Thursday, December 18, 2008

Top Ten Songs of 2008

When I get mad
And I get pissed
I grab my pen
And I write out a list
I love music.

But I don't listen to the requisite number of albums that working out a "Top Ten Album List of 2008" entails, because I'm not a music critic. Anyone not working in rock/music journalism who creates one of those lists is probably only listing the 10 albums they bought during the year, meaning...approximately...Sweet FA.

If you want a good rundown of what the real critics love, check out's list of the top 30 albums of 2008....

Instead, I'll give you the songs that defined my year, whether or not they were released during 2008....Just as a quick review of what my Ipod had on its "most played"...these are in no particular order:

10. "Etched Headplate", Burial. Burial's late 2007 release "Untrue" was an urban music ground breaker, and Etched Headplate defines the album. The song is a sonically pleasing journey into late-night London. The percussion includes the sounds of a coin dropping on cement and a flicking lighter. Outstanding. Key lines:
I can’t take no more tears from my eyes
But it wasn’t good enough for you
9. "Party & Bull****", Rah-Diggah. This club banger is a classic from the Flipmode Squad. RD took a little known B.I.G. song and brought it from BK to NJ in a matter of 3 minutes. Besides the Just Blaze production which gives it a tight bounce, the song is assisted by some verbal trickery on RD's part, incorporating some repetition of key non-chorus cadences in the song as a mental recall to earlier phrases. Clever.

8. "Play Your Part (part 1)", Girl Talk. Girl Talk's mashup on crack album "Feed the Animals" features just about every ridiculous combination of music and artists juxtaposed for no particular reason - But it just works. "Play Your Part" starts the high octane album and just keeps plowing through samples like Mr. T. mowing down suckas on the A-Team.

7. "Let the beat build", Lil' Wayne. Weezy gets away from some of the insta-crap production on his The Carter III album and gets Kanye to make a perfect assist. Wayne stealthily leads attention away from the building percussion via his lyrics and then draws it back right before the beat drops. Very David Copperfield.

6. "Poison", BBD. This is a shameful admission - fortunately no one reads this blog. This song defined my summer studying for the Uniform Exam for my CA designation. It started as a joke every morning before classes, and devolved into a necessary start to the morning, acting as Pavlovian Bell to get my myself in the right frame of mind for learning. Still, can you deny what song is playing after the first 2 seconds of canned drums? Nope.

5. "Help is Coming", TI. TI's ode to keeping the record industry from going under takes on Atlas-holding-up-the-world proportions. Rappers have bragged about getting cash before, but this type of confidence is remarkable: He tells his record company that the 50M they gave him is the best investment they could have made. Nice.

4. "Morning", The Field. Ever tried to express what morning light from the depths of winter sounds like? The Field gives it a good shot. This song is the epitome of quiet energy that has defined so much of the content of what is known generally as "electronic" music. This song is perfect to listen to on the walk to work.

3. "O Superman", Laurie Anderson. The number one hit of England during 1980 struck a chord with me. It combines Taoism, startling imagery, apprehension of the modern age and vocal percussion (yes, Anderson probably incorporated beat-boxing into the mainstream as Blondie took rap mainstream with "Rapture"). Apparently, the song's lyrical content was meant to be directed at Iran's holding of Western hostages in the wake of the Islamic Revolution.

2. "Tell Me What to Swallow", Crystal Castles. This video game-sampling duo from Toronto took the gun blasts from CONTRA and made an album worth of music- except on this track. One gentle acoustic song where they took pains to show they could make something amazing. Mission Accomplished.

1. "Orange Crush", REM. The pulsing baseline and ambiguous lyrics keep this 80's song on constant repeat. The song revolves around the story of a football player from the US heartland, who goes to war in a far off jungle. The "orange" referred to is actually Agent Orange, which has debilitating effects on the human spine in warfare, thus the lyric regarding "I got my spine, I've got my Orange Crush". Like "Born in the USA" by Springsteen, this song appears to be superficial and jingoistic with lyrics like "We are Agents of the Free"(note the reference to Agent Orange again), while masking a deeper message of deep misgivings related to the US foreign policy and war's effects on veterans.

Honourable mentions include:
"House of Cards", Radiohead
"Flashing Lights", Kanye West
"So wat cha sayin'?", EPMD
"Gonna Get Ya", Daniel Papini
"Let me think about it", Ida Corr & Fedde Le Grand
"Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll", Vaughn Mason and Crew
"I don't like to...", Shad
"Raga Bhimpalasi", Ravi Shankar
"The Breaks", Kurtis Blow
"Tiger Mountain Peasant Song", Fleet Foxes
"Rational", King Cobb Steelie
"Mammoth (Erol Alkan Rework)", Interpol
"It Doesn't Matter", The Chemical Bros
"Genesis", Justice
"Teardrop", Massive Attack
"Elvis Presley and America", U2
"Homeless", Paul Simon
"Rocky Mountain High", John Denver (Don't ask...)
"2 Far", Dizzee Rascal
"Jackin' for beats", Ice Cube
"C-walk", Kurupt

Here's Ice Cube's Classic "Jackin' for Beats"...This song gave me energy on the Grouse Grind all summer long:

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