July 19, 2009
I can’t believe it either! This is TC’s top 120 songs and top 40 albums of 2008.
For the sixth consecutive year, I’ll be counting down the best music according to me. That’s right, I have been doing this since 2003, and I’ve come back for more. Join me for yet another look back at yet another year of music.
Ever since The TC 10 left us at the end of 2006, I’ve had no “stats machine” to help me tabulate the year-end. Last year, I decided it was too daunting a task to come up with 120 songs, so I chose to do a list of my top 40 albums of 2007.
This year, however, I’m bringing the best of both worlds, as I’ll be counting down both my top songs and my top albums of 2008, in what will probably go down as the most epic year-end reflection the world has ever seen.
This year, I listened to many individual tracks on an endless shuffle. The list that you’re about to see will reflect the songs that I liked listening to the most in 2008, no matter their origin. Both singles and album tracks are fair game.
So listen up, here’s how this is going to work! If you see a picture, it means it’s the highest showing from that particular artist. If you don’t see any picture, it means there’s more to come later from the same artist. Here we go!
What a strange collaboration this was. Might as well kick off the year-end with it!
So, who the hell is An Horse? Well, they opened for Tegan and Sara in concert this year, and they’re great.
These guys are unbelievably macho rock. I dare them to break down and get all emo on us.
Holy crap, what?! Listening to this song is like getting stuck in a time warp. How does this exist?
Who would’ve thought Kid Rock would release one of the best songs of his career in 2008?
The first of many songs from those damn Apple commercials. They’re really the new trendsetters.
The song that took 4 minutes to produce was still a fairly worthy hit and mighty addictive.
Enjoy this moment for all it’s worth, for it will be the first and last of Britney on my year-end.
I don’t really know who this girl is, but the pop station here played this a lot, and I liked it.
The brand new release from Franz inches its way onto the countdown; more Franz to come.
Apple commercial count: 2. This one was from the ad for the iPod touch games.
The Cure rocked at KROQ’s AAC this year, and here they are with one from the new 4:13 Dream.
Man, talk about a happy song. Natasha Bedingfield knows what’s up.
This is a cover of the Feist song, by the guy who co-wrote the song. Guess what? It’s great!
Apple commercial count: 3. This one was from the ad for the iPod nano colors.
The first of a few from Kate Nash’s album, Made of Bricks. Never ever ever ever ever!
Yes, it’s Miley Cyrus. Yes, the lack of a photo here means there’s more to come.
Madonna rocks again with the highest appearance from Hard Candy on the year-end. Also, I’m about 3 years late with this one, but I got Confessions earlier this year and fell in love with it.
Title track from one of the best movies of the year, hands down. It’s mindblowing that this song exists.
One of my favorite tracks off of The Odd Couple, but one beats it, which you’ll see later.
The first of many from the excellent Volume One. Taking numbers never made sense, anyway.
My favorite album track from Sara. How do we know about her, again? Was she the Rhapsody commercial?
I don’t know where this one came from either, but hey there Meiko, you sure made a good song here.
This out-of-nowhere collaboration between Muse and The Streets was never supposed to see the light of day as a single or album track of any kind, but it surfaced on the Internet anyway… and what a gem it is!
You need to be in a certain mood for Fleet Foxes, but it’s great. This is the best song.
Kings of Leon returned with this lead single that had me addicted for a good couple of weeks.
Annie’s new album, Don’t Stop, fits its title–it’s a non-stop party. More to come!
This one wins adorable song of the year. Just look at that picture, too. Doesn’t get better than that.
Look who it is! I admit, after a few listens, “If I Were A Boy” really grew on me and won me over.
This Gift is one of the best albums of the year! Look out for quite a few tracks from it ahead.
From the newly released Fearless, this one is great. Look out for another great Taylor Swift track to come.
These guys had my #9 album of 2007 with Riot!, and now they’re back for more from the Twilight soundtrack. Although Twilight may be the one of the worst things ever to happen to movies, books, trends, and humanity, this single is pretty damn great. “I Caught Myself” is good, too, but I just discovered that one yesterday.
Others have said it much better than I will, but basically, Death Magnetic is the return of the RACH.
A great track off of Viva La Vida. If my numbers are right, you can expect to see 2 more later on.
Did you know Oasis put out a new album this year? Doesn’t matter, because this remix isn’t on it. But it is a great mix of a worthy song, and The Chemical Brothers can do no wrong.
Na na na na na na na… Pink is still around and still pseudo-angry in a fun way. I approve.
Hey, it’s Mrs. Wentz! Bittersweet World is a surprisingly good album, and this is the best track from it.
R.E.M.’s latest album, Accelerate, is easily their best album in many years. This track rocks the house.
Tegan and Sara are terrific! The Con was my #1 album of 2007, and the T&S picture from that era will probably be my avatar until the end of time. This track, however, is from a pretty good EP, called I’ll Take The Blame, that came out more recently. I can’t wait for the next full-length effort from one of my favorite bands of all time. ALL TIME.
I’ll say more about Consolers of the Lonely later, but this is the first of many great songs from it.
From her new album Safe Trip Home, a great track from Dido… but which one beats it?!
I love call and response songs, I really do. Add the genius sample for the backing beat and we have a winner. By the way, the Paper Trail album art is the best of the year, if I do say so myself.
The first time I heard this song, it was on the radio while I was in a parking garage, so it was intermittent with static. It was at the bridge near the end where the dude says, “I can hand out a million vaccinations…” and I swear I thought it was a Weird Al song. Sounded just like him. I later figured out that the song isn’t very funny at all!
Kanye on auto-tune. I’ll say this, at least he’s always innovating in some way or another.
First of many appearances from Down to Earth, the great great great great new album from Jem.
Apple commercial count: 4… but The Ting Tings have come a long way from that ad. We Started Nothing is a fantastic album. Let me say as well, “That’s Not My Name” is also an incredibly great and hypnotic track that keeps building up and never quits. Until it quits, of course. I just got addicted to that one a few days ago. Both songs are amazing!
Well, here we are. At the beginning of the year, I heard “See You Again” for the first time while I was driving to campus. When the song went off, the DJ was like, “that was Miley Cyrus”… no way. No freakin’ way, man. That’s bananas. Long story short, it took some time to accept it, but I will never be ashamed. It’s one of the best pop songs of the year.
Well, here we are… again. It was a tough call selecting which Katy Perry song to put here. “I Kissed A Girl” dominated the summer, but I went with “Hot N Cold” here because my friends and I heard it every weekend, everywhere. Eventually, we embraced it full on. Once you turn off your brain and come to terms with the fact that the lyrics are the simplest thing you’ve ever heard, and you think that’s OK, it’s pretty damn enjoyable. Katy Perry got the best of us this year.
If it weren’t for Stereogum, I’d have no idea the singer of “My Sister” fame in the ’90s even had a new album at all… but it’s one of the best of the year, and this track starts it off in an amazing way.
Apple commercial count: 5. This is from the newest iPhone ad. It’s also the best one, hands down!
The second showing from Sara, as well as the last, is the song that basically launched her.
I discovered this song out of nowhere thanks to a post on Pitchfork earlier this year. It’s an out of control, nearly 7 minute medley of madness and it’s fantastic.
These guys are still going strong after all these years. “Hammerhead” lit up an otherwise fairly bland modern rock radio slate this year, and the rest of their new album is pretty good, too.
I’d say this is the best track from the album of the same name. Acid Tongue is a strong showing from Jenny Lewis, but she’s without my sisters (The Watson Twins) this time. Don’t worry, though, they’ll be showing up later.
Lights came out of nowhere when this song propelled its way into an Old Navy commercial. Her self-titled EP is some of the best pop music I’ve heard this year, and you bet you’ll see more of her to come.
Such a random collaboration and cover but I thought it was great. Can’t go wrong with this.
Are we human, or are we dancer? Contemplate that for a while. Day & Age is pretty good.
Last year, NIN took my #3 album slot with Year Zero, and this year, Trent has charted again with the best song off of The Slip, according to me anyway. But it is my list and all.
Ladytron is a damn great band, and it’s good to see a bunch of other folks realize that this year.
The years go by and Beck just keeps cranking out the good stuff; this one from Modern Guilt.
The first from Chinese Democracy… “I.R.S.” is one of those songs that it feels like has been around forever, thanks in large part to the demos that leaked a long time ago. It’s great to have the real deal.
One of the best newly-discovered bands of the year right here. I know other folks have explained it all better than me, but there’s just something about this band that’s pretty damn awesome.
Another from Down to Earth… Jem tackles hypocrisy in this acceptance-for-all anthem.
Third is really mindblowing. It’s nothing like Portishead’s past work or really anything else that’s out right now. It’s just its own little entity and an experience all its own. This is the best track from it.
More from Volume One… this one is one of the more adorable tracks. Sounds very, very retro.
TV on the Radio returned this year with Dear Science, a great album with this great track.
Anywhere I Lay My Head has gotten such mixed reviews since its release, and nobody seems to agree on whether it’s any good or not. Put me in the column of people that “get it,” I guess. Scarlett’s voice takes some getting used to, but then she just draws you in. The title track is pretty hypnotic and is the best.
I think this is my second most played song from Made of Bricks, and I don’t care that the album came out in 2007, because I didn’t get it until January anyway. So there.
Doubters and naysayers of Gnarls, please exit stage left. This song and video were great.
There’s something simply adorable about Taylor Swift, and her story is a great example of the new era of music, too, coming from nowhere thanks to the Internet. This song, from her previous self-titled album, was a track that I couldn’t put down for months. Much love for the Swift.
Top Ranking is an incredible mix of Santogold’s songs with a chaotic world of other stuff, but this particular song from it (a cover of “Guns of Brixton”) stands out ahead of the rest.
Old habits die hard. Yet another fantastic, low-key track from Volume One. Even more to come.
CSS makes my list in some way or another for the 3rd year in a row. All in all, Donkey is a bit more controlled than their previous self-titled effort, but it’s still pretty damn good.
I don’t need no reason, or a changing season. One of the best tracks from This Gift right here.
The best of us can find happiness in mi-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-sery. Talk about an infectious song. Say what you want about FOB, but they know how to crank out the hits.
I think this leaked back in October, which seems crazy early, but early enough I guess to propel it up to #45 on my year-end for 2008. What a song! The Franz has still got it.
An incredible emotional rollercoaster of a song. Jem made this one about suffering loss after 9/11 and it really hits hard. The end of the song features Jem reading the text from the poem, “Do not stand at my grave and weep,” and it’s really just kind of devastating in a way. But the song is a work of artistic genius and well worthy of a spot on this list.
The opening track from Fire Songs gets the album off the ground right. More from my sisters to come.
The Hold Steady are a group of geniuses. Their new album, Stay Positive, is good front to back, but this particular track stands out because of the in-freakin’-SANE solo that comes out of nowhere.
Probably the best track off of the great Arm’s Way. It packs the power and doesn’t stop. And how can you go wrong with the lyric, “track Sasquatches through the snowy climbs of Canada”?!
An epic song if there ever was one, what with its 4 minute lead-in and 8 minute total length. It’s also the track that I kept playing the most from DCFC’s great new album, Narrow Stairs.
I’m alone on a bicycle for two. This is the 2nd best song from She & Him… one more to come!
Here we are again… another few years gone by, another lackluster Weezer album. Maybe their albums are actually pretty decent but everybody is so jaded by now that it doesn’t matter. Who knows. Looking past that, though, and focusing on the single “Pork and Beans,” things are much better. This right here was one of the most addictive songs and most inventive videos of the year. Let’s face it, the hug between Rivers and Chris Crocker is enough to make anyone happy.
The second best track from my sisters’ great Fire Songs is one of the (relatively) more upbeat ones.
Clever title there, Jack. I chilled out to this track from Sleep Through the Static for months.
Good single here from Coldplay, but one from the album beats it. You’ll see that one in the next block!
Axl Rose finally did it. I thought we’d never see the day Chinese Democracy was released, but we did, and this title track set it off in a huge way. Plus, everybody got a free Dr. Pepper, and you can’t go wrong there.
In a smart move, anybody could download this track for free as a preview of Dido’s new album, Safe Trip Home. So, needless to say, I did, and I couldn’t stop playing it for weeks. Great job!
That’s right, Moby is still around, and the music he made this year for Last Night is as good as ever. My favorite track from it is this one, which lit up the dance charts this year and is a party in a box.
Next up in the unintentional “people who have been around a while and still making great music” conga line, it’s Aimee Mann! Her new album, @#%&*! Smilers, might just be one of the best ones she’s ever done. I love it. This track from it leaked first, and as such, I played it to death and remembered it the most.
R.E.M. came back huge this year with Accelerate, their best album in many years. It just plain rocks, which is something you couldn’t really say for R.E.M. recently. Until now, that is. This single took my spring by storm. Super serial.
I’m just a little bit caught in the middle… Let me tell you, this is easily one of the most adorable songs of the year, and y’all better not hate. I don’t care what’s going on; listen to this and you’re happy. I saw her perform this on Conan, and there’s no way you couldn’t love it. You would just be a cold person if you didn’t enjoy it. Great job, Lenka!
This song is indeed Pretty. Odd., but it’s damn great. Who knows what the hell they’re talking about in it. Doesn’t matter anyway! I always assume lyrics are some kind of drug reference if they don’t make any sense.
This took a few weeks to grow on me, but once it did, it completely took over. It’s really a beautiful, simple, and powerful song. Leona did good with this one. It was one of my main anthems of the spring and summer.
More from the incredible Raconteurs. The horns in this song are insane(ly great). One more to come!
Whenever I listen to this song, I think it makes me ever so slightly more gay than I already am. I don’t mean that in a bad way! You can’t deny it though; “Blind” is as gay as it gets. It’s also one of the best songs of the year, and Hercules and Love Affair is an incredible project and album. DFA Records gets it right every time.
Annie takes on the Stacey Q classic in this awesome cover. I probably listened to it dozens of times. It wasn’t part of her new album, Don’t Stop, but let me just say anyway, the entire album is a fantastic, non-stop party. Annie always brings it.
Songs made to tack onto hits compilations normally aren’t this good. This here is a standout track from the modern-day legend herself. I played it over and over throughout the fall. Here’s hoping Christina sticks around for a long time.
There are actually two versions of this song. First, there’s the original from Santogold, and second, there’s the Diplo mix featuring Amanda Blank on Top Ranking. Needless to say, both are incredible. More from Santogold to come!
You might not have expected Lights to be on here again after “February Air,” her most popular song by far, showed up earlier in the list… but her self-titled EP has some even better tracks, like this one. “Ice” has the craziest bridge lead-up to the final chorus I think I’ve ever heard. It’s addictive as all get out. There’s one more song from Lights left.
It’s Not Me, It’s You won’t be out until next year, but this track made its way to Stereogum a few months ago. You really can’t do much better than this. I mean, first you take Lily Allen, who was obviously fantastic anyway, and then you add one of the most hypnotic electronic beats on the market today? That’s a winner. “The Fear” is great, too, but it’s so new I haven’t even heard it in HQ yet. Alright, Still was my #1 album of 2006, and if “Everyone’s At It” is any indication, It’s Not Me, It’s You will be one of the best albums of 2009.
There we go, that’s what I’m talkin’ about. After teasing you all with some other songs off of Viva La Vida…, here’s the big one. “Violet Hill” was another one of those genius free downloads, like the Dido song I mentioned in the last block. The beat is hot, the song cycles through some nice ups and downs, and the lyrics are thought provoking in places. Trifecta!
Strange that one of the best songs from the new UK singing sensation didn’t make its way onto 19, her debut album. “Painting Pictures” was a B-side on her “Make You Feel My Love” single. It came to me at the very beginning of the year, and it set the stage for what would be one of the best new artists of the year. As indicative by the lack of picture here, you can expect more Adele in my top 10.
What a collaboration! This song popped up out of nowhere onto my local adult contemporary radio station, of all things. Upon first listen, I thought, no way this could actually be the joined forces of Ben Folds and Regina Spektor, but it sure was. It’s the best track on Ben Folds’ new album, Way To Normal, and it’s one of the best songs of the year. The best part is easily the way Regina Spektor whispers, you don’t know me—at allllll.
The surprise of the year? Maybe. Who would’ve thought Juliana Hatfield (who had one of her biggest hits with “My Sister” way back in 1993) would come back from left field to make one of the best albums of 2008? The best song from it right here, “This Lonely Love,” starts out with one of the best piano intros I’ve ever heard and stays strong throughout. Check out her entire new album, How To Walk Away. It’s well worth it.
I ran across “Foundations” in December 2007, so it actually made its way onto my 2007 list as one of the miscellaneous singles. Whatever! I listened to it enough this year to justify a rare repeat appearance. This is an amazingly, sometimes hilariously, blunt song that just gets right to the point. That’s what I love about Kate Nash in general. Early this year, I got her whole album, Made of Bricks, and I found the theme continued throughout. She’s a breath of fresh air in the music scene and I hope we hear more from her in years to come.
Probably one of the best story-based songs I’ve ever heard. “Carolina Drama” is an epic 6-minute tale of betrayal as told by the infallible Jack White. There are no traditional verses and choruses; instead, the story lasts straight through from beginning to end. As the final track on Consolers of the Lonely, it’s an unbeatable curtain call to one of the best albums of the year. If you must know the truth about the tale, go and ask the milkman.
Here’s the highest secondary appearance by any artist on my list this year (which means it’s the last one you’ll see without a picture). Only fitting, I suppose, that it’s from Santogold, one of the best new artists of the year. “Lights Out” is the kind of song that gets you hooked from the very first listen and never lets up. No surprise you’ll see one more by Santogold coming up in my top 10.
Hailing from Neptune City, New Jersey, which is also the name of her newest album, Nicole Atkins is a musical wonder to behold. The songs she made for Neptune City are kind of mysterious and aquatic (as also illustrated in the art above); the sound and presentation is something very unique. I discovered “The Way It Is” when she performed it on Conan at the very beginning of the year, and throughout the rest of the year, it became one of my most played songs. The way she draws out the final lyric of the chorus will have you hooked… I suppose that’s just the way it is.
Bum bum be-dum bum bum be-dum-bum. Holy crap is this a great song or what? I remember the first time I heard it, I was hooked. Rihanna did it again. No way! When will she stop cranking out the hits? But that wasn’t the end of the story. The music video changed everything. I saw some teaser caps of the video before the full thing was released, and it blew my mind. I saw scenes so dark and inventive that I swear I thought I’d never see in 2008. I mean, music videos are expected to be uninteresting these days, but “Disturbia” sure proved me wrong. I was excited as anyone to see it for myself in all its high definition glory, and when I did, I was blown away. “Disturbia” was the music video worth watching in 2008, and it was the best unabashed straight-up great pop song out there. Put it all together and it’s a winning combination.
Ironic that the best song off of Cat Power’s Jukebox, an album of covers, isn’t really a cover at all; it’s just a new version of one of her own old songs. “Metal Heart” originally appeared on her 1998 album, Moon Pix, and it was a decent song back then, but holy crap, this new version blows it out of the water. It has been completely reimagined from top to bottom and it’s one of the most aurally interesting tracks I’ve ever heard from Cat Power. As a whole, Jukebox may be a bit lackluster compared to some of her other works, but this song singlehandedly saves it and makes it all worth it. Here’s hoping Cat Power taps some of the inspiration behind this one in the future. “Metal Heart” is my #10 song of 2008.
I love my sisters, I really do. The Watson Twins first entered the scene by teaming up with Jenny Lewis for Rabbit Fur Coat back in 2006. Now, they’ve released their own solo album (or duo album, I guess), Fire Songs. It’s a highly enjoyable, charming, and relaxing album from beginning to end. The standout track in my opinion is “Just Like Heaven,” a cover of the classic song by The Cure. They take the song and completely reinterpret it, adding an unparalleled level of sincerity and depth to it. You make me proud to be a Watson, sisters! “Just Like Heaven” is my #9 song of 2008.
Lights made a name for herself by crafting great music using all her own skill and talent in her own home, using the power of the Internet to get discovered and enter the mainstream. That’s what it’s all about, folks. Nobody put her here. She did this all herself. Her self-titled EP is surprisingly polished; you can tell every detail was thought out with great care. “White” is the best song of them all, in my opinion, due to its overwhelming charm and the namesake lyric, Do you see lights, turn your shadows white? This girl is pure grace and talent, making “White” my #8 song of 2008.
From the pipe-banging introduction to the powerful verses to the out-of-this-world chorus, “Gilt Complex” is a wonder to behold. I’ve known of Sons and Daughters for some time (“Dance Me In” was a great song of 2006) but their new album, This Gift, propelled them to a new level. It’s rare that I’m so consistently happy with an album, but this one did it (great companion songs like “Iodine” are reasons for that). Being the type of listener I am, I tend to gravitate toward the first single or first track when choosing the best one, because it’s always the one I remember the most. This case is absolutely no different. “Gilt Complex” gets This Gift off to a roaring start and is my #7 song of 2008.
The very beginning of the year brought my first exposure to Adele, through the great “Painting Pictures” that I featured earlier in my list. I knew she would be an artist to watch in 2008. When I heard “Chasing Pavements,” it was over, son; her spot in the top 10 might as well have been secured right away. This rollercoaster of a song ends up packing a punch so powerful in the final chorus, there’s no way you can forget it. It’s just breathtaking. I’m glad Adele has seen the success she so greatly deserved. “Chasing Pavements” is easily my #6 song of 2008.
It was four years ago that I found myself addicted to Jem’s debut album, Finally Woken. I really liked what I heard, and I got the impromptu opportunity to meet her one day that year while stopping by the studios of a local radio station after she made an appearance there. By the time I arrived, she was already out in the parking lot. She could have just walked away, but she knew I came to see her, so she stuck around for about 10-15 minutes to talk, and she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That sealed the deal, folks. Jem would be on my good list forever. Her music was great and so was she. This year, upon hearing her new album, Down To Earth, I was immediately impressed at the wide range of topics and styles she covered, all with the same kind of direct honesty and sincerity I experienced when talking to her face-to-face. Jem is mature and introspective (“You Will Make It”), she is fun and frivolous (“Aciiid!”), and she ties it all together with dignity and grace. Jem is simply a great person who makes great music; that’s all you need to know. Among the many outstanding songs on her new album, the title track is best at summing it all up. “Down To Earth” is my #5 song of 2008.
Girl Talk, otherwise known by his real name, Gregg Gillis, is a genius. He has mixed together some of the best songs from the ’80s and ’90s with modern-day pop and hip-hop hits in a way that’s all at once groundbreaking, hilarious, innovative, and addictive. This massive remix goes on for almost 54 minutes. “But, TC,” you say, “Feed The Animals is almost an hour long? That doesn’t sound like an individual song to me.” So what! It’s impossible to break this thing down into segments. You have to listen to the whole thing as once. It’s really one super long song. It’s wrapped on both ends with a few lines from “International Players Anthem,” which is really just perfect. The next-to-final segment of the remix features “Faithfully” by Journey interlaced with “Pop, Lock & Drop It,” of all things; it somehow makes you feel like you’ve been through not just a song, not just an album, but an experience, which makes “Feed The Animals” my #4 song of 2008.
It’s the song with the longest shelf life I’ve probably ever seen. Originally appearing as the final track on M.I.A.’s Kala last year, it was fantastic enough then. But it got an unexpected second go-around when it showed up as the brilliant music behind the trailer for Pineapple Express (which, by the way, was the best movie of the year). Suddenly, “Paper Planes” was everywhere. There were like a dozen remixes. Elements of the song were mashed up, in, and out of just about everything you could dream of. Every club played it every week, without fail. People around the world had the chorus endlessly stuck in their head, all I wanna do is [BANG BANG BANG BANG] and [KA-CHING!] and take your money. The obscure became the ubiquitous. My friends knew what I was talking about when I sang, M.I.A., third world democracy, yeah I got more records than the KGB, so uh, no funny business? It was just damn great; you get the point. “Paper Planes” was the most infectious and resilient song of the year, hands down, and it’s my #3 song of 2008.
This just in, the award for most adorable person goes to Zooey Deschanel. You know, the whole actress turned singer thing hardly ever works. Sometimes it’s just awful; sometimes it’s decent. But it’s extremely rare for it to click perfectly as if it was her calling all along. Well guess what, Zooey passed that test with flying, beautiful colors. Teaming up with M. Ward to create She & Him and release Volume One was just a brilliant move. Some of their songs are unbelievably retro; you could believe they were recorded 50+ years ago. Others are just insanely happy, like “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”, my pick for the best and most memorable of the bunch. This was one of those cases where I listened to the song once and I knew it was a contender for song of the year. In the song, Zooey sounds so damn cute it should be illegal. It’s just overflowing with and exuding happiness in a way that, remarkably, never manages to become even the slightest hint of annoying. You listen to this song, you smile. That’s it. Done. “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” is my #2 song of 2008.
Here it is. The best song from the breakthrough artist of the year. Santogold changed the game. Not content with just one style, the songs on her self-titled album span this giant continuum that’s simply unheard of by most artists, and she does it all brilliantly and flawlessly. Sometimes she reminds you of M.I.A., sometimes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, sometimes of Tegan and Sara, sometimes of a band or artist you can’t really place, and sometimes she’s just so innovative and different that you don’t know what the hell else it sounds like, if anything that ever came before. In the case of “L.E.S. Artistes,” it’s safe to say Santogold got it exactly right. It’s as if she was out specifically to make a song that I would love in all respects. The sound is there, the message is there, the style is there, the instruments are there, the repetition is there, the beat is there, the inflection is there, the attitude is there. Does it get any better than that? Nope. That’s what it all comes down to. Make no mistake about it, “L.E.S. Artistes” is, in every possible way, my #1 song of 2008.
120. Jack White f/ Alicia Keys – “Another Way To Die”
119. An Horse – “Warm Hands”
118. Disturbed – “Inside The Fire”
117. The B-52’s – “Funplex”
116. Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”
115. Yael Naïm – “New Soul”
114. Madonna f/ Justin Timberlake – “4 Minutes”
113. Britney Spears – “Circus”
112. Marie Digby – “Say It Again”
111. Franz Ferdinand – “Ulysses”
110. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour – “Around The Bend”
109. The Cure – “Sleep When I’m Dead”
108. Natasha Bedingfield – “Pocketful of Sunshine”
107. Ron Sexsmith – “Brandy Alexander”
106. Chairlift – “Bruises”
105. Kate Nash – “Mariella”
104. Miley Cyrus – “Fly On The Wall”
103. Madonna – “Give It 2 Me”
102. Huey Lewis & The News – “Pineapple Express”
101. Gnarls Barkley – “Blind Mary”
100. She & Him – “This Is Not A Test”
99. Sara Bareilles – “Many The Miles”
98. Meiko – “Boys With Girlfriends”
97. Muse f/ The Streets – “Who Knows Who?”
96. Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”
95. Kings of Leon – “Sex On Fire”
94. Annie – “My Love Is Better”
93. Headlights – “Cherry Tulips”
92. Beyoncé – “If I Were A Boy”
91. Sons and Daughters – “Darling”
90. Taylor Swift – “Love Story”
89. Paramore – “Decode”
88. Metallica – “The Day That Never Comes”
87. Coldplay – “Lost!”
86. Oasis f/ The Chemical Brothers – “Falling Down”
85. Pink – “So What”
84. Ashlee Simpson – “Boys”
83. R.E.M. – “Living Well Is The Best Revenge”
82. Tegan and Sara – “One Second”
81. The Raconteurs – “Salute Your Solution”
80. Dido – “Don’t Believe In Love”
79. T.I. f/ Rihanna – “Live Your Life”
78. Flobots – “Handlebars”
77. Kanye West – “Love Lockdown”
76. Jem – “I Always Knew”
75. The Ting Tings – “Shut Up And Let Me Go”
74. Miley Cyrus – “See You Again”
73. Katy Perry – “Hot N Cold”
72. Juliana Hatfield – “The Fact Remains”
71. The Submarines – “You Me & The Bourgeoisie”
70. Sara Bareilles – “Love Song”
69. Ponytail – “Celebrate The Body Electric”
68. The Offspring – “Hammerhead”
67. Jenny Lewis – “Acid Tongue”
66. Lights – “February Air”
65. Fall Out Boy f/ John Mayer – “Beat It”
64. The Killers – “Human”
63. Nine Inch Nails – Discipline”
62. Ladytron – “Ghosts”
61. Beck – “Chemtrails”
60. Guns N’ Roses – “I.R.S.”
59. The Gaslight Anthem – “The ’59 Sound”
58. Jem – “How Would You Like It”
57. Portishead – “Machine Gun”
56. She & Him – “I Was Made For You”
55. TV On The Radio – “Golden Age”
54. Scarlett Johansson – “Anywhere I Lay My Head”
53. Kate Nash – “Mouthwash”
52. Gnarls Barkley – “Who’s Gonna Save My Soul?”
51. Taylor Swift – “Picture To Burn”
50. Santogold vs. Diplo – “Guns of Brooklyn”
49. She & Him – “Sentimental Heart”
48. Cansei de Ser Sexy – “Rat Is Dead (Rage)”
47. Sons and Daughters – “Chains”
46. Fall Out Boy – “I Don’t Care”
45. Franz Ferdinand – “Lucid Dreams”
44. Jem f/ Vusi Mahlasela – “You Will Make It”
43. The Watson Twins – “How Am I To Be”
42. The Hold Steady – “Lord, I’m Discouraged”
41. Islands – “Abominable Snow”
40. Death Cab For Cutie – “I Will Possess Your Heart”
39. She & Him – “Black Hole”
38. Weezer – “Pork and Beans”
37. The Watson Twins – “Bar Woman Blues”
36. Jack Johnson – “If I Had Eyes”
35. Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”
34. Guns N’ Roses – “Chinese Democracy”
33. Dido – “Look No Further”
32. Moby f/ Shayne Steele – “Disco Lies”
31. Aimee Mann – “31 Today”
30. R.E.M. – “Supernatural Superserious”
29. Lenka – “The Show”
28. Panic At The Disco – “Nine In The Afternoon”
27. Leona Lewis – “Bleeding Love”
26. The Raconteurs – “Many Shades of Black”
25. Hercules and Love Affair – “Blind”
24. Annie – “Two of Hearts”
23. Christina Aguilera – “Keeps Gettin’ Better”
22. Santogold – “I’m A Lady”
21. Lights – “Ice”
20. Lily Allen – “Everyone’s At It”
19. Coldplay – “Violet Hill”
18. Adele – “Painting Pictures”
17. Ben Folds f/ Regina Spektor – “You Don’t Know Me”
16. Juliana Hatfield f/ Richard Butler – “This Lonely Love”
15. Kate Nash – “Foundations”
14. The Raconteurs – “Carolina Drama”
13. Santogold – “Lights Out”
12. Nicole Atkins – “The Way It Is”
11. Rihanna – “Disturbia”
10. Cat Power – “Metal Heart”
9. The Watson Twins – “Just Like Heaven”
8. Lights – “White”
7. Sons and Daughters – “Gilt Complex”
6. Adele – “Chasing Pavements”
5. Jem – “Down To Earth”
4. Girl Talk – “Feed The Animals”
3. M.I.A. – “Paper Planes”
2. She & Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
1. Santogold – “L.E.S. Artistes”
The songs are done! Now, let me just say about Best of 2008, what an amazing effort. This year, it was bigger than ever, which I thought would never be possible after the last two years, but you guys surpassed all expectations. This is a great community, no matter what anybody says. I always have a wonderful time participating in this year-end event, which is now six years strong! Thank you all for coming along for the ride. I wish you all the best in 2009 and beyond.
Hey, where are you going? I’m not done yet! That’s right, it’s the summer of 2009 and I’m back to count down my top 40 albums of 2008. I never got around to it back in December, as I thought just a list of songs would suffice. I since changed my mind, obviously. Let’s add this definitive list of albums to the history books. Let’s get to it!
Why I chose Anywhere I Lay My Head
Let’s start with a controversial one! Scarlett Johansson’s collection of Tom Waits covers has gotten such mixed reviews since its release. However, put me in the column of people that "get it." Scarlett’s voice takes some getting used to, but then she just draws you in. The title track is pretty hypnotic and I’d say is the best.
Highlights from Anywhere I Lay My Head
• "Falling Down" — We all look smaller down here on the ground, when you’re falling down
• "Anywhere I Lay My Head" — Anywhere, anywhere I’m gonna lay my head, I’m gonna call my home
• "I Don’t Wanna Grow Up" — How the hell did we get here so soon, I don’t wanna grow up
Why I chose Waves & The Both Of Us
I wasn’t sure what to make of this album at first. I didn’t even know if Charlotte Sometimes was a band or a solo artist or what. Plus, the album is very pop, but she appeared on the Warped Tour. Then again, so did Katy Perry. Anyway, turns out she’s a solo artist with a backing band. I guess the genre doesn’t matter; it’s just quality, infectious music.
Highlights from Waves & The Both Of Us
• "How I Could Just Kill A Man" — You can’t understand how I could just kill a man
• "A.E.I.O.U." — You say, "I see myself in you," but you ain’t hittin’ nothin’ with your woe
• "Sweet Valium High" — Don’t want you to drug me up, your torture was meant to be love
Why I chose The Slip
Last year, Nine Inch Nails took my #3 album slot with Year Zero, and this year, Trent has charted again with his newest effort, The Slip, which was an Internet-only effort, minus a limited edition CD of some sort. This album just isn’t nearly as exciting as Year Zero was, but what can you do? It’s still pretty solid overall.
Highlights from The Slip
• "1,000,000" — I feel a million miles away, I don’t feel any thing at all
• "Discipline" — I need your discipline, because once I start I cannot stop myself
• "Echoplex" — My voice just echoes off these walls, I don’t need anything at all
Why I chose Modern Guilt
The years go by and Beck just keeps cranking out the good stuff. The first track to come out from this album, "Chemtrails," was easily the one I played the most, but there are some other great ones, like "Orphans," a collaboration with Cat Power. I’m still waiting for another Guero, though. I want more completely bonkers Beck.
Highlights from Modern Guilt
• "Orphans" — The rain it comes and floods our lungs, we’re just orphans in a tidal wave’s wake
• "Gamma Ray" — Come on little gamma ray, standing in a hurricane
• "Chemtrails" — So many people, where do they go? You and me watching a sky full of chemtrails
Why I chose Jukebox
Ironic that the best song off of Cat Power’s Jukebox, an album of covers, isn’t really a cover at all; it’s just a new version of one of her own old songs. "Metal Heart" originally appeared on her 1998 album, Moon Pix, and it was a decent song back then, but it has been completely reimagined on this album, and it’s one of the most aurally interesting tracks I’ve ever heard from Cat Power. As a whole, Jukebox may be a bit lackluster compared to some of her other works, but here’s hoping Cat Power taps some of the inspiration behind "Metal Heart" in the future.
Highlights from Jukebox
• "Ramblin’ Woman" — Some folks might say that I’m no good, I wouldn’t settle down if I only could
• "Metal Heart" — Metal heart, you’re not hiding, metal heart, you’re not worth a thing
• "I Believe In You" — When the night is disappearing, this feeling will still be here in my heart
Why I chose Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
David Byrne of Talking Heads is probably one of the best people ever to live, so pair him up with Brian Eno, just like it’s 1981 all over again, and you’ve got a winner for sure. The instrumentation is impressive and the vocals are masterful. Not to mention, the album cover is simply fabulous. Just a house. SimCity style house. Can’t beat that!
Highlights from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
• "I Feel My Stuff" — I’m sayin’ I feel my stuff, I get enough, I come back to be stronger
• "Everything That Happens" — …will happen today, and nothing has changed, but nothing’s the same
• "Life Is Long" — Life is long if you give it way, so stay, don’t go, ’cause I’m fading away
Why I chose Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace
These guys are still going strong after all these years. I didn’t get super excited about this album the way I did with Splinter back in 2003, but times have changed. "Hammerhead" lit up an otherwise bland modern rock radio slate this year, and the rest of the album is pretty good, too. It’s a solid album in a long line of Offspring material.
Highlights from Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
• "You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid" — With a thousand lies and a good disguise, hit ’em right between the eyes
• "Hammerhead" — Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil
• "Stuff Is Messed Up" — I don’t know much, I don’t know too much, but I know this, shit is fucked up
Why I chose The Odd Couple
Doubters and naysayers of Gnarls, please exit stage left. Although they took a markedly different approach to The Odd Couple than they did with St. Elsewhere, one that is for sure not as radio-friendly or single-friendly, it doesn’t take away from the exceedingly high quality of the album. There’s some really memorable music here.
Highlights from The Odd Couple
• "Going On" — May my love lift you up to the place you belong, and I’m going on
• "Run" — Before you see what I’m running from, no time for question asking, time is passing by
• "Blind Mary" — She’s my friend, she doesn’t judge me, she has no idea I’m ugly
Why I chose Way To Normal
I discovered this album when "You Don’t Know Me" popped up out of nowhere onto my local adult contemporary radio station, of all things. Upon first listen, I thought, no way this could actually be the joined forces of Ben Folds and Regina Spektor, but it sure was. What a collaboration! The rest of the album is pretty nice, too.
Highlights from Way To Normal
• "You Don’t Know Me" — So why the fuck would you want me back? Maybe it’s because you don’t know me at all
• "Bitch Went Nuts" — Now they want more, they’re at my door with torches, scores and scores
• "Kylie From Connecticut" — Kylie is calling from Connecticut, it’s there, on her mind as she closes her eyes
Why I chose Funhouse
Na-na na-na na-na na, na-na na-na na-na… Pink is still around and still pseudo-angry in a fun way, and I approve. Perhaps more impressive than anything else is how Pink managed to score ridiculous success with the singles from this album to a degree she hasn’t done since 2001. It couldn’t have come at a better time; this album deserves it.
Highlights from Funhouse
• "So What" — I am a rock star, I got my rock moves, and I don’t want you tonight
• "Sober" — I’m coming down, spinning ’round, looking for myself, sober
• "Funhouse" — It’s time to start the countdown, I’m gonna burn it down, down, down
Why I chose Velocifero
Ladytron is a damn great band, and it’s good to see a bunch of other folks realize that this year. I’ve been onboard the bus for quite some time. Although there’s nothing here that matches the epic "Destroy Everything You Touch" from a few years ago, there are plenty of worthy tracks that will keep you coming back to listen to them again.
Highlights from Velocifero
• "Ghosts" — There’s a ghost in me who wants to say I’m sorry, doesn’t mean I’m sorry
• "Burning Up" — I set myself on fire without you, without you, I wrote a protest song about you
• "Versus" — There’s a fire starting here vs. there’s nothing to fear vs. lonely vs. safe
Why I chose Safe Trip Home
I was happy to hear that Dido would be back with new music this year. In a smart move, anybody could download "Look No Further" for free as a preview of this new album. So, needless to say, I did, and I couldn’t stop playing it for weeks. The cover art is ridiculously boring, but the actual album is soothing, pleasant, and charming.
Highlights from Safe Trip Home
• "Don’t Believe In Love" — When I don’t believe in love, nothing is new for me, nothing is real for me
• "It Comes And It Goes" — Some days I want love, some days I don’t… suddenly it’s gone
• "Look No Further" — I will look no further for happiness… ’cause my heart has found its home
Why I chose Donkey
CSS makes my list in some way or another for the 3rd year in a row. All in all, Donkey is a bit more controlled and not quite as bonkers as their previous self-titled effort, but it’s still pretty damn good. They maintain their strong electronic sound and addictive musical presence throughout many tracks on this album.
Highlights from Donkey
• "Rat Is Dead (Rage)" — I know, I know, I know, I know, he will never hurt you again
• "Left Behind" — I won’t be able to forget this, ’cause this is very deep inside, what I left behind
• "How I Became Paranoid" — I’m nervous breaking, and who’s got the nerves to let loose?
Why I chose Lenka
Let me tell you straight up, this is easily one of the most charming and adorable albums of the year. I don’t care what’s going on, just listen to this and you’ll be happy. I saw Lenka perform "The Show" on Conan, and there’s no way you couldn’t love it. You would just be a cold person if you didn’t enjoy it. Great job, Lenka!
Highlights from Lenka
• "The Show" — I’m just a little bit caught in the middle, life is a maze and love is a riddle
• "Bring Me Down" — Let’s face the fact, I won’t let this burden bring me down
• "Trouble Is A Friend" — He’s gotta play a part; trouble is a friend, oh trouble is a friend of mine
Why I chose Neptune City
Hailing from Neptune City, New Jersey, which is also the name of her newest album, Nicole Atkins is a musical wonder to behold. The sound and presentation is something very unique. She was another discovery I made via Conan when she performed "The Way It Is" at the beginning of the year. The way she draws out the final line will have you hooked.
Highlights from Neptune City
• "The Way It Is" — He’s the only one I’ve ever wanted; I suppose that’s just the way it is
• "Love Surreal" — Love surreal, love surreal, it’s the only way that we’re allowed to feel
• "Kill The Headlights" — So just don’t try, don’t pull over, just kill the headlights
Why I chose Chinese Democracy
Axl Rose finally did it. I thought we’d never see the day Chinese Democracy was released. The title track got the album off to a great start. As for the other songs, some of them had demos that leaked many years ago, so it’s great to have the real deal after all this time. Plus, everybody got a free Dr. Pepper, and you can’t go wrong there.
Highlights from Chinese Democracy
• "Chinese Democracy" — More than you got to rule the nation, but all I got is precious time
• "Better" — No one ever told me when I was alone, they just thought I’d know better
• "If The World" — You know there’s nothing more to say, if the world would end and our love slip away
• "I.R.S." — Gonna call the president, gonna call a private eye, gonna get the I.R.S., gonna need the FBI
• "Madagascar" — Oh no, I won’t be told anymore… that I can’t find my way back, my way anymore
Why I chose Acid Tongue
Consistently good from beginning to end, Acid Tongue is a strong showing from Jenny Lewis, even though she’s without my sisters (The Watson Twins) this time. Don’t worry; they’ll be showing up later. The best tracks include the title track as well as "Carpetbaggers," which features Elvis Costello, so needless to say it’s excellent.
Highlights from Acid Tongue
• "Acid Tongue" — We built ourselves a fire, but you know I am a liar, you know I am a liar
• "See Fernando" — If you want to go where they chain up the sun, see Fernando, see Fernando
• "Carpetbaggers" — I’m a carpetbagger, baby; I’m going to treat you kind, rob you blind
Why I chose Made Of Bricks
I ran across "Foundations" at the end of 2007, and I was instantly a fan. It’s an amazingly, sometimes hilariously, blunt song that just gets right to the point. That’s what I love about Kate Nash in general. The theme continues throughout all of Made Of Bricks. She’s a breath of fresh air in the music scene and I hope we hear more from her in years to come.
Highlights from Made Of Bricks
• "Foundations" — Every time that you’re upset and I smile, I know I should forget but I can’t
• "Mouthwash" — I use mouthwash, sometimes I floss, I’ve got a family and I drink cups of tea
• "Mariella" — She said, I’m never ever ever ever ever ever gonna unglue my lips from being together
Why I chose Little Voice
Sara Bareilles was launched via the art of advertising, with "Love Song" popping up all over those Rhapsody ads. It was so infectious that it stayed on the radio the entire year and in our heads for at least as long, too. As it turns out, the rest of her album is also great, and isn’t that album cover one of the best you’ve seen? I say it is.
Highlights from Little Voice
• "Love Song" — I won’t write you a love song ’cause you ask for it, ’cause you need one
• "Many The Miles" — How far do I have to go to get to you? Many the miles…
• "Fairytale" — You’re worried about the maiden though you know she’s only waiting on the next best thing
Why I chose Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
There we go, this is what I’m talkin’ about. You can’t deny Coldplay is one of the biggest bands out there, and they’ve proven their mastership again. The first single, "Violet Hill," was one of those genius free downloads, like the Dido song I mentioned earlier. The beat is hot, there’s a nice up-and-down flow, and the lyrics are thought-provoking. Trifecta!
Highlights from Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
• "Lost!" — Just because I’m losing, doesn’t mean I’m lost, doesn’t mean I’ll stop
• "Viva La Vida" — I used to rule the world, seas would rise when I gave the word
• "Violet Hill" — All that time she was silent still, said if you love me, won’t you let me know?
Why I chose Bittersweet World
You might be surprised to find this here, but Bittersweet World is a surprisingly good album, so its entry on the list is fitting. This album is two things at once. There are many fun and silly songs, but there’s also a handful of introspective and sophisticated material. The latter is where this album hits its stride. There’s a lot here that really drew me in.
Highlights from Bittersweet World
• "No Time For Tears" — A million miles I have gone, signs that say to give it up, tear me down or lift me up
• "Bittersweet World" — Everybody reaping what they sow in this bittersweet world
• "What I’ve Become" — It’s what I’ve become, let me live as who I am, you don’t let me breathe as who I am
• "Never Dream Alone" — I won’t hurt you, nights will come and go… you’ll never dream alone
Why I chose Accelerate
R.E.M. came back huge this year with Accelerate, their best album in many, many years. It just plain rocks, which is something you couldn’t really say for R.E.M. recently. Until now, that is. The first single, "Supernatural Superserious," took my spring by storm. Super serial. I’ll quit now with the alliteration before I start lisping.
Highlights from Accelerate
• "Living Well Is The Best Revenge" — Now I’m not one to sit and spin, ’cause living well is the best revenge
• "Supernatural Superserious" — Zen experience, sweet, delirious, supernatural superserious
• "I’m Gonna DJ" — Death is pretty final, I’m collecting vinyl, I’m gonna DJ at the end of the world!
Why I chose We Started Nothing
We met them in an Apple commercial, but The Ting Tings have come a long way from that ad. We Started Nothing is a fantastic album. The best track on here, "That’s Not My Name," is an incredibly great and hypnotic song that keeps building up and never quits. Until it quits, of course. I got addicted to that one at the very end of the year.
Highlights from We Started Nothing
• "Great DJ" — Nothing but the girls, and the boys, and the strings, and the drums, the drums
• "That’s Not My Name" — They call me hell, they call me Stacey, they call me her, they call me Jane
• "Fruit Machine" — Where’s the money? Can’t hear that clinking sound, ka-ching, ka-ching
• "Shut Up And Let Me Go" — I ain’t freakin’, I ain’t fakin’ this, shut up and let me go, hey!
Why I chose The ’59 Sound
One of the best newly-discovered bands of the year right here. I know other folks have explained it all better than me, but there’s just something about this band that’s pretty damn awesome. The actual sound of this album far exceeds ’59, but it still has a retro feel nonetheless. This is just a very legit band with real talent that hits you right away.
Highlights from The ’59 Sound
• "Great Expectations" — Everybody leaves, so why, why wouldn’t you?
• "The ’59 Sound" — Did you hear the ’59 sound… did you hear your favorite song one last time?
• "Here’s Looking At You, Kid" — Sometimes all you can do is just wait by the moon
Why I chose @#%&*! Smilers
Of all the people who have been around a long time and still making great music, Aimee Mann leads the way. Her newest album might just be one of the best ones she’s ever done. I love it. "31 Today" leaked first, and as such, I played it to death and remembered it the most. Beyond that, the album stays strong and never fails to impress.
Highlights from @#%&*! Smilers
• "Stranger Into Starman" — I turned stranger into starman in the Sunday New York Times
• "31 Today" — I thought my life would be different somehow, I thought my life would be better by now
• "The Great Beyond" — No one else you know, you’ve really nowhere else to go, so honey go
Why I chose How To Walk Away
The surprise of the year? Maybe. Who would’ve thought Juliana Hatfield (who had her biggest hit with "My Sister" ages ago in 1993) would come back from left field to make one of the best albums of 2008? The best song from it, "This Lonely Love," starts out with one of the best piano intros I’ve ever heard, and it never lets up. But it doesn’t stop with that track. The entire album is well worth your time; I highly recommend it.
Highlights from How To Walk Away
• "The Fact Remains" — But the fact remains, I stayed too long, I stayed too long
• "This Lonely Love" — This lonely love is all around, it’s up in the air and underground
• "Just Lust" — It’s just… lust, it doesn’t mean I love you, no
Why I chose Don’t Stop
It’s the album that never was. Although it made its way to the Internet in September, it never found an official release. That won’t stop me from including it on this list. Annie always brings it, and this album is a party from beginning to end like I’ve never seen. Annie also brilliantly covered a Stacey Q classic in a companion single that leaked later.
Highlights from Don’t Stop
• "My Love Is Better" — My moves are better, my shoes move better, and I’m be-be-be-better
• "Loco" — You’re so loco, everybody says that you’re a no-go
• "I Can’t Let Go" — There’s just nothing I can do to make you mine once again
• "Two Of Hearts" — Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one, I need you, I need you
Why I chose Fearless
There’s something simply adorable about Taylor Swift, and her story is a great example of the new era of music, too, coming from nowhere thanks to the Internet. Her first, self-titled effort has been lingering in the distance for a few years, but it finally got a wide release and I heard it earlier this year. Songs like "Picture To Burn" made me know she had great potential. But with her newest album, Fearless, she blew all of that out of the water. There isn’t a bad one in the bunch. Taylor Swift’s songs are simple, straightforward, and just plain great. Much love for the Swift.
Highlights from Fearless
• "Love Story" — Don’t be afraid, we’ll make it out of this mess, it’s a love story, just say yes
• "You Belong With Me" — I’m the one who understands you… so why can’t you see, you belong with me
• "Forever & Always" — I was there when you said forever and always, you didn’t mean it, baby
Why I chose One Of The Boys
Believe it or not, I’ve greatly enjoyed Katy Perry since her debut in the spring. "I Kissed A Girl" dominated the summer, but "Hot N Cold" was the highlight of 2008, because my friends and I heard it every weekend, everywhere. Eventually, we embraced it full on. Once you turn off your brain and come to terms with the fact that the lyrics are the simplest thing you’ve ever heard, and you think that’s OK, it’s pretty damn enjoyable. "Waking Up In Vegas" continues the trend by being simple fun that is guaranteed to put you in a good mood. I guess that’s what this is all about. It’s just enjoyable pop music; a reliable good time all around. Katy Perry got the best of us this year.
Highlights from One Of The Boys
• "Waking Up In Vegas" — Shut up and put your money where your mouth is, that’s what you get…
• "Hot N Cold" — You change your mind like a girl changes clothes, yeah you PMS like a bitch, I would know
• "Ur So Gay" — I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf while jacking off listening to Mozart
• "Thinking Of You" — I am thinking of you, what you would do if you were the one who was spending the night
• "Self Inflicted" — Don’t care if I lose, you are the weapon I choose, these wounds are self inflicted
• "Fingerprints" — It’s my life, and I’m not sitting on the sidelines watching it pass me by
Why I chose Lights
Lights made a name for herself by crafting great music using all her own skill and talent in her own home, using the power of the Internet to get discovered and enter the mainstream. That’s what it’s all about, folks. Nobody put her here. She did this all herself. Her self-titled EP is surprisingly polished; you can tell every detail, no matter how small, was thought out with great care. I can’t wait to hear more from her. This girl is pure grace and talent.
Highlights from Lights
• "Ice" — I tried to do you right, why’d you have to go and turn to ice?
• "February Air" — My arms get cold in February air, please don’t lose hold of me out there
• "White" — Do you see lights… turn your shadows white?
• "The Last Thing On Your Mind" — I’ll be the one to keep you one disaster less
Why I chose Stay Positive
The Hold Steady are a group of geniuses. Their new album, Stay Positive, is good front to back, but one particular track, "Lord, I’m Discouraged," stands out because of the in-freakin’-SANE solo that comes out of nowhere. It’s also impossible not to sing along with the end of the last track, "Slapped Actress." This is one album for the record books, and it kicks off the really big guns of the list, clocking in as my #10 album of 2008.
Highlights from Stay Positive
• "Constructive Summer" — Raise up a giant ladder, with love and trust and friends and hammers
• "Sequestered In Memphis" — Subpoenaed in Texas, sequestered in Memphis
• "Lord, I’m Discouraged" — His visits, they only take five or six minutes… SOLO!!!!!
• "Both Crosses" — You Catholic girls start much too late, baby let’s transverberate
• "Slapped Actress" — I’ll be John Cassavettes, let me know you’re ready, we make our own movies
Why I chose Rockferry
A wonderful surprise that I didn’t discover until the year had just ended, Rockferry by Duffy proved to be one of the best albums of the year in retrospect. In it, Duffy takes on ’60s style soul, pop, and rock n’ roll with a passionate, swinging, soothing voice and unparalled ingenuity. Rockferry is a true gem. I can’t get over how good it is. It has surpassed a ton of other music I listened to throughout the year to become my #9 album of 2008.
Highlights from Rockferry
• "Rockferry" — I’ll move to Rockferry tomorrow, and I’ll build my house, baby, with sorrow
• "Warwick Avenue" — I’m leaving you for the last time baby, you think you’re loving but you don’t love me
• "Hanging On Too Long" — I know it’s wrong, hanging on too long, but I beat ’em all
• "Mercy" — You got me begging you for mercy, yeah yeah yeah, why won’t you release me, yeah yeah
• "Delayed Devotion" — When I drop you boy, you’ll need another toy, one that won’t stand up for herself
• "Distant Dreamer" — I’m a dreamer, a distant dreamer, dreaming for hope from today…
Why I chose Consolers Of The Lonely
One of Jack White’s many projects, The Raconteurs, first came onto the scene a couple of years ago, and now they’ve returned with another amazing album. Its final track is probably one of the best story-based songs I’ve ever heard. "Carolina Drama" is an epic 6-minute tale of betrayal. There are no traditional verses and choruses; instead, the story lasts straight through from beginning to end. It’s an unbeatable curtain call to one of the best albums of the year. What else needs to be said? Jack White does no wrong. Consolers Of The Lonely is my #8 album of 2008.
Highlights from Consolers Of The Lonely
• "Salute Your Solution" — I got what I got all despite you, and I give what I get just to spite you
• "Hold Up" — You didn’t break a phone, you broke into my prison cell! Hold up!
• "Many Shades Of Black" — ‘Cause there are many ways to act, and there’s many shades of black
• "Carolina Drama" — If you must know the truth about the tale, go and ask the milkman
Why I chose 19
The very beginning of the year brought my first exposure to Adele, through the great "Painting Pictures" that I featured on a special podcast that I created right after the end of my 2007 year-end countdown. I knew she would be an artist to watch in 2008. When I heard "Chasing Pavements," it was over, son; her spot in the top 10 might as well have been secured right away. That rollercoaster of a song ends up packing a punch so powerful in the final chorus, there’s no way you can forget it. It’s just breathtaking. I’m glad Adele has seen the success she so greatly deserved, and I hope she’s around for a long time. 19 is easily my #7 album of 2008.
Highlights from 19
• "Daydreamer" — It will feel like he’s been there for hours, and you can tell that he’ll be there for life
• "Chasing Pavements" — Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavements, even if it leads nowhere
• "Hometown Glory" — ‘Round my hometown, memories are fresh, ’round my hometown, ooh the people I’ve met
• "Painting Pictures" — Painting pictures with my mind, making memories using my eyes
Why I chose Feed The Animals
Girl Talk, otherwise known by his real name, Gregg Gillis, is a genius. He has mixed together some of the best songs from the ’80s and ’90s with modern-day pop and hip-hop hits in a way that’s all at once groundbreaking, hilarious, innovative, and addictive. This massive remix goes on for almost 54 minutes. It’s impossible to break this thing down into segments. You have to listen to the whole thing as once. It’s really one super long mix. It’s wrapped on both ends with a few lines from "International Players Anthem," which is really just perfect. The next-to-final segment of the remix features "Faithfully" by Journey interlaced with "Pop, Lock & Drop It," of all things; it somehow makes you feel like you’ve been through not just an album, but an experience, which makes Feed The Animals my #6 album of 2008.
Highlights from Feed The Animals
• "Still Here" — Mixes "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base with "…2 Step" by Cassidy
• "No Pause" — Mixes "New Soul" by Yael Naïm with "Shake That" by Eminem
• "In Step" — Mixes "You Got It" by Roy Orbison with "Left Right Left" by Drama
• "Let Me See You" — Mixes "Dreams" by The Cranberries with "Boyz" by M.I.A.
Why I chose Fire Songs
I love my sisters, I really do. The Watson Twins first entered the scene by teaming up with Jenny Lewis for Rabbit Fur Coat back in 2006. Now, they’ve released their own solo album (or duo album, I guess), Fire Songs. It’s a highly enjoyable, charming, and relaxing album from beginning to end. The standout track in my opinion is "Just Like Heaven," a cover of the classic song by The Cure. They take the song and completely reinterpret it, adding an unparalleled level of sincerity and depth to it. You make me proud to be a Watson, sisters! Fire Songs is my #5 album of 2008.
Highlights from Fire Songs
• "How Am I To Be" — How am I to be, with all your silly ways now? How am I to be?
• "Just Like Heaven" — You, soft and only; you, lost and lonely; you, just like heaven
• "Sky Open Up" — Sky open up and listen to me, there’s gotta be something worth dreaming
• "Bar Woman Blues" — Seems a sad state of affairs for a little girl like me
Why I chose This Gift
I’ve known of Sons & Daughters since "Dance Me In" back in 2005, but their new album, This Gift, propelled them to a new level. From the pipe-banging introduction to the powerful verses to the out-of-this-world chorus, "Gilt Complex" is the track I remembered the most from this album. Being the type of listener I am, I tend to gravitate toward the first single or first track when choosing the best one. But it’s also rare that I’m so consistently happy with an album. This one managed to do it, and great companion songs like "Iodine" are reasons for that. This Gift gets off to a roaring start and never slows down, making it my #4 album of 2008.
Highlights from This Gift
• "Gilt Complex" — She has a gilt complex, break her neck, and now she’s running right over the edge
• "Split Lips" — Collisions came as consequence, watching the scene after the accident
• "Chains" — I don’t need no reason, or a changing season, out of the rain and the chain-chain-chains
• "Darling" — Twisting in, twisting out the knife, paying for, paying for your past crime
• "Iodine" — Plastic, checkbook, rhyme; paper, paint, the kitchen knives; safety pins and iodine
Why I chose Down To Earth
It was four years ago that I found myself addicted to Jem’s debut album, Finally Woken. I really liked what I heard, and I got the impromptu opportunity to meet her one day that year while stopping by the studios of a local radio station after she made an appearance there. By the time I arrived, she was already out in the parking lot. She could have just walked away, but she knew I came to see her, so she stuck around for about 10-15 minutes to talk, and she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. That sealed the deal, folks. Jem would be on my good list forever. Her music was great and so was she. This year, upon hearing her new album, Down To Earth, I was immediately impressed at the wide range of topics and styles she covered, all with the same kind of direct honesty and sincerity that I experienced when talking to her face-to-face. Jem is mature and introspective ("You Will Make It"), she is fun and frivolous ("Aciiid!"), and she ties it all together with dignity and grace. Bottom line, Jem is simply a great person who makes great music, and that’s all you need to know. Down To Earth is my #3 album of 2008.
Highlights from Down To Earth
• "Down To Earth" — So special and so gifted, but most don’t know it’s there
• "Crazy" — I’m too perceptive, I’m too perceptive, boy, I’m not that kind of girl
• "You Will Make It" — Do not stand at my grave and cry… I am not there; I did not die
• "I Always Knew" — I’ll make it crystal clear… as long as there as music, I’ll be here
• "Aciiid!" — 左にジャンプ, 右にジャンプ, 上下まわって, おしりを振って, ドラムとベースにのって
• "How Would You Like It" — Don’t you realize if you take away any one of us, we all fall down
Why I chose Volume One
This just in, the award for most adorable person goes to Zooey Deschanel. You know, the whole actress turned singer thing hardly ever works. Sometimes it’s just awful; sometimes it’s decent. But it’s extremely rare for it to click perfectly as if it was her calling all along. Well guess what, Zooey passed that test with flying, beautiful colors. Teaming up with M. Ward to create She & Him and release Volume One was just a brilliant move. Some of their songs are unbelievably retro; you could believe they were recorded 50+ years ago. Others are just insanely happy, like "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?", my pick for the best and most memorable of the bunch. In it, Zooey sounds so damn cute that it should be illegal. Her voice is just exuding happiness in a way that, remarkably, never manages to become even the slightest hint of annoying. This was one of those cases where I listened to the album once and I knew it was a contender for album of the year. You listen to this album, you smile. That’s it. Done. Volume One is my #2 album of 2008.
Highlights from Volume One
• "Sentimental Heart" — Old habits die hard, when you’ve got, when you’ve got a sentimental heart
• "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" — Why do you edit? Just give me credit, I’m just sitting on the shelf
• "This Is Not A Test" — No this is not a test… taking numbers never made sense anyways
• "I Was Made For You" — I won’t be waitin’ anymore cause I know, baby! baby! I was made for you
• "Black Hole" — But I’m stuck here, getting misty over you; I’m alone, on a bicycle for two
• "Sweet Darlin’" — Sweet darlin’, come hold me, just a little bit longer now…
Why I chose Santogold
The breakthrough artist of the year! Santogold changed the game. Not content with just one style, the songs on her self-titled album span this giant continuum that’s simply unheard of by most artists, and she does it all brilliantly and flawlessly. Sometimes she reminds you of M.I.A., sometimes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, sometimes of Tegan and Sara, sometimes of a band or artist you can’t really place, and sometimes she’s just so innovative and different that you don’t know what the hell else it sounds like, if anything that ever came before. In the case of "L.E.S. Artistes," it’s safe to say Santogold got it exactly right. It’s as if she was out specifically to make a song that I would love in all respects. The sound is there, the message is there, the style is there, the instruments are there, the repetition is there, the beat is there, the inflection is there, the attitude is there. Does it get any better than that? Nope. In the end, that’s what it all comes down to. Make no mistake about it, the self-titled Santogold is my #1 album of 2008.
Highlights from Santogold
• "L.E.S. Artistes" — I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up, oh oh-oh
• "You’ll Find A Way" — Don’t reach too far, you will fall over, don’t be surprised what you discover
• "Say Aha" — Louder than they, louder than they, allow, allow, say aha, aha, say aha, aha
• "Lights Out" — Darlin’, don’t got to worry you’re locked in tight; don’t you worry turn out the lights
• "I’m A Lady" — And I like sometimes to wave it high, up where everyone can see, I’m a lady
40. Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head
39. Charlotte Sometimes – Waves & The Both Of Us
38. Nine Inch Nails – The Slip
37. Beck – Modern Guilt
36. Cat Power – Jukebox
35. David Byrne and Brian Eno – Everything That Happens
34. The Offspring – Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace
33. Gnarls Barkley – The Odd Couple
32. Ben Folds – Way To Normal
31. Pink – Funhouse
30. Ladytron – Velocifero
29. Dido – Safe Trip Home
28. Cansei de Ser Sexy – Donkey
27. Lenka – Lenka
26. Nicole Atkins – Neptune City
25. Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy
24. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
23. Kate Nash – Made Of Bricks
22. Sara Bareilles – Little Voice
21. Coldplay – Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
20. Ashlee Simpson – Bittersweet World
19. R.E.M. – Accelerate
18. The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing
17. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound
16. Aimee Mann – @#%&*! Smilers
15. Juliana Hatfield – How To Walk Away
14. Annie – Don’t Stop
13. Taylor Swift – Fearless
12. Katy Perry – One Of The Boys
11. Lights – Lights
10. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive
9. Duffy – Rockferry
8. The Raconteurs – Consolers Of The Lonely
7. Adele – 19
6. Girl Talk – Feed The Animals
5. The Watson Twins – Fire Songs
4. Sons & Daughters – This Gift
3. Jem – Down To Earth
2. She & Him – Volume One
1. Santogold – Santogold
For the third year, superwomen of music have reigned supreme. I wouldn’t be surprised if I were you. It was Lily Allen in 2006, then Tegan and Sara in 2007, and now Santogold in 2008. If you ask me, that sounds pretty much perfect, which I suppose is why they were all #1! With the album list out of the way, I can finally put a cap on my Best of 2008, albeit about six or seven months after the fact. I’m so two thousand and late.
Thanks for reading this list; I hope you’ll be inspired to check out an album that you might’ve skipped until now. In any case, I hope the remainder of 2009 is good to you, and I’ll surely be back in December for the Best of 2009. There will be a list of albums! See you then.