Monday, January 05, 2009
Top 200 Singles of 2008
1. Goldfrapp - A&E
Powerful. I could say no more than just that word and it would perfectly sum up why "A&E" is my favorite single of the year. It combines a double emotional wallop of romantic longing and self-destruction to a simple electronic folk background. There is no inspirational message here. There is nothing to be gained. Just a beautifully honest and human moment captured with no resolution. It's dramatic territory that's given the right amount of bombast to make the soul swell, but never feels overwhelming or melodramatic. Vocalist Alison Goldfrapp has proven time and time again that she can slip into multiple roles with ease, be it ambient goddess or synthesized sex kitten, but as a folk siren on "A&E", her talent as an interpreter of songs shines impeccably when given weighty, straightforward material. Will Gregory, as always, deserves credit for creating the perfect backdrop for Alison's breathy vocals. Even without the usual amount of bells and whistles, "A&E" maintains the facade of a simple pop song all while containing an epic and experimental underbelly. It took me a while to fully appreciate this song, but when it hit me, no other song seemed as important for a long time. It's just simply, powerful.
2. Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French
If you can believe it, I've set no higher standard for any current artist than with these five ladies from the U.K. Radiohead? Meh. Not all the tracks can be winners. Kanye West? Ego could easily kill his career, so a duff song is inevitable here and there. What Girls Aloud have done to spoil me so much is simply release infectious song after infectious song. "Can't Speak French" is another in a very long line of pop gems. It's a slightly funky track with a little bit of the sass we've come to expect from the group, but even as it turns up the sex appeal, their strong sense of melody and catchiness is never lost, although the song is more restrained than some of their more frenetic moments. It's simple hook will stay in your head for the rest of the week.
3. Estelle F/ Kanye West - American Boy
Sure, Kanye dropped a halfway clever verse, but the main attraction here is Estelle and that addictive disco beat. While proclaming her love for us Yanks, her silky delivery rides the rhythm so smoothly that at times you'd rather bask in it all than try to dance. "American Boy" boasts one of the best grooves of the year, sunny vibes and all, but the magic lies in how intoxicating the entire thing is.
4. Little Boots - Stuck On Repeat
The synths gurgle darkly. It starts out very micro house-ish, but you don't yet know where its going. The vocals start and you think, sure, you've heard this type of thing before, but there's still something intriguing. It coasts on auto-pilot for a bit, but it's still fun nonetheless. Then the chorus hits. Or at least you think it's the chorus, but it's really more of a coda that just happens to be in the middle of the song. Now you're not in familiar territory. Drums have disappeared. Only synths and vocals stand. The music has completely broken down for what feels like an eternity. Predictably, it goes back to where it starts, because that's just how the pop rulebook was written, but when it rebuilds itself back up to the main rhythm, you can't help but be amazed and just plain admit to yourself that it's one fo the most ambitious pop songs you've heard in some time. Stuck on repeat, indeed.
5. Radiohead - House Of Cards
It's another eerie stunner of a ballad from the guys who wrote the playbook on eerie stunners of a ballad. I honestly feel it's the best song on In Rainbows and one of their most beautiful tracks ever, even though the mood is dour. It's a song that would sound just as wonderful if done with a solo acoustic arrangement and Thom Yorke's yearning vocals, but the experimental flourishes throughout help to make the track distinct and add to the uneasy feeling overall.
6. Solange - Sandcastle Disco
Poor young R&B divas. They always seem to catch tough breaks whenever it comes to the cool guys. In a truly bittersweet manner, their displeasure is our gain, as long as tracks like "Sandcastle Disco" are being made. The cool guy this time around is a DJ and the metaphor of choice is a sandcastle ("You know that I'm fragile/Baby don't blow me away"), which all makes for a very alive and youthful recording. The bubblegum soul backing and the soaring chorus all make for delicious ear candy, but the pain in Solange's voice is such a stark contrast that the substance of the song begs to be noticed every time, creating a great pop song that's as huge on personality as it is on tunefulness.
7. Late Of The Pier – Heartbeat
The high energy of this song makes it easy to get into, and with a blazing combination of indie dance, synth rock and disco beats, you'd have to be a corpse to keep still. When the chorus hits, everything turns into a frenzy and I often find myself looking for a couch or a bed to jump on. Available only in the U.K. as of now, jump on the bandwagon early before this shows up in a commercial somewhere.
8. Goldfrapp - Happiness
The buzz that this song leaves is nothing but enchanting. The textures of the song are warm enough to bathe in and that's exactly what it feels like when listening to it. Once again, Alison's vocals match perfectly with the music and I'm particularly in love with the robotic cadence she sings during the verse. There are some strong traces of 70's AM pop here with it's peppy bounce, but the electronic twist and irony ("Floating in a magic world/Donate all your money/We'll make it better") keep it from being a flat out ordinary pop song. "Happiness" could be about a cult, or maybe even a drug dealer. Whoever the speaker is, they sound like bad news, but if this is their recruiting song, I'll gladly sign up.
9. Adele - Chasing Pavements
"Chasing Pavements" starts off pleasant enough, but I remember hearing that big emotional and swooning chorus for the first time and just being blown away because I hadn't heard anything that full in so long and in how tasteful it was in its bombast. It's a throwback to an era where producers weren't afraid to challenge a big voice and pile an orchestra on top of them. If you're allergic to feelings and soul, you should probably stay away from this one seeing as how it's heavy on both.
10. Marit Larsen - If A Song Could Get Me You
There is a fine line between sweet and sappy when it comes to pop love songs. When it comes to the latter, a few corny lines and an over eager chorus is all it takes to get all the sap you need for a bottle of pancake syrup. Sweet, on the other hand, is often hard to achieve. To declare a pop song sweet, I feel that it must be honest and know when to pull back the emotional cues. A sweet pop song doesn't lose focus and all it wants to do is speak its little heart in hopes that someone will hear. What makes "If A Song Could Get Me You" so sweet is the determination in the lyrics and the exploration of whatever options are available just to get the desired person. When you've got it bad for someone, it oftens feels like that. You think of anything you can do just to get them. It's human and above all, it's honest. It's also my favorite Marit Larsen vocal performance. When she hits those sustains in the chorus, it's sounds so sincere that it's almost heartbreaking to listen to, despite the light and colorful arrangements. Marit darling, this song has got me alright.
11. Jay-Z - I Know
Joins the ranks of other great uses of personification in hip hop like "I Gave You Power" and "I Used To Love H.E.R."
12. Holly Weerd - Weerdo
If Outkast were an R&B group, they would sound like this.
13. Annie – I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me
Bad Annie. Badder synths.
14. Wiz Khalifa - Say Yeah
Alice Deejay sample surpisingly leads to one of year's hottest beats.
15. Solange - I Decided Part I
The Motown sound brought to you by The Neptunes.
16. Lykke Li - Tonight
Affecting vocals that make you long for someone you didn't even realize you wanted.
17. Lil' Wayne - A Milli
This beat will shank you and your dog and then laugh about it afterwards.
18. Alphabeat - Fascination
Unabashed pop music that will make you clap your hands and jump around like a goofball.
19. Those Dancing Days - Home Sweet Home
New name proposal for the country of Sweden: OMGWhereDoYouFindTheseArtistsFromAndWhyAreTheySoAwesomeLand
20. Dungen - Sätt att se
I want to sip some Merlot to this song. Yes, it's psychedellic and hazy, but dammit, I want some wine with this.
21. Flo Rida F/will.i.am - In The Ayer
Superior to the already solid "Low" by conjuring up old school sweat.
22. Ebony Bones - We Know All About You
The world is ending and there is only one dancefloor left. One of the songs would probably sound like this.
23. VV Brown - Crying Blood
Day Glo pop 'n roll.
24. Girls Aloud - The Promise
The themes get more mature, but the songs always remain ace.
25. Pink - So What
Eight years into a solid career, Pink releases her catchiest song ever.
26. Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Or how I learned to finally accept that Coldplay will be around forever if they keep cranking out soaring rock anthems like this.
27. Duffy - Warwick Avenue
I love the classic sounding production, and yes, a chill or two still manages to creep its way up whenever I listen to this.
28. MGMT - Time To Pretend
The fuzz keeps you buzzed.
29. Hercules & Love Affair - Blind
Incredibly sexy sounding disco tune.
30. Erykah Badu - Honey
Full of warmth and good time grooves.
31. Sam Sparro - Black and Gold
Sinister beat that automatically makes any dancefloor sexier.
32. Janelle Monae - Many Moons
Dramatic and frantic.
33. Dizzee Rascal F/ UGK - Where Da G's
Bangs as hard as you'd expect it to considering the title and who's involved.
34. Amy Winehouse - Just Friends
Back To Black holdover still on par with best of '08.
35. Weezer - Pork and Beans
It's been 14 years and you still can't go wrong with crunchy guitars, heavy sarcasm and a big chorus.
36. Amadou & Mariam - Sabali
Sounds like your favorite psych pop band instead of Mali's most famous
37. Kanye West - Good Morning
Laid back, but still moving and even a bit inspiring.
38. Ludo - Love Me Dead
Greatest love song about a vampire? Anything I can do to avoid Twilight.
39. Little Jackie - The World Should Revolve Around Me
Colorful rapid fire song that's long on sass and introspection.
40. Kate Nash - Pumpkin Soup
One of the more joyous hooks you're likely to hear all year.
41. Q-Tip - Getting Up
The kind of lyrical, soulful song that crotchety old hip hop heads complain aren't around any more, but you'll be damned if they aren't on to something.
42. The Juan Maclean - Happy House
Epic house joint that goes on for nearly 13 euphoric minutes.
43. Ladytron - Ghosts
More of a harder edge than the typical Ladytron song, but the requiste spooky chorus is still there.
44. Hurricane Chris - Playas Rock
A cut as smooth as Courvoisier from the man who brought you "Ay Bay Bay".
45. Duffy - Mercy
I still can't figure out what's sexier: that murky bass line or Duffy's begging?
46. N.E.R.D.-Everyone Nose
As spastic as a cocaine overdose. Yeah, I took it there.
47. Yo Majesty – Club Action
"Get cho ass on the floor!" Yes ma'am!
48. Kanye West - Homecoming
Q: Would I care as much about this song if I weren't from Chicago? A: Who the hell cares? Chicago rocks! Woo-hoo! I bet your town's best selling rapper can't write a song this good! Bite it!
49. Yelle - Je Veux Te Voir
I think the fact that I don't understand French makes me want to jump around to this even more. Club-Club remix is highly recommmened too.
50. The Ting Tings - That's Not My Name
Very enjoyable song throughout, but it turns into something special towards the end when the backing vocals do the refrain for what seems like forever.
51. Shugo Tokumaru - Parachute
Japanese art pop song that's so adorable, you want to play marbles with it.
52. Young Jeezy F/ Kanye West-Put On
Jeezy brings his mammoth swagger to an already mammoth track.
53. Weezer - The Greatest Man That Ever Lived
Proves that the band can step outside their comfort zone and still create something catchy.
54. Yelle - Ce Jeu
I've been whistling this for about the past week now. Also a nice showcase for the delicate side of Yelle's vocals.
55. The Ruby Suns - Tane Mahuta
It's the sound of the wilderness coming to life before you eyes after taking too many mushrooms.
56. Estelle - No Substitute Love
Take the melody to George Michael's "Faith", add a bit of Lauryn Hill flair to it, and presto!
57. Sugababes - Denial
Leave it to the Sugababes to keep you smiling even when things don't go their way. So selfless!
58. Brighton Port Authority F/ David Byrne & Dizzee Rascal- Toe Jam
Sunny little ditty that oddly enough feels natural for both the guest stars involved.
59. Jazmine Sullivan-Bust Your Windows
Woman done wrong for the millionth time, but Sullivan and Salaam Remi's production make it feel fresh.
60. Glasvegas - Its My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry
Shoegaze and Scottish angst hit a Wall of Sound.
61. Roisin Murphy - Movie Star
Naughty synths. Naughtier Roisin.
62. Frankmusik - 3 Little Words
The beginning of electro emo pop?
63. Janet Jackson - Rock With U
Wouldn't sound out of a place in French house mix.
64. Justice - DVNO
Hard ass beats coming for your skull.
65. Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal
Elegiac song that feels as if it could crumble at any minute from its fragility.
66. Guillemots - Kriss Kross
A U.K. rock song that's not afraid to take risks, falsettos and odd keyboard riffs be damned.
67. Gnarls Barkley - Who's Gonna Save My Soul?
One of the more cinematic sounding songs of the year.
68. Adele - Make You Feel My Love
Beautiful take on a Bob Dylan song that reaches a new level of despair in Adele's hands.
69. Lupe Fiasco F/ Matthew Santos – Superstar
Proves that with the right production, this guy is unstoppable as an artist.
70. Tom Jones - If He Should Ever Leave You
The man still sounds great over a track with some serious swing.
71. Los Campesinos! - Death To Los Campesinos!
It appears to be cute, but you wouldn't say that if you had been bounced around back and forth while they played this song in a small sweaty club.
72. Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked
As wild and fun as the title would have you think. The hook just keeps me coming back for more.
73. Stars - Bitches in Tokyo
I don't think it's in their blood to do anything that's not rousing and melodic.
74. Kathleen Edwards - I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory
Smart, catchy and filled with a charming twang.
75. Be Your Own Pet - Becky
A raucous and comedic look at a high school friendship gone sour. It's also their best song.
76. Portishead – We Carry On
Intense, gripping, and probably shouldn't be listened to alone in the dark.
77. Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
A finely crafted pop song whose charm lies in its simplicity.
78. Nicole Atkins - Maybe Tonight
Stirring voice with an amazing chorus.
79. The Knux - Cappucino
Hard rocking record with a Native Tongues vibe.
80. Laura Marling - Ghosts
Coping with past loves has never sounded so comforting.
81. C.R.A.C. - Buy Me Lunch
Quirky calypso influenced number with a smidge of hip hop.
82. Veronica Maggio – Måndagsbarn
Sweden once again proves just how awesome it is with this pop star's take on Northern soul.
83. Be Your Own Pet – The Kelley Affair
It's garage pop that wouldn't sound out of place in a Target commercial. That's a compliment because I've enjoyed the music from their commercials the most.
84. Ryan Leslie - Diamond Girl
The beat just screams swagger.
85. Hot Stylez F/ Yung Joc - Lookin Boy
Latest take on the dozens by Chicago's very own.
86. Madonna - 4 Minutes
Madonna attempts to stay current and it works.
87. Kylie Minogue - Wow
Disco-lite hotness from one of our time's greatest singles artist.
88. The Dodos - Fools
Like earlier Animal Collective but nowhere near as weird
89. Q-Tip - Move
Funky ass Dilla cut with an aggressive Tip delivery.
90. Kanye West - Heartless
The world's biggest pop star bares his soul.
91. Chris Brown - Forever
Shades of MJ all over this track, but it's got a 21st century heart.
92. Beyonce - Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)
I dance like crazy to this even though I'm not a lady.
93. Paramore - That's What You Get
More catchiness from my fave pop-punksters of the moment.
94. Wynter Gordon - Surveillance
State of the art hard pop.
95. Jesse McCartney – Leavin’
Jesse get his R&B on.
96. Santogold – Lights Out
You can just tell she has a pretty cool record collection, what with every song being "Spot The Influence".
97. Art Brut - Pump Up The Volume
Rock's wittiest band slows down the pace.
98. The Feeling - Turn It Up
Sunny glam pop/rock with 70's flair.
99. Lykke Li - Breaking It Up
Spooky, but Lykke's voice gives it mad sex appeal.
100. The Mae Shi - Run To Your Grave
Shouty vocals and quirky grooves.
101. M83 - Graveyard Girl
102. The Game F/ Travis Barker - Dope Boys
103. Jordin Sparks - No Air (feat. Chris Brown)
104. Glasvegas - Geraldine
105. Karina - Can't Find The Words
106. Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction
107. Raphael Saadiq - Love That Girl
108. Hercules & Love Affair – You Belong
109. Sons & Daughters - Darling
110. Bishop Lamont - Grow Up
111. Lil' Mama F/ Chris Brown & T-Pain - Shawty Get Loose
112. Robyn – Who’s That Girl
113. Ida Maria – Stella
114. The-Dream - I Luv Ur Girl
115. Goldfrapp – Caravan Girl
116. Rihanna - Disturbia
117. Lloyd F/ Lil' Wayne - Girls All Around The World
118. Those Dancing Days – Run Run
119. Tally Hall - Good Day
120. The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 Sound
121. Portishead - The Rip
122. Alicia Keys - Like You'll Never See Me Again
123. Rose Elinor Dougall - Another Version Of Pop Song!
124. Los Campesinos! - My Year In Lists
125. Kid Cudi - Day 'N Nite (Crookers Remix)
126. M83 - Kim & Jessie
127. Trina - Single Again
128. Flo Rida F/ T-Pain - Low
129. The Veronicas - Untouched
130. Dizzee Rascal F/ Calvin Harris & Chrome – Dance Wiv Me
131. Big Boi F/ Andre 3000 and Raekwon - Royal Flush
132. The Gaslight Anthem - Old White Lincoln
133. Madcon - Beggin'
134. The Killers - Spaceman
135. Emmy The Great - We Almost Had A Baby
136. Fonsworth Bentley F/ Andre 3000 - Everybody
137. Goldfrapp - Clowns
138. Kid Rock - All Summer Long
139. John Legend F/ Andre 3000 - Green Light
140. Lykke Li - I'm Good, I'm Gone
141. T-Pain F/ Ludacris – Chopped & Skrewed
142. Kathleen Edwards - The Cheapest Key
143. Gnarls Barkley – Run
144. Panic At The Disco - Nine In The Afternoon
145. Mary J. Blige - Work That
146. M83 - Couleurs
147. Beck - Chemtrails
148. Kidz In The Hall F/ Bun B., Pusha T and Cool Kids - Drivin' Down The Block (Remix)
149. Bow Wow F/ Soulja Boy - Marco Polo
150. Lil' Mama - What It Is (Strike A Pose)
151. Robyn - Cobrastyle
152. The Hussy's - Atom City Girl
153. The Ting Tings – Great DJ
154. Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue
155. Firefox AK - Winter Rose
156. Danity Kane - Damaged
157. Basia Bulat - In The Night
158. The Game - Big Dreams
159. Kylie Minogue - In My Arms
160. The Duke Spirit - My Sunken Treasure
161. Ladyhawke - Paris Is Burning
162. The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go
163. Mariah Carey - Touch My Body
164. Sophia Fresh F/ Kanye West – What It Is
165. The Long Blondes - Guilt
166. Common - Universal Mind Control
167. Futureheads - Beginning Of The Twist
168. B.G. - For A Minute
169. Does It Offend You, Yeah? - We Are Rockstars
170. Genki Rockets - Smile
171. The Fratellis – Look Out Sunshine
172. Missy Elliott - Ching-A-Ling
173. Coldplay - Lovers In Japan
174. O'Neal McKnight - Check Your Coat
175. The Feeling – Without You
176. Alphabeat - 10,000 Nights
177. Jazmine Sullivan - Need U Bad
178. Talib Kweli - Hostile Gospel Pt. 1 (Deliver Us)
179. Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
180. Hayashibara Megumi - Plenty of Grit
181. Kate Nash - Merry Happy
182. Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
183. Usher ft. Young Jeezy - Love in This Club
184. Elbow – Grounds For Divorce
185. Miley Cyrus - See You Again
186. Veronica Maggio - Stopp
187. Yael Naim - New Soul
188. Colby O'Donis - What You Got
189. Lady GaGa - Just Dance
190. Katy Perry - Hot N Cold
191. Ne-Yo - Miss Independent
192. She & Him - Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?
193. Chris Brown - With You
194. Beck - Gamma Ray
195. Gogol Bordello – American Wedding
196. Carrie Underwood - Last Night
197. Grace Jones – Corporate Cannibal
198. Ice Cube - Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It
199. Tilly & The Wall - Beat Control
200. Does It Offend You, Yeah? – Epic Last Song