The Most Popular of 2008

January 19, 2009

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Ok, so no matter how much I try I can’t get my mind off of posting lists. I lie awake late at night or in boring afternoons and just think about ways to order things. It may be the easy way out, but to be honest I’m still not done catching up on everything from last year. The Hypemachine has relieved iTunes from running its daily marathon.

I was a little premature in publishing my list of 6 best albums when I hadn’t given myself to find 10 that I loved, in a year where that should not have been as hard as it was. And sometimes, to be honest, I think I hide embarassing songs or favorites to look cool–well, no more! To honor this commitment, I submit to you the unadultered* list of my most played songs released in 2008. This will exclude songs from 2007, even if they were more popular, and have obvious inclination towards early releases.

Laugh all you want… if there’s something worth laughing about.

10. Vampire Weekend – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
9. The Ting Tings – We Walk
8. The Ting Tings – Great DJ
7. MGMT – Weekend Wars
6. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
5. Meiko – How Lucky We Are
4. Santogold – L.E.S. Artistes
3. MGMT – Kids
1. Hot Chip – We’re Looking for a Lot of Love
1. MGMT – Electric Feel

Songs that I was rooting for, but just didn’t quite make it: Thao – Beat (Health, Life and Fire), CSS – Move, Brazilian Girls – St Petersburg.

*Yes I know this isn’t a word.

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The 6 Best Albums of 2008

December 31, 2008

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This was a momentous year for music collections everywhere. That’s because I believe iTunes reached critical mass several years ago, and the fruits of properly recording Dates Added and Ratings are finally paying dividends–in the form of awesome smart playlists and an ongoing musical yearbook. Albums are the placeholders of the iPod generation, and iTunes is the calendar.

Thanks for noticing the obvious–Chucks? is not even a year old, but this is the internet, and there’s no law against backdating. So if you happen to get hit by economic woes and find yourself with an inordinate amount of free time this winter, consider fixing that clumsy library of yours.

You may wonder why this list includes only six albums has changed to include ten albums. There isn’t really a is a good answer to that: I underestimated several albums, and I was impatient with them. More important than the number of albums on this list, is knowing that I don’t believe it excludes a significant record released this year that it’s greater than six. That said, to the slothful and the cynics, I present the first annual Best Albums of 2008 list. Hopefully it will not be the last.

10.
we started nothing
The Ting Tings We Started Nothing – “Traffic Light”

9.
vampire weekend
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend – “M79”

8.
modern guilt
Beck Modern Guilt“Gamma Ray”

7.
made in the dark
Hot Chip Made in the Dark – “We’re Looking for a lot of Love”

6.
youth novels
Lykke Li Youth Novels“I’m Good, I’m Gone”

5.
dear science
TV on The Radio Dear Science – “DLZ”

4.
mgmt
MGMT Oracular Spectacular“The Handshake”

3.
santogold
Santogold Santogold“Lights Out”

2.
thao
Thao Nguyen We Brave Bee Stings and All – “Feet Asleep”

Thao Nguyen’s infectious hooks and danceable grooves have (re)defined folk-pop as I know it. The sideways moving guitar rhythms make you move just like Thao would on stage even if you’ve never seen her before. Part of the album’s beauty is Thao’s introspective lyrics that are easily confused with silliness at first listen. For example: “All these years my feet asleep/move them around but they might breathe.” I’m sorry I didn’t listen to those of you who suggested Thao to me years ago, I promise to listen better next time.

1.
acid tongue
Jenny Lewis Acid Tongue“Acid Tongue”

It’s difficult to pay attention to alternative/rock/pop music without at least knowing Rilo Kiley. I knew of them but I’d never before given Rilo, or Jenny Lewis the devoted ear they deserved. I wasn’t drawn in enough until “Silver Lining,” which admittedly isn’t even one of the group’s very best songs. The live versions of “I Love LA” kept me entranced; and once I started paying attention, there wasn’t a voice this year that drew me in and held me so closely*.

So went 2008, the year that I developed a gigantic crush on the woman with a voice that must sound like delicate light shining through clouds. The simple arrangements and basic chord progressions of Acid Tongue allow Jenny Lewis’s voice to dominate. The best example of this is in the title track, which consists of only her, a guitar, and backup singers. Even if you play piano as well as me you could learn a few of the songs off this album, and that is one of the strengths of this recording; it is simplicity executed excellently.

*Except Feist of course.