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01 January 2009 @ 08:20 am
nothing goes as planned but this time you got me good  
hi i have finished my end of year list i'm going to work now.

*dies*




I was going to try and do this "properly" this year (ie: sober, before 4am, with reasonable punctuation) but then I realised that just trying to think of an opening sentence was spinning me off on the dark slope of Year End Panic that apparently is roughly equivalent to The Fear involved in my dissertation. There's no way I can set myself up for that kind of expectation without my eyeballs falling out.

I feel a bit like, possibly due to the pressures of worrying about doing it "properly," I haven't really bothered to listen to any music this year. This is blatantly untrue, since I've at least listened to the entire discographies of Mcfly and Grills Aloud but nonetheless, the selection of music actually from this year that makes my top 25 seems unrepresentative of what I've been listening to, since I couldn't just pull out all my favourites what with a lot of them having been released about three years ago for some reason* which makes this list somewhat frustrating. Still, can't have it all Devin Townsend all the time and I practically go into total meltdown every time I try to do any sort of list, anyway.

THE RULES:
-must have been released this year in some format, albeit possibly that format is "internet leak," or at least recently enough that I haven't noticed it wasn't
-must be reasonably likeable to the extent that its wormed its way into my favourite songs of the year
-must be reasonably memorable enough to the extent that I haven't forgotten I really like it
-no more than one song per artist to prevent this being the 'Welcome To The Dollhouse' dribbling fan-babble it could be otherwise

DISCLAIMER:
this probably isn't the actual best songs of the year. I mean, obviously it kind of is as far as I'm concerned but we're all different and you probably think it sucks. That's cool. Also, there are a lot of things that aren't here that should be: there should be some TV On The Radio and Roots Manuva presence, as immediately springs to mind and quite probably some Hold Steady, amongst others; they missed out through being albums of the year, though and not something I want to pick apart into songs, since I see them more as units. Not that I think an album that can be pulled apart is any less an album but at the end of the day, it's gone 8pm on New Year's Eve for shit's sake, I'm just going to hammer some stuff out and if anyone else likes it, that's cool.

I think in my mentalism last year I may have decided to give things marks out of ten but that frankly seems a bit fucking redundant on an end-of-year list, so I'll not be doing that again kthnx, self.

It's a top thirty because I realised I'd had a miscount and had 28 songs instead of 25, so just stuck another two in and away we go-

hearts under fire- spitting glass

30. Hearts Under Fire- Spitting Glass
with everyone you ever let go, you will not get out of my head
This was on Rock Sound's 'Ones To Watch For 2008' CD at the start of this year; as it happened what there was to watch was me buy the band's EP and then them promptly splitting up. Hopefully not actually as a consequence of me being a bit PayPal-illiterate. The nice thing about Hearts Under Fire is the fact that although they were an all-girl band, they didn't really seem to make much fuss about it, the drummer was actually good and whilst their instrumentation is pretty much standard screamo, the same can be said of about 3/10 bands in Britain currently and Hearts Under Fire at least had the dignity to do it well. The singer, whose name I don't know, also has a pleasingly delicate-ragged voice that makes her sound about fifteen, however old she is, so there's a certain get-out-of-being-emo-free card attached, since adolescence just is a bit screamy.

Also, the emo lyrics here are I spit out glass until my mouth is drenched in blood, rather than she's got a body like an hourglass, it's ticking like a clock, which earns Hearts Under Fire an excellent set of bonus points for Total Histrionics, which are a v. important part of rock music. And just; thank fuck they are actually good. Really good! Why did they split up, damn them?!

krystal meyers- beautiful tonight

29. Krystal Meyers- Beautiful Tonight
i'm in denial, i'm becoming quite a liar
Meyers, K is some sort of mentalist Christian fundamentalist type who's written an album that's secretly all about having sex and getting off yer tits, despite its godly disguise. Excellent stuff, I say; there's something unhealthy about teenagers who aren't at least partially fascinated by the whole thing (god and sex, this is) and double points for putting it into a context of dialogue, rather than preaching on either front. Krystal herself may see it a totally different way -she appears to have a totally vacant look in all the photos I could find of her so I'm not sure how much restless intellectualism I should project.

'Beautiful Tonight' is a goth glam stormer in the style of Bonnie Tyler on autotune. The theme of the song appears to be doing something you know you're probably going to regret but kind of know you're going to do anyway. It could be about almost anything from sluttery to alcoholism to buying too many shoes and that's something of the beauty of it. Although Meyers is musically not that far from Katy Perry (who is, of course, a former Xtian popstar) she manages to carry it off with much more style and far less knicker-flashing 'FUCKING LOOK AT ME OMG' attention whoredom, which is partly attributable to not being Perry, K but also to do with the ambiguity of her songs; much more appealing than the words-of-one-syllable "personal" nature of something like 'I Kissed A Grill,'** since obviously it gives you a bit more to relate to and that.

I liked this song a lot more when I first heard it than I do now but it's still a damned good fucked up anthem and whilst I doubt the video has any images of her sweating through a nosebleed or trying to push some random out of her bed, it could look absolutely awesome that way.

flotbots- handlebars

28. Flobots- Handlebars
me and my friends saw a platypus
This is partly an earworm song, insofar as there's not all that much impressive about the basic premise but the final thirty seconds suddenly makes it all genius and partly something that I almost think ought to be a cartoon more than a song. It has a very soundtrack-y nature to it and whilst it's a genius soundtrack, I did wrestle a bit with whether it was going in this list. Which isn't to say I don't think it ought to be a piece of music; I very much do, I just find it strangely difficult to remove from its video somehow.

Obviously, it made it in the end because the ascending violin hook and the simplicity of the song and the howled I CAN END THE PLANET IN A HOLOCAAAUST kind of does something to me on an emotionally effective level that's similar to what 'Mosh' did to me around the time of the last US election. Plus "I can take apart the remote control and I can almost put it back together" has been my facebook quote-underneath-your-picture thing for about six months now.

I wildly swing around about where I stand on Flobots. Sometimes I think they're the most genius thing ever and then occasionally I get very annoyed about something like the guy in the above picture who looks like he's dressed as Fred Durst. Still, this song has the right sort of emotional/political rambling to it to be basically targeted right at my demographic (whatever that is) and I really do think it's beautifully done.

Now I feel dissatisfied with what I've written there because I'm dramatically underselling it. Unfortunately I'm operating a 'no going back' rule for the purposes of this list because otherwise I might go (even more) mental, so that'll have to do.

solange- sandcastle disco

27. Solange- Sandcastle Disco
ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-babe
..oh god, am I really only four songs in?

The temptation to post something I wrote about Harry from McFly*** with regards to this song is immense but for the sake of everyone's sanity, I'll hold back.

This is a bit of a late entry, since I only bothered to listen to 'Sol Angel And The Hadley St. Dreams' about a month and a half ago but still, at least I got there eventually (unlike 'Circus' -sorry Britney) and duly spent about a week listening to this on repeat. It's a funky little flicky ditty about being a slightly emotionally awkward romantic who's just about got enough of that "but I'm in LOVE with you!" self righteous assurance to be able to tell someone that, look, i know you're a total cock and you mess about and everyone's in love with you anyway but could you just be nice to me, please because I'm a bit shy. And you know what? I fucking love that shit. It's the sheer wide-eyed audacity of the thing.

Not to mention that the metaphor of the sandcastle is fantastic and the double/triple/billioniple meanings of the phrase "don't blow me away" (literally blowing away sand, "blowing away" her mind with sheer force of crushtastic amazingness, etc.) and the song just falls over itself with teenage desires and fantasies and the fact you're never gunna say this stuff to them but just ...god why are they so hot, anyway?

Solange has a lovely airy voice for this; I like that she sounds so much like her sister but without the brassy bossiness of Beyonce's voice a lot of the time (which has its own merits but they're generally ones I'm not quite on board with) so has a bit more of a 'hey, I can totally sing along to this' quality to it.

kelley polar- entropy reigns (in the celestial city)

26. Kelley Polar- Entropy Reigns (In The Celestial City)
all that's in my veins; sweat, tears and champagne
NO, COME THE FUCK BACK- IT SAMPLES THE HUMAN LEAGUE. This isn't what the title looks like at all, instead its a funky little piece of ...disco house perhaps although I'm more tempted to call it Stars Do The Seventies, being as it is a boy-girl duet of slightly screwed up love, stabbing itself in the face with abbreviated violins and a cheery little bassline.

I really didn't expect this to be any good; I downloaded it off eMusic when I was under the vague delusion that my downloads were free and downloading basically anything- the title of the album ('I Need You To Hold On When The Sky Is Falling') appealed to my postrocky sensibilities and I eagerly gave this one a go, since I've always been a fan of the word 'Entropy;' I'm not sure exactly what I thought it would sound like but it certainly wasn't "'Don't You Want Me' goes minimal and takes (more) drugs."

Kelley Polar himself seems to be a total mentalist (in what's probably a good way, entertainment-wise at least) and quite probably from the Patrick Wolf school of affected eccentricity but this is a smart, slick track that doesn't deal in some of the wandering semi-unlistenability of other parts of the album (some of which is what the name sounds like) and manages to remain catchy enough to be a fantastic little quiet dancefloor number.

alt

25. Lykke Li- Everybody But Me (Christoffer Remix)
should i go home, still sober or buy me another glass of wine and forget about time?
This was given away for free on Popjustice earlier in the year and I'm not totally sure why it's stuck with me so much, since as a rule I don't find myself being completely crazy about Lykke Li but there's something about the tenderness of this remix that pushes it off 'twee and boring' into 'twee and affecting.' I can't help it that a slightly dancey edge makes me more likely to become emotional about songs, I grew up in the nineties.

Anyway. The point about this is it's about panicking at the disco. Which is something I do at all times and in all places where I am required to be exposed to more than five people I don't know outside of a reassuring bookshop context. Even better, this is one of those awkward nights where you go out and you don't know anyone and you can't work out whether to drink and try and see if anyone you know turns up or someone speaks to you or something or whether to just give the fuck up and go home and be bored. This used to happen to me quite often at university, one way or another and Lykke's frail, overly sweet voice perfectly captures the argument in your head between 'I want this to be good, why isn't it being good?!' and 'ffs just go home.'

The original version of this song isn't that great, as far as I can remember. As far as I'm concerned, Lykke works much better with electronics (her collaboration with Kleerup nearly made it into this list but I decided at the last second to betray my goth roots for this) and this is a perfect showcase of the way her voice can work really well, as opposed to the overt tweeness of her album. Not to say that there aren't aspects of her album that I like a lot ('Breaking It Up,' specifically) but they pale in comparison to the juxtaposition of her folky voice with a massive club banger. Or well, muted sort of Girls-Just-Wanna-Have-Fun type thing.

There's also a wonderful moment where it sounds like she's singing I cannot breathe, it's too private in here- like everyone else is having conversations and she's on her own, everyone secluded. The line's actually too crowded in here but I quite like the mishear.

as in rebekkamaria- soul to my soul

24. As In Rebekkamaria- Soul To My Soul
two families sleeping in the choir
The start of this sounds strangely like that cricket music. Don't let that put you off, though; beyond that is the vworp, vworp of an electro bassline, some weedly weedly weedly screechy synths and enough relatively complex beat to provide more than enough interest for the three minutes or so this goes on. Oh and the melody's quite good, too; the lyrics are about your brother's wedding or something but mostly don't exactly make a metric fuckton of sense (since As In Rebekkamaria is one of those consciously eccentric swedish women who make whimsy electropop) and her voice is really quite weak and certainly very high pitched but overall, it works itself into a frenzy that's quite spectacular to watch. With, err, your ears.

I get the feeling As In Rebekkamaria probably thinks she's a bit edgier than she is but top marks for making a sort of drum'n'bass-y pop track without defaulting to shouting (not that there's anything wrong with shouting but it's nice to do new things sometimes)

[interlude in which I get very angry at iTunes about its apparent inability to download a Sebastien Tellier album yet determination to charge me twice for such anyway and complete derail my train of thought, such as I had any, regarding As In Rebekkamaria]

Well anyway. It's a nice song. She's a good looking lady, too, when she stops trying to dress like Alison Goldfrapp.

santogold- l.e.s. artistes

23. Santogold- L.E.S. Artistes
you don't know me; i am an introvert, an excavator
I can't remember whether it was last January or at Easter but at some point I spent ages trying to pirate this so that I could sit around in my house singing it whilst none of my housemates were there.

I love everything about this song, from its atmospheric video to the lazy way Santi White drawls out the words, managing to sound desperate and louche at the same time, to the fact it manages to reference retro sixties soul without actually becoming a Duffy-style pastiche. Santi clearly has the songwriting ability to create beyond her influences, referencing rather than adulating and so when she says she likes The Clash, she doesn't mean she wants to be a tribute to them; she means she wants to use a weird cooing noise under her verses and be unafraid of catchy melody in what's structurally a rock song.

As a declaration of intent against bohemian pretension, this song is an exquisite piece of pop that stands up against any accusation of not being as good as indie. And I see what Santogold's trying to do; be a female popstar without having to be a female popstar or turn into a boring intolerable singer-songwriter and I have a lot of respect for her for that, too.

And fucking hell, there is just so much romance in the chorus- I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up, if I can stand up mean for the things that I believe. It's a song of isolation and furious creation with the hatches battoned down, declaring you'll come out and show them in a minute. And if this didn't show them, then fuck 'em.

the saturdays- lies

22. The Saturdays- Lies
all you ever told me
This was another late entry and, frankly, (or should that be Frankie LOLOLOL -no) not something I would have in any way predicted but following my late-night iTunes raid for 'Chasing Lights' out of sheer unadulterated curiosity, this has definitely become my favourite track on the album. I like to think them and McFly had a sort of race to see who could get a track called 'Lies' out first and The Saturdays are now sitting around sulking and unable to release one of the best songs on their album but this is probably totally untrue.

'Chasing Lights' is a more-than-serviceable pop album with very few flaws other than the fact it lacks personality; somehow they actually manage to pull that out of the bag here, though and actually sound much more like something I'm capable of empathising with vaguely and has enough blissy synth to pacify my more critical tendencies. Not to mention there's a fuzzy chuggy bassline and I'm a bit of a sucker for that kind of thing.

The lyrics are a bit dodgy, if I'm honest and it's not world-changing but I do find myself listening to this a hell of a lot. It's a straight commercial pop-as-a-genre song I guess, which isn't something I have that much interest in but is definitely more than listenable.

I essentially don't know why I like this song but I do. A lot. Hurrah!

zimmer's hole- flight of the knight bat

21. Zimmer's Hole- Flight Of The Knight Bat
i feel a breakdown, cheeseburger breakdown
On the other hand, I know exactly why I like this: it's fucking ridiculous. It's essentially the sound of some madman howling whatever comes into his fucking head over some pounding pounding metal music. Brilliant!

Also, you can play the 'Flight Of The Knight Bat' game with any friend(s) of a similar aesthetic. This basically means leaping down the stairs at said friend(s) without warning screaming 'YOOOOU FAAAIL! I'M THE CHOSEN OOONE!' and hoping they don't unexpectedly turn out to be your landlord checking the gas meter and instead reply with the requisite 'FLIGHT OF THE KNIGHT BAT.' This is, I can assure you, great fun.

The great thing about Zimmer's Hole is that despite being totally absurd, they're made up of ex-members of Strapping Young Lad (and some other bloke but whatevs) and produced by Sir Devin of Townsend, ensuring they purvey their comedy metal through only the finest musical offerings and rather than descending into hideous self-parody, instead seem a sort of gently dadaist screamathon involving someone with mental diarrhoea simply inventing shit. Which, to be honest, is the kind of thing I can get right on board with about 3am during an essay.

This isn't probably actually the best song off 'When You Were Shouting At The Devil, We Were In League With Satan' but it is by far and away my favourite.

alt

20. Brandy- Right Here (Departed)
and when your tears are dry from crying and when the world's turned silent
I only actually managed to hear this album in the last week or so but pretty much knew it'd get in here somewhere, albeit if I'd heard it earlier it would've probably been higher. I adore Brandy's voice; the tenderness, the honeyed tones of it and the fact she's always played with the vocal layering that came to commercial fruition with the whorepop that's made it into my top ten. And to be honest, this song really should be much higher but I kind of put it here because I decided I didn't want to put Gym Class Heroes here or at least couldn't write about them and I didn't want to fuck too much with the rest of my list before I started rewriting everything again.

This song is a proper stunner, Darkchild is producing but I won't pretend that this tells me a lot other than I think he did 'The Boy Is Mine' and that was very good. I've just realised that Brandy sometimes sounds a lot like Melora Creager of Rasputina during the latter's more vocally pleasant moments, such as 'Deep In The Sweetwater;' not just like Melora, though but like the cellos underneath. She (Brandy) really does have an extraordinarily layered vocal sound, which I find far more emotionally affecting than diva histrionics. Sorry, divas.

Having thought 'Afrodisiac' might be Brandy's last album, I was glad when 'Human' suddenly appeared out of nowhere, moreso because this is a stunner of a track, whereas I never felt the title track of her last album really sold it properly, in comparison to the breakup/breakdown of the rest of the album, particularly 'Focus.'

Yes I know I haven't really written about this song. It has a nice piano hook and a glorious, catchy minimal-gospel chorus. Lyrically, it's all a bit 'Umbrella,' in the sense of being about saving someone's ass because they're kinda stupid but you love them, except with added APOCALYPSE in the middle eight. Which I am so down with.

alt

19. Ashlee Simpson- No Time For Tears
i gave you my sky before i found my ground
Ashlee Simpson is an underrated musical genius. There, I said it. I'm on the bandwagon. I've signed up now and that's it. You could say it's the songwriters but they can't put that gritty little edge in her voice that makes her sound a bit drunk all the time and as koganbot and others have pointed out, the same songwriters don't get the same results with other artists. Maybe she's just pliable but I suspect otherwise.

'Bittersweet World' is a wonderful, careening dress up box of an album. A hundred different personalities tried on and in the middle of it all: this, 'Little Miss Obsessive' and 'Outta My Head (Ay Ya Ya)' making a little trio of coherency. Whilst I love the rest of the album, with the exception of the crappy ballad at the end that's just a crappy ballad, this stands out for sounding a bit like 'Moving Too Fast' by Artful Dodger performed by The Veronicas during the verses and then, like 'Little Miss Obsessive,' suddenly dropping its edginess for a singalong rock chorus. I'm not sure why this is effective, since it actually makes me dislike the choruses of both songs a bit but it does throw the verses into sharper relief, so the delicate bloops and chugging distortion become more sensitised. Sensitive? Whatever, I've been at work all day. That thing.

The disappointing thing is of course that this album had very little take up. The listening public does not understand genuinely edgy, complex music, etc...

This isn't necessarily the most interesting song off the album, tbh but it's been the one that's stuck with me the most.

miley cyrus- fly on the wall

18. Miley Cyrus- Fly On The Wall
you don't understand what it is that makes me tick but you wish you did
Actually yeah I did choose that picture for being the most innappropriately attractive one of her I could find.

ANYWAY. The thing here is that Miley was like #5 in my year-end list last year, so this is a pretty bad slump but tbh I can't really see her topping 'See You Again' (original mix, pls, not the stupid crappy rubbish half-arsed dance THING that isn't even dance and isn't even rock and just FFS) any time soon so this is still no bad thing. I was a bit underwhelmed by 'Blackout,' cus to be honest I have no time for teenage girls shouting, I spend too much time on the bus for that. Actually I've forgotten why I don't like the rest of the album, now I think about it but there you go.

This one, though, is really good for two main reasons:
1. IT'S REALLY FUCKING LOUD. GOD MILEY TURN THAT RACKET OFF ETC. I have never quite got over the enjoyment of REALLY FUCKING LOUD things.
2. if you were my boy. friend. i'd be true to you, if i make a pro. miss. then i'm comin' through THIS BIT IS FANTASTIC. If you don't like this bit (lyrics aside because they're faintly irrelevant to the whole thing except to say that the brooding paranoia of the whole thing makes the REALLY FUCKING LOUD bits sound a bit like Miley's undergone some kind of werewolf transformation) then there might well be something a bit wrong with you. Then the unmelodic guitars come crashing back in and the whole song's tight and loud and absurd. Which I guess makes it a bit like brightly coloured skinny fit jeans, retrospectively, which probably isn't a compliment but maybe I should just stop perving at Miley.*****

First use of downtuned guitars in a Disney-endorsed song? Probably not but still, ace.

wookie ft. ny- fallin' again

17. Wookie ft. Ny- Fallin' Again
all my emotions, they fill an ocean
Apparently there's some kind of renaissance of funky house going on but I don't go to clubs and I barely know which way up I am, let alone what's going on in music*****. Nevermind though, because what I have noticed is that this kind of music is making a comeback (having a renaissance, of sorts...) and I bloody love this track.

Like most people who can remember the nineties in a childhood kind of way, I have confused feelings towards house as being a sort of soft, womblike thing which reminds me of just being excited to have a proper actual radio in my room and fascinated by the unearthly sounds that seemed to occur in the middle of the night on shows presented by mysterious characters such as Dave Pearce. As an adult I see how ridiculous this all is; Dave Pearce was never on in the middle of the night ffs. Still, house music has an inherently comforting quality to it, for me, as well as residual excitement from those first few experiences of being really into a particular song.

This has an ace piano loop and is definitely danceable in a slightly off-kilter, quasi-balearic way but Ny's vocals sit comfortably on top, never swamped by beats or left jilted and it's an actual genuine proper song, rather than some gratuitous vocal noises. Her voice is very sweet and clear, too, which is possibly what adds to the emotional effect of it for me. Hopefully, this'll do as well as it deserves to but even if it doesn't, it's still a beautiful little dance gem.


Bleeding hell, I'm doing four songs an hour. Must speed up, only have one hour 53 minutes left.



16. Fall Out Boy- Headfirst Slide Into Coopestown On A Bad Bet
i didn't i didn't i didn't i didn't i didn't i didn't i don't just want to be a footnote in someone else's happiness

'Folie A Deux' is a masterpiece, FYI. There was an of Montreal song kicking around this bit of the chart before (and I've just remembered I really want to put them in and GAH but NO) but this came up on shuffle on the iPod I've managed to acquire about two weeks ago and blew my head off. The opening strings confused me and made me look to find out what the fuck the song was, then suddenly that big fat fuck off riff comes in and PStump starts singing all dirty and aggressive and it's all so ...completely pop. Not like '...Arms Race,' which was pop but in an awkward way that felt like it didn't quite know how to be itself right now but a natural, considered pop manner that's totally comfortable expressing itself this way.

It's funky (they learnt a lot with the last album) and its got a punk edge and it's loud and it stutters and it's got a classic Fall Out Boy catchy chorus, with the Pete-Pat lyrics that make up the whole album and I listen to it on repeat lots.



15. Ciara- High Price (ft. Ludacris)
i should be in iraq, shawty, cus i am the bomb
Ciara, bb, what are you doing? I'll tell you what you're doing: you're releasing boring unmemorable songs off your album instead of this bonkers crunk-goes-baroque spag out. And that just doesn't seem sensible.

This is a lazy, drawly electro-threatening affair for its first few bars, then Ciara appears, in falsetto and haughtily dictates some facts: she's got a million dollar house on her earlobe, for instance. Pay attention at the back, there, this is all very important. The lazy drawl of the underlay then temporarily gels with her haughtiness, creating the most schizophrenic bridge I've heard this year, with Missy Elliott occasionally appearing to shout 'WHUT?!' and Ludacris appearing for a typically absurdist/pornographic rap, whilst CiCi swings between icy baroque and the rather warmer chorus in which she just flips you off if you can't buy her a chanel handbag. IT IS MAD. Sometimes mad is also brilliant and in this case, it all definitely pays off.

I really would've never bet on me liking a song that's essentially about moneydigging so much but eh, there's something to love about the out-and-out cockiness of lines like please believe I'm a ten, yo, shawty i'm the shit.



14. Taio Cruz ft. Luciana- Come On Girl
i just wanna turn 'you', 'me' into an 'us'
You know when Timbaland's really on form and manages to make the synths seep into you, all edgy and romantic and going somewhere? Taio Cruz carries that off a lot. None moreso than here, wherein young Taio has a bit of a fighty flirtation with Luciana, who he just wants to elope with (and maybe sex up a bit) when she just wants to sex him up (and maybe elope a bit) which leads to a lyrical sum of not a massive amount but that's not really what this is about. It's about the bassline and the seething synths and the thump of the beat and how nasty Luciana sounds in comparison to Taio's sweetness. And fuck you all, I am just going to link to my Chartblog review because my back hurts now and I have a lot more songs to write about before midnight.

link

Actually that's one of my better reviews; must have hit the right hangover-to-enthusiasm ratio that week. I think I've definitely been off the boil recently but oh well. :/



13. Booka Shade- Charlotte
Moar young person's dance music, innit. Well, maybe not 'young person's' or actually 'dance,' just electronica. Booka Shade make blissy chillout albums of beautiful dance music that only Germans would make. This song is a sunkissed little pop excursion to fine sands and sunsets and a Charlotte who won't be true.

There's not that much to say about this song, in a way, because it's premise and execution is very simple: pleasant bubbly keyboards, strangely aggressive bassline tempered by a bouncy sort of tempo and then occasional muted vocals washing over you. It's like a calmer twin to a Justice song, without the adhd, all waves and romance and understatement where Justice would be jumping around going 'LOOK AT ME I'M DOING DANCE MUSIC FOR FUCK'S SAKE.' Not that I don't like Justice and I'm not really sure why I brought them up here except the contrast just occurred to me because ...err actually now I think about it because part of the bassline to this sounds a bit like Jackson and his Computer Band.

Moving swiftly on...



12. Danity Kane- Sucka For Love
this aint it for them scary chicks
Having said there's whorepop in the top ten, I just realised I rearranged everything and it's all lies. Whatever, I'm sure you're not keeping track.

I know absolutely bollocks-all about Danity Kane except their second album, Welcome To The Dollhouse, is bloody amazing. Their first one seemed a bit gash from the five minutes I listened to and I don't know any of their names. I do know they're connected to Diddy, whose 'Press Play' was busy being extraordinary last year and who can't really be faulted on edgy pop production, currently. Maybe I should have picked the urgent squeaking loop-sample of 'Pretty Boy' here or the brazen sluttery of 'Strip Tease' but this is my favourite off the album, I think, by a short distance.

The shimmer of the synths (strings?) here, bedding the song on a mirage of sound, are what really carries it off on some levels, keeping it interesting with their constant movement, where the vocals could have sounded flat and atonal otherwise. None of the Danities is an awesome singer, so they loop duplicate each other, singing in constant rounds and layering their voices not so much in harmony as choppy waves. This makes it sound like a mess, which it definitely isn't; the result is delicate, well orchestrated, especially with the tenderness here. It reminds me a bit of the sort of soft classic rock ballad, something by Foreigner or something, which is something that I find fairly comforting (and bear in mind I spent a lot of this year trying to write a dissertation/panicking about being unemployed) and ultimately has probably wormed its way to the top of my affections purely through being quite gentle, which isn't something I'd necessarily expect but nonetheless, pleasant.

Maybe it's because the Danities aren't being quite as whorish as usual, here (although I kind of love their whorishness; it's so shameless you kinda gotta respect it) so there's a chance for a bit of empathy.

For the sheer unadulterated hell of it, here's something of a whorepop primer I wrote in poptimists earlier this year



11.Pussycat Dolls- Halo
i'm not a superhero, sorry i couldn't save the day
"WHAT?" you ask, "NOT 'I HATE THIS PART?"

To which I say: no. It was until about two hours ago but honestly I realised I actually like this one better. 'I Hate This Part' is amazing but this is a weird bit of quasi-postrocky murmuring on the topic of fallibility, which is something I've been rather down with this year. And well, all the time.

This is a beautiful example of the way whorepop uses layered vocals to full effect, not to mention one of those unusual PCD songs where people other than Nicole get to sing. Which is nice because Melody actually has a perfectly good voice. The intro is also stunning, coming in with a spot of cello and some cat noises, then suddenly seguing into choppy agitation and a melancholic bassline. It's a tired song, not in the 'hackneyed' sense, in the 'emotionally exhausted' sense. The subduement of the song might be what draws me in, again, because it's gentle and comforting and something to feel very sad and worried to. Which, without being overtly emo, is the sort of thing I need about nine times out of ten.

I'm not really sure why I find the Pussycat Dolls particularly emotionally affecting but I do. The bitter exhaustion here isn't, lyrically, something I can directly relate to but it is so musically measured and exactly the right forms of tempered, without losing its biting centre, that you kind of can't help being drawn into it. Well maybe you can, actually but I can't and I'm writing this so whatever.



10. Ostrich- Sleepy Angels
god has lost his alibis and the angels are sleeping
I found this at some point, on some blog which I'd wandered off onto via No.1 Hits From Another Planet and randomly decided to give it a go because I was bored. I then spent the next four hours retracing my cyber-steps to go back and get the rest of the (then) free songs off the band's myspace because RLY, it sounds like depeche mode having a bit of a spooning session and given this was at my height of red wine dissertation panic, there was very little chance I wasn't going to be all over this like a rash.

It's one of the few overtly goth things in my top ten this year, since this year doesn't seem to have been especially fantastic for gothpop but maybe this goes some way to redressing the balance. There's a rather wonderful cosiness to the song, especially in the context of being originally titled "Happy Tuesday," plus the idea of sleeping angels appeals to the same bit of my brain that watches baby pandas sneezing and just for fuck's sake, no one else will probably like it but it sounds a bit like Depeche Mode being less depressive and more cuddly.

I've reached that point after 7,000 words where I become a bit misanthropic about everything. Thank god we're into the top ten. It's nearly gone midnight but hey ho, so long as it's done before bed it's still 2008 in my world.




9. Bloc Party- Zepherus
let's take this from the start, you be me and i'll be you and let's try not to complain about your smoking and my distant heart
Bloc Party have, until this album, always felt like one of those bands I want to be really, really good because Kele seems like a fucking brilliant popstar (as do the rest of them but really he shines) and they're clever and they're good musicians but there was this awful moment where the unfulfilled promise from 'The Silent Alarm' turned into 'oh fuck, they're just one of those nindie bands' on 'A Weekend In The City.' Then I had to review 'Talons' earlier in the year and got hold of 'Intimacy' whilst I was at it and holy fuck.

It's an album about fucking and dying and god. And there's not a lot more you can ask for, really. Deeply, deeply personal songs; so much so that it feels creepy, claustrophobic a lot of the time and strange arrangements of clattering beats and electronics keeping it interesting. The NME didn't go mad for it, the fucking idiots, because it was slightly too fucking interesting for them, I suspect. A bit too intellectual: let's listen to florence and the fucking machine instead and call it revolutionary. Well, fuck you NME, this is the best indie album released this year and this year was hardly skimping on the quality indie. Or well, of Montreal released a new album and we all know how I feel about them.

This is a weird choral clatter of a song, brutally dissecting the last moments of a relationship. Kele constantly addresses the listener directly (as with a lot of the album) which adds to the claustrophobia and moodsetting aspects of the song and meanwhile, there's some kind of mentalness going on with something that sounds a bit like a more melancholy version of 'Zadoc The Priest' in the background. And if you don't want to hear that then frankly I fucking give up because really there's just no pleasing you.

The quiet plea, all you said, in your quietest voice, was "i needed you as much as they do" as it recurs at the end of the song, fucks me right up. It comes in with this sweep of relief from the agitated beats but then it's so sad and difficult. This isn't an easy song, particularly and it's certainly not off an easy album but I don't want all my music to be comforting.



8. H"two"O ft. Platnum- What's It Gonna Be
every time i sit alone i think of you
I fucking write about this song all the time, I swear. I'm going to copypasta the thing I wrote in my Chartblog end of year thing before my brain falls out:

This just about managed to skive its way out of my last year's lists by being released very early into 2008 but what's important to remember is that this is the most joyful, uncontrollable headfirst crush song to be number one this year, the video is absolutely amazing and the bit that goes "youreyes yourthighs yourlips makemethinkofthingsiwannadooo" makes my heart explode.

And I don't care if you think this is music for kids on the bus, kids on the bus are still excited by sound, still willing to unashamedly appreciate music without the self-consciousness of worrying if anyone will think its uncool. This is tough, melodic and above all completely and totally gleeful. I'm sour enough at most times but there's something about bassline as a genre and this song in particular that shows that a lack of pandering to indie snobs does not in any way reduce one's songwriting ability.

Also I think everyone should watch the video at least once a day because it is brilliant and people don't bother to make proper videos half the time and yey:


You probably all think it's cheesy but whatevs.

Damn, now I wish I had pre-written things for all these songs, that took like a minute. Ace!



7. La Roux- Quicksand
you moved into my mind again, walking around rent free
This is probably higher than it has any right to be but I've pretty much listened to nothing fucking else for about three weeks so really. The important points about this song are that although it is poorly recorded, has slightly dubiously in tune vocals, is a bit of a mess and is essentially just an 80s pastiche is that despite and because of all these things it sounds like the animals strike curious poses, they feel the heat, the heat between me and you bit of 'When Doves Cry' by Prince, which is ALWAYS ON TOPIC here.

I find the lyrics strangely affecting, too, although I'm not per se sure why. I think it's because, as a song about obsession, it manages to take on all these obsessive qualities like the reflection in the verses ("I'm the obsessor, holding your hand" in the first, "you're the upsetter, stroking my hand" in the second) to the careful, overly considered use of words that becomes clumsy. It's a love song that's been wrestled with by the creator as much as the one-way love affair. In fact, it's a fucking crush song and fucking crush songs rule so fucking much. Especially when they sound like Prince.

The important thing with a crush song is to be seductive in a slightly desperate manner, which 'Quicksand' manages, in all its obsessional desperation. Also it's got some 'ooo-ooo-ooo-ooo' bits which are great to sing whilst getting dressed in the morning. FACT.



6. Burial- Ghost Hardware
It's just occurred to me that this album probably wasn't released this year. Oh well!

There's been plenty of wank talked about this album by K-Punk and Simon Reynolds and frankly I vomit upon their supposed hauntological explanations for it. Jesus christ, how can something that sounds like a train be wistfully evocative, ffs, do they not get on trains; I realise that by sounding like a train it is evoking a train but I think it's more it's music for listening to on transport? I'm not even convinced I see Burial as sounding very decayed, it's rather immediate, just the sound of something played through poor speakers. But whatever, we're here for love not beef.

This was the first Burial track I heard, I picked it to download off eMusic because the title reminded me of 'A Ghost In The Shell.' The immediate thing that hit me was how beautifully calm it was. To me, this album is the ultimate comfort music; a safe envelope of sound. The songs are sad, yes, there's no doubt there and they're also lonely but it's a sort of sad and lonely you can do with them, rather than in an 'evokes crushing depression' sort of way. The sheer beauty of the soundscapes is almost terrifying, them made from such relatively simple components (and components that are not necessarily beautiful).

I don't really have words for this: it sounds like sitting on a train and staring out the window and being really fucking depressed but kind of knowing it might be alright in the end. Which is just not fucking hauntologous in the way Simon Reynolds thinks it is. Just. I am defeating my own argument, I am aware by talking about evoked images but ARGH. Just let it be beautiful music for once, Reynolds. We can all see any social commentary there without you being smug about thinking of inner city asbo kids occasionally.

Love not beef, Self, love not beef...

Rly tho, it is a very very very beautiful track. And indeed the whole album; it's definitely heartbroken but it sort of heals over the course of it, constantly in motion.

Shitting hell it's half twelve and I have to be in work for 9:30 tomorrow. RIGHT THEN.



(i know, two separate pictures but no way was i not using those ones)

5. The Veronicas- Untouched
i'll see you through the loneliness of one more more more
I'm really fucking tired now. This is already longer than a lot of people's dissertations. :( Why do I do this to myself all the fucking time?

Anyway. This was on the radio once whilst I was standing in Mr Moggy's kitchen doing something or another and the violins at the start grabbed me to the point of standing dead still for a minute and just listening to it. Everything about this song is so perfectly balanced, the stab of the strings, the tick of the beat like a panicking heart, the almost-whine of their voices so desperate and needy and the massive fuckoff guitars that periodically appear to just be really fucking loud occasionally.

The whole 'girls sing over faux-rock' thing kind of bothers me generally but here it's so perfectly right, no less a pop song for its rock aspects, which are incorporated for musical effect rather than imagery. It careens and pleads and wheedles, heart racing. And god god god god god it just wants. It's not far from 'Hook Me Up' in terms of theme, insofar as it's after a quick shag behind the bikesheds, nominally but it really means it wants to elope and build some new romantic life it's just cooked up in its head with you.

Fucking crush songs are fucking great.

The video will still scare the fucking daylights out of you with the creepy twincest overtones but hohum.



4. Cyndi Lauper- Into The Nightlife
shirtless wonders wreck my sight

Let me just steal something from my Chartblog thing and then work out what I want to swear about:

..ok let me not do that actually, my Cyndi Lauper thing appears to have not actually made it to the intranots very intact.

Well anyway, this is a gorgeous, tough going-out song. It's all blissy Kylie-esque rave synths and taut bassline and just generally so much not something you'd expect someone like Lauper to still be able to release, easily into the stage in her career where she gets a free ride for releasing mediocre crap. Instead, this and 'Bring Ya To The Brink' as a whole are edgy, modern pop and whilst I don't know who produced the album or this song in particular, they aren't just clones of what's sold recently (see Madonna with Timbaland) and yet maintain a definite currency.

I mean, I love Cyndi Lauper at the worst of times but the whole album really is a masterpiece. I think this was the second single (not sure what was the first) and you can see why if you hear it, all in love with sound and flashing lights. Cyndi's freakish voice sounds entreating and it's a song of encouragement, somehow.

I am too tired to cope with writing much more. Bugger bugger bugger these are the best bits.



3. This Will Destroy You- A Three-Legged Workhorse

You know what? I'm going to go to bed for five hours and then try this again.

Right, I'm sort of awake now and am just going to copypasta something I wrote a month ago. Brilliant! Why didn't I just think of stealing bits out of my journal for this whole list? Anyway:

This was released, like, two days into this year or something stupid. And it's going to make my year-end lists because it is such a delicately carved construction. It's long and it rambles but without any aimlessness, each sound a controlled, tight inflection. The clicky-flickery rythms (insect wings buzzing) are mesmerising, giving it this urgency and relevance that a lot of post-rock loses in the flood of EMOTION. Not that this doesn't have EMOTION; it nearly makes me cry because it's so strange (in the sense of distance, rather than weirdness) and sad and struggling and there's that post-rock quest for epic qualities definitely in here, it's just that this, like that one by Sigur Ros that I don't like and everyone else does, manages to actually transcend the quest and create something which translates the whole post-rock "I AM TRYING TO DO SOMETHING IMPORTANT, HERE" ethos into a success which transcends the limits of the genre. And the hook is simplistic and beautiful and minimal, dragged earthwards by the click-flickers which prevent it taking on a too hubristic feeling of 'THIS IS THE EPIC, CRY NOW' which exactly the sort of thing I don't care for at all. Sometimes post-rock just gets it so damned right that I want to hug it and tell it it's ok, it is a valid genre after all and all that stuff I said about it being ambient wandering for people too scared to make pop songs was true but that's ok, cus I can't think of the lyrics for this one either.

Also, there's something very reassuring about the fact This Will Destroy You have met with with a reasonable amount of success. To me, their music is not dissimilar to the music of, say, Girls Aloud insofar as its a fully composed piece; the romance of shonky indie songwriting is being shed in favour of appreciation of genuinely good songcraft. And you may all disagree that Xenomania's work with Girls Aloud comes under that but still, there's something positive there. It's probably the same people who always would have bought these things but still, let me have my snob moment.


(girls aloud have somehow buggered up their myspace so completely that you can't get into the pictures, so have a random one i found on google image search of them about three years ago, wahey!)

2. Girls Aloud- Untouchable
whenever you're gone, they wait at the door and everything's hurting like before; without any feeling, we're just skin and bone, we're beautiful robots dancing alone
At first I thought Girls Aloud's new album was a bit crap. I'm not really sure why I thought this other than I couldn't really be bothered to listen to 'The Loving Kind' but then I decided to give it a proper listen and found this. Which is AMAZING.

This takes the sort of half-ballad near-stormer nature of 'Call The Shots' and perfects and shines it up. Beautiful waves of synth (which I sort of see as iridescent flows in my head; possibly I am slightly synaesthetic or something but I suspect it's just that sort of noise evokes that kind of image) do the swirling, chopping radar thing that Kylie's songs often pull off and the whole song is this aching paeon to friendship. Or well, a relationship; I kind of assume friendship in a sort of really-incredibly-close way but maybe it's something else; some kind of absolute link with someone, anyway, whereby you're completely invincible with them there but without them, you're both screwed. Or well, robots.

It's very understated, the gentle guitar earworming its way through the track but it manages to be strikingly beautiful and the fact the opening vocals are Nicola, who doesn't have the world's best voice ever but is very, very good at emotional fragility (and indeed probably has the most generally appealling voice of the group) which just sets the scene and then all these lazy, blissy synths come in and and and I really fucking love the middle eight, when suddenly after all this gentle moping someone (Kimberley?) shouts against whatever "they" are and the line about beautiful robots dancing alone comes in.

I like that Girls Aloud, lyrically, take those obscure and complex lyrical stylings away from, say, singer-songwriters. Or well, make them less exclusively their property, anyway. They haven't been lyrically on top of their game for awhile (since What Will The Neighbours Say, in fact) but they suddenly completely pulled it back with this album, which I like much more than I ever expected, given I thought 'Tangled Up' was pretty ace.



1. McFly- Corrupted
but is this what we want? cus we might miss the hate, although it feels so good to make the same mistake
McFly occasionally throw up a bizarrely huge rock song. They've been doing this since their seond album, with excursions like 'Too Close For Comfort' and 'Transylvania' inevitably standing out, not exactly to the detriment of the other material but just because they're not quite like it. Their new album is all big hairy rock songs, honestly but in the middle of it is this: the biggest, hairiest rock song they've ever written and, yes, my favourite song this year.

It's not the cleverest song this year, it's not the best written probably (although I do wonder how much the fact this is one of Tom's collaborations with The Matrix helps it) but it is the one I've played about 1264879604897 times since July or whenever it first came to my attention and so v-signs to the lot of you. Whilst this obviously hasn't been released, so can't get the applause of, say, 'Lies' for a bonkers video (indeed if they do release it, I'm prepared to bet they do a boring cutting-together-live-bits-from-the-tour video) and it's absolutely nothing to do with them being hilarious or fit or indeed, anything other than that fuckoff massive riff at the start. Yes ok it's not Black Sabbath but it's not trying to be, either and in fact my main worry about it is that it might have segued a little into dadrock territory.

Still, when you listen to it; it's just fucking huge, from the aforementioned riff to the ticking chug underneath the verses to the riotous abandon of the chorus. I know you probably don't think they play their instruments or write their songs but whatever, Jason Perry's production works so so well with their style; they don't do any muso wandering (see: 'She Falls Asleep' on Wonderland) and simultaneously don't end up too simplistic (which is an accusation that could easily be levelled at the first album) -they just make jolly good, well written and produced rock-pop and it's a damned shame very few people outside of their "fanbase demographic" will give them any time.

Here is something I wrote about 'Corrupted' earlier in the year in my McFly discography rundown, because I have to go to work so don't have time to do anything else-

This is the best song McFly have ever written. Regardless of the commendable madness of Transylvania, the hellbent drunken rampage of Friday Night or the slightly spellbinding genius of Too Close For Comfort, this song is utterly extraordinary. It is furious, dramatic and self-hating, with this opening riff that is so huge and hairy it sort of makes me feel a bit funny inside. The verses have this fantastic little chug to them, too and the vocals for once are where they're meant to be in the mix. And just. I love it. I am actually in love with this song.
It is amazing. I really never thought McFly could produce something like this, even though it's a blatant McFly song and so I now feel bad that I doubted they could make something this good. If they make it loud enough live, this almost is the possible metal song I mentioned earlier, breakneck hellbender (it's either about booze or drugs, probably the former given that it's McFly) with strange schizophrenic parts, brilliant instrumentation that definitely crosses the line over into 'heavy' in places and this general air of such utter awesomeness that it sets some kind of new standard. I am not lying when I say this probably makes my top twenty songs ever and I am a woman with a lot of songs to put in there.
Gah, excuse me, now I have to listen to this again and again for a minute before I move on.

It annoys me a bit that I don't seem to have ever quite worked out how to write about this song.

But Dougie even sings a bit, which is usually a sign that there's something unusually awesome going on. He even sounds fairly grown up.


Right. Good lord. That's done for another year, then.


Narrowly missing out:
Portishead- Machine Gun (this one was meant to be in it but I lost my copy of the album and I only just remembered and it's TOO LATE NOW)
His Name Is Alive- How Dark Is Your Dark Side?
Kleerup ft. Lykke Li- Until We Bleed
P!nk- Sober
Wooden Shjips- Losin' Time
Protest The Hero- Sequoia Throne
Sia- The Girl You Lost To Cocaine
Keane- Spiralling
Tila Tequila and Others- I Like To Fuck



*"some reasons" include:
-guitar hero
-my dissertation
-the Hazel-John Goth Musical Alliance which meant he listened to slightly more electro than usual and I listened to slightly more metal and we all got along

**I kissed a grill and I liked it, twenty four diamond carat
I kissed a grill and I liked it, they say I got taste for it

(well it scans/rhymes about as well as the original)

***Less scary than it potentially sounds. Possibly.

****It's ok! I'm only about a million years older than her!

*****Disclaimer: this is true.
 
 
Current Mood: argh!
Current Music: teletextile- heartquake (dj die young remix)
 
 
 
Eliminate Avoidable Churnkatstevens on January 1st, 2009 02:10 pm (UTC)
Bwahahahahahaa those Zimmer's Hole chaps are awesome! I might have to go and listen to some old Fear Factory tracks on Spotify now :)
Eliminate Avoidable Churnkatstevens on January 1st, 2009 02:14 pm (UTC)
Aaaaaahahahahahhahahaha 'smoke weed, drink booze, we haven't time to lose!' these guys are my new fave metal band :)
piratemoggy on January 1st, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
They are bloody brilliant. :D I enjoy their total abandonment of the concept of lyrical structure in favour of primal train-of-thought immensely.
Eliminate Avoidable Churnkatstevens on January 1st, 2009 02:24 pm (UTC)
Awesome illustrations as well btw - I have yet to see a pic of the PCDs without the bendy one hefting her leg up above her head like that.
x_emjay on January 2nd, 2009 12:00 am (UTC)
one? no no no.

bloc party and miley should be higher.
Niamh Sageniamh_sage on January 2nd, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
Warren Ellis posted a link to Kieron Gillen's top 40 of 2008, and I thought I'd pass the link on to you in case it's of interest :)
Lexalexmacpherson on January 7th, 2009 03:27 pm (UTC)
OK so I've only just seen this b/c while discussing the poptimists poll I suddenly realised "hang on, did Hazel do her list this year, because I never saw it" and the reason I never saw it is b/c you posted this while I was stuck down some NYE-related rabbithole. Anyway hurrah as ever - 'Entropy Reigns' seconded! - but OMG WHAT IS THAT PICTURE OF CIARA!!!!! Where did you find it? That is amazing.
piratemoggy on January 7th, 2009 03:30 pm (UTC)
actually i'd been hoping you'd be able to tell me that! i couldn't work out whether it was from her previous or current album but liked it loads anyway; it's from her myspazz. there wasn't a useful caption or anything even to explain it, which was annoying. it definitely rates in my top pop images ever, though; the whole outfit(s) and pose(s) and the fact it's her playing with gender and her schizophrenic tendencies (personalities switched between songs) and damn i love the masculinised one's eye make up.

if she doesn't release high price as a single i might cry.
Lexalexmacpherson on January 7th, 2009 03:36 pm (UTC)
If nothing else I actually would quite like it in high quality one of these days. Imagine the VIDEO. I'm imagining broiling, thundery skies, and a 50ft Ciara descending from the heavens on the line "YOU KNOW MEAAAHHHH!", lightning flashing from her eyes, and laying waste to NYC.
piratemoggy on January 7th, 2009 04:02 pm (UTC)
i kind of want barefoot from that picture to sing the 'YOU KNOW ME!' as she strides sown some deathstar-esque corridor, whilst silver boots leans at a space-bar, blaster in lazily held in one hand, space-courvoisier in the other drawling 'see the vuitton all under my rims' etc. but that's just me being a nerd.