Everyone has different reasons for the songs they listen to. Lyrics, musicality, sound design, everything that goes lovingly into the craft of writing, recording, and mixing a song. One of the thrills of being a music junkie is searching for new music to play on repeat until you're sick of it, and as your tastes evolve, so does your library. Sometimes though, you happen upon one song that stops your search dead in its tracks and demands your attention; something about it stands out, or catches your ear, and you can feel the shivers roll down your back like preening feathers. These ten songs were selected to give you quality goosebumps, each with their own style of tension and oh-so-sweet release.
1. Amber Run - "I Found"
This one hooks you right from the start. Joe Keogh's triple-tracked vocals are ethereal and haunting, and their contrast with the quiet piano soundscape of "I Found" is absolutely stunning. This song is an example of visionary sound design, not even mentioning the stunning lyrical poetry that went into its creative bedrock.
2. Porcupine Tree - "Trains"
Steven Wilson has been pinned as a creative genius in the world of rock music, and I am not one to disagree. The first time I heard this song, it completely engrossed me and continued to echo in my head for days following. The ring of the acoustic guitar and the sharp dynamic contrast between each section of the song going from almost nothing to everything in a heartbeat gets my heart racing every single time.
3. The Raconteurs - "Carolina Drama"
Jack White is a supremely original story teller, and this song is, in my opinion, the quintessential example of his talent for putting you right in the middle of the scene. As the plot progresses, so does the intensity of the song, save for a few phantasmal refrains that let you process each part of the story. Listen close, and listen all the way through, because this tragic episode will have you shivering by the end.
4. Mumford & Sons - "Broken Crown"
It's funny to me that of all the songs on this list, the angriest and most explicit is by Mumford & Sons. I never really grooved much to this group until the day I heard this song. It is beyond raw, and grabs you by the throat with its visceral fury. I have never heard a song that puts across the sensation, and the sound, and the toxicity of true, white-knuckled anger as well as this one does. I personally believe this to be one of the greatest songs ever written.
5. TWRP (Tupperware Remix Party) - "Pale Blue Dot"
Ever wanted to know what disco would have looked like if it had survived to the 21st century? TWRP is a theatrical sci-fi disco rock band that boast insightful themes and musical virtuosity layered under original character costumes and groovy intergalactic jams. The real beauty in this song waits until the home stretch to make itself known, with a chilling sample of the legendary pale blue dot speech given by Carl Sagan, and all the musical flare it so rightly deserves. Let it play, and let your mind drift off into space.
6. Opeth - "Burden"
I'm going to come out and say it. I believe this song has quite possibly the single best organ solo of all time. It's a piece of music that was made to bring out the wildest chops on a keyboard player, and some of the most enchanting guitar melodies you'll ever hear. But it's so much more, even then; this is less of a song and more like a score, with melodies trading back and forth between instruments, calls and responses, and melodic development.
7. Poets Of The Fall - "Carnival of Rust"
I simply can't, in good conscience, make a list like this without including the Poets of the Fall, and the band name is no idle moniker. Marko Saaresto's melody writing is nothing to scoff at, and this song is the result of rolling all the best creative experiences of the band's old songs into one "magnus opus" of a breakout hit. Everything from the first introduction of the first chorus, to the exposition of the bridge hooks you and brings you along for a dramatic thrill ride worthy of red curtains.
8. Sixx A.M. - "Courtesy Call"
If anyone has had a life riddled with chilling experiences, it is Nikki Sixx. Courtesy call is anything but courteous when it comes to the subject matter it portrays, however, and the gravity of the scene that takes place in it gradually weighs heavier and heavier on the listener as they start to realize just what's going in the song. To date, few songs have given me goosebumps like this one did the first time I heard it. This song, like many others off Sixx A.M.'s debut album, knows how to draw you in and then pull the floor out from under you.
9. Old Gods of Asgard - "Poet And the Muse"
Calling this song poetry is an understatement. You might be asking why that voice sounds so familiar, and it's because this band is another project of Marko Saaresto's, and although this song was written and recorded for the Alan Wake video game, it stands on its own as a beautiful, lullaby-esque folk legend that serenades you with its ringing melodies, a voice of silk, and a capricious surprise at the end.
10. Jeff Buckley - "Grace"
Jeff Buckley is what I would call a jewel that didn't get to shine nearly long enough. On its own, "Grace" is already a masterpiece of song-craft and vocal performance, but when I think about how young Buckley was when he died, his songs and his voice take on a haunting quality all their own. Never mind talent; you can hear his heart bleeding into this song like a salted wound, and something about hearing the voice of a once-living man wail like a ghost after he's passed away chills you to the bone.