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Friday, December 19, 2008

12. Surferosa - The Beat On The Street

Surferosa seem to be a polarizing group. They’ve got their hardcore fans, for sure, but a lot of people I know don’t really like most of their stuff. I think it all comes down to the vocals, which can grate on some. Still, this album in many ways sounded like the release No Doubt was meant to come back with. It mixed pop, punk and disco so effortlessly and in such unique ways. I mean, who else would sing a song like Mangaloid? It’s more than a little insane, which is one of the reasons I love this band so much.


11. Walter Meego - Voyager

No other release of 2008 perfected the sleezy synth sound that these guys did. Voyager is one of those albums that flows so seamlessly together that it almost feels as if you’re listening to one long song. Each individually track, though, is hooky enough to be a hit. The first half of the record is undoubtedly stronger, but the whole thing’s remarkably consistent. I have a feeling that this will be a summer party standby for the next decade. At the very least, Girls, Wanna Be A Star and Forever earned their place on many summer mixtapes around the world.


30. The Killers - Human

A slow-burning synth anthem, this track didn’t exactly set the world (or me) on fire, but it slowly worked its way up the charts.

29. Sneaky Sound System - Kansas City

Pretty much distills everything that’s great about this band while leaving out the parts that aren’t so great. I still can’t get enough of this one.

28. Goldfrapp - A&E

The group’s most stunningly beautiful track by a mile, it was the absolute best representation of their new folky approach to music.

27. The Virgins - Rich Girl

Kinda like the Strokes except for… you know… fun? With just a touch of disco, this was the indie party song of the early summer.

26. Janet Jackson - Feedback

It had all the hallmarks of a brilliant comeback, and in a way it was, but this should have been bigger in 2008. It’s the best Janet single in years.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Better Than Love

A quick break from the countdowns so that I can use whatever blogging power I have to order you to listen to Daggers' new song, Better Than Love. This is THE band right now. Each song they unveil is more and more spectacular. I'm not sure how they do it, but I pretty much worship them.

14. Miley Cyrus - Breakout

It was going to take a lot for me to fully embrace a Disney star’s album. Sure, I watch that channel a little too much for my age, but listening to an album is even lamer. Thankfully, Breakout was filled with well-written, well-performed songs. Anybody that’s seen Cyrus perform live on one of her gazillion TV appearances knows that this girl’s got a surprising amount of talent (and energy) for her age. Also, kudos to her for turning one of the potentially worst ideas ever--covering Girls Just Want To Have Fun--into one of my favorite covers of the year.


13. Eskobar - Death In Athens

Eskobar were hardly a blip on my radar before this year. When it was announced that they’d be participating in Melodifestivalen I was hoping for an out-of-character, big pop song from them. What we got was something pretty boring. Thankfully, that wasn’t much of an indication of how the rest of the album would go, as Death In Athens was the group’s catchiest, most versatile record to date. Not only that, but the melodies were gorgeous. I always thought of Eskobar as a terrific band in search of a great song. With this record, they found more than one.


35. Rongedal - Just A Minute

The surprise hit of this year’s Melodifestivalen, it was the perfect mix of Mika and Scissor Sisters, sung by two bald twins, no less.

34. Spleen United - My Tribe

Totally atmospheric with a gorgeous chorus, I wish the rest of the album lived up to this very promising single.

33. Katy Perry - I Kissed A Girl

The monster hit of the summer, it got way overplayed. But, the first time I heard it… my god what a great pop song!

32. Guillemots - Get Over It

A very aggressive single from a group that had been pretty quiet and pastoral up to now. This one had me drooling in wait for their album (which turned out to be only half-amazing).

31. Walter Meego - Forever

These guys had the perfect summer synth sound for 2008. Combine that with ultra-catchy glam melodies and you’ve got an anthem-in-waiting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

16. Iglu & Hartly - & Then Boom

This is the closest to rap that any of the albums on the chart are going to get. I did go through my rap stage years ago back in high school, but then the whole genre went down the dumpster and I’ve been trying to ignore it ever since. Luckily, Iglu & Hartly wrap their hip-hop around catchy pop hooks and some of the best synth/dance tracks of the year. Not all the songs are equally as good, but there are more than a few definite standouts that kept me coming back to this album well into the autumn.


15. Lady GaGa - The Fame

For awhile it seemed like Lady GaGa’s debut was going to have a real shot at the top of the chart. It didn’t turn out to be that good, but in a world of boring popstars, GaGa’s image and ideas were really needed. It’s been compelling to watch her storm to the top of the charts in almost every major market, and I’m convinced that if she keeps up what she’s started, she could have a lasting career here in the States. As mainstream pop releases go, this was one of the best of the year. Now if only she’d go a bit more Bowie and a little less Akon…


40. Chromeo - Mama‘s Boy

The most Hall & Oates-esque track off their second album, it was probably a little too weird to ever become a proper hit.

39. Sam Sparro - Black & Gold

This was the sound a lot of artists were going for this year, I think. Sparro completely nailed it with this song, though it could easily end up being a one-hit wonder.

38. Adam Tensta - My Cool

No track was cooler in 2008 than this one. It is the definition of amazing, party hip-hop… the way it should be done.

37. MGMT - Kids

It’s hard to combine indie and pop in just the right way, but when it works, it works. Kids totally worked, managing to check off many genre boxes at once.

36. Delays - Keep It Simple

Though the album was great, I wasn’t thrilled with Delays’ comeback single, Hooray. This one was much nicer, with some great verses especially.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

18. The Kid - Transient Blood

The Kid have such an interesting, underground eighties sound. At first I was kinda turned off by the wonkiness but then I heard their cover of Mayhem Troopers and was completely sold. The album’s full of off-kilter pop music that grows more and more interesting as you listen to it. Plus, they’ve got the year’s best lyric in Shadow Of A Horse (and I may be totally mishearing this, but I hope I’m not). The chorus literally consists of: “I’ve got cum in my hair, I wish it was yours.” Now come on, it doesn’t get any better than that.


17. Neo - One

In a year without a brand new BWO album, we got Neo instead. If possible, his music is even more cotton candy camp than his influences’. In fact, on the first listen I thought it was all too sugary for me, but then massive tracks like Flower Power Supergirl and Shadow Dancer lodged themselves in my brain and refused to let go. In a year that didn’t see that many good Swedish pure-pop releases, Neo was a breath of fresh air. He literally seemed to come out of nowhere, like a curly-haired pop creature filled with hooks upon hooks.


45. The Feeling - I Thought It Was Over

The group’s most propulsive song to date, and the funkiest single they’ve come up with. A pity it was their only hit this year.

44. Stabilo - Flawed Design (Remix)

In its original form it does nothing for me, but a remix this year turned it into a dance pop crossover that became quite epic.

43. Miley Cyrus - 7 Things

Not the song that broke her onto mainstream radio, but the one that established her as a viable artist. It was inescapable this summer.

42. Infernal - Downtown Boys

Though the best songs on their album were the non-singles, this track offered a stunning taster for what was to come.

41. M.I.A. - Paper Planes

The comedown song of the summer. It’s the sound effects that do it, really.