The 10 most beautiful, melodic languages

beautiful languagesChoosing the most beautiful languages poses a challenge. First of all, “beautiful” is a subjective term. What appeals to one person may not appeal to another. Secondly, the profusion of closely related languages makes it difficult to choose only one representative from a group. Finally, who among us has heard every language on earth to be able to winnow the list down to the top ten? For my list, I picked ten especially melodic languages. I present them alphabetically rather than ranked. Some of these are tonal, where shifts in pitch change the meaning of words and automatically produce a musical shape. Others have evolved especially mellifluous structures and sounds. Obviously, different speakers will have different vocal qualities, so these choices are based on generalizations. My concept of “beautiful” incorporates three qualities: Continue reading →

Top 10 strange songs

Strange songs: painting "The Ugly Duchess"It’s easy to write a strange song. Much harder to craft a song that musically captures the idea while still being beautiful. Here are the top 10 songs with “strange” in the title. In each case, the music has unusual elements that highlight the feeling of strangeness. They span the decades and represent different genres. I’ve listed additional songs after the top 10. Because the word “stranger” denotes something quite different from “strange,” I’ve omitted those songs from the list. Continue reading →

The best songs for the days of the week

Days of the weekThe lists below, broken out by days of the week, reflect the best songs that have days in their titles. I’ve generally omitted covers in favor of the original versions, unless the cover is especially popular or noteworthy. Each embedded playlist offers a short sample of the song, or you can click on the playlist link to hear the complete songs. At the end of each section you’ll find a link to a more comprehensive list of songs for the days of the week. Continue reading →

James Bond theme songs ranked best to worst

James Bond actorsJames Bond has been a cinematic icon for almost 60 years. No other film subject has had such an enduring presence, yielding new movies every few years. And what makes a successful James Bond theme song? The music should convey a touch of mystery, seduction, excitement, danger. There’s also room for a touch of humor. While the Bond films have tried on a variety of styles over the years—cabaret, R&B, rock, pop, adult contemporary—the most successful have felt integrated with the movie, stimulating the imagination. Here’s my take on ranking the 25 theme songs to date. Continue reading →