Friday, 19 December 2008
Best Of '08: Songs Of The Year
I never even managed to get round to this list last year. I wasted my time on cover version lists and frivolities like that. Not this year. Not this year. Here lies my Top 60 Tracks of 2008, in ascending order.
60. 'Lord, I'm Discouraged' - The Hold Steady
59. 'Sax Rohmer #1' - The Mountain Goats
58. 'Stay Positive' - The Hold Steady
57. '5 Years Time' - Noah and the Whale
56. 'I Thought I Saw Your Face Today' - She & Him
55. 'Low' - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain
54. 'Dance Wiv Me' - Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris and Chromeo
53. 'Kiss With A Fist' - Florence and the Machine
52. 'American Boy' - Estelle feat. Kanye West
51. 'Atom' - British Sea Power
50. 'Amylase' - Cajun Dance Party
49. 'Fantastic 6' - Alphabeat
48. 'Violet Hill' - Coldplay
47. 'Divine' - Sebastian Tellier
46. 'Old Enough' - The Raconteurs feat. Ricky Skaggs and Ashley Monroe
45. 'Change Is Hard' - She & Him
44. 'Victoria's Secret' - Quiet Village
43. 'Human' - The Killers
42. 'Monster Love' - Goldfrapp
41. 'Up' - The Saturdays
40. 'Another Way To Die' - Jack White and Alicia Keys
39. 'Ain't No Rest For The Wicked' - Cage The Elephant
38. 'Sweet Darlin'' - She & Him
37. 'A&E' - Goldfrapp
36. 'You Really Got A Hold On Me' - She & Him
35. 'Gray Or Blue' - Jaymay
34. 'Keep Her' - The Saturdays
33. 'Some People' - Goldfrapp
32. 'Digital Love' - Alphabeat, Frank Musik and Leon Jean Marie
31. 'Rich Kid Blues' - The Raconteurs
30. 'Beat Control' - Tilly and the Wall
29. 'Stop, Rip and Roll' - J Roddy Walston and the Business
28. 'Grounds For Divorce' - Elbow
27. 'The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)' - Flight Of The Conchords
26. 'Spiralling' - Keane
25. 'Lies' - The Saturdays
24. 'Touch Me' - Alphabeat
23. 'I Woke Up Today' - Port O'Brien
22. 'Clowns' - Goldfrapp
21. 'Kids' - MGMT
20. 'Girls' - Sugababes
I've always thought of Sugababes as a lesser competitor to Girls Aloud. Well, not always - Sugababes have been around longer. But still, in recent years no matter how good their singles were, Girls Aloud's were better. This seems to have been the year to change that - 'Girls', heavily sampling Ernie K-Doe's 'Here Come The Girls' is the closest Britain has got this year to the 'Umbrella's, '1Thing's and 'Crazy's of those previous.
19. 'Oliver James' - Fleet Foxes
A band described with words so repetitive one could be excused for thinking that 'ethereal' is an alias of theirs, Fleet Foxes stirred up a hell of a lot of interest this year. Their album hit number five on my chart, though I secretly wish all the albums above weren't released yet, such is my need to put them at the top. This is the closer off of said album - as perfect closer as ever there was one - equal parts stark, beautiful vocals and subtle, elegant music, this song managed sometime around August to gain fifty plays in about ten days on my media player of choice.
18. 'Ghosts' - Laura Marling
Laura Marling is younger than me, prettier than me, more talented than me, and with a better voice. I'm not a horrible person though, and so rather than hate her for it, I in fact love her deeply for it. Though her album was, in all honesty, a bit average as a whole, this track stands out as Beyond Brilliant. I'm a-reckoning for some good things in Ms. Marling's future - especially if she should happen to meet me anytime soon.
17. 'Letter From God To Man' - Dan Le Sac & Scroobius Pip
Technically - techinically - the artist name here should be Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, but I'm not going to let them get away with that. The two artists work so well together, and so smartly - each bringing out the other's best quality constantly - that there is no 'vs' about it. This particular offering is a stunning effort, and also wins my coveted Best Sample Of The Year Award. Oooo.
16. 'Seattle' - The BPA feat. Emmy the Great
Until Emmy finally gets round to releasing her debut album early 2009, this track will have to tide over those of us wanting to hear her supported by full studio production. Norman Cook's latest project, The Brighton Port Authority, have already produced some great tracks featuring a fair miscellany of unexpected collaborators, but it's this track with England's finest-singer-songwriter-not-to-have-an-album-out-yet that takes the biscuit.
15. 'Handsfree' - Sonny J
The video helps, I'll admit that much. By itself, this explosive piece of soul-sampling dance is a fantastically fun track, but when you factor in the promo video - a fair mix of Tarantino, My Name Is Earl and the Thriller video - Sonny J's best single yet becomes a minor masterpiece in its own right. Shame the rest of the album was so average.
14. 'Carolina Drama' - The Raconteurs
Jack White has never been finer than on The Raconteurs second album, as three entries on the Top Twenty will testify to. Were it not for Fleet Foxes' excellent 'Oliver James', 'Carolina Drama' would be closer of the year. But whilst in the context of final tracks Fleet Foxes win out, when it comes to the song itself 'Carolina Drama' is a hop, skip and a jump ahead. A soulful story told with deep rock roots by the master of modern Americana.
13. 'Salute Your Solution' - The Raconteurs
And oh, look, here the boys are again - this time with a winning urgency that seeps down to the very depths of your being. You know a song is good when you mute the jazz channel on Grand Theft Auto 4 so you can listen to it whilst you drive down the railway tracks in an ice cream truck.
12. 'What Is Happening' - Alphabeat
The four-hundredth single released from Alphabeat's debut album is also the best - starting slow and building into a gloriously fast ending. The peak in quality, however, happens about halfway between the two, and is joyous enough to make you join whatever cult made these Danes so damned happy.
11. 'Two Doors Down' - Mystery Jets
The achingly cheerful 'Two Doors Down' was a far cry from the mood of Mystery Jets' first (and highly overrated) album. Here they leapt into an Eighties-inspired call of unrequited love, with a chorus so catchy you could sing it to your dad even while he played an Abba track at the same time. And nothing's catchier than Abba. Still, if only it had Laura Marling too...
10. 'Many Shades Of Black' - The Raconteurs/Adele with The Raconteurs
And in at number ten... one song, two versions. When 'Consolers Of The Lonely' was rushed out earlier this year the first track that settled itself into my subconscious was this excellent little song - as full of soul as it is with rock, it just leant itself to the deep, luscious voice of Adele - a 60's soul singer, forty years too late. Released recently on the extended edition of her debut album '19', Adele's collaboration with White and co. is quite possibly the best thing she's done yet.
9. 'Starlings' - Elbow
Fanfares are the sort of thing that on the one hand aren't used enough in pop, but on the other hand should barely be used at all. You never want to overdo your fanfare. Elbow heralded in their fourth album with the fanfare-tastic 'Starlings', though, and from the first blast of trumpet it was clear that their time in the shadows was soon to be over. Also features my Lyric Of The Year: 'you are the only thing in any room you're ever in'. One friend of mine has this on a poster in her bedroom - it's the sort of message I'd love to wake up to everyday, too.
8. 'Sentimental Heart' - She & Him
Achingly opening her debut album with M. Ward, Miss Zooey Deschanel breaks a legion of sentimental hearts herself with just the first few words. This is a song of longing, the sort of song that you can curl up to under a quilt, whilst nursing a warm mug of tea and a broken pride.
7. 'March Of The Dawn' - The Mummers
Bold, triumphant and not unlike Bjork singing a Rufus Wainwright track, 'March Of The Dawn' is the grandest way I've found to start a day this year. It blasts around whole-heartedly, stomping back and forth like a child playing soldiers. I always loved to play soldiers.
6. 'Issues' - The Saturdays
Arguably the best pop ballad since the era of B*Witched - or, at the very least, since S Club 7's 'Never Had A Dream Come True'. The whole of The Saturdays album sounds like the best bits of a billion other artist's songs - 'Issues' is a Rihanna ballad sung softly by the talented members of Sugababes with the sexiest members of Girls Aloud.
5. 'Weather To Fly' - Elbow
A high whisper from Guy Garvey opens one of his band's most heartfelt songs - a great feat for a group as open as Elbow. Once more the lyrics win over the listener, Garvey unfurling words like a man inspired. He is, I suppose, and he always has been.
4. 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?' - She & Him
By the time the second track finishes on 'Volume One', you know for sure whether or not you should bother with the rest of the album - jaunty and fun, 'Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?' is a far jump from 'Sentimental Heart'. It marks an album that could change direction at any moment (though, it turns out it doesn't tend to overall - and is all the better for that). Best bit? Zooey Deschanel's cheerful 'do-doo-do-do-doo's at the end.
3. 'One Day Like This' - Elbow
As glorious as anything else on 'The Seldom Seen Kid', the penultimate track is perhaps just a wee bit more commercial. That isn't by any means the reason for its high entry, however - that honour comes with thanks to the band's marvellous performance at Glastonbury this year. Closing with 'One Day Like This', the band (and their rushed-together string orchestra) left the stage, only for the song to continue without them. In fact, once the band had gone, the crowd kept on singing until they'd doubled the length of the original track. It was one of the most exciting moments of my musical life, and I was left tired with joy once it was over.
2. 'Young Love' - Mystery Jets feat. Laura Marling
If we were to take just the first half of this song, there'd be a fair chance that it wouldn't even make the top twenty on this list. The second half stirs things up a little, though - the delightful Laura Marling kicks in, all sultry and sexular, very listenable, very enjoyable and damn near perfect.
1. 'Sleepyhead' - Passion Pit
Entirely forgettable the first time I listened to it, Sleepyhead somehow slipped into my subconscious over a period of several months. I've used the phrase several times since, but in a recent issue of The Mic magazine I claimed this song to be both 'timely and timeless', and that remains exactly the case right up to this moment. 'Sleepyhead' is the opening track to the film of Passion Pit's lives - when you hear this song, you know it is the start of something special, something grand, a band who have the ability to own 2009, should they wish. A truly perfect song.