1. Bad Feeling - Don Broco (Automatic, 2015)
The first song I've chosen is this foreboding anthem by catchy angst rock band Don Broco. I've had Automatic on repeat because I love its whooshing melodies and yelped lyrics, but Bad Feeling in particular has a sense of frenetic anxiety which sounds like it could be a theme tune for uneasy scenarios. The album as a whole carries a theme of frustration that is satisfying to listen to (in any mental/emotional state).
2. Sense - Tom Odell (Long Way Down, 2013)
This one came to me from Dodie Clark's recent video about her favourite songs. I'd never listened to Tom Odell before, but this song and the album it comes from are so sweet and filled with gentle tenderness. I think it's good walking music. The music dances carefully around Odell's voice, and the song meanders through a soft and melancholy wondering of ifs. It feels like a wave of acceptance, in a way, of the confusion inherent in living.
3. Made Of - Viola Martinsson (single, 2015)
A cover of a house song by Nause, this tender version features on a Volvo advert, which is how I discovered it. I love the gentle, humming vocals, the certainty of the lyrics, and the tentative but central strings. The mountain scene on the cover art does feel like exactly the right image to represent it.
4. Favourite Colour - Carly Rae Jepsen (E•MO•TION, 2015)
I love this album and the way it flits between brooding passion and a kind of sweet joyousness. This song is more towards the latter and it's just really uplifting and nice. I like the way the song builds on its own initially quite gentle happiness until the chorus and later parts explode into a more explicitly celebratory feel.
5. Girls Chase Boys - Ingrid Michaelson (Lights Out, 2014)
This is a perfect, bittersweet song that I find really calming. There's a little sadness, a little anger, and then a lot of hope and determination. This song feels like someone lifting you up into a tree and giving you a cake. Kinda.
6. Rimbaud Eyes - Dum Dum Girls (Too True, 2014)
This whole album really feels like it bleeds through on every song with the scuzzy, reverb-filled sound and as such it's kinda hard for me to pluck out a song to talk about on its own, but Rimbaud Eyes is the one I often listen to first because it has such a great, soaring vocal in the chorus that makes the song sound like a fast-flowing river that knows where it's going.
7. Suitcase - Neil Arthur (Suitcase, 1994)
I love the story-telling going on in this song and the imagery of the suitcase in the river. I also love Neil Arthur's vibe of gentle yet excitable pop. I feel like he is drinking a big coffee and laughing between takes. There's so many playful little sounds that work so well with his voice, all sincere and laughing at the same time.
8. Among Us - Susanne Sundfør (The Silicone Veil, 2012)
This is a strange song, tonally, as it possesses this bitter, rich anger mixed with this yearning, desperate love. Sundfør's voice can best be described I think as twinkling, and her music style reflects that with lots of careful synths edging in and out of places. Like a spider web, somehow.
9. Rap Phenomena - Yellow Magic Orchestra (BGM, 1981)
I love YMO's particular brand of poignancy layered in silliness, and in particular I love singing along to the "WE ALL THINK TOO MUCH" and "EVERYBODY RAP" parts of this song. They take me to another planet.
10. Lane Boy - Twenty One Pilots (Blurryface, 2015)
This entire album is such an earworm, but this is probably the song I find jogging around in my brain gardens most often. It carries a heartfelt and earnest frustration, and I love the way it cycles through itself with urgency and rapidity as if it is the pure form of needing to be heard.