Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favorite Tracks of 2008: #10-1

It's New Year's Eve!  2008 was a great year for music... so even if you had the suckiest year yet, you can celebrate all the great songs that graced blogs and airwaves this year.  So tonight, go out to a club, get a ride to yr rich friend's mountain home, stand out in the cold in new york city, or pack yrself into a small, crowded apartment with all of yr drunk best friends  and pop champagne for the great year we've had.  And in case you've forgotten, DJ Earworm did a mashup of Billboard's top 25 songs of 2008 just to remind us that even pop music was dope this year.

And now for my top ten songs of 2008:

10. T.I. - Whatever You Like (DiscoTech Remix)
So my only rule when I composed this list was no remixes, but as you will see, there are two remixes in my top ten.  That's because these remixes are perfect - they don't completely change the track to the point that it is unrecognizable, but they change a few elements so dramatically that the new version is substantially different music than the original.

Everybody loves this song!  The original is one of the most downloaded songs of the year and a #1 hit for T.I.  The lyrics are fun, simple, and egotistical, making it a perfect pop anthem, and the beat is fairly smooth and slow.  DiscoTech makes the song a little more abrasive, replacing the bass and light synth with heavy and rough synth that seems more fitting than the original production.  I think it makes it a little more danceable too.

09. Van She - Changes (G.L.O.V.E.S. Remix)
Van She has been on the scene for a while, remixing the likes of Feist and Ladyhawke, but they released their debut album V this year.  This song in its original format is just okay.  The 80s beat is pretty insistent and fast, despite the slow and laidback rhythm of the lyrics.  And the instrumentation on the original is sort of mismatched, with thick sort of annoying snythesizer with spacey effects.  It's a fine track, but G.L.O.V.E.S. remix just sounds more right.  The synth on the remix is slow and glossy with an Air feel.  The spacey effects are countered with sounds of car traffic.  And the beat while fast and still appropriately 80s-esque is less in yr face... the kind that makes you start dancing without even being aware of it.  Also this is an awesome break-up song.

08. Delta Spirit - People C'mon
Most of my top ten is electro.  It's been a great year for synth and disco beats, but /i don't want to forget the amazing works of other genres.  Delta Spirit is not an electro band.  As the name suggests, they have harnessed the spirit of Mississippi Delta blues into indie rock, with clear undertones of anti-folk.  This song is complete with ragged and soulful vocals, hand claps, a moment of singing in chorus, and revivalesque piano, atop pretty impressive drumming and noisy guitar.  Everything is right in time, and no element overpowers the others.  And the content of the song adds to its quality - it's basically a call to arms to everyone who doesn't know what they're doing with their life.  I can almost picture a group of wanderers marching along together in celebration of being totally lost.  (Sidenote: this was originally released in 2007, but was rereleased this year)

07. Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
Of the next 7 songs, I heard 4 and a half in one visit to Urban Outfitters.  I'm not sure if I'm excited about this.  At the time, I was, as the music (and cute girls that urban is always full of) turned the store into an oasis in a South Charlotte mall the day after Christmas.  But, overall, I am undecided on how I feel about the popularity of artists like Santogold.  It'd be one thing if these bands were actually gaining name recognition and such.  Instead, they have this unnamed sort of popularity, where they're featured on Gossip Girl and commercials and played in stores but no one really knows who they are.  I got my cousin Santogold's self-titled debut for Christmas and she said "Oh I don't know who this is," and my other cousin said, "Yes you do - you just don't know it."  The kind of "Oh I loooove this song - who is it?" attitude... or the kind of popularity that eventually leads to an extremely high number of high schoolers and college students downloading a single on iTunes, but pretty low overall album sales.  I think it's frustrating.  This whole album deserves popularity and celebration.

Okay, that little rant aside - woo, I love this song!  It doesn't get old!  It's simple indie rock with a little bit of electronic support.  It showcases the impressive vocals of frontwoman Santi White and is just catchy enough to stick with you, but not so catchy that you're singing it constantly and want to shoot yrself to get it out of yr head.  AND it's a slam at the "poseurs" of the lower east side.  Awesome.

06. Hot Chip - Ready For the Floor
Two years ago, I was waiting for a Mirah and The Blow concert at Wellesley and it sort of turned into an anticipatory dance party, thanks to some students that were playing Hot Chip's The Warning over the main speakers.  My friend and I decided at that point that Hot Chip could do no wrong.  They're nerdy and look like they should be awkward, but they make unique and interesting electronic pop and dance music that is as seductive as that genre can get.  This song is a good example of that.  They kind of dork out on certain electro elements.  The synth rhythm in the background is bouncy and would be laughable if it wasn't so well done.  A lot of the melody is comprised of elements that are suspiciously similar to video game sound effects.  BUT IT'S SO GOOD.  Everything falls in place and the vocals are beautiful and clear, with the backup vocals serving as another element in the mix.  The beat of this song is probably the most accessible of all the tracks on the album, and helps make it one of the best dance songs of the year.

05. The Kills - Cheap and Cheerful
This song has a cheery rhythm, and I don't mean cheery like Christmas cheer.  I mean I can picture some tough, mean, punk cheerleaders performing this track.  The rhythm is comprised of coughing, slamming doors, hand claps, and marching-band drum rolls, in addition to the more typical indie rock drum riffs.  The guitar is low, noisy and minimalistic, leaving room for the vocals to take center stage.  And per usual, The Kills frontwoman VV gives us attitude and spunk, as she sings "I want you to be crazy cause you're boring baby when you're straight // I want you to be crazy cause you're stupid baby when you're safe."

04. Cut Copy - Lights and Music
The final Cut Copy song on my list, this tops them all.  If you're looking for a dance anthem of 2008, you can find it in Lights and Music.  I don't want to do the song injustice by trying to list all of the different things that make it so great, so just listen to it.

03. Lykke Li - Dance Dance Dance
Marry me, Lykke Li!  She's one of 2008's indie sweet hearts and all the dorky blogger boys are totally in love with her.  But I suppose I am, too.  Her voice is cute, but not in some empty, shallow way.  This song showcases how her vocals can be simple and adorable but deep.  The instrumentation on this track is very minimal, and totally really take a major role in the song until almost three minutes in.  The song is about how she can't express her feelings (assumedly toward some love interest) in words, but only through dancing.  But the song manages to make that sound surprisingly uncheesey. She's magic.

02. Immuzikation - All My Children
2008 gave us great pop music, nice bridges between electro and mainstream, crap-hop that wasn't too crappy, a wonderful return to disco, loads of great dance music, and much more, but one of my favorite gifts of this year was Immuzikation.  He is Alfredo Lapuz, Jr. of Athens, Georgia, and does mashups similar to those of Girl Talk and Diplo, but in a less loaded way.  That is, his tracks don't include 14 different samples.  Sometimes they have as many as 7, but my favorite of his is this mash up of All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem and MGMT's Kids.  It's just two tracks layered together in a way that makes you say "why didn't I think of that?"  The two different songs sound like they were written for each other, and the result is beautiful.  Two of my favorite artists from the past few years, LCD Soundsystem and MGMT have similar enough sounds that the production work probably wasn't too much of a stretch for Immuzikation, but it's done with such perfection that I imagine not just anyone could do it this well.  And it's pure fucking genius, so that's my number two.

01. Frightened Rabbit - Keep Yourself Warm
If you want to hear a really depressing view of sex and relationships, look no further than Scottish band Frightened Rabbit's Keep Yourself Warm.  Off of their wonderful album Midnight Organ Fight, which the band says is a euphemism for sex (what a lovely perspective), this song combines the melancholic melodies of the Constantines or Smashing Pumpkins with the equally melancholic drag and depth of Okkervil River with the ballad and anthem-like rock of the Foo Fighters.  Musically, a blogger at Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, described the music as "swirling guitars and sorrowful singing" that "stems from the steady beats," creating "a sound that is emotional and catchy at once."  A pretty accurate description... this song is definitely pushed forward by the drums, leading it through a series of build ups, break downs, and anthemic explosions of music.  Beautiful.  Also, despite the occasional corny or dumb lines, this song's lyrics echo the powerful melancholy of the instrumentation, as frontman Scott Hutchinson gives a strong yet depressing "fuck you" to an ex that nearly drove him to suicide.

Runners up...
MGMT - Time to Pretend
Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love & Better In Time (both tracks are endorsed by Frightened Rabbit)
Let me know if you think I forgot something

And as a congratulations for making it through my ramblings, here are some great tracks for your New Years Eve celebrations...

Ron Brown - Pop Champagne ft. Jim Jones and Juelz Santana (Electrik Cokaine Club Mix)
Justice ft. Uffie - The Party (LA Riots Remix)
Lady Gaga - Just Dance (LunyP Dance Dance Dance Bmore Mix)
Usher - Love in This Club (MSTRKRFT Remix)
Cut Copy - Lights & Music (Boys Noize Happy Birthday Remix)
Tittsworth - New Years (EWF)


bessie bessie said...

I would say anything off "Street Horrrsing" from Fuck Buttons! (even though some of the tracks were released in 2007) Impressive list, buddy! 09 woot woot

sarahbarr said...

i'm going to go ahead and add blind by hercules and love affair to my honorable mentions.

M said...

Hey Sarah
Little late but thanks for including our 'Pop Champagne' rmx on here. Much appreciated upping us up & comers. Like to send yall more soon but theres no email listed. Regardless cool blog!
Electrik Cokaine

invisman said...