Friday, January 23, 2009

My Top Songs of 2008 (20 to 11)

20. Estelle (w/ Kanye West) – “American Boy” (Video)
I’ll plead ignorance, I never heard of Estelle before she paired with Kanye West. Maybe I should have, I’m partial to artists from the wrong side of the Atlantic Ocean and I dig her jazzy voice. “American Boy” is a bright, upbeat and funky pop track with a disco beat.

I am somewhat confused as to why Kanye West seems to adopt a British accent here. But at least he commits to it, even rhyming “love it” with “rubbish.”

19. AC/DC – “Big Jack” (Listen)
AC/DC isn’t for everyone. I know that. But if you like AC/DC, “Big Jack” is a can’t miss (and “Rock N Roll Train” isn’t that far behind). Both songs are of the same ilk as their best stuff from yesteryear. Maybe the Brothers Young forgot what year it was.

Black Ice is AC/DC’s first studio album since 2000 (the disappointing Stiff Upper Lip) and while it’s hit and miss, Malcolm and Angus certainly upstaged Axel Rose for the Remember Me? Artist/Band of the Year.

18. Coldplay – “Lost!” (Video … But Seriously, Video)
Sure to be a fixture in Coldplay concerts for years “Lost!” features driving percussion, church organ sounds and hand-claps. The organ and claps build to a nice little guitar solo.

We interrupt this countdown for a related story… Have you seen Coldplay’s newest video (check it out)? “Life in Technicolor ii” from Prospekt’s March EP is great. The clip features a puppet version of Coldplay playing for nursery schoolers. This live show includes pyrotechnics, crowd-surfing and a helicopter. I love it.

17. MGMT – “Time to Pretend” (Video)
I’ve already handed out the Schaible for Best New Artist to Vampire Weekend. MGMT would have been nominated. “Time to Pretend” was the first single released off their debut full-length album Oracular Spectacular. It has a distinct Polyphonic Spree welcome to 2008 feel. The synth-pop masterpiece chronicles the life of a rock star. From it’s opening verse:

"Let’s make some music,
make some money,
find some models for wives,
I'll move to Paris,
shoot some heroin,
and fuck with the stars"

To the final lines, “We’ll choke on our vomit and that will be the end… we were fated to pretend,” it takes all of four minutes to rise to the top and bite the bullet.

16. Gnarls Barkley – “Run” (Video)
Who didn’t get swept into St. Elsewhere funk fest? “Run” follows suit, another hip-hop/soul fusion romp. Like “Crazy,” it’s frenetic and fun. It may not be as immediate as “Crazy” but after a few listens, it sticks.

Plus the video features an appearance by Justin Timberlake. It’s funny; he’s begun to grow on me. Not his music, his personality. It’s probably because of all his spots on SNL.

15. Bruce Springsteen – “The Wrestler” (Listen)
Not really sure how “The Wrestler,” despite being good enough to win a Golden Globe but didn’t even get nominated for an Academy Award (and they only with three nominees).

I’m not the biggest Springsteen fan, I mean I wear tattered jeans but they’re baggy, not Jerry Seinfeld-tight but “The Wrestler” is a great song. It’s a wonderful, emotional acoustic piece and I suspect, I’m only going to like the song more after I finally see the movie – this weekend.

14. Santogold – “L.E.S. Artistes” (Video)
This list has taken a decidedly electro-synth feel. Santogold whips up such a blend of electronics and stimulating new-wave, that despite the retro influences, it still sounds convincingly modern and exciting. Boasting a unique, piercing nasal delivery and paranoid lyrics (“Build me up, bring me down” and “Change, change, change, I want to get up out of my skin”), has immediate singalong potential.

13. The Raconteurs – “Salute Your Solution” (Video)
Jack White and The Raconteurs came out of left field with their release of their second album Consolers of the Lonely. There was no pre-promotion, no drawn out marketing campaigns – just a good old fashioned record release. It was announced only a week before its release date.

Although White and Brendan Benson share lead vocals on the track, let’s not kid ourselves; It is White’s scathing vocals (all at once rock, punk, metal and blues) that make “Salute Your Solution” a garage rock fan’s dream.

12. Noah and the Whale – “5 Years Time (Video)
Last summer, I couldn’t get enough of this song. I found it on ListenInMusic’s summer playlist and it served me well. Whistling, lightly strummed ukuleles, violins and handclaps make the song easily the most upbeat track on my playlist. Meanwhile there’s also a strong undercurrent that at any moment everything could go terribly wrong:

“Five years time
I might not know you
Five years time
We might not speak

In five years time
We might not get along
In five years time
You might just prove me wrong”

11. Charlie Winston – “Like a Hobo” (Youtube)
I can’t say is any better than “Super Posh” Rufus Wright of BBC’s Steve Show:

“The thing about this song, and I hope listeners like it… it’s got that feeling that it’s best heard live. I think that’s a really good mark of a really good track actually. There’s a real skiffly feel to it, there’s a real kinda rusty feel to it that I really like. And… um… I think it’s great. I think it’s a really good track.”

It is skiffly, right?


  1. I really need to get more up-to-date with today's music. I've heard just a few of these songs, but I'll let Schaible be my guide.

  2. Forgot to add, of the songs I did hear, Lost is my favorite.