…so it turns out I hit the end of my alphabetical “underappreciated music artists I should rec” list. Which means I get to close the tab I’ve had open for (*checks*) more than a year now. Yowza.
Just in time to avoid migrating it to the new computer, too!
But there’s this separate folder of Soft Songs by Soft Female Vocalists that I skipped over, so I’m circling back and doing one last post.
10,000 Maniacs: The softest of alt-rock, with Natalie Merchant as the lead singer. Their peak years happened back when I was a toddler, but their songs give me college feelings anyway. (10,000 Maniacs playlist.)
Enya: Irish singer-songwriter; occasionally gets close enough to “mainstream pop” to have a mainstream hit, but most of her stuff is dreamier, stranger, slow and wistful. Inspiration from mythology, astronomy, and natural scenes around the globe; lyrics in English and Gaelic, and, at least once, in Quenya. (Enya playlist.)
Loreena McKennitt: Canadian composer-harpist-accordionist-pianist-soprano. Lots of influence from Celtic and Middle Eastern myth/legend. First choice if you need a soundtrack for being kidnapped by faeries. (Loreena McKennitt playlist.)
We The Kings: American alt-pop, full of earnest feelings, with just the lightest shiny glaze of fantastical imagery. (We The Kings playlist.)
Wendy Matthews: Clear, soulful, ’80s pop. The playlist gets pretty samey part of the way down, but there’s good stuff at the top. (Wendy Matthews playlist.)
Within Temptation: Gorgeous, epic, symphonic goth rock. (Plus some of those growly male vocals they love in goth-metal. Those tracks, I skip.) The soundtrack for your tormented hero’s fall into anguish, or your fantasy team-up’s desperate last-stand battle. (Within Temptation playlist.)
This first track is another of my Top Favorite Songs, Period:
In the home stretch! Only got about five more of these in the bank.
The Birthday Massacre – New-wave goth rock. Lighter and airier than Evanescence, darker and eerier than Blackmore’s Night, best when they’re doing creepy-cute lovely melodies. (Birthday Massacre playlist.)
The Corrs – Pop rock with Celtic-fusion elements. Covers the whole emotional spectrum, but in particular, they have a talent for making love songs that go “you are so great and I love you and I’m happy and there’s no catch” in a way that feels earnest and joyful, not thin or superficial. (The Corrs playlist.)
Jedward: Teen pop that’s wildly mainstream-popular in Ireland and the UK — they’ve been Eurovision finalists, twice — but somehow hasn’t jumped the Atlantic. Came out of The X Factor, same as One Direction, although they’re identical twins instead of a 5-part boy-band. (Jedward playlist didn’t exist so I made one.)
Steve Perry: Lead singer of Journey as a breakout soloist, whose work still has the vibe of soft ’70s prog rock well into the ’90s. (Not a bad thing. I like soft ’70s prog rock.) (Steve Perry playlist.)
Superchick: Girl-power rock, fingers perfectly on the pulse of the emotional turmoil of being a teenage girl. Unfortunately a Christian band, so some tracks are cringey and others have disquieting purity-culture stuff, but when they’re on, they’re on. Motivational in the face of everything from restrictive gender roles to toxic boyfriends to eating disorders to the general awfulness of high-school drama. (Superchick playlist.)
This first song is genuinely one of my absolute favorites — I don’t mean from this group, I mean, from music.
…and when I said someone needs to use them in a Catradora fanvid, these last two are the top tracks I was thinking of. She-Ra vidders, please, get on this.
Tenth Avenue North: Acoustic rock meets power pop. More overtly Christian, so, uh, maybe don’t watch the videos. The nonspecific lyrics still make amazing hurt/comfort anthems — and/or odes to your favorite god-tier character. (Tenth Avenue North playlist.)
This first one, for instance? 100% a Madokami theme song.
Relient K: intentionally-misspelled alt-rock/pop-punk. Started off doing more novelty songs with lots of pop-culture references, slowly trended more serious over the years. Another of those Christian bands who write great nonspecific hurt/comfort anthems — and the overtly-religious songs include a fun Christmas album and some Narnia filk. It also means their silly songs include a VeggieTales movie theme. (Relient K playlist.)
Rob Thomas: lead singer of Matchbox 20 taking breaks to work as a solo artist, doing pop-rock with heartfelt emotions and a mainstream-friendly patina of grunge. (Rob Thomas playlist.)
Roger Whittaker: baritone pop-folk ballads and somber anti-war songs. Released from the ’60s through the ’90s, but somehow they always give me the vibe of “amazingly high-fi recordings of ’40s hits.” (Roger Whittaker playlist.)