Ten Reasons Sia Furler is XO's Fave Pop Star of 2008: 1) She did it the old-school music biz method: this album is a grower and she promoted it that way, building the buzz over time, 2) her voice, 3) her voice, 4) her songs - holy shit!, 5) her clever videos on a low budget, 6) her voice, 7) the fact that she is inspirational - the lyrics are words to live by. 8) She is an Aussie and The "Royal We" love Aussies and New Zealanders, 9) her sign language skills and 10) Her performance on Letterman and her clear joy at the end.
Musical Moment of The Year: Is there a question here? Minute 4:50 on Girls Aloud's prog-pop epic, Untouchable: "Whenever you're gone gone, they wait at the door / And everything's hurting like before / Without any meaning, we're just skin and bone / Like beautiful robots dancing alone." Thank you for your pain, Cheryl Tweedy Cole. You nailed it.
Favorite Group: Tie. Girls Aloud, for being 40 stories tall. A pop music dream brought to life. Year after year, they keep nailing it because they know that there is strength in unity. Goldfrapp, for proving that growth occurs through change. Their left-turn album, Seventh Tree, is an example of fearless artistic integrity (FAI?). Bravo to their label for releasing and promoting it.
Favorite Female Solo Artist: Tie. Sia Furler and Pip (who is Ladyhawke)
Favorite Male Solo Artist: FrankMusik
Singing Voice(s) Of The Year: Sia Furler, Vincent Frank (FrankMusik) and Jody Gadsden of The Gadsdens
Favorite New Artists: Ladyhawke, FrankMusik, and Adele
Album Cover(s) Of The Year: see here (note: I added two more since the original post)
Most Unlikely Favorite Music: Alanis Morissette's Flavors Of Entanglement. Seriously, I've never liked her, bar 5 or so songs, and this album and its b-sides blew me away. The other record that shocked me was Solange Knowle's hazy epic Sol-Angel and The Hadley St. Dreams. Musically, it was light years ahead of anything her sister, The WalMart Of Pop Divas, did this year.
Debut Album Of The Year: Ladyhawke Ladyhawke
Favorite Instrumental Movie Music: Jean Felix Lalanne El Noi De La Mare (from Vicky Christina Barcelona) and BBC Philharmonic Orchestra Fantasy-Impromptu in C Sharp Minor, Op. 66: Always Summer (from Brideshead Revisited)
Favorite Non-Pop Music of 2008: Reuben Butchart's lush album Golden Boy, with great songs like Come & Play, Golden Boy and All There Is To Tell, an delicate duet with Antony Hegarty. If you like Antony, Rufus or Tori or Fiona Apple, get this on iTunes.
Favorite New BritPop Bands: This should be a major category and this year there were NONE. The British music industry is in dire freefall.
Cover Of The Year. Easy peasy. Sugababes' acoustic cover of Keane's Spiraling. I love Keane's woooh! version but I think the Babes revealed what a beautiful song lurks underneath the Bowie flash. The melody on Spiraling IS one of Keane's finest.
Top Unreleased Songs: Lorraine Tell It All, Solange & Q-Tip Wanna Go Back, Annie Songs Remind Me Of You, Antigone Promiscuity, The Gadsdens Heartbreaker.
Top Remixes Of The Year (many in '08): Michelle Williams We Break The Dawn (Karmatronic Mix), Madonna Like A Prayer/Feels Like Home Mashup (S&S Tour), Alphabeat Boyfriend (Pete Hammond Mix), Goldfrapp A&E (Gui Baretto Mix), Robyn Be Mine (Verschwende Deine Jugend Remix), Donna Summer I'm A Fire (Matty's Soulflower Club Mix), Madonna 4 Minutes (Junkie XL Mix), Robyn Handle Me (Voodoo and Serano Mix), Sia Day Too Soon (Soulseekerz Mix), Ladyhawke Paris Is Burning (Cut Copy Mix), Fleetwood Mac Never Forget (Cut Copy Lifelike Mix), Rihanna Disturbia (Craig C's Master Mix), NeYo Closer (Stonebridge Radio Edit), Kylie The One (Freemasons Vocal Club Mix), Solange Knowles Sandcastle Disco (Freemasons Mix), Robyn & Christian Falke Dream On (Moto Blanco Mix), and Sam Taylor Wood I'm In Love With A German Film Star (PSB Symphonic Mix)
Oldies Of The Year: Most of these lost gems came from other bloggers/friends - thank you! Amanda Lear Alphabet, Kim Carnes You Make My Heart Beat Faster, Pat Benatar Le Bel Age, Grace Jones Unlimited Capacity For Love, October Project Bury My Lovely, Diana Ross Pieces Of Ice (12" Version), Frazier Chorus Sloppy Heart, Phil Lynott A Child's Lullaby, Craig David Booty Man.
Best Old Album I Returned To: Nicky Holland's debut. Esp Ladykiller, On The Stairs and Face Of The Moon. Circa 1991. It's on iTunes and it's worthy.
Artists I Tired Of Too Fast: Sam Sparro (album was half solid, half shite) and Duffy (once liked, now an object of ridicule).
Artists Who Deserved Better in 2008, Meaning Their Albums Should Have Been Released: Annie, Captain and Antigone Foster.
Guilty Pleasure: Mariah Carey's grammatically challenged I'll Be Lovin' U Long Time, and the Josh Groban/Brian McKnight (!) cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water.
Best Song Title: Tie between Madonna's 4 Minutes To Save The World (I think she dropped the To Save.. part from the official title) and Marit Larsen's If A Song Could Get Me You
Best Comeback(s): Cyndi Lauper, who took the imaginary advice of pop music bloggers and recorded a dance record in Sweden and DC. It didn't light up the charts, but it was high quality and not pandering (hello Madge). Cyndi is much loved for the effort. Donna Summer also updated her sound with the help of Greg Kurstin. Solid record. All it lacked was one orchestral disco number. Just one! Tony Christie, the British crooner of yore, recorded with Richard Hawley and Jarvis Cocker, among others. Super record with a perfect Arctic Monkeys cover. UPDATE: How did I forget Grace Jones? Phenomenal record, imagery, etc. Best of all were the crazy-ass intevriews she did to promote it.
I-Could-Not-Care-Less-Award: Lady Gaga/Blah Blah (sorry to all who sailed in her) and Katy Perry.
Albums That Most Disappointed Me: What did NOT disappoint me? I could have done a HUGE post just on this topic. Here are some I remember: Morton Harket's tedious solo record (cheekbones still in place), Lykki Li’s Youth Novels (which will probably be on indie Best Of lists), The Kooks lifeless Konk, REM's Accelerate (let it go, let it go, let it go), Jem's Down To Earth (shockingly cheap sounding), Travis (what was the name of it?), Sharleen Spiteri's DOA Melody, ripping off Duffy and Amy Winehouse, Supergrass' Diamond Hoo Ha (has one perfect song, When I Needed You), Pretenders crap new album (again, will end up on old white men's Best Of lists), and of course, Janet Jackson's third strike, Discipline. Her next album will be a Jam and Lewis reunion, mark my words. Alesha Dixon's much-hyped album. Pink's record was not a disaster, but seemed forced compared to her previous CD. And the worst album of 2008? Razorlight's Slipway Fires – truly a career-killer. Buhbye Johnny. It seems to me you lived your life like a candle in the wind. Finally Keane's Perfect Symmetry had a few great tunes, but was ultimately a clusterfuck of noise. Not terrible by any means, but it did not soar, so it was a letdown. Same with the Queen of Desperation, Madonna.
Finally, and importantly:
RIP the Virgin Megastore on Oxford Street and Zavvi. Please read Peter Robinson's comments on the death of British music retailers. This WILL affect how music is produced and released. Pay for the music you love and if you have an independent store near you, buy stuff there. DO IT. Pay more if you have to.
What am I forgetting on this list? I'm sure I'll amend this over the next few weeks. I'll be back after Christmas with a few more lists.