to a close is to sift through all of my favorite songs that I first heard this year (or perhaps late last year, and it just took me a little longer to appreciate them) and attempt to put them in order, which as usual starts to get a bit silly below the top 30 or so. Music videos and some live performances are embedded for that first chunk of the list. As I’ve done in previous years, I’ve also got a Spotify playlist that covers a lot of these, limited to a song per artist and more in chronological order of when I discovered them.

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Falling Up: These tears, they build me up a house, then they pour on down and wash the house away.


Artist: Falling Up
Album: Falling Up
Year: 2015
Grade: A

In Brief: As immediate as it is ornate and downright inscrutable. Falling Up took their time to get their farewell album right, and while Hours remains my personal favorite entry in their discography, one could easily make the case for this being their magnum opus.

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