I'll admit, this is an odd collection of artists from multiple genres, but that is the beauty of my individual top 10 lists :)
10. Haley Reinhart
In some ways this is a projection, but in other ways it's not. Haley finished 3rd on Season 10 of American Idol, but won me as a fan. I often mow to her music (you read that right) and anticipate more good stuff coming from her. She could either fall of the list or rise quite high based on what she does independent of the show.
9. The Goo Goo Dolls
I really like their sound, but it certainly didn't hurt their top 10 status to be from my home (Western NY). With one awesome CD (Dizzy up the Girl) and a number of other solid songs, the Goo Goo Dolls can make quite an argument to stay in the top 10.
8. Iron and Wine
There might not be a 'sound' I like better than Iron and Wine. Sam Beam's hushed vocals and hauntingly beautiful guitar playing make him the perfect companion for a relaxing drive. He's at number eight simply because I've only fallen in love with a small number of the songs.
7. Thomas Newman
Not as famous as his brother Randy (perhaps you've never heard of either!), but you know Thomas Newman's work. He's made the music behind some of my favorite movies (including the Shawshank Redemption and Meet Joe Black). Look him up and you'll discover that he's made a lot of great movie scores. We even used his music for our wedding.
6. John Michael Montgomery
I used to listen to a lot of country music. At one point I decided to compile a list of all my favorite country songs so that I could put them on one CD. Low and behold, I discovered that a large percentage of my favorites were from 1 guy: JMM. His greatest hits CD is almost synonymous with my favorite country song list.
5. Randy Travis
Randy edges JMM in a tight race. I guess what gives Randy Travis the advantage is his rather distinct sound. It might also help that I can somewhat duplicate that sound. I like to sing along in the car and Randy & I are a pretty good match. He also sings quite a few Christian songs.
4. Avril Lavigne
Surprised? I like pretty much all of her songs. They are fun. I like songs with deep meaning, but sometimes I just like to relax when listening to music. Another good thing about her is that she's still young and has the potential to come out with a bunch more stuff I enjoy.
3. The Buffalo Chips
Who? The Buffalo Chips are SUNY Buffalo's only all-male a cappella group. The members have changed much over the years, but the sum of their many CD's is a great collection of pop hits done solely with voices.
Her debut album may be one of the greatest debut albums of all-time. For me, it's also one of the greatest albums of all-time in general. Since then, her stuff is not as raw (and I use the term raw in a totally positive way here), but on the first CD alone she'll forever be on my top 10 list.
1. Weird Al
It isn't really even very close. Weird Al is by far my favorite secular musical artist. He has both top-end quality and overall quantity in his favor. His parodies are clever and often better than the originals. Great stuff for a fun and relaxing drive. I tried to make a best hits CD a while back and had trouble getting down to 40 songs for 2 CD's. And he's still pumping good stuff out!