Judgment Day, the Rapture and the end of the world may or may not take place starting May 21, 2011… But as long as humankind is mortal, all of us will see an end one day or another. So if you have a bucket list, I suggest you try and make a dent in it and do everything you want to do — start with exposing your ears to good music. Here are 25 amazing songs that, if you’ve never heard before, you need to listen to NOW:
1. Playing For Change – “Stand By Me”
One camera and one microphone captured street musicians around the world performing this Ben E. King cover. In a word? Amazing.
2. The Dears – “The Ballad of Human Kindness”
Possibly my favorite indie rock song of all time. The message is powerful and the lyrics are infectious.
3. Peter Malick Group – “Heart Of Mine” feat. Norah Jones
Bob Dylan is a fantastic songwriter but a terrible singer. So just let Norah Jones sing his songs and they’ll all be amazing.
4. Sense Field – “Save Yourself”
For any woman who ever doubted their decision to sleep with a man.
5. Van Morrison – “Days Like This”
Perfect song for good days and bad days, rainy days and sunny days.
6. The Avalanches – “Frontier Psychiatrist”
Before Girl Talk and DJ Earworm, The Avalanches were the king of cut-and-paste insane mashups.
7. Jurassic 5 – “Swing Set”
You’ve never heard hip-hop swing like this. Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark put together this awesome track.
8. BT – “Somnambulist (Simply Being Loved)”
BT, or Brian Transeau, puts together the best electronic music you’ve never heard. So hear it.
9. Z-Trip – “The Motown Breakdown, Part 1″
Compiled for Motown’s 50th anniversary, godfather of mashups Z-Trip takes you on a journey through Jackson 5, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Boyz II Men and other great classics in just nine minutes.
10. The Weepies – “World Spins Madly On”
You’ve probably heard this on various TV shows or obscure movie soundtracks, but just in case you haven’t…
11. Elbow – “Mirrorball”
Love the lyrics to this. “We kissed like we invented it”? Love it.
12. Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke”
Irresistible. Try and listen to this and NOT smile. Or dance.
13. John Legend & The Roots – “Wake Up”
John Legend, like Norah Jones, could make a living just doing better version of other people’s songs. Here, he teams up with Questlove and The Roots for a great cover of Arcade Fire.
14. The Avett Brothers – “Kick Drum Heart”
“It’s not the chase I love, it’s me following you.”
15. Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova – “Falling Slowly” (from Once)
A rocky real-life relationship and The Swell Season emerged from this movie. So did this song, which won the Oscar for Best Song.
16. Shaggy – “Hope” feat. Mister Mydas
Shaggy didn’t just rap about his bombastic lyrics or getting caught sleeping with other women. I love (almost) any rap song that’s about being positive.
17. Ray LaMontagne – “Beg, Steal Or Borrow”
I could listen to this song 30 times a day and never get sick of it. His voice is just… wow.
18. Dirty Projectors – “Stillness Is The Move”
I can’t get into any of their other hipster songs, but this one track transcends the genre into a must-hear.
19. Kenna – “Love/Hate Sensation”
Kenna is Akon meets Bono. This video’s not real, but the song is — check out all his stuff.
20. Love Spit Love – “Am I Wrong?”
If you’ve seen Angus, you know this song and the awesome marching band version of it. From the opening line, every lyric just hits you.
21. The Cave Singers – “Summer Light”
Only a handful of this band’s songs are really worthwhile, but I especially love the dude’s breathy-yet-understated voice on this one.
22. Wreckless Eric – “Whole Wide World”
I’m ashamed to admit I first discovered this classic punk song through Will Ferrell’s performance in Stranger Than Fiction. Better than not discovering it all, though.
23. A Fine Frenzy – “Almost Lover”
Alison Sudol’s heartbreaking, beautiful ode to luckless romance. We’ve all felt like this at least once.
24. The Braids – “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Suprisingly fantastic Queen cover by a Fugees-soundalike girl duo no one’s ever heard of. Tragically, the only exposure this song got was on the High School High soundtrack.
25. The Rocket Summer – “Never Knew”
Bryce Avery’s music has lots of religious connotations, but his piano-rock will undeniably pull at atheist and agnostic heartstrings alike.
What other songs do people need to hear before the world ends? Share them below with a comment. Let’s make the ultimate mixtape for alien archeologists who’ll find our deserted planet in 4 billion years.