Name of iTunes Playlist: Emerging FavoritesRules: Rating is ***** (5 stars). Last played is in the last 2 months. Play count is in the range 3 to 5. Date added is in the last 12 months. Skip count is less than 4. [See all lists.]

Top 10 From the List

1. "Boy With a Coin" by Iron & Wine ("The Shepherd's Dog," 2007.) Play count: 6. Sample lyric: "A boy with a coin he found in the weeds, with bullets and pages of trade magazines."

2. "Fake Empire," by The National ("Boxer," 2007.) Play count: 6. Lyric: "It's hard to keep track of you falling through the sky, we're half-awake in a fake empire."

3. "Candy Jail," by The Silver Jews ("Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea," 2008). Play count: 5. Lyric: "Pain works on a sliding scale." [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjtTGdhgjZY&hl=en&fs=1]4. "Oxygen" by Willy Mason ("Where the Humans Eat," 2006). Play Count: 5. Lyric: "I want to speak louder than Ritalin, for all the children who think that they've got a disease. I want to be cooler than TV, for all the kids that are wondering what they are going to be."

5. "The News About William," by Calexico ("Carried to Dust," 2008). Play Count: 5. Lyric: "As her words fail and the sky grew dim, recalled how close to that exit l've been."

6. "Bend to the Road," by Calexico ("Carried to Dust," 2008). Play Count: 4. Lyric: "Holding back your tears, letting go of your heart... Until it all spills out on the side of the road."

7. "Wait Till You See Him (De-Phazz Remix)," by Ella Fitzgerald ("Verve Remixed," 2002). Play Count: 4. Lyric: "Painters of paintings, writers of books, never could tell the half."

8. "Sly," by The Cat Empire, ("Two Shoes," 2007). Play count: 4. Lyric: "It's a pleasure to meetcha, you look like one incredible creature."

9. "Pieces of You," by Islands ("Arm's Way," 2008). Play count: 4. Lyric: "It's madness."

10. "Papillon," by the Airborne Toxic Event ("Does This Mean You're Moving On?" EP, 2007) Play count: 4. Lyric: "And I wish I had the guts to scream. You know, things aren't always what they seem..."

Annotation: There are the songs you think are your favorites, and there are the songs that iTunes says you play the most. The iTunes smart playlists are valuable tools that can pull out a lot of trends about your listening habits.

This Emerging Favorites list is aimed at figuring out the fresh songs that could be come future favorites -- songs I have bought recently, listened to more than a few times and given a high rating.

I seem to be deep into a melancholy singer phase. Paradoxically, that means I'm in a pretty good mood. It's a more heavily male selection than usual, although the list could have just as easily included Rilo Kiley, Feist, Aimee Mann, Nina Simone or others among my recent purchases.

This list is also heavily "alternative" or "indie," what a friend of mine calls NPR music, songs by artists who were probably interviewed on public radio or are played in heavy rotation on KCRW in Los Angeles. And that's fine.

All of these songs are relatively recent releases. I don't listen to much music at all from the 60s, 70s and 80s, the oldies favored by many people in their 40s. I've always tried to stay current with music, and I think this decade has produced some of the best independent/alternative music I've heard in my life.

See other smart playlist posts..