No. 9: “Hey Soul Sister,” Train

The dry spell is over for the San Francisco Bay Area alternative-rock band Train. “Hey, Soul Sister” marked the end of a nine-year Top 10 drought, coming in at No. 3 for four weeks in 2010, making it the ever-loving, still-chugging combo’s highest-charting yet. With more than 4.5 million legal downloads under its belt, the quadruple-platinum track also distinguishes itself as the most downloaded song in Columbia Records history and the 14th most downloaded song ever, according to NielsenSoundScan. The merrily spare mandolin at the heart of the tune tips its cap to the minimalist ukulele trend coursing through San Francisco’s indie rock scene, while vocalist Patrick Monahan’s lyrical references to Madonna, “Love Connection,” and Mr. Mister unabashedly foreground his, erm, youth, as well as the still-au-courant ’80s.

Consider “Hey, Soul Sister” a homecoming — and centerpiece love letter — in an album titled “Save Me, San Francisco,” four years in the making and aimed straight at Train‘s roots. Monahan isn’t afraid of playing the goof, with his heart firmly pinned on his sleeve, as he plaintively wails, “You’re so gangsta, I’m so thug, you’re the only one I’m dreaming of / You see, I can be myself now finally, in fact there’s nothing I can’t be / I want the world to see you be with me.” Apparently San Francisco — along with the rest of the world — came through.

–Kimberly Chun

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