Sunday, December 21, 2008

For Your Aural Pleasure 2008

Favorite Singles of 2008
10. “The Lovers Are Losing” by Keane

9. “Amazing” by Kanye West featuring Young Jeezy
“Standing at my podium, I’m trying to watch my sodium, got high blood pressure…”

8. “Sick” by Sam Sparro
“It’s a sick, sick world. I’ll be your medicine. Come and take me, take me. I’ll make you feel better.”

7. “Human” by The Killers
Great song notwithstanding the irritatingly nonsensical lyric “Are we human or are we dancer?”

6. “Turn To Stone” by Girls Aloud
Unfortunately, the rest of the Girls' album lacks the inspiration of a usually brilliant Xenomania-produced record.

5. “Damaged” by Danity Kane
I have never been a fan of this act in any way, but then I heard a snippet of this track. Totally manufactured, but it's great to run to (particularly along Ocean between San Vic and Cali). Be sure to edit the track so it stops around 2:58.56. The last minute and ten seconds has Diddy rambling and ruining an otherwise great pop song.

4. “Strength In Numbers” by The Music
“All the animals come out at night…”

3. “Hot Stuff vs. World Hold On” by Craig David vs. Bob Sinclair
Who else but Craig David could sing, “Girl, you’re making me hard, what a feeling!” without it sounding vulgar?

2. “Womanizer” by Britney Spears

1. “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay

Favorite Ballads of 2008
5. “Human” by Brandy
4. “Run” by Leona Lewis (Yes, Britain’s pride and joy covers the Snow Patrol original)
3. “Imagine” by David Archuleta
2. “The Ice Is Getting Thinner” by Death Cab For Cutie
1. “I Stay In Love” by Mariah Carey

Favorite Albums of 2008
10. Black Tide, “Light From Above”
This album, recorded by a band of four talented teenagers, shows great promise.
Standout Track: “Shockwave”

9. Oasis, “Dig Out Your Soul”
Standout Tracks: “Bag It Up,” “Falling Down,” “Waiting For The Rapture”

8. Mariah Carey, “E=MC2”
To steal Paul’s explanation for listening to radio programs, MC’s appearance on my top 10 list at this point is in no small part due to the sense of comfort I feel from listening to her music over the years. The current problem with MC’s music is best described by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, my favorite music reviewer: “Carey seems determined not to look back, to exist in some kind of eternal now, never acknowledging that she has a past, unless she's wielding her divorce from her ex-husband/ex-record label chief Tommy Mottola for some kind of sympathy, something she does once again here via vague allusions to naïveté and ‘violent times’ on ‘Side Effects.’ Mariah refers to that separation so often that it's hard not to think of it as something recent but it happened a long, long time ago -- well over a decade prior to the release of E=MC2, to be precise -- but as the separation was the pivot point for Carey's career, it's easy to see why she keeps returning to it, even if the emotional heft of her singing about the pain has long since diminished…[In the end, the album] becomes a wash of sound -- sound that is designed to be fashionable, but like so much fashion, it's tied to the time and dates quickly. Which is why it's misleading to judge Mariah based on her new record of possessing the most number one singles, as she's not about longevity, she's about being permanently transient, a characteristic E=MC2 captures all too well.”

7. Natasha Bedingfield, “Pocket Full Of Sunshine”
WARNING: Catchy pop music from a positive female role model can be contagious!

6. Nine Inch Nails, “The Slip”

5. Goldfrapp, “Seventh Tree”
Track with hard-to-hear lyrics: "Clowns"

4. Crystal Castles, “Crystal Castles”
Standout tracks: “Vanished” and “Untrust Us”

3. Britney Spears, “Circus”
A solid album but not as strong as 2007’s Blackout. Stephen Thomas Erlewine summarizes it best: “If Blackout was a producers' album, Circus is a handlers' album, intent on sweeping away any recent unpleasantness -- the only acknowledgement is that title -- and acting like nothing ever happened, imagining that this is still a world where Britney remains envied and desired, where she can be dolled up as a gauzy Farrah Fawcett pinup on her album cover, where she can sing a drippy ballad about ‘My Baby’ and have nobody raise an eyebrow...If she feels marginally more connected here than she did on Blackout, it's a Pyrrhic victory, as Circus never feels as sleek or addictive as its predecessor.”

2. Coldplay, “Viva La Vida”
If you can catch this band in concert, I recommend it. By far, the best concert I saw this year.

1. Robyn, “Robyn”
Sweden does it again! As time goes by, this album just keeps getting better. It was nice to see Interscope release 2005's “Robyn” this past April after resequencing it and adding some new tracks.

Favorite diss (probably because it was totally uncalled for): Christina Aguilera on Lady Gaga.

Favorite remix: “Up (Wideboys Remix Edit)” by The Saturdays


Ricky said...

I just bought and listened to Portishead "Third." I liked it a lot. Very interesting. "Machine Gun" was a cool track. This may work into the list down the road.

Paul said...

More about your list later, but in the meantime . . . I really had an about-face with that Killers single. Originally, I deplored it and found it totally silly, but I've come to love it as a song in the tradition of great gay dance songs like those authored by Pet Shop Boys and Erasure. Also, it has some 7 chords that are very, for lack of a better word, cheeky.

Ricky, do you like Lil' Wayne?

Ricky said...

I'm not familiar with Lil' Wayne's music. Why do you ask? Any tracks/albums you'd recommend? I remember getting a YouTube link from Jeremy to that "Lollipop" video because it was in stark contrast to Mika's "Lollipop." lol.

I'm curious to hear LW's album. I bought "A Milli" about a week ago b/c I was curious to hear it. On Beyonce's new album, she takes the exact beat of that song and makes her own version (her version is called "Diva").

[Tangent alert - For some reason, this "A Milli"/"Diva" situation brings back to me the memory of Eamon's "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)" and Frankee's "F.U.R.B. (Fuck You Right Back"). Remember that? Sorry to anyone offended by the profanity, but those are the actual names of the songs.]

Also, a side note on the Pet Shop Boys: I don't know their music (should I?) except that Robbie Williams has a track called "We're The Pet Shop Boys." It's a catchy song from his "Rudebox" album, but quite bizarre nonetheless to hear him singing that "We're the Pet Shop Boys." I'm guessing PSB were somehow involved in the production of that track. I'll have to Wiki that.

Also, I read on one of the UK music blogs that PSB are in the studio recording their new album with Xenomania.

Thomas McMahon IV said...

Great stuff as always, Ricky. I think I should go ahead and get that Robyn album, even though I've only heard one song. Also, I like what I've heard of Crystal Castles. As a side note, there seems to have been a trend in "Crystal" band names. Other recent ones I can think of: Crystal Skulls, Crystal Antlers, and Crystal Stilts.

Also, that Robbie Williams song title reminds me of a They Might Be Giants song: "We're the Replacements."

Sepi said...

Nice job, Ricky. "Womanizer" totally grew on me, inexplicably.

I'm disappointed nobody has included Sia's Some People Have Real Problems or Duffy's Rockferry in their best albums. Thought both albums were awesome, but perhaps they're too girly. (?)

Ricky said...

Thanks, Thom & Sepi.

Thom - You're going to post an albums list, right? I hope so! Good observations on crystals and T.M.B.G. Glad to see that there was precedent for Williams to have such a song title. Also, I found this while doing a search for "We're The Replacements." Some people have way too much free time on their hands, and I love the insulting comment on the link below.

Sepi - I'll have to check out those two albums. I've never listened to Sia, but I've been interested in hearing her music for a while. I remember she got a lot of press/acclaim when one of her songs was featured in "Six Feet Under." For whatever reason, I just haven't gotten around to her. I don't have the Duffy album, but it's one I've been thinking about getting it because I liked "Mercy" all right. Also, I'm curious to hear that Adele album. My friend Nate H. told me that she had a cool voice. If your taste in music is like your ability to spot bad fashion trends, then I'm sure I'll like both albums.

As for being too girly, I'm not worried. If the music is good, then it should overcome any sort of masculine shame in being too girly. Or something like that...hahaha. Good music is good music!


Ricky said...

Thom - Also, yes, I think you should get the Robyn album. It's worth it.

Here's a video to one of the tracks. It's one of my favorite videos of the year. Very smart that Robyn is!

Heidi said...

Hey Ricky, I've also come to really like "Human," although the music video is kind of bizarre. The rest of the CD I had to give a few run-throughs before I started to enjoy it.

Good call with cutting out Diddy's ode to himself. I think he is the absolute worst person you could find to offer consolation. And why does he have to repeat the phrase as if I didn't hear it the first time?

Great picks!

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