Once a year (approximately) I hear a song that is Pure Ear Ecstasy. It "sends" me. It gradually seeps into my brain and possesses every waking hour. When I listen to it, I get covered in goosebumps. When I'm not listening to it, I'm hearing it in my head.
I can't pin down what these songs have in common, but I DO know that they all have a "soaring" quality -- like they're flying higher than anything else in the world -- but only in certain parts; during other parts of the song they are quite low-key. In short, they employ an emotional rollercoaster in perfect mix.
These songs are also musically complex, but they're still pop songs. And their lyrics are interesting. And the singers themselves have an expressive quality to their voices.
Past songs that spring to mind are "Living in Another World" by Talk Talk, "I Know What I'm Here For" by James, and "Ride a White Horse" by Goldfrapp. The most recent song is...
..."Me and My Imagination" by Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
I didn't care much for it the first time I heard it but now I can't get enough. It has the minimalistic dance element during the verses, and then the "soaring" chorus that employs a totally unexpected and almost lurching chord progression. The lyrics are fun and interesting. The thin disco-style strings perfectly complement the fat keyboards. And Ellis-Bextor has the most emotive, expressive voice around...contrast her "upbeat dance" delivery during most of the song with her "intimate, slightly broken, almost soulful" approach during the breakdown.
I'm in love with this song. Actually I'm falling in love with Sophie Ellis-Bextor in general, but this song especially.