Monday, December 22, 2008

The Best of '08 - Singles Edition

So maybe I'm just inspired by a recent re-reading of High Fidelity, but I felt compelled this year to write up my favorite singles of the year. (Besides, I have a blog and it's the end of the year - isn't it sort of an obligation?) I'll give you my first five today and five more tomorrow. They're in no particular order, because I mean, really, it was hard enough to come up with just ten to begin with. So, without further ado, let's begin with...

Strange Overtones by David Byrne and Brian Eno (from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

When I saw David Byrne in October, he opened with this song about songwriting, setting the tone quite nicely. Although much of the other material from ETHWHT is more sedate, the syncopated rhythms and transcendent chorus of this song give it the feel of a calmer, more mature Talking Heads track. There are both good and bad things about that, but it's good to see the pair still progressing when they could easily be treading water without catching too much flak.

Disturbia by Rihanna (from Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded)

As Rihanna sings "I'm going crazy" in the intro to this song, one imagines that she's going to be going crazy for her man, or perhaps going crazy because he left. No, in fact, she's actually having a bit of a mental breakdown. For a pop song, the description of Rihanna's impending insanity is actually somewhat harrowing. (I mean, it's no Velvet Underground track, but it's not trying to be.) And despite all this, it's still a fantastic dance song. Where someone like Beyonce would run this shit into the ground, Rihanna sounds just frightened enough without ever losing the hook.

On the Train by Theatre of Disco (from Theatre of Disco EP)

This is the one "what?" entry I'm allowing myself on this list, but I swear I'm not being deliberately obscure. I just love this song. The lyrics are mostly unintelligible until the chorus, at which point the singer informs us of a key fact: "Everybody on the train got herpes/they've got STDs on the (unclear. In my head, I sing Burpee's, but that's a seed company)" Oh dear. If you don't giggle upon hearing that for the first time, then you probably won't come around to this one, but if juvenile lyrics and a killer beat appeal to you, give this a try.

Crimewave by Crystal Castles vs. HEALTH (from Crystal Castles)

I'll admit that I've never heard the original version of this song, but I don't think I need to. I've described it before as The Knife meets Ladytron (I forgot to add "meets Atari"), but I don't think that quite captures it. The altered vocals, the video game noises, the repetition, the minimal-but-awesome beat; they all show that when Crystal Castles are on their game, there isn't much one can compare them to. (Too bad they aren't on their game more often.) OR I might just have a thing for indecipherable vocals.

Ready for the Floor by Hot Chip (from Made in the Dark)

This song created the following exchange when I was out dancing with a friend, months after this song came out:

Hot Chip: Do it do it do it do it do it do it do it now...
Friend: Oh, fine.

I am so into this song. STILL. According to my account, this has been my most-played song in the past 12 months. This is surprising, given my initial ambivalence about the song. I mean, coming off of a song like "Over and Over," I had pretty high expectations for Hot Chip, and I felt almost betrayed. Where were the guitars, the kickass beats? Fortunately, I continued to give the song a chance, and I'm glad I did, because it shows something that Hot Chip lacked on their first album: sweetness. Hot Chip just wants to dance with you, and hey, you're even their number one guy. I know it's dorky, but if a guy were to put this on a mixtape for me, I'd consider that much more romantic than a lot of the more standard options. (It doesn't count if he reads this, though.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Crystal Castles are on their game throughout tracks 1 to 16 on their 16 track album. The demos before the album were poor but when they release songs officially it's gold.

The original, completely different Crimewave streams here: