20. Tenacious D - Tribute
"And we said, 'nay, we are but men' - ROCK!"
It would take a bitter soul (or at least a strong aversion to profanity) to dislike Tenacious D. 'Tribute' is, of course, their shining moment. Shortly after defeated the shiny shining demon by playing the best song in the world (then forgetting the song shortly thereafter), the above quoted line is said and then they let loose. In that moment, the song is taken from being a great parody/homage to great rock songs of the past to being a song that surpasses the very songs that it refers to. All I know is that when they mention that the song they played that night didn't sound anything like 'Tribute', I'm not entirely convinced.
19. Outkast - B.O.B.
"The entire first verse"
There might be a technically better rap than Andre 3000's in the first verse of B.O.B. (though there would certainly have to be a discussion before I'd concede that point), but I can guarantee there aren't any that are more exhilerating. The beat sounds like it's on fire, and 'Dre raps like that fire is licking at his heels. For the duration of that verse, it's practically impossible to pry your attention from the insane goings on. Big Boi's verse is unbelieveably solid, as well, but it still
pales in comparison to the first part... heck, pretty much everything in the entire genre does.
18. David Newman - Serenity
For the uninformed, this is the music that is playing during the opening credits to the movie Serenity. The entire track is extremely short (under a minute in fact), and the part in question - where the solo violin meets up with the rest of the string ensemble while the title of the movie is shown - almost lasts for a shorter duration than it took just now to explain where it was in the song. However, it's an earworm of the highest order; I listened to this track a ridiculous number of times simply to hear that little sliver.
17. Modest Mouse - Parting of the Sensory
"The Carbon Freakout"
I don't mind Parting of the Sensory's first half, but it's nothing too special. It has decent lines and an okay melody, but there's nothing there that really grabs your attention when compared to other Modest Mouse stuff. Then comes the 'Carbon' portion of the song, a serious left turn where singer Isaac Brock starts ranting about how "someday you will die and somehow something's going to steal your carbon". It's simultaneously bizzare and brilliant, and while most bands probably couldn't pull it off convincingly, to Modest Mouse, it almost seems more natural than if they had simply allowed the first half to run its course.
16. Ozzy Osbourne - Crazy Train
All aboard! Ha ha ha hahahahaha... Every guitar player I know has played the introductory riff to this song a billion times, and obviously not once has it ever felt half as alive or mennacing as the real thing. It's been sampled countless times, played in stadiums to near death, and still has the "whoa" effect every time it comes on. It almost makes a person forget that there was another three and a half minutes to the song afterwards - almost.
15. Sigur Ros - Njósnavélin (a.k.a. 'Untitled 4')
"Like a sunrise breaking through the trees"
For whatever reason, the first time I heard Sigur Rós, they didn't connect with me. I had no patience for their slow-building music, and this song in particular sounded like a funeral dirge to me. Then a year or so later, I listened to it again, and it just clicked. When those first high notes break through the murk, it almost sounds like watching the sun peek over the horizon, making it a near-perfect soundtrack to a sunrise - you know, if I didn't have a borderline vampiric dislike for mornings.
14. Broken Social Scene - It's All Gonna Break
'It's All Gonna Break' is a ten minute song (five seconds short, actually), but what's really amazing about it is that it barely even feels half that length. As the song gets ready for its (extremely) extended finale, Kevin Drew begins to absolutely scream the song's title. All sense of restraint is shredded into a million pieces as the band goes to town, trying to keep up with their ballistic lead singer.
13. The Hold Steady - First Night
"When they kiss, they spit white noise"
I think a big part of the reason I like the second half of 'First Night' is the way the background vocals echo "white noise" with such urgency. Part of it also has to do with how the pent up energy comes out suddenly is a rush of half-desperate emotion. Really, though, the biggest reason is that Craig Finn had spent so much time building these characters up, and suddenly you actually feel the whole thing gel into people that you actually care about.
12. Radiohead - Karma Police
"For a minute there, I lost myself"
I'm not even sure what it is about the end of 'Karma Police' that gets me. Somewhere between Thom Yorke's sighing (despairing? or relieved?) "phew, for a minute there, I lost myself", and the way the ghostly vocals in the background do their whole "aa-aaah" thing it just all works. I could listen to this a hundred times and pick out something different that I like about it with just about every listen.
11. Mewithoutyou - Gentlemen
"AND YOU'D BETTER BE ALONE"
I remember hearing this song for the first more clearly than possibly any other song I've ever heard. I was immediately drawn to the malevolent sounding guitars and even though singer/songwriter Aaron Weiss was more croak-shouting the lyrics than actually singing them, it resonated with me. Toward the end of the second verse, though, he sings "I said I'd not come back - well, I'm coming back", suddenly losing the backing music entirely as he plainly says "AND YOU'D BETTER BE ALONE" with seemingly barely controlled fury. I'm actually fairly surprised that I was able to come up with ten moments in music that I enjoy more than this (check back tomorrow!), but it's safe to say that none of them match the jaw dropping "holy cow, did that just happen" feeling that this song gave me the first time I heard it.