December 18, 2008

2008: XO's Top Songs Of The Year

This is technology mixed with a band. I decided to start my Best Of 2008 lists with the important one, my favorite songs of the year. The 19 songs below fit on an 80 min CDR. Not necessarily singles, these are the tunes I most loved in 2008. As always, thanks to everyone who read my blathering throughout the year. I got many of them from you.

Note - the first two songs are the Top 2, but the others appear in the order they do on my iTunes '08 playlist.

I knew it the first time I heard it (which was technically 2007), that no song in 2008 would come close. Maybe it was the line "Is it true the things you say that you don't do / Why don't you ring?" Let's just say I lived that and never expected that ice queen Alison Goldfrapp would be the one to prick my finger and make it bleed. Fast forward to 12/08, I'm over the situation but never the song.

2 The Loving Kind Girls Aloud UK
A dream collaboration with Pet Shop Boys. What does one say about a song so sleek and beautiful? Vocally, this one goes to Nicola and Kimba for their part: "I'd do anything / Sing songs that lovers sing." And tell me how many of you have played this going to work "somewhere on a Monday morning"?

and the other greats of the year...

3. This Is Life Grace Jones UK
I love that Grace's first song in 17 years began with the lines, "This is my voice, my weapon of choice." It has some of the best lyrics this year, with imagery ranging from covered wagons to being locked up in a basement. Listening to this track as you march through the city will actually make you cooler and tougher. WWGD? Take no prisoners, take no shit.

4. Black And Gold Sam Sparro AUS/USA
Can you think of a more perfect debut single that led to... nothing? Poor Sam - he deserves better. It's The Curse Of A Classic. Whatever, the toothy hottie will be able to live off this disco soul throwdown for many years. Best intro for a single this year, lasting almost a minute.

5. Stamp Your Feet Donna Summer USA
Another absurdly good comeback (album review). This song was almost embarrassingly current - I could do without the "you got game!" bridge. A song that actually lives up to its title, Stamp Your Feet will be noted for the lyrical hook of the summer: "Make a big-ass sound."

6. Not A Love Song Uh Huh Her USA
Berlin lives! LA new wave restored! The single of summer that wasn't a hit, but this is the kind of guitar'n'synths track that makes me want to tie a cherry stem with my tongue. That's all I'll say. I wanna waste another day.

7. My Delerium Ladyhawke NZ
I love a rock chick. This record came out of nowhere, literally (New Zealand) - I became obsessive with Ladyhawke, who crafted a Pat Benatar rave-up with a lush, angular breakdown in the middle. I owe this one to Adem. xo

8. Viva La Vida Coldplay UK
Who had not written Coldplay off after the overplayed, commercial X&Y? And then this, their best song since Yellow. Chris dropped the seriousness and did gorgeous pop music again. Seesaw strings, choral oohhhhs and bonus points for the booming timpani. Chill inducing.

9. The Start Of Something Scott Simons USA
West Virginia cutie writes a crisp, autumnal pop/folk song that should have been a #1 hit. I wouldn't be surprised if this song gets re-released in 2009 and licensed to every hit TV show. I should add that it was the soundtrack to the blog post I most liked (on this blog, that is) in 2008.

10. The Sailor Song The Gadsdens UK
Jody Gadsden's vocals make my hairs stand on end. He is the best male voice to emerge from 2008 and when they finally release the album, I hope The Gadsdens will leave this mix alone. I love way it breathes - there's a nice, airy reverb and the twilight strings are lovely.

11. Hometown Glory Adele UK
Or maybe this song has the best intro? I can't remember a time when a debut single moved me so much on first listen. This was the year I moved to DC and these lines became my mantra: "I like it in the city when two worlds collide." It captures everything that is right about a city and, in the age of Obama, we love cities again.

12. Soon We'll Be Found Sia AUS
I always wondered if Sia could every match Breathe Me. Her new album did that several times over. This song is notable for it's optimism, the ease with which it slinks between seductive and wanting and the beautiful orchestration. The vocal is what I'd call "master class." Sia is major.

13. Let It Go Will Young UK
Speaking of master class vocals, Will Young has THE most yearning "it's doomed" song this year. Like Scenes From A (Bad) Marriage, the song is a diary of disorientation. And just listen to the final 20 seconds and how mournfully he sing/talks the title.

14. The Greatest Day Take That UK
There's only so much pessimism one can emit and in the middle of annus horribilis came the greatest surprise I can remember in my adult life - November 4, 2008. Sure, this song lacks any discernible structure or verses, but it's so completely HAPPY. "
And the world comes alive!" Up With People, you tired wheezers.

15. Miles Away Madonna UK?! USA
The disappointment of Hard Candy is blunted by this slice of Madonnarama, which bears all the hallmarks of the old crone's greatest talents, most notably in the lovely hook: so far away, so far way. It also has the finest fade-out on a song in 2008 - the last beepy minute.

16. Before The Worst The Script UK
Yah yah yah, the Maroon 5 of the Temple Bar set. Whatever, this is the most insanely catchy hook of the summer. Collapsing relationships would almost be bearable if this song were their soundtrack. So start a fight with your lover and play this a few times!

17. Closer NeYo USA
Baldy put on his Sinatra hat and headed to the gay disco to experience a Europhic Moment. And, sir NeYo, when you sing that "she wants to own me, to control me" I assume by "she" you mean "he"? You just can't. bring. yourself. to say it.

18. Tell It All Lorraine the grave
Let the lyrics say it, Prop 8: "I don't mind if they're laughing at us / They just wish they were as brave as us / It's not their business what we do / Just swear you'll never let them get to you / We'll run away and I'll kiss you in the light of day / We won't have to wait until we're alone at your place/ We'll live to tell it all."

19. Cosmic Journey Solange and Bilal USA
How in da hell did this happen? Solange Knowles creating the most ambient 6-minute lovers' anthem of the year? Caught between earth and atmosphere, the final song on Solange's album morphs from a space-age hippie ballad to a weed-laden techno raver for UFO geeks. I wanna go go go.

What almost made it: Rihanna's Distubia, Tigercity's Powerstripe, Captain's Keep An Open Mind, Sugababes' Goodbye, Jennifer Hudson's Spotlight, Alanis Morissette's It's A Bitch To Grow Up, The Killers' Human and She And Him's I Thought I Saw Your Face Today. Antigone's debut single More Man Than Man should also be on this list, though I actually played it most obsessively in 2007.


Phil said...

I'm surprised to see Madgewina still putting in an appearence on your list. Hard Candy was like she'd literally crapped in front of you, much was your distaste... The old ladies figure highly don't they? Madge, Grace, Donna, Will...

A very comprehensive list Mr XO. It'll make a grand mix CD.

One tiny thing though. Girls Aloud USA?

xolondon said...

oops! Yes, I am kidnapping GA. Most of them anyway.


Madonna is lucky as hell. She probably should be booted off this list for the crimes of Candy Shop and watching her "booty get down" [crinkles nose].

Anonymous said...

7 on your list were among my favorites this year. Very nice!

But we need to talk about a 12 step program for you (re: Madonna)

xolondon said...

El Marv is that you?

El MarvelOso said...

Yes, and I'm trying this new TypeKey thing that isn't working!

DanProject76 said...

I still haven't put mine up. Lots of similarities...

Might put my first batch up tonight, if I ever stop working!

Myfizzypop said...

effortlessly cool list as always. I don't share many of the songs with you, but i do share some of the artists, and i am swooning at your description of The Script. Best description ever. For them, anyway.

What? No Same Difference? :)

Dan said...

A fantastic list without a doubt. You'll see many duplicates on mine. I am willing to give Madonna the benefit of the doubt now that the Hard Candy debacle seems to be reaching an end. I think she gave up on the album a long time ago and is just finishing out the tour.

lutz said...

I love your list, and the way you write about each track makes me want to get each and every one, Human? and no Into the nightlife?

xolondon said...

I thought about both of those Lutz, but I had to be ruthless! On like 12/31 I will post this absurd list of favorite songs (see the Best Of 07 tab above) and those will be on it. Cyndi will end up on another list or two as well!

Mr. Will-W. said...

Yes, "Black and Gold" easily is one of the best songs of the year.

And "The Loving Kind" is I agree, one of the year's best. The video edit of course, over the album edit! :')

It's such a shame re: Seventh Tree. Some remixes would've given the album a new life.

One thing about "Miles Away" that never impressed me was that it is far too similar too Nelly Furtado's "All Good Things Come To An End". Literally you could throw one on top of the other and it would still sound similar.

Great list, XO!



p.s. And thank you for not shortlisting "The Fear"!! Blah!!

Yuяi said...

Madonna IS lucky as hell to make your list. She has smitten me with it as well. "Miles Away" is the best song on Hard Candy, and it made my year-end list too.

Also loving the "Loving Kind"! Beautiful song and collab. It's so Neil Tennant how "disinclined" is used and rhymed.

countpopula said...

I'm actually surprised we only had four that matched! That being said, I chose Grace's "William's Blood" instead of "This is Life"--both are great, but I loved the peek behind the curtain of that song, along with the abrupt mood changes. Wendy & Lisa didn't hurt there either.

I did choose Madge's "Heartbeat" (a lower #32) instead of "Miles Away". I thought both were good, but I was willing to overlook the booty-get-down for something that sounded like it could have been from her first album, even in the general innocence of the lyrics.

The Sia record started to bore me at some point, although I saw an interesting music video of hers the other day, and the Donna Summer had some lyrics that were just as bad as the Madonna offenders--I think some of her fans were expecting the grand return to disco that did not happen.

I give you credit for getting me interested in Ladyhawke and Solange. More importantly, we have the same #1. "A&E" is a flawless piece of fat-free pop.

It surprised me also that "Human" was not here--best Pet Shop Boys song of the year not written or performed by the Pet Shop Boys.

John said...

Great list. One or two that I wasn't even aware of, and at least one that's warranting a second pick. I'm thinking my #1 is in your top 10...

Aaron said...

Fantastic List!!!!

I'm totally agree with 50% of these - Even Donna Summer!

I'm yet to hear the rest...

D'luv said...

Jesus, I avoid the internet for one day, hop on to do my own list, and the entire world's got theirs up! Lots of reading ahead...

Looks like we both have an appreciation for "Viva La Vida" and Ne-Yo.

But, luv, honestly... "Miles Away"?

Salvador Ali said...

You know .. I still think "Rock With U" was a great single (and video).

Also, out of Hard Candy, I'd vote for "Beat Goes On" or "Hearbeat."

Brionity said...

This is technology mixed with a band, so obvious so true, has been on my lips all day.

Listen to my show starting tomorrow for my end o' the year picks. Vanessa Daou's record is available now, ridiculously good. Future Music Saturday 6-8am. Free stream!

Hope your are great and have a happy holls my boy!

Cook In / Dine Out said...

Great list! I love A&E, Loving Kind, Black and Gold, Miles Away, and My Delerium. Will's Let It Go was lovely--but that was one of the two tracks on the album he didn't write.