1. Regina Spektor. I stumbled onto Regina & the song "Samson" after reading The Red Tent with my we-only-read-one-book-together book club in nyc. "Samson" speaks of the women forgotten by the authors of the bible, similar to the story told in The Red Tent.
Spektor's uniqueness is found in her vocal surprises. She's a classically trained musician, which can make a world of difference in how an artist puts a song together. She's become much more well-known this past year (alas) but, according to my iTunes, she was my most played artist and will probably remain the top choice for kitchen music (chopping veggies to "Loveology" = extreme happiness). My favorite video: "Us." Intro songs: "Fidelity" or "On the Radio," Going Die-hard: "Back of a Truck"
2. Rufus Wainwright. Album: Want One (as opposed to Want Two). What can I say about Rufus? His voice can be emotionally crushing. Seeing him at Carnegie was unforgettable. We also saw him in Boston at the Avalon, but his piano ballads are meant to be enjoyed in a cocktail lounge, whilst drinking dry martinis. Again, Wainwright knows what he's doing with his voice, with the piano, and in the layering process of composition. While Chris was in Germany ('06), I sent him a few cd mixes that included "In my Arms" (from Rufus Wainwright) and a few songs from Poses. Since then, Wainwright has become a favorite. Songs: "Hallelujah" and "Art Teacher" are among my personal favorites.
3. Coconut Records. Album: Nighttiming. Jason Schwartzman, is one of my absolute favorite films, Rushmore. But I can see why Schwartzman might annoy some people. When I heard that his band, Coconut Records, was about to release an album in his band, however, I didn't hesitate to track down whatever songs I could find. Song: "West Coast."
4. Hellogoodbye. Album: Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! The band may be a little tweenie for me. The bouncy techno dance songs, like "Homewrecker" and "Here (in your arms)," are fun, but I'm obsessed with "Baby, Its Fact." And the video warms my heart: "Baby, Its Fact. The Video."
5. Kanye West. I adore so many of the songs on Kanye West's last few albums (College Dropout and Graduation, esp.). They also work well for meal prep chopping, but mostly they're high on my most-played list because they make me want to shake my ass while I'm on the elliptical machine at Bally's. Kanye and the Blackeyed Peas--the perfect dance-party tracks.