DISCLAIMER: This article was originally posted on Odyssey.
These are the movie-trailer-quality songs that caused me to listen and visualize their brilliance. Simply describing them by their lyrics and instrumentation would only limit their capabilities beyond just mere satisfaction. Included are songs that belong to music genres I do not particularly like that have really blown away my misconceptions. I arranged them alphabetically in descending order.
1. Clarity (Zedd/Foxes)
I don’t listen to pop, but Zedd’s production on this song is really uplifting. The main stanza has a destiny-binding feel to it along with the rushing rhythm.
2. The Dogs Of War (Pink Floyd, 1987)
Known for their strong anti-war position, Pink Floyd takes the bluesy perspective of the people who actually perpetuate the wars they themselves benefit from, commandeered by the saxophones, background vocals and organs. They are also known for incorporating sound-bites into their music, which in this case definitely paints a grisly picture with barking dogs and the propelling of war-planes.
The spine-chilling justification for these “dogs of war” are presented as:
“We all have a dark side to say the least; and dealing in death is the nature of the beast.”
3. Hegoak (Anne Etchegoyen et le Choeur Aizkoa)
They sing in Basque, which is spoken in an area bordering between Spain and France. This song is actually a cover of Joan Baez’s “Txoria Txori.” Even if I don’t understand them, what I think really matters is the emotional impact their music had. When I first watched the music video of their song “Hegoak” on YouTube, it had slightly less than a million views, which I thought was inexcusable and deserved more.
There is a Disneyan sense of wonder that comes from this song. The Gregorian tone of the male background vocals really heightens this song beyond the Basque countryside and into a great level of magnificence. Etchegoyen delivers a soothing argument for Basque self-determination with Baez’s subtle symbolism of a free-flying bird losing its wings.
4. Her Alone (Amorphis)
This song from the Finnish progressive metal band displays romance in its dark beauty. The organs and guitar are married in this perfect flow of heaviness and softness. In the middle of the song, that marriage comes alive as it dances with elegant grace. Although it is a metal song, there are no indecipherable growling, so I would suggest this song to any non-Metal fans.
The lyrics really emphasize the love that the protagonist has for this woman who is the subject of this song.
“Only one can make me wage all my wars; only one and the shadow of that one.”
5. I Walk Alone (Iced Earth)
The wailing of the guitars along with Matt Barlow’s howling vocals really brings out the magnitude of this song. Near the end, the guitar solo practically trumpeted the epic nature of this song.
Lyrically and conceptually, it deals with the narrator, Seth, showing misanthropic contempt of the human race:
“Mankind’s dishonesty leads them to waste.”
6. In My Time Of Need (Opeth)
This is definitely the song that causes you to shut down as slowly as the instrumentation and Mikael Akerfeldt’s haunting vocals.
7. Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are (Meat Loaf)
The concept of the song involves Meat Loaf recalling the haunting memories of his childhood friend dying in a car accident, his abusive father and a woman with whom he fell in love with. What revolves them around a central theme are the metaphors of a car, a highway and the rear-view mirrors (thus the title of the song).
The song begins smoothly, than proceeds into heavy instrumentation. Eventually, it culminates into the 2/3rds of the song where there is an epic transition into the final part of the song. It brings the listener to trudge through the fierce snowstorm, perhaps from the metaphorical winter that is described in the “father” part.
The slow, smooth “ooooohs” from the background vocals really made the third part tear-jerking. But the lyric that definitely drove the song deep was:
“She used her body just like a bandage; she used my body just like a wound.”
8. On My Sleeve (Creed)
There is a slow, almost-country vibe with the guitar rhythm. The violin in the background would be the most important part of the song since it highlights the emotional intensity of the song. Within the song there are lyrics which are as tragic as the instrumentation, presumably dealing with the narrator trying to recover a severed relationship by pleading:
“I shout out. Can you hear me? Mistakes have cost me years.”
9. Something About You (Level 42)
I remember first hearing this and thinking of how much of an R&B vibe the song has, specifically the backup vocals. This song does not have the glamor that any other 80’s song has, which I think makes this song as unique as possible.
10. Think Of You (Chris Young)
I do not listen to country, but my aunt does. One day, when I rode in her jeep, I remember hearing this song on the radio and being captivated by its tragedy. The duet deliver an almost-droning dirge to a relationship and how it affected not just themselves, but also the people around them.