We were driving home from the fall state fair, an annual family tradition. I was about 2 months away from welcoming our little girl, but that wasn’t even a little bit on my mind. I just wanted to stay awake. Riding shotgun for a 2-hour drive through the dark after a full day on your feet eating state fair food – staying awake is your job for the driver, impossible as it may be.

My Dad, of course, was the driver. I think I could count on two hands the number of times he has not been the driver during my life. I’m nearing 40 years old. 

So, trying to keep myself awake for his benefit (even though I know he didn’t need it), I just started talking about…anything. It usually starts with sports with us, but this time I went for music. 

There are like, 4 topics I’m equipped to have a conversation about at any given moment: sports, music, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the best way to cook a meatball (broil on high for 6 minutes each side, you’re welcome). 

“Eye in the Sky” was on. Alan Parsons Project. If you don’t know the song, there’s a good chance you know its iconic intro – “Sirius” – because it was the player intro song for 1990s Chicago Bulls with Michael Jordan. 

So I asked my Dad, who I think in his younger days was a lot like I am with music, if Alan Parsons had other good songs, or if they were a one-hit wonder. And he confirmed they were not a one-hit wonder. And that got the conversation rolling for the next stretch of road.

Fast forward to January 

Our daughter is almost 2 months old. We’re having a weird, broken up, pseudo-Christmas in January because COVID has separated the family multiple times. I open a gift from my Dad, which is in the shape of a CD. And sure enough, it is a CD. 

Do I even have a device in my house that can play a CD?

But it doesn’t matter if it’s something I can use or not. It’s the gesture. It’s an Alan Parsons Project album. He remembered our chat. And he wanted to share with me something he enjoyed. That album will be the first thing I listen to now that I’m done with this list.

And that’s kinda the whole thing I’ve been doing here in making this list for over a decade. I just want to share the things I’ve enjoyed, in hopes you’ll enjoy them, too. Whoever you may be.

In a few years, I’ll get to start doing this with our daughter. Sharing the things I love with her, hoping a few things stick and we can share that love. I come from a family of tradition, after all.

But right now she’s pretty locked into a song called “Purple monkey in a bubblegum tree” on her kick piano (also now my wife’s favorite song? help). So, it’s gonna be a minute.

While I wait, there are plenty more lists to be made. Plenty of new artists to uncover and musical evolutions to hear unfold.

Before any of that, though, I have an album to throw on.


A few reminders on how this list works…

  • I’ve laid out the list rules every year, but the biggest two things you need to know are:
    • Artists are not allowed to have more than one song on the list
    • Cover songs are avoided to the best of my ability (I have slipped up here in the past, and I am this close to blocking your number, BK)
  • The list should show up in the reverse order for you, counting down from #100 – if you start with Midlake, you’re in the right place!
  • Since it takes months to put this thing together, I stop listening to new music in December and let December releases carry over to the next year.

You can also check out the full list of songs I enjoyed this year – either in Spotify or in this Google doc (where you can also see the songs that just missed the cut for this year’s list!).