Our Weekly Ten: 10 New York Songs
You know the skyline and the TV show “Sex and the City” taught you where to shop. You heard somebody singing about “the Big Apple” being a “concrete jungle where dreams are made.” There are thousands of songs out there, but nothing can describe the feeling you get when you walk the streets alone and scared for the first time. And certainly, there is nothing that could explain the feeling when New York loves you back. Whether you are on the top of the world or lonely, the city never gives you a break since it never sleeps. It’s a kingdom of its own. Welcome stranger!
10. New York City by John Lennon
To start off right, we need some ex-Beatle hopping around, asking “Que pasa, New York?” Well, I guess the city’s just fine and it’s definitely more fun there than in the rainy Liverpool. At least, that’s what this song seems to suggest.
9. Empire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down by Alicia Keys
Alicia wanted to express her own feelings about New York in a sequel to her internationally successful duet with Jay-Z. And I dare say she did well. Rather than being opulent, this version is intimate, like a love letter for the city. Though full of madmen, prostitutes, hotdog stands and lights that might guide you to Broadway or into oblivion, NYC will always be the city of big dreams.
8. New York I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down by LCD Soundsystem
Simple and beautiful. True as well. Once you fall for this city, you’re bound to be drawn to it no matter how many unfulfilled dreams swirl around in the air. You freak out and want to run away, but still end up in your Brooklyn apartment, lulled to sleep by the sound of a distant subway.
7. New York City Cops by The Strokes
This energetic piece by a New York based band reveals a secret: NYC cops “ain’t too smart“. Whether it’s the line or the joyous rhythm, it makes you want to sing out loud and dance on the table. The track was allegedly self-censored from the 2001 debut album Is this It.
6. Walk on the Wild Side by Lou Reed
This one’s for all the thrill seekers. Doo Do Doo, enjoy the crazy, wild, incredibly absurd and yet so lovely side of the city. The sound of the bass guitar is subtly AMAZING and the saxophone coming right into it perfectly captures the sarcastic sound of the song. Just wait till the end and you’ll see.
5. Brooklyn We Go Hard by Jay-Z and Santogold
Pianos and soulful confessions of artists expressing their emotions towards The Big Apple are all fine. But here Jay-Z, New York’s rap mogul, serves you a bouncy beat that won’t allow you to forget that NYC is a home to the East Coast Hip Hop. Put that Yankee cap on!
4. Fairytale of New York cover by Maverick Sabre
What a voice! This is a drunken Irish take on a Christmas song. If you ever find yourself in New York on Christmas Eve, not quite ready to re-live the Home Alone 2 wonder, imagine yourself being an Irish immigrant wandering aimlessly, unable to find the right place even if you do your best.
3. Englishman in New York by Sting
Missing this pop classic here? Not any longer. What song would better capture the feeling of misplacement than this strange dude with his British accent that drinks tea instead of black coffee. Sure, English gentlemanly manners and New York’s straightforwardness can sometimes clash.
2. New York State of Mind by Billy Joel
This song is a masterpiece. Pure perfection. You might have heard and liked the Barbra Streisand or Glee versions, so let me introduce you to the original, which is zillion times better. At least, the sax solo. It's that clear: New York I’m coming home because we belong together.
1. New York, New York by Frank Sinatra
Could this list be complete without the king of karaoke songs, Frank Sinatra’s New York New York? Especially, if he begs us to “be a part of it“. Oh yeah Frankie, there you go. You are the “king of the hill/top of the list /head of the heap.“
Is New York too tough, quick, confusing and too big for you? Songs about it too cocky or too pathetic? Then maybe next week’s London anthems will be your cup of (English Breakfast) tea. Get ready for the city of hipsters' edition!
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