I ended 2009 and started 2010 in pretty grim fashion. I wrote this and then this, and then this, followed by this. It was like I was being sucked into an abyss of eternal hate and doom, and then shouting at everyone else about it. And that’s weird, because I’m a pretty joyful guy with a lot of love to give. I guess I just like talking about how rubbish some things are. But that probably isn’t a healthy way to live, even if it is understandable given that the world is falling apart and popular culture keeps forgetting to be good…

So anyway, I might have not made a resolution to be a better person on January 1st 2010, but I’m making the most of the Chinese New Year and resolving to be a little more optimistic these next ten months. Or at least until the end of this post. I’m starting right here with this soundtrack to positivity and I’m giving it to myself as a gift. And to you too, ‘cos I’m also pretending that I like people now. And believe me, you’d better appreciate it, because this was hard to do since nearly every good song in the world is about someone’s heart snapping in two.

Here’s a list of ten super-positive songs, designed to make you feel like Ross finally kissing Rachel, or the whole of The Wonder Years, or like your entire life was wrapped in the magic realism of Amelie. Basically, you just feel happy. Novel idea, innit…

The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait”

Apparently being in a successful band can be real tough at times. All grimy tour vans, unwashed clothes and retarded band mates with drink problems. I reckon The Replacements understood this pretty well, especially since the Stinson brothers were total booze hounds and America was a little less receptive to punk/hardcore way back then - good luck playing anywhere that wasn’t on either coast! But in “Can’t Hardly Wait” there’s this carefree abandon that’s got one eye on the road and the other on your baby back home. It’s a song buoyed, not weighed down, by longing. About being in love with two brilliant things at once, having to choose between them, but doing them both at the same time anyway. I guess it’s about choosing between dreams, which is a beautiful position to be in.

The Replacements - “Can’t Hardly Wait”

Sample lyric: “Hurry up, hurry up, ain’t you had enough of this stuff, ashtray floors, dirty clothes, and filthy jokes”

Talking Heads - “Uh-Oh Love Has Come To Town”

I think this is what “Singin’ In The Rain” would have sounded like if it was written by some nerd from a design school who looks a bit like a dinosaur rather than Gene Kelly. A song made to swing around lampposts to, even if the world is pissing down around you. When he says he’s in love, you best believe he’s in love L-U-V.

Talking Heads - “Uh-Oh, Love Comes To Town”

Sample lyric: “I’m a know it all, I’m the smartest man around”

Nas - “The World Is Yours”

There’s about a billion words in this song, but they can be abridged to one amazing sentiment: “YOU CAN ACHIEVE YOUR DREAMS!” Yknow, sometimes hip hop aint just all money and cars and guns and women.

NaS - “The World Is Yours”

Sample lyric: “To everybody uptown, yo, the world is yours, “It’s yours!”"

Jens Lekman - “A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill”

This is the sound of that time when all your BBF in history were in town for the night, you all just relaxing with Coronas in t-shirt-and-shorts weather, the girl of your dreams for the first time seeing you as the boy of hers, and then someone slipping “Regulate” into the CD player, you blissfully passing out and waking up fully clothed holding hands, no hangover because Corona is considerate like that, and then the sun warming the room through an open window, forever. And the first thing you do is make plans to do it all over again (but you never do).

Evidence again that the best things in the world are your friends and don’t you ever forget it.

Jens Lekman - “A Sweet Summer’s Night On Hammer Hill”

Sample lyric: “Oh, I still remember “Regulate” with Warren G., Could that have been back in the sweet summer of 1993?”

No Age - “Sleeper Hold”

For a long time, I thought No Age were one of those bands loved more by try-hard critics than real people with real feelings. Then two things happened.

First, I saw them at play at The Scala where about 50 kids stormed the stage like it was the first time they’d ever heard music, and the band’s faces nearly stretched double with smiles and all-round good vibes. Really heartwarming genuine emotion (but not emo, just to be clear). Second, I saw a clip of them on Pitchfork meeting Bob Mould. Rather than be too-cool-for-school, they turn into heart-on-the-sleeve fan boys shaking so hard it looks like there’s four of them. These dudes are utterly sincere, but not in an annoying way like the last 5 minutes of a Scrubs episode. They make caring cool.

So when they scream “with passion it’s true” you know they’re all good, believing in what they’re doing, just being two chill bros having the time of their lives. I can get behind that. You’d have to have a heart of hate not to be into that.

No Age - “Sleeper Hold”

Sample lyric: “With passion it’s true”

New Order - “Temptation”

A song so good it could probably even make Simon Cowell like music (maybe). I think we could call that redemption through art. And to think that these fellas were once in the none-less-cheery Joy Division makes that some achievement.

06 Temptation (7-Inch Version)

Sample lyric: “Oh you’ve got green eyes, oh you’ve got blue eyes, oh you’ve got grey eyes, and I’ve never seen anyone quite like you before”

Phoenix - “Too Young”

This song was first introduced to me via a scene in Lost In Translation, while I sat next to an empty seat in a full cinema, the other ticket I’d bought belonging to the girl that had just dumped me. You’d think that would kinda kill the mood of this a little, but Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray racing between Japanese traffic to the sound of french disco is so charged with vicarious pleasure that the girl in question would have had to have been Ms. Johansson herself to ruin “Too Young”. And she was a stupid bitch who got fat anyway, so I won in the end (she wasn’t and I didn’t, but you get the idea).

Phoenix - “Too Young”

Sample lyric: “Let this spirit survive”

Fleetwood Mac - “Everywhere”

There is a party somewhere so perfect that it can’t even be bettered by playing this song, even if Lindsey and Christine were to rock up and jam it out themselves, while Stevie Nicks did rocks out of your crotch. But I’m never going to go to it. None of us mortals will. Only God and Tiger Woods get that shit.

08 Everywhere

Sample lyric: “My friends say I’m acting peculiarly”

Bugsy Malone - “You Give A Little Love”

Jodie Foster and a bunch of other kids dressed like Joe Pesci shooting custard pies at each other and singing about the reciprocal nature of love? That doesn’t make you happy? Who are you, Saddam Hussein?

09 You Give A Little Love

Sample lyric: “Let friendship double up our powers”

Ryan Adams - “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)”

This song always reminds me of this quote:It was lucky that Adam was kicked out of Paradise, for he couldn’t have enjoyed it if he had remained there. I’ve known summer mornings so beautiful that they depressed me to my boots” (full story here).

Or when Kurt Cobain said he missed “the comfort in being sad”. Or the reason why Dave Stewart (from the Eurthymics, doh) had to have therapy for being too happy (that is a 100% true story). But definitely not that bit in American Beauty when the douchebag with the video camera films a plastic bag blowing about in the wind and cries about there being “too much beauty in the world”. I’m not talking about that. Definitely not.

Ryan Adams - “To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)

Sample lyric: “When you’re young you get sad, then you get high”