(in no particular order)
1. R.E.M. – Everybody Hurts
This classic song is #1 on the PRS Music list of songs that make real men cry. It’s one of the best ballads I have ever listened to (I can’t think of a better one). Just listen.
2. Coldplay – Brothers and Sisters
A lesser-known but really good song from an otherwise (very) well-known band. This was their début single in 1999, and could have fit in on either of their first two albums. Some commenters on YouTube have understandably accused it of being a rip-off of Radiohead’s song ‘You’ (from their debut album Pablo Honey). But what’s wrong with using a song as inspiration and making it your own? In fact, ‘Brothers & Sisters’ does well as a more subtle version of ‘You’ and arguably rivals it in quality – and though Martin’s voice isn’t as good as Thom Yorke’s, it’s still deep and sombre enough to fit with the atmospheric nature of the song.
3. Radiohead – Jigsaw Falling Into Place
Great song from one of the most acclaimed bands of all time, on their seventh album In Rainbows (2007). Brilliantly atmospheric, the song starts with a beautiful minor chord progression on acoustic guitar and gradually grows in intensity as the song goes on. I haven’t got In Rainbows yet; in fact so far I’ve only got three of their albums – The Bends (1995), OK Computer (1997) and Kid A (2000) – all of which I’d highly recommend. But I’m hoping to own all eight of them at some point.
4. John Legend – Ordinary People
As I said in my previous post, genres like soul and jazz have a direct warming effect on the soul and this piano ballad by a guy with a fragile but excellently fitting voice for the song (and its subject manner) is no exception.
5. Extreme – More than Words
The fact that this song is by an otherwise heavy metal band makes its stripped down nature all the more astonishing. With just an acoustic guitar, using a percussive tap on the strings on the offbeat in the place of drums, and two voices, it is as acoustic as any rock band gets. A great song, though, and good enough to fill in its time of over five and half minutes without overstaying its welcome, despite the lack of instrumentation. ‘Hole Hearted‘, the other ballad on their 1991 album Pornograffiti (and the only other song I know by them) is also well worth listening to.