Since I am not paid to listen to music, rest assured there are major holes here. I listen to very little radio, especially Top 40 and my likings lean towards specific genres. For that, I apologize. Find me a way to pay the bills listening to music and I will give you a better cross section.
I had 1 ground rule here, which made it difficult in some instances. Each artist can only have 1 song represented. For artists like Santogold, Okkervil River, Vampire Weekend, Frightened Rabbit and The Hold Steady, that was difficult. Each of those artists had at least 3 songs I could put on such a list.
By the way, I liked Dustin's listing, I think some of the songs he includes are wonderful, but not on my list. Of course, I think it is heavily within 1 genre, but what do I know?
My only pleasure is to make that bubble burst
Click on the song to hear it, see it performed or see lyrics. I am including 40 songs as homage to Casey Kasem.
40) Love That Girl- Rapahel Saadig (about time we hear some classic soul from an artist quiet for too long. I was a big Tony! Toni! Tone! fan back in the day)
39) Sing a Song for Them- Jenny Lewis (sweet highlight of a disappointing album)
38) Blessing and a Curse- Have Gun Will Travel (great local Tampa alt country band with tune about a "murdered sheriff on the take")
37) Could Be Worse- Eef Barzelay (if personal connection to song meant it is best, this would be #1. I feel like I am listening to my life, which is not a good thing. Lyrical sampling:
"Show me the bright side and I'll look 'til my eyes catch fireAnd please forgive me if I leave you feeling uninspired
My only pleasure is to make that bubble burst
I can't find comfort in the fact that it could be worse")
36) Mr. Carter- Lil Wayne with Jay-Z (any time I hear Jay-Z is a good day)
35) Something is Not Right With Me- Cold War Kids (the album is less accessible than the first, but this is the best of some very good tunes. Hard to choose between it and I've Seen Enough)
34) You Don't Know Me- Ben Folds with Regina Spektor (another disappointing album with a few great songs. Any song that gives us Regina Spektor is probably great)
33) Chasing Pavement- Adele (I like Duffy better, but this girl can sing)
31) Would You- Richard Swift (how a former member of Pedro the Lion can create a song that could be described as long lost Temptations or Marvin Gaye is beyond me. But, it sounds great)
30) Starry Stairs- Okkervil River (Will Sheff is everything Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams wish they were. His songs are catchy, unfathomably smart and rich- he is stepping into Dylan territory here. This song is sung from the perspective of a dead Porn Star, a companion piece to Savannah Smiles- sung from her parents' perspective. It is terrifically sad)
29) Going On- Gnarls Barkley (another disappointing album with no songs like Crazy. Who's Gonna Save My Soul is probably better, but I dig the hook and the energy on this one)
28) Taking the Farm- The War on Drugs (great song from a great album. Very energetic alt country/ rock with a cool 80s flavor)
27) Evil Urges- My Morning Jacket (great song and very risky. While I think it is flawed, it is very inventive and those falsetto vocals are priceless)
26) Warchild- Emmanuel Jal (a little talky, but the power is intense. He is no K'naan, but this song is very good)
25) Halfway Home- TV on the Radio (best song on a sub par effort. This song is unlike anything else you will hear this year, unless you listen to TV on the Radio- reminds me of the 80s... in a good way. It could have been on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack)
24) Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)- Beyonce (I know. I know. But, it is a cool song and infinitely listenable. Pretty smart for a pop song)
23) Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (great song from the dark lord and master of music. I love this man, but he is not for all)
22) In The Night- Basia Bulet (great voice, great energy and beautiful song)
21) The Sound- Human Highway (indescribable, but fun. Imagine Flight of the Concords, but real)
20) Ghost Under Rocks- Ra Ra Riot (reminds you a little of Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, The Smiths, Talking Heads, etc. But, the sound is their own. I like these guys better than VW, even though they are lumped together. I FEEL something when they sing. This is one of many very good songs on the album)
many of these songs are on the myspace sites of the artists, along with other songs giving you a sampling. To buy singles, as well as albums, I would try Amazon first. Their prices are better than iTunes and it is DMR free!