Mumford and Sons used to be her backing band... then they got famous instead. Now Laura's becoming more famous, however, which is awesome.
Gordon Lightfoot made many great songs, but his most famous, and what he considers his finest has to be mentioned here. Ladies and gentlemen, we present: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
"The House of the Rising Sun," a traditional folk song which has seen many renditions, most famously by British blues rock group The Animals. There are also renditions by Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton, and most Five Finger Death Punch. The first four lines of the song are also used in "The Saints are Coming" by the Scottish punk band the Skids.
It may be stuck in the Twilight ghetto, but Iron & Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" is too pretty not to like. Sam Beam's voice is heavenly.
"This Is My Song" is set to the so-called "Finlandia Hymn", a rare calm and serene section from Jean Sibelius' otherwise bombastically-awesome Finlandia overture. Also a rare good example of Lyrical Dissonance, taking a tune from a strongly-nationalistic song and putting words to it praying for international cooperation.
The "Halleujah" chorus from Handel's Messiah. A surprisingly epic work.
The hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" tells the story of a climactic battle between the forces of Good on earth and all the devils in Hell. Just as things are looking bad, the music reaches its final verse, where the organ kicks it into high gear as Jesus comes onto the battlefield and utterly routs Satan.
For even more awesome, try John Rutter's arrangement, with an 80-voice choir, organ, and orchestra. The third verse is just the men singing, in a minor key, and sounds as dark as hell itself. The fourth verse builds back up to full power in triumph and joy.
Pick an Evensong hymn, any Evensong hymn. They can be so incredibly peaceful when sung correctly — to the point that it's almost impossible to go away from Evensong feeling angry for any reason. "Abide With Me" and "The Day Thou Gavest" are particularly favoured, the latter because of the imagery of the world rolling onward "into light" while we sleep, while elsewhere, others are waking, and those already awake keep watch.
"Were You There?" is the sweetest, simplest, most plaintive Easter song in existence. Find a simple arrangement, and let it break your heart.
There's a style of gospel hymn from the old revivals that are meant to be sung by a lot of people with a lot of enthusiasm, and some of them are pure Awesome Moments. In particular:
"To God be the Glory"
"When the Roll is Called Up Yonder"
"Wonderful Grace of Jesus", with a chorus that splits into two melodies, the men singing a deep, rumbling ostinato, and the women joining in with a descant, building in volume, until the two voices meet at the end in three triumphant chords. Pure win.
"Agnus Dei" by Michael W. Smith. The text is a scant two quotes from John's Revelation and a simple tune, but with the right voice and the right backup it's got this ethereal quality that sounds like heaven.
"The Doxology"... short, sweet, to the point and it gives any listener goosebumps every time.
The Navy Hymn, a/k/a "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" is probably one of the most comforting ones out there.
"Faith of Our Fathers," especially if you're Roman Catholic.
Anything by the late Moses Hogan, who arranges spirituals for full choirs completely a capella. Particularly awesome pieces include "Battle of Jericho", "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel?", and "Elijah Rock".
"Kedushah" is an immensely powerful prayer, building to a crescendo of "ANI ADONAI ELOHEICHEM!" (I AM THE LORD YOUR G-D!)
"Yehei Yehei" by The Chevra. It's just five words, "yehei shlama rabba min shemayah" (May there be abundant peace from heaven), repeated through the entire song, but DAMN if it isn't catchy! Also makes awesome dance music.
While it could qualify as Video Game music, Christopher Tin's arrangement of the Lord's Prayer in Swahili ("Baba Yetu"), used as the start theme for Civilization IV, is amazing, no matter what footage it's set to.
It my not be very well known, but "Jesus Freak" by dcTalk is one of the best examples of the genre; and it's CHRISTIAN ROCK!
No Easter Sunday would be complete without "Jesus Christ Is Risen Today"/"Christ The Lord Is Risen Today".
Anything from the Sacred Harp shape note books, especially "Idumea."
"You're The Lion Of Judah" and "Days Of Elijah" by Robin Mark.
Russian Orthodox music also deserves a mention, for several reasons. One, there is a tradition of Oktavists. They are like a Basso Profondo, except even lower. Two, it includes full voicing, including regular tenors, baritones, bass-baritones, basses, and bassos profondos, in addition to the Oktavists. HOWEVER, the Oktavist, of which there is usually only a small number singing or in the building, will often be louder and easier to hear than any of the other singers. Perhaps is this nowhere more evident than in the work of the late Vladimir Pasjukov, and, perhaps, no song shows this as much as "Abandon Me Not In My Old Age". This performance in particular is especially awesome, as this song is normally sung by two or three oktavists. Pasjukov is not backed up by any other Oktavists or any amplification. THAT IS ALL HIM. As one of the deepest-voiced oktavists, and one of the deepest-voiced men of all time, his passing is one that, unfortunately, passed under the radar. For a man who can sing so powerfully and beautifully not to be better-known in the west is truly sad.
"The Holy City" by Stephen Adams and Frederic Weatherly. With or without lyrics, it's amazing.
Everything ever done by Nirvana, period, especially their hits "Lithium", "Heart Shaped Box", and the ironically popular "In Bloom", as well as the underrated "Drain You" and "Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle".
"Smells Like Teen Spirit", it's even a staple on "Best Song Ever" lists.
"Come As You Are". Either the original or the unplugged version, they're both so amazing.
Hole's Celebrity Skin album is amazing, especially the title track and "Reasons To Be Beautiful". "Live Through This" is also a worthy addition to a music collection. Say what you will about Courtney Love, but Hole is awesome.
Duke Ellington. Period. He's the one who first showed that Jazz could be taken seriously apart from Pop music and he was the guy Gershwin listened to for inspiration not to mention he may have the record for compositions by any American composer...and that's not even enough to be considered a short intro!
The Harlem Suite probably takes the cake here, with his swelling blues from the start to the cool swing, and back to the moody blues culminating into a awesome, jazzy, and slow march to the end. Bonus points for having been (at least initially) commissioned by Arturo Toscanini, and being a jazz piece that has been, and is still, played by classical orchestras today.
As if Pharaoh Sanders and John Hicks weren't amazing enough already, they came together and made "You Got To Have Freedom", which is just too amazing for words. The intro alone is a minute straight of John Hicks working wonders, and that's before the vocals kick in.
Since we're talking Gershwin... "Cuban Overture" is ten minutes of pure fiesta. And the ending WILL make you want to get up and dance.
Most songs by the Puppini Sisters. Not even related in real life, these three ladies are putting the swing sound of 1940s pop music into songs like "Walk Like An Egyptian", "Heart Of Glass", and "Crazy In Love".
Listening to Charles Mingus' "Haitian Fight Song" turns panty-waisted poindexters into switchblade-flicking badasses, and makes plain women gain a cup size and a bad (but sultry) smoking habit.
Same with "Better Get it In Your Soul."
John Coltrane. First, he wrote "Giant Steps," which is universally recognized as one of the most difficult songs in jazz to perform, and there's also "A Love Supreme," an over-40-minute dedication to higher power that is often called one of the most passionate performances in jazz history.
Charlie Parker's "Charlie Parker with Strings." While some purists hate it for being too "pop" for bebop, you have to admit there is something incredible about his virtuoso bebop improvs being played over a full orchestra.
There's something even more incredible about hearing his virtuoso bebop improvs being played with just a five-piece band behind him. Bebop is possibly the most difficult-to-play popular music ever, and Parker, Gillespie, Al Haig, Max Roach et al. made it sound not only easy but fun.
Almost anything by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, but "Pedal Up" is probably his most ridiculous tune, especially his live performance of it on "Bright Moments." It's a 12-minute piece which includes circular breathing (he holds out several notes for minutes on end without stopping to take a breath), 3 saxophones (all played by Kirk simultaneously), and the last 3.5 minutes of it are an elaborate solo played just by Kirk without the backing band involving him droning on one sax, setting up a beat and chord progression with another, and soloing on the third (the end solo even has classical-influence harmonization with two of the saxes at once).
Perfect blend of guitar, sax and rhythm: "Lily Was Here" doesn't need lyrics to be awesome.
If you were told that in 2011 a female jazz singer who plays the bass could win the Grammy for best new artist over probably the most popular pop singer of the day, you wouldn't believe it, would you? Well, believe it.
"What a Wonderful World". The perfect song to remind you that, yes, the world is worth living for.
Art Tatum. Blind in both eyes, he taught himself how to play and improvise jazz piano by ear, and became so technically proficient that other pianists regard him with awe to this day; one famous story recalls Fats Waller remarking of him, "God is in the house." Listen to Art Tatum playing "Tiger Rag". Now remind yourself that that's only one person playing all those complicated chords and superhumanly fast runs... and he's improvising it.
"Summertime". Written by George and Ira Gershwin. Performed by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Sheer perfection.
Ladies and gentlemen, Wynton Marsallis based his third symphony around the history of jazz, aptly subtitled the Jazz Symphony. It's basically a concerto for an entire jazz big band and symphony orchestra.
Miles Davis. Listening to album after album of his is like taking the finest walk through an evolution in jazz. Special mention to the haunting introduction to the title track of Bitches Brew.
There was a thing in jazz during the '50s and '60s were a band would perform at small parties set up by producers, and it would all be recorded as a live album. People showed up and were offered booze to help them enjoy themselves. Two classic albums of this particular variety are Mercy, Mercy, Mercy and Why am I Treated so Bad!, both by Cannonball Adderley and his quintet, with special mention to the title track of the former (their most recognisable hit).
A lesser-known Japanese "death jazz" band called Soil & "PIMP" Sessions deserves mention here. Give them a listen, especially if you enjoy the faster-paced stuff by The Seatbelts (of Cowboy Bebop fame). So much energy for six musicians (one of whom has the sole job of yelling at the rest through a megaphone, and even then this is fairly rare). Try "Suffocation","Crush","Mashiroke", or "Storm".
Dave Brubeck's utterly magnificent "Take Five". Probably the most recognized piece of jazz music in the world. Sexy, soulful, and sophisticated.
Herb Alpert's "Rise". Unfortunately forever linked to General Hospital's rape of Laura by Luke, but still a thoroughly excellent piece of music.
Beethoven's Last Night is concept album by Trans-Siberian Orchestra, telling the story of Beethoven selling his soul to the devil, (it's a long story) and is generally full of awesome (only to be expected from an album based on Beethoven). The highlight is What is Eternal. All through the song there's this pervading sense of melancholy - that he doesn't think he's good enough, that his work will never be remembered, that his life's worth "ended with his birth". Then about two minutes in, the music fades into a short burst of Ode To Joy. It's quite the Tear Jerker. Beethoven might never fully know his own genius, but we sure as hell will.
From the same album, there is the magnificent piece A Last Illusion. Starts off with a short ditty on a classical guitar (The first few phrases of Sonata facile by Mozart) and quickly segues into a very strong rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee on electric guitars, backed by the full orchestra. The last two and a half minutes or so of the song is simply the most amazing, emotionally charged rendition of Ode to Joy that can be summed up in the aforementioned two and a half minutes. Not only does the orchestra come back at full blast, there are at least three guitars, plus two pianists, and a full choir. If Beethoven were alive today, he would be able to hear this. It's that moving.
A great deal of the CMOA that gets our blood pumping in those movie trailers is produced by groups such as Immediate Music, X-Ray Dog, and ES Posthumus, and licensed out to film distributors for use in their trailers. Hats off to 'em!
Their music would be peak CMOA if it weren't for the tiny little fault that... their music cannot be legitimately obtained!
Immediate released an album on iTunes, including their "Lacrimosa." Big Yes!
When you ask the question of who the greatest pianists of the 20th century were, Fats Waller's name is definitely at the top of the list, and his rendition of "Carolina Shout" does more that show you why. Flawless multitasking isn't just something computers can do, and working it all into something that swings rather than stands stiff is something that the best do with ease.
Of course, when it comes to great pianists "all roads lead to Art Tatum," as they say, for his amazing style that somehow took influence from every style that came before it and took them all to the next level. Unfortunately, as occurs in most such cases, pinning down an absolute moment is difficult, but here's a start.
This performance of "The Bonny Swans" by Loreena McKennitt and her band. Even if you don't care for the story the lyrics tell, it's got a a violin, and piano and an electric guitar sounding awesome together. And Loreena's voice.
More awesomeness by McKennitt: "The Mummer's Dance," "All Soul's Night," and her brilliant adaptation of Alfred Noyes' "The Highwayman."
Anything by Beirut. "Elephant Gun" brings the level of ukulele awesomeness up about four million points, and then when the strings and the accordion and the trumpet kick in- live, it creates hordes of swaying, dancing onlookers.
"The Gulag Orkestrar" is similarly INCREDIBLE. "They called it mine," indeed.
Lemon Demon's "Ask For Nothing" is one of those songs that seems uninteresting the first time, but gets better every time you listen to it. Even though on first listen it sounds like the time signature is screwed up, it's actually in 4/4. It's just disguised as what appears to be 17/8. That takes skill.
In need of some blues? Muddy Waters. "Rollin' Stone", "Hoochie Coochie Man", "Mannish Boy", "Got My Mojo Working", "Louisiana Blues", the music he performed was influential and classic in every way.
Kristoph Klover's rendition of Jordin Kare's Fire in the Sky made Buzz Aldrin cry on live television.
"Weird Al" Yankovic, Jim West, Steve Jay, Rubén Valtierra, and Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. They have taken any and most genres released in the past thirty years and parodied and homaged it, while playing it, flawlessly.
"Genius in France"—Al's nine minute tribute to the late Frank Zappa, with none other than Frank's son Dweezil himself on guitar. Because it's as ridiculously complex and awesome as you'd expect it to be, calling this song a parody is immediately out of the question.
Of all the musical tributes to Michael Jackson after his death, this medley of his songs by Sam Tsui is the most astoundingly awesome and Tear Jerker worthy of them all. And while we're on the subject of Mr Tsui, also check out his amazing cover versions of "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey, "Run" by Snow Patrol, and a High School Musical song.
The Doug Anthony All Stars. Rude, crude, hilarious and incredibly NSFW one moment,and the next they blew audiences away with stufflikethis. If Paul Mc Dermott's voice doesn't move you, nothing will.
Oingo Boingo. It's Danny Elfman, for crying out loud! For starters, "Dead Man's Party" anyone? Or "Insaniy" perhaps? Hell, "Little Girls" and the Farewell version of "Water" are instant win, period. (In all honesty, whenever Danny Elfman plays a rock song, it's going to be awesome.)
William Joseph. The two most notable examples are Piano Fantasy and Within (the orchestra versions).
Rodrigo y Gabriela has an interesting story. They are a Mexican duo, that after searching for success in the metal scene decided to move to Europe and eventually changed to flamenco. Listen to their rendition of "Stairway to Heaven". Now listen someof their original songs. Now remember that every single thing you hear is two fucking guitars.
YoungBlood Brass Band. Somehow manages to fuse a brass band sound with rap. Sound crazy but it works and works well. Oh, and the sousaphones are powerful enough that your car windows will rattle.
"Trains and Winter Rains" by Enya. Made even more awesome by the fact that the entire thing was performed by exactly one person. It's also really catchy.
Florence Welch and Dizzee Rascal's live mashup, You've Got The Dirtee Love. The performance was so popular that it was then released as a charity single and shot to # 2 on the charts.
Jack Conte from the San Francisco Bay Area is definitely one of the most talented and edgy indie musicians on the Internet, whether he is working alone or with his girlfriend.
New Radicals, especially this song. Just try not to dance along. Even if you're not a dancer, try to listen to it without getting it stuck in your head. Why were they a one-hit wonder?!
"You Get What You Give". It speaks volumes when Keith Richards says that's the song he wished he wrote above all others.
The song Coolangubra by the band of the same name, featuring percussion, rhythm guitar, and truly epic electric violin. (Note that the *ding!* at the beginning of the video isn't part of the actual song.)
Nearly anything by Two Steps From Hell. Listen to Heart of Courage for just a taste. Recognize it? Of course you do, like other artists Two Steps From Hell makes music for previews for movie and game previews. Works include preview music for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Deathly Hallows (parts 1 and 2), Mass Effect (2 and 3), Tron: Legacy, and many many more.
The simple children's folk song, "Ghost of John/Tom", one verse usually sung as a round, was given additional lyrics by Kristen Lawrence and turned into a rich, foreboding, even creepier and more haunting song by playing with the tune, adding harmonies, and accompanying it with strings and a pipe organ. With a fugue. And it is glorious. "Ghost of John (Dead Composers Version)".
"Dulcissimia" by Corvus Corax. That is folk. First, you can't believe how over the top it is...and then they bring out the chariot.
Any march by John Philip Sousa. Of course, the most Awesome Music of his catalog is "The Stars and Stripes Forever".
The Swedish Diablo Swing Orchestra does also belong here. Not only do they state that the origin of their music dates back to the 16th century, when the original Orchestra was killed by the church for being too awesome, when you heyr the music you're inclined to believe them. Ballrog Boogie!
Hybrid's Finished Symphony would damn near be a stock piece of music as a climactic song of triumph, were it not for the 9.5 minute length.
How about "Dragon's Heartbeat" from the soundtrack of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, by Randy Edelman? This seems to get used all over the place, most memorably from Elvis Stojko's figure skating routine in the 1994 Olympics. Timestamp 1:00 in the link is when it gets memorable, and 1:35 is when it gets epic.
A similar moment of awesome came when Los Colorados, a Ukrainian polka band, remade "Hot & Cold".
This is the one of the most awesome pieces of music that ever was or ever will be produced by humankind. Listen through once, then listen again when you've found a translation for the lyrics. The music is awesome, and the message is awesome. Tikvah wins. Also, it's Awesome Music for Subliminal and The Shadow themselves, along with the entire TACT Family.
As is this, no wonder it was covered as an Easily Forgettable song by Dj Sammy.
While many people consider music to be an important weapon against South Africa's system of apartheid, the protest song "Sun City" by Artists against Apartheid is a particularly powerful moment when a good portion of American and European pop stars musically declared their refusal to play at one of that nation's largest resorts while that tyranny prevailed. Imagine this line in The Eighties where money was supposed to reign supreme while principles of justice were sneered at: "You can't buy me/I don't care what care what you pay!/So don't ask me, Sun City/Cause I ain't going to play!"
Not only that, but they also made a piece of music that in its own right is TOTALLY. KICK. ASS. It's a grand all-inclusive alternate universe where Miles Davis is rubbing elbows with Grandmaster Flash, Jefferson Browne jammed with Joan Baez, and Lou Reed and Joey Ramone cavorted with the Fat Boys and Bono and the P-Funk Allstars.
"Godzilla Eats Las Vegas" is an utterly epic, 10 minute long musical rendition of Godzilla terrorizing Las Vegas, with the French Horns providing his roar, the bass drum as the cannon blasts aiming to kill him, the musicians screaming "GODZILLA", music teachers tangoing across the stage, a mambo, xylophone hits representing morse code over a telegram, and a blood curling scream. It is absolute epic, find it on youtube.
The final battle between Neo and Mr. Smith in Matrix Revolutions while the song, Neodammerung plays in the background. Although to the untrained ear the lyrics sound like random ominous chanting, it's really a Hindu Vedic hymn about enlightenment spoken in Sanskrit.
Anything by Paul Winter. He rocks. Whales Alive album especially though.
More Tetris, but with a twist: It's the complete history of the Soviet Union, sung to the theme. It's impossible to stop listening.
"O Magnum Mysterium" by Tomas Luis de Victoria, especially as sung by the Boston Camerata. 2:32 of pure harmony. There are some pieces of music that make you stand up and cheer, and there are some that make you just lie down and listen. This is one of the latter.
Muppet.Bohemian. Rhapsody. The faithfulness to the original video is just astounding (though it did cut out the famous guitar solo right before the equally famous 'Opera' section.) Someone even made a video in which the two videos played in perfect simultation. It will astound you. (Starts around 0:15.)
Bucket Head is so great he can make a Funk and Blue grass hybrid and make you enjoy it.
What happens when someone blends the lyrics of the Nat King Cole classic "Nature Boy" with the Mad Men theme? Well, an actual band was assembled to give us this treat, with the icing on this cake courtesy of the vocals of Allison Williams (daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams).
This live collaboration between Japanese turntablist DJ Kentaro and shamisen player Kinoshita Shinichi. Who would have thought that traditional Japanese music could be fused with hip-hop and drum n' bass is such an awesome way?
The Evolution of Video Games Epic Medley is a nine-minute long piece of Awesome Music multiplied by 22—it features 22 classic Nintendo and arcade video game theme songs packed in a single medley with transitions and will stun you from beginning to end. And it's made in Mario Paint Composer, with 16-bit limitations.
The Sucker Punch soundtrack is actually life changing, covering rock, metal, industrial, pop, rap, and alternative. All made all the more theatrical and over the top, cuz it is possible. "Army Of Me" is industrial and rock screaming for power and taking no crap, "Tomorrow Never Knows" is trippy but healing, "I Want It All"/"We Will Rock You"'s rap is funny but true, "Where Is My Mind" and its fellow track "Asleep" both touch you on an emotional level, and "Sweet Dreams" is one of the few geniunely life changing addictive songs ever which really never gets old. They kept both the dramatic moments of the movie in the soundtrack and kept the songs intact for casual listening purposes and to relive the movie without watching it. How often does a "Various Artists" soundtrack do that right?
Delta Rae is already capable of some amazing things with music. Then you listen to "Bottom of the River." The first half is almost pure vocal, save for the percussion from a chain in an aluminum roasting pan. The second half is nearly nothing but melodic sighs, a drum and a bass. It's deceptively simple and pure Southern Gothic win. The first verse alone is eerily epic:
If you get sleep or if you get none (Cock's gonna call in the morning, baby) Check the cupboard for your daddy's gun (Red sun rises like an early warning) The Lord's gonna come for your first born son (His hair's on fire and his heart is burning) Go to the river where the water runs (Wash him deep where the tides are turning)...
Although they're mostly known for "To Be With You", a quick trawl through Mr. Big's discography reveals that these guys are really good at delivering awesome music. A few examples that spring to mind: "Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy", "Green-Tinted Sixties Mind" and "Take Cover" (with some amazing drumming from Pat Torpey, too: it was given praise by Rush's Neil Peart!).