Because I’m asked this a lot and never have a good answer.

03.22.2012  |  Published in diary

People like to ask musicians what music they like. The truth is, I don’t do the Pandora thing or the Spotify thing, and I’ve never owned an iPod. I listen to CDs and CDs only. I drive a lot and that’s what gets me through. Below are some of my favorites in a list I will call “Valerie’s top 15 pop albums of all-time.” I can’t claim that these are the GREATEST albums of all-time (haven’t heard most), but these are the ones that have figured most prominently in my collection, my car, and my heart.

Valerie’s Top 15 Pop Albums of All-Time (in no particular order)

David Byrne – Feelings

I usually lean toward the ‘weirdo’ side of the “genius or weirdo?” debate, but in the case of David Byrne, I’ve gotta give it to him. Before writing a disco musical and transforming an entire building into a musical instrument (but post-Talking Heads), David Byrne put together quite possibly the coolest 13 songs ever. Some favorites: “Miss America,” “Dance on Vaseline,” “Burnt By the Sun,” and “They Are In Love.” I say this list is in no particular order, but this CD is definitely a contender for #1.

Michael Jackson – Off The Wall

This one reminds me of high school. MJ is ridiculous.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss – Raising Sand
2009 Grammy album of the year. ‘Nuff said.

Jill Sobule – Jill Sobule

I knew her semi-hits of the 90’s but didn’t realize how great she was until I randomly picked up this album in like 2005.
Fun fact #1: My mom and I appeared in one of Jill’s videos filmed in a run-down furniture outlet in North Hollywood.
Fun fact #2: I went to her last concert alone.

The Monkees – More Greatest Hits of the Monkees

When I was in fifth grade I ran for class president and Mom and Dad suggested that I use the Monkees’ “Valleri” for my grand entrance. I then delivered my speech wearing a Bill Clinton mask. While I didn’t win the election (too many 10-year-old Republicans?), I did score an awesome album that became my go-to soundtrack for cleaning my room until college. Some favorite tracks: “Take a Giant Step,” “Randy Scouse Git,” and of course, “Valleri.” RIP Davy Jones!

The Clash – The Clash

Punk rock at its finest! Another good one for cleaning my room. It makes me get A LOT done.

Norah Jones – The Fall

Nice doggy! There’s something Robert-Plant-Alison-Kraussy about this one. It’s more folky, more rocky and less jazzy and that’s why me likey.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack

An all-around good time.


Berlin – Best of Berlin 1979-1988


I probably listened to Pleasure Victim more, but it disappeared and this was a super solid collection to fall back on. Besides, “No More Words” has one of the most badass music videos ever.


Tori Amos – Boys For Pele


I had no clue I was a Tori Amos fan until I picked up this CD on a whim from a thrift store. It blew me away. It’s dark, weird, beautiful, and loaded with harpsichord.

Queen – A Day At The Races

Four words: Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy (five words?).


The Beach Boys – Classics Selected by Brian Wilson


Some quirky gems on this collection. I find this CD an excellent companion for nighttime driving, as it tricks me into believing I have entered Brian Wilson’s brain! Neat!


Road Trip #1, December 2009


OK so maybe this one’s cheating. But this album has stood the test of time in my car for over 2 years, quite a feat for a mix CD, I must say. Created by the hippest guy with a last name for a first name EVER to come out of Downey, CA, this is a first-rate collection of old-school country, cowboy songs, and more fun. Some highlights: “Take This Job and Shove It,” “Delta Dawn,” “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley,” and four, yes FOUR, songs about New Mexico.

No Doubt – The Beacon Street Collection

An overlooked precursor to Tragic Kingdom. In my opinion.

Madness – Madness

Adorable. Just TRY listening to this CD without smiling.

So there you have it. Maybe next time I’ll give y’all a glimpse at another list of favorites. Maybe dog breeds or classical composers.

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