via NPR Music
What do you have to do, as a song, to win our hearts? You have to sink in. You have to stop someone dead in her tracks. You need to cause that man to act a fool. Scrunch a nose, tense a shoulder, drop an ass.
We compile our 100 Favorite Songs much like we do the work on our 50 Favorite Albums list, but the job done by a three-minute slow jam — or, say, a bracing piece for solo flute — is not the same as two sides of an LP or even a tightly curated collection of stories. A song's function, when we hear it apart from its siblings (which is almost always, given shuffle, mixes, all the streaming services, DJs and commercials), is to snatch you, drag you around for a few moments and then get out. So when we considered what songs mattered to us this year, we asked which ones achieve the most in the brief space our technology has allotted them. Which ones take an idea and express it fully. Which notice a sore spot in our recent history and twist the knife just so. Which are stamped with memories or reliably turn the temperature up or put a smile on our face every single time.
These are the songs that stood out. Quick hits of bliss, frustration, triumph, regret, you name it. All in together now.
Claire Chase, Edgar Varèse: Density 21.5
An elegant, hypnotic reading of a landmark modernist solo piece composed for a platinum flute, from a player — and MacArthur Fellow — best known for her sterling work as head of the International Contemporary Ensemble.