I don’t know why, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Not necessarily what my favorite song, album or band is, but what criteria go into making a decision like that.
This may sound a little Rob Gordon of me, but here goes my definition of what qualifies as each.
This can — and often does — change frequently. For most people. You find that new “jam” and listen to it 80,000 times a week until it wears out. You play it until you know the lyrics by heart, can hear the melodies in your head even when you’re not listening to it, and you’ve noticed every subtle nuance of the singer’s breathing.
But the question that often comes to mind: does your favorite song need to be from your favorite band/artist or on your favorite album?
For me, it’s a no. My favorite song can be from a completely random artist or band, separate from my favorite albums of all time.
How? Glad you asked.
Right now, my favorite song is a toss up between James Arthur’s “Say You Won’t Let Go” and Queen’s “Somebody To Love”. Queen’s song may be — in my opinion — the most perfect song ever written. It has harmonies and crescendos and excellent lyrics. It rises and falls, it builds you up and settles you back down. And it’s got Freddie Mercury, which is hard to beat. James Arthur’s song, on the other hand, has an incredibly story to it. For me, that’s an important part of a good song – telling me a story. As a creator of content, stories are important to me.
That said, neither James Arthur or Queen are my favorite artist, nor do either of them hold a position in my list of top albums.
The reason for that is actually quite simple. Keep reading and you’ll find out why.
In order to be a favorite album— or, for me, it’s a top five list of albums— it has to be a solid album from start to finish. The songs need to flow into one another in a sense-able fashion. Every track has to be listenable. You can’t have a favorite album that you like every song except for one or two.
“Say You Won’t Let Go” is on Jame Arthur’s album called “Back from the Edge.” Is it a good album? Yes. Do I love every single track on it? No. There’s a few I could live without.
Same applies to Queen’s “A Day At The Races.” Does it have some absolutely amazing songs? Yes. Are there some I could never hear again and not care? Yes.
So what’s my favorite album then? Like I said, I have a top five list. It doesn’t change, as nothing’s ever bumped one of these albums from it.
- Boston by Boston
- Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes from a Memory by Dream Theater
- Letters by Butch Walker
- Candlebox by Candlebox
- Ugly by Life of Agony
Much like a favorite album needs to have all good songs on it, a favorite band or artist follows the same thought process.
Every album the band/artist puts out has to be good. Perhaps not perfect (or they’d end up on the Favorite Album list), but good. Listenable. Enjoyable. There has to be an overall good sensation from listening to any and every album that he/she/they release.
This, as you can imagine, gets tough. Many bands put out an excellent first album but then suffer from the “sophomore slump.” A second album isn’t always nearly as good as the first a band puts out. There’s a lot of pressure from record labels, the artist themselves, society, etc. to put out a good second album. This often leads to a disappointing follow-up to their debut.
Up until the last few years, I always knew who my favorite bands were. I had a few and I toggled back and forth between them. As of right now, I’m not really sure who that is. Let me explain why I’m straying from my all time favorites.
Dream Theater. Fourteen studio albums. Twenty+ live albums/DVDs/performances. I own them all. I love most of their music. However, their last album (“The Astonishing”) didn’t hit home with me. It’s a concept album (much like my beloved Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory), but it just didn’t work for me.
From Wikipedia: “The Astonishing is set in a dystopian future United States and follows the Ravenskill Rebel Militia in their efforts to defy the Great Northern Empire of the Americas using the magical power of music.”
It just missed the mark for me.
Life of Agony. Five studio albums. Five+ live albums/DVDs/performances. Mostly great. Some of my previous favorite songs were on some of their earlier albums. Some of their lyrics helped me through a lot of my growing up in my teen years.
But their last album (“A Place Where There’s No More Pain”) — after a 12 year break — just did not hit the mark with me. Is it great to have them back? Yes, because I feel it may lead to another album that I really enjoy. But this one didn’t do it for me. I find there’s hardly any tracks I seek out on it, none that really hit me in the heart, and none that I feel I couldn’t live with never hearing again.
Tool. Four albums. (A fifth is supposedly in the works). “Undertow” and “Ænima” are both incredible albums. I still remember someone playing “Ænima” for me for the first time in high school when it came out. It changed me.
But when “Lateralus” came out, it wasn’t the same. There’s some good songs, but it doesn’t move me as a collection of work. There’s some weird stuff on the album, too. “Eon Blue Apocalypse”, “Mantra”, “Ticks & Leeches” and “Triad” just don’t jive for me.
Same applies to “10,000 Days”. There’s a few great songs on this album, but overall it doesn’t mesh for me as a whole album.
Hopefully, their next album will be great again, though it’s tough to say at this point.
So, I don’t think I have a favorite band right now. I know that’s sort of anti-climactic after over a thousand words of me rambling. But it’s true. I have bands and artists that I really love and enjoy most of what they put out. But I don’t have that one that really stands out.
If — gun to head — I’m forced to choose, though, I’d pick Dream Theater. After 14 studio albums, I guess I can forgive one blemish and pretend it doesn’t exist. They’re in the studio now working on another album, so hopefully they’ll make up for it.
What about you? What’s your favorite song, album and band/artist? Leave a comment and let’s discuss!