My 25 Favorite iTunes Free Downloads

It was six years ago this month that I made the great technological leap from CD’s to computer files. I’ll never remember exactly how I made the decision, or what finally sparked it, but I downloaded Apple’s iTunes and started buying. To say that this revolutionized how I acquire, organize, listen to, and appreciate music would be an understatement. I’ve been collecting with a passion ever since.

But on this non-milestone anniversary, it occurred to me to pay some tribute to the music that the folks at Apple have given away. Back in 2005, when I first saw the “Free Download of the Week,” I was dubious. How good could it be? I’ve since come to realize that offering a single song as a sample is a good marketing idea. It’s a great way to promote lesser-known bands and singers, who probably don’t mind the lack of revenue from this one song if it leads to fame and fortune later. In any case, I have sometimes been pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve liked these free songs.

To put this in perspective, over six years I have downloaded eighty-nine songs this way. iTunes always offers a few songs per week, so I’ve definitely missed out on most of them. Three things, generally, have prompted me to jump on the latest offer: 1) an artist or band I recognize, 2) a genre that needs to be better represented in my collection, 3) a particularly good thirty-second sample. Sometimes, though, I just click and see what happens. Obviously, I lose nothing. And, every once in awhile, I come across a song that can join the ranks of my favorites. Here they are.

My primary purpose in sharing this list is to introduce you, in an easily digestible way, to some of the music I’ve especially enjoyed in the last six years. My secondary purpose is to gloat over the fact that I didn’t have to pay for any of these. At least a couple of them later became hits. I knew them when.

Note: as implied, these are all songs that were offered for one week in the iTunes store. In other words, I disqualified anything from a sampler.

#25: “Cheap and Cheerful”–The Kills (Snagged on March 19, 2008)

#24: “Let Go”–BarlowGirl (September 29, 2005)

#23: “American Slang”–The Gaslight Anthem (June 17, 2010)

#22: “This Is What Rock n Roll Looks Like”–Porcelain Black featuring Lil Wayne (April 11, 2011)

#21: “Maybe”–Sick Puppies (December 20, 2010)

#20: “According to You”–Orianthi (November 1, 2009)

#19: “Walking On Air”–Kerli (July 21, 2008)

#18: “Steady, As She Goes (Acoustic Version)”–The Raconteurs (May 2, 2006)

#17: “Black & Gold”–Sam Sparro (June 25, 2008)

#16: “High”–James Blunt (October 4, 2005) From here, I gave every song a four-star rating (out of five)

#15: “Your Joy”–Chrisette Michele (May 21, 2007)

#14: “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked”–Cage the Elephant (April 19, 2009)

#13: “Takin’ Off This Pain”–Ashton Shepherd (January 26, 2008)

#12: “If I Die Young”–The Band Perry (April 25, 2010)

#11: “Pretty Girl Rock”–Keri Hilson (November 10, 2010)

#10: “Los Angeles”–Sugarcult (September 8, 2006) “I want…a car that won’t break down in the heat of Los Angeles.” This was a timely message for me.

#9: “Blush (Only You)”–Plumb (April 6, 2006) “I’ll light the night with fire and run away with you.” My first download prompted by the fact that the artist was already one of my favorites.

#8: “Crowded”–Jeannie Ortega featuring Papoose (May 23, 2006) “Don’t get me started.  It’s getting kinda crowded in here.” An enjoyable rendition of that old adage about love triangles.

#7: “Seven Days of Lonely”–I Nine (February 19, 2008) “It’s like I’m running in slow motion in a nightmare that never ends.” Approaches a coming break-up with a fury.

#6: “Listen Up!”–The Gossip (August 1, 2006) “There’s some people that you just can’t trust.  Some people talk way too much.” Possibly the most unusual song on the list. Makes great use of the cowbell.

#5: “Can’t Find the Words”–Karina (June 17, 2008) “The chemistry we have is hard to find, but to find the right words, it’s going to take some time.” Driven by a lovely arpeggio, this is my favorite love song on the list.

#4: “Infinite Night”–Carrie Rodriguez (August 5, 2008) “The sun is just a star.  It reminds us of where we are.” I like a dose of pessimism every now and again, particularly when it’s so melodic.

#3: “Tear You Apart (Radio Edit)”–She Wants Revenge (December 22, 2005) “It’s only just a crush, it’ll go away…or maybe this is danger and you just don’t know.” The singing is mostly monotone, so it’s all about the rhythm and the impact of the words in this strangely twisted “love” song.

#2: “Face Down”–Katie Todd Band (August 19, 2005) “Peace of mind is all I want. I wanna make some time for wasting.” This also happens to be the first free song I downloaded, so maybe it’s historical importance that ranks it this high. But I still love it, simple as it is.

#1: “Out Here All Night”–Damone (April 18, 2006) “Summer’s coming too fast, winter’s been here too long.  If we keep wasting our days, pretty soon they’ll be gone.” Ah, guitars. I love them so. This song just carries me away.

AKA: The Amy Winehouse Memorial List (“You Know I’m No Good,” January 18, 2007)

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