Lists have become super-sized. No one is content with just 10 any more. It has to be 20, 50, 100. Blame it on my generation's belief that they don't have to choose. They can have it all. I am guilty of it, too, so this year I have resolved to make choices. My lists will be kept to ten regardless of how painful it will be to leave off some deserving choices. Heck, I won't even mention the runners-up. Ten and I'm sticking to it. We start with songs.
"Apartment Story" by the National
The National's best songs are characterized by a weary narrative that captures the complex maneuverings involved in relationships. "Apartment Story" is a spectacular example. I can't decide if it's romantic or sad or both. Matt Berninger sings like he's talking, alternately bored and plaintive, over a steady groove that implies a relationship caught in a rut. From what I can gather, the song is about a couple, too old to be playing games yet too young to feel like an old couple, unsure of where they stand together. When Berninger sings, "So worry not/ All things are well/ We'll be alright," it is with more than a touch of doubt. That's where I'm unsure of whether it is romantic or just sad. I see romance in their struggle to make it work ("We'll stay inside till somebody finds us") but it's heartbreaking to sense futility in their efforts, as if they're trying to make it work because they can see no other options. It's an achingly beautiful song that exemplifies the National at their best.