In my own (short) lifetime, I have stumbled upon a handful of songs that have left their mark on me. We all have songs like these: the ones with words that leave us speechless; the ones with melodies that we wish we could build a house in; the ones that give us chills. The following songs on this list come from a variety of genres. Take what you love, and leave the rest.
5) “Wash” – Bon Iver
When I heard this song for the first time, the first thought I had was, “Bon Iver gets it right every time.” It’s true. And while his album For Emma, Forever Ago is what catapulted him into the indie spotlight; however, his musical talent is so much more than that album. “Wash.” is the perfect example of that. It mixes an exquisite piano progression with Bon Iver’s signature liquid-like vocals. Listen to this song when you need to press pause on the world around you—its quiet beauty will leave you feeling re-charged.
4) “Avril 14th” – Aphex Twin
I am not the only person to have acknowledged how subtly gorgeous this song is. It plays in Sofia Coppola’s movie Marie Antoinette, and it is the background piano motif in Kanye West’s “Blame Game.” This song is what you didn’t know you needed: a delicate melody with no words to interrupt its beauty or your perception of it. It came into my life at a time when I needed something but couldn’t identify exactly what was missing. Even if you don’t find what you were looking for, you’ll find something you didn’t know you were craving in this song.
3) “All Waters” – Perfume Genius
This is the song I want to build a house in. I heard it for the first time this summer while watching “So You Think You Can Dance;” it was the music for a deeply emotional routine. Listening to this song while watching the performance was probably one of the most breathtaking experiences of my summer. Listening to this song with no distractions is something everyone should do at least once. “All Waters” is just over 2 minutes of harmonious bliss that will leave you speechless.
2) “The Light” – The Album Leaf
If you watch ABC’s Scandal, you know this song as the Olivia-Fitz theme song. Otherwise, this is a song for the moments when what you need is to just be. This song has what is probably one of my favorite harmonies, which builds and disintegrates perfectly. The first time I heard it, it gave me chills. It still does, and I’ve listened to it maybe a thousand times. In the vastly busy world we live in, this is a song for the moments where just being is enough to get us through the day.
1) “Hero” – Family of the Year
Some would question this song’s place on this particular list; I, however, believe that this is one of the most stunning acoustic songs I’ve heard in a while. As an experience, this song has certain places that I wish were longer, so that I could savor them just a little more. What makes this song so beautiful is the way it gradually builds, adding a new musical element with each verse. Combined with nostalgic lyrics and a fluctuating major-minor chord progression, this song is acoustic perfection.