My taste in music is nothing short of eclectic as I’ll listen to just about anything as long as its good. Like everyone else I have my favorite artists, but there are some names that evoke a few raised eyebrows. The inevitable question, “You listen to what?” usually follows those contorted brows. It’s as if I’m not “allowed” to listen to certain types of music because I don’t fit the profile. To this I say, there is no such thing as boundaries when it comes to enjoying music. Nerds can love Top 40 bands and happy-go-lucky writers can dig reggae rap.
More than once I’ve written of my love for British artists, indie rock, and NuFolk, but my music collection reaches far beyond those categories. Here’s a list of 10 artists I love, despite the glaring disparities in personality. It just goes to show that music truly does speak across all realms of humanity.
Note: I’ve linked each artist to a site where its possible to listen to samples of their music. With exception to #9, all links will connect to my favorite album. Enjoy!
1. Michael Franti & Spearhead
Equal parts rap, reggae, pop, R&B, and rock, Franti is a remarkable songwriter and performer. His lyrics cry for social justice, peace, and political change with the stomp of a fierce beat. He’s lightened up a little over the last few years, but he’s never given up his vision for a world without war and corruption.
Favorite Songs: “Everybody Ona Move” and “Life in the City”
Favorite Albums: All Rebel Rockers, Yell Fire, and Everyone Deserves Music.
Okay, so he’s a little weird and very bald, but he makes some the of the best atmospheric electronica. He thumbs his nose at convention and does his own thing, which is what I like best about his music. Tones range from dance floor beats to ethereal synthesizers paired with piano and voice.
Favorite Song: “We Are All Made of Stars”
Favorite Albums: Go – The Very Best of Moby and 18
3. Linkin Park
I love this band because they exude raw emotion and hold nothing back. No two albums sound alike and I like being surprised every time they come out with something new. The last album in particular was a stark departure, but in my opinion its their best to date.
Favorite Song: “Waiting For The End”
Favorite Album: A Thousand Suns
It took me a while to catch onto this band, but once I did I never looked back. Their sound is a cool fusion of hard rock and symphonic melody. The lead singer has a unique voice that breathes incredible life into clever, bold, and brutally honest lyrics.
Favorite Song: “Starlight”
Favorite Album: Black Holes & Revelations
5. Thievery Corporation
This band found its way into my collection by way of a gift from a good friend. Their vibe is a combination of soft jazz and electronica with a touch of middle eastern beats. I’ve never heard anything like it, which makes every song an adventure.
Favorite Song: “Holographic Universe”
Favorite Album: It Takes A Thief
My love of Mika defies all logic, but I am hopelessly addicted to his dance beat and fun lyrics. They guy just sounds like he’s having a blast and his energy is infectious. Whenever I’m dragging in the middle of a run, Mika gives me a great jolt.
Favorite Song: “Love Today”
Favorite Album: Life in Cartoon Motion
7. Phil Coulter
My grandparents are at fault for my love of new age piano music. Every night they would play a Phil Coulter album to help me sleep. It never worked because I was always mesmerized by intricate piano notes and the beautiful flow of music. Twenty years later, I still listen to him for the same reasons and actively seek out similar artists.
Favorite Song: “Oft’ In The Stilly Night”
Favorite Album: Sea of Tranquility
8. Twelve Girls Band
Blame public television and my trip to China for bringing this powerhouse orchestra into my collection. These ladies use traditional Chinese instruments to fuse Western standards with Eastern folk, thus creating something entirely new. Their music is full of energy, life, and sheer emotion.
Favorite Songs: “Freedom” and “Jasmin”
Favorite Albums: Shining Energy and Eastern Energy
9. Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass
Try hard not to laugh. When I was growing up, Herb Albert was played almost daily at my grandparents house during the summer. Those brass horns and peppy tunes always made me smile and they still do today.
Favorite Album: Greatest Hits
10. Vladimir Horowitz
No one can play Chopin (or anything else for that matter) with the same passion and skill as Horowitz. I literally get lost in the music when I listen to any one of his performances. It’s no wonder he’s often referred to as the best concert pianist of the 20th century.
Favorite Song or Album: There are no favorites when it comes to Horowitz. Every note is pure genius. However, one album in particular sticks out in my mind, Horowitz: The Last Recording.
I’ve always seen music as a soundtrack for my life, so it makes sense to choose music from all different genres to make things more interesting and meaningful.