1. "I Want You Back" by the Jackson 5 (1969)
As much as listening to prepubescent voices sing love songs is weird, lil' Michael Jackson did it well. This is one of my favorite vocal performances ever, and set to classically catchy Motown music to boot. Here's a fantastic performance:
Too bad it's way too high to sing along to.
2. "Karma Police" by Radiohead (1997)
Haunting, lovely, bizarre, transcend at "For a minute there..." Love love.
Even live it captures the same ethereal feeling.
3. "Sax and Violins" by Talking Heads (1991)
Talking Heads' songs are usually pretty hit-or-miss for me, but I love "Sax and Violins." The chorus absolutely soars (I may or may not bust out in tribal dance every time I hear this song), and the lyrics are playful with intraline rhyming. And it somehow manages to sound timeless and early 90s at the same time.
4. "What If" by Coldplay (2005)
I have this uncontrollable desire to hate Coldplay, but I just can't when Coldplay comes out with songs like "What If." Not one of their released singles, it's part of their extremely listenable album X&Y. It combines a gorgeous verse melody with powerful chorus. I don't even hate the falsetto in this song, and that's saying a lot.
The voice of my old piano teacher Judy is telling me that Chris Martin is sitting too high up and that his forearms should be parallel to the stage.
5. "Once" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglová (2007)
As underwhelmed as I am with most of the movie Once, I'm entrance by the title track from it. A lot of that has to do with the fact that Glen Hansard's yell-singing makes sense in this context (I love it, but for every song?), but also because I can't resist good brush drumming in conjunction with well sung harmonies.
Better audio here: