Here is the best I could do with a year end track list for 2008. I'm not so encyclopedic about the year in music. I've failed in the past to do this. I already realize that I'm missing TV on the Radio singles as I write this. All I can say is that their new album Dear Science is damn good. Go grab it!
I tried to do a sequential list. But I couldn't commit numbers past the top 5. Even they are up for resequencing. Still, these are all good songs. Eat em up. You won't be disappointed.
1- Cut Copy - "Hearts on Fire"
In a perfect world, these guys would be performing this track to sold out crowds of heart-struck, drooling, screaming admirers. Actually, they already do. Lighting up dancefloors all over the country, this is usually the final shot that sends an already excitable crowd over the top. But the music itself isn't exactly a loud pounding house track. Its a track that vaguely taps the heroic lovestruck emotions that only dance tracks like these can bring up.
2- Portishead - "Machine Gun"
The world had to wait over a decade for Portishead to come out with a new record. My hope was that they would not rehash what they did, but at the same time not embarrass themselves jumping into left field experimentation. Their interviews definitely gave a sense that they wanted to sound fresh, which was intriguing to me. Could they change their sound without losing what Portishead actually meant? The answer with this first single from their new album Third was a resounding "yes". This truly excited me. Martial beats, haunting vocals. They successfully changed their sound while keeping their vibe and still created some of the best music of today.
3- Alphabeat - Fascination
I've been fascinated with Scandinavian and Japanese bands that sing in English. They seem to sing rather excitedly about things and feelings that I'm not really sure what they're talking about. Fascination, I would surmise. However, this is a bright and shiny gem of a song about fascination that is difficult to get out of your head. Kind of Bowie's "Modern Love" but amped-up to a high degree, excited about life, and filled with more pop hooks than other people have in their whole albums.
4- Kylie Minogue - In My Arms
Here's a song I'm sure that's in no "tasteful" person's top of 2008 lists. Kylie has charmed me since I became aware of her around the time of "Spinning Around" (because I live in the US). Then falling completely for her in "Can't Get You Out of My Head". She knows her way around a good danceable pop tune. While the beginning of "In My Arms" is a bit irritating, the rest of it is pure french-disco-inspired loveliness. Of course she's doesn't tend to ask any hard questions. "How does it feel in my arms?" I'd imagine pretty satisfying. Track wins.
5- Hercules & Love Affair - "Blind"
While at the end of the year this is a huge understatement, but MY GOD Antony (from Antony and the Johnsons) is such a natural fit for a dance track. He turns an already glorious song into an understated anthem.
Lil Wayne - "A Milli"
Part of the fun of enjoying this track this year was defending against my friends who don't understand the pleasures of non-conscious hip-hop. This is an ugly track with the repeated "a milli", loping bass, and minimal typewriter beats. There is also the fact that Lil Wayne is a gifted lyricist who also happens to sound ridiculously high when he raps. He tends to waste his abilities on tracks that have an R&B hook that will sell millions. Here, we get it short and simple. No guest stars. Just Weezy, his dirty and high sense of humor and a sort of brilliance. I don't need to say anyting though, "My criteria compared to your career just isn't fair". "You drop em cuz we pop em like Orville Redenbacher"
Beck - "Gamma Ray"
Beck - Gamma Ray
Beck did me proud this year by putting out a no-nonsense record that maintained his integral dynamic of weird and familiar without sounding forced. "Gamma Ray" is a fun and tuneful tune.
Crystal Castles - "Courtship Dating"
What was 50 Cent and Timbaland's loss on Ayo Technology is Crystal Castle's gain on the forceful "Courtship Dating". While the track has the potential to grate, its even better because of it. Even these words used to describe it fit the track: forceful, grating, courtship dating.
Crystal Castles "Untrust Us"
Santogold - "Lights Out"
The effect of the song is a little dead now thanks to its neverending appearance in beer commercials. Which is just weird. Such a sweet song with lovely melodies and her own backing vocals (you'll remember them from the end of the commercial) to ice the cake.
Santogold - "LES Artistes"
Where she proves that she's a power in another pop gem.
Kanye West - "Flashing lights"
kanye west ft dwele -flashing lights from mike quintanar on Vimeo.
God bless Kanye for his dedication to not just be pop chart filler.
Rihanna - "Don't Stop the Music"
Definitely wins the prize for "Song I heard the most often that made me run back to the dancefloor".
Kid Cudi - "Day N Nite"
Kid Cudi is a Cleveland rapper who is apparently pals with Kanye. He seems to share Kanye's passion for a different way of doing things hip-hop. You'll definitely
hear more from this man next year. This track has apparently been making the rounds for a while. Since I don't really go out and not incredibly hip to the latest, its taken me a year to find this. I swear I've heard this before, but I don't know from where.
Crookers remix video:
Memories of the track were reignited in my mind by seeing the video for the remix of the track by Crookers. A remix that apparently Kid Cudi completely disapproves of, but is really dancey and catchy and I think keeps the track's essentials in hand. It also rides the wave of the latest British dance trend, bassline house (descended from grime and much more dance-y) (thanks Pitchfork).
Annie - "I know ur girlfriend hates me"
Right off the bat, not even giving a chance to respond, Annie lets you know that she knows ur girlfriend hates her. In Annie's world, this is inconsequential because she has won already. Then why the song? Because it is a great slice of pop perfection. Annie doesn't let go for a second. If her album holds up to this gem, it'll be hard to put it down.
Roisin Murphy - "you know me better"
This is here because it was released in 2008 and Roisin still has that amazing voice and a good ear for the pop tune. A gift to have releasing singles and albums. Another bit of perfection.
Vivian Girls - Where Do You Run To
One of the great debuts of the year. Their influences are dead on and they are loud and cacophonous. Injecting a bit of harmony into the noise. Lovely.
M83 - Kim & Jessie
You feel like you've heard this before. If you're lucky its because you have M83's Saturdays = Youth in your collection. Artfully constructed.
TI - Whatever You Like
TI - Live Your Life
Air France - Collapsing At Your Door
"Sort of like a dream"
Vampire Weekend - M79
Say what you will about indie backlash, Vampire Weekend was liked because they are great to listen to. M79 is just too damn charming. It is the soundtrack for the Wes Anderson movie in my mind.