7

It Can’t Come Quickly Enough

Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters (2004)

This song was not released as a single, but it nevertheless has firmly implanted itself as a lifelong personal staple. I really can’t point out a single thing wrong with it. The production is impeccable — a swiftly moving beat and undulating bassline somehow are still balanced well enough for it to feel like a mournful ballad. Jake Shears’s voice slides constantly between tenor and his trademark falsetto, creating a rather hypnotic melody that is underscored by truly heartbreaking lyrics. “When you finally saw it coming, it passed you by and left you so defeated.” Anticipating something so badly, only to watch it drift out of your hands – who couldn’t relate to that? My only “complaint” about this song is that it is more the anomaly than the norm for the Scissor Sisters, who seem to prefer cabaret-like camp, particularly on their second album. I wish they’d revisit this sound again in the future.

Also check out: The Scissor Sisters twisted disco cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”

5

Since U Been Gone

Kelly Clarkson

Breakaway (2004)

The greatest thing American Idol has brought us is Kelly Clarkson. I don’t think any contestant will ever surpass her. Once she got the obligatory over-blandified debut album out of the way, Kelly injected a bit more of her personality into the mix, and delivered this insanely perfect pop/rock gem. I have so many memories of shouting this at the top of my lungs at parties – which is the exact same thing everyone else there was doing – it’s just so freaking good. Kelly has continued to deliver great music (the “Breakaway” album seemed more like a “greatest hits” it had so many smash singles), even when her commercial fortunes were in doubt (label in-fighting nearly sunk her “My December” album, despite it being in many ways superior to “Breakway”), and I think we will all be enjoying her music for years to come.

Also check out: Kelly’s album cut “Maybe” from ”My December” was on early drafts of this top 50 list but eventually just missed out. The lyrics still kill me – “I don’t need to be fixed and I certainly don’t need to be found – I’m not lost.”